Lafayette Housing Authority Executive Director Walter Guillory and Deputy Director Jonathan Carmouche both resigned Monday morning, The Independent Weekly has learned. It is unclear who is in charge of the embattled agency at this time.
In one of the latest developments at the troubled housing authority, last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general arrived at the office to conduct an audit. Another top HUD official from Texas is expected to set up shop at the local authority’s offices this week.
HUD insisted to local media that it hasn’t taken over the local housing authority yet has made it clear no expenditures can take place without its authorization.
The LHA has been under the microscope since an audit of its operations, released by independent auditors in late July, pointed to 16 serious problems with how the agency is managed and questioned more than $240,000 in payments to contractors working the Disaster Housing Assistance Program. The audit’s findings prompted an investigation by the Louisiana legislative auditor and FBI after Guillory, above, suggested to the board that a new auditing firm be hired.
The Independent Weekly has since learned that it has been several years since the LHA’s board formally reviewed one of its annual audits to discuss the findings and form a plan of action for dealing with them. Audit findings in those years point to repeated problems that have continued to grow, specifically around expenditures of money and documentation issues. The agency has thus been operating with very little oversight from its board of commissioners.
Guillory joined the LHA in November 1998 after HUD took over what was then a grossly mismanaged agency. A former minor league baseball player, Guillory worked for the Alexandria Housing Authority (November 95 to June 98) as deputy director and city of Alexandria (November 96 to June 98) as a recreation specialist before returning to Lafayette. Before that, he worked for Boys and Girls Clubs in Alexandria and Lafayette.
Guillory makes $186,000 a year (with a $5,000 business allowance and other benefits), having been given a $55,000 raise by the board of commissioners late last year — about the time he was leaving the Opelousas Housing Authority, where he was paid $80,000 a year to also serve as executive director. That agency is also now under investigation.
Much of the LHA controversy has also involved Guillory's second in command. The auditors also noted that Carmouche, who was in charge of the DHAP, was himself getting a piece of the DHAP action, inspecting homes in the program “on Saturdays” for $75 a pop. Carmouche, who earns $85,000 a year, got an extra $20,000 from the LHA for inspecting homes in 2009 and had already been paid $11,300 when he stopped conducting inspections this year after the audit.
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OCT 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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