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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JUL 22 The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is "a lock" to win the Sun Belt Conference in football, Fox Sports opines in this post. There's a rundown of the other teams in the conference, but ULL is predicted to win the conference, thanks in large part to an "explosive" offense. Is it football season yet?
JUL 22 Columnist Stephanie Grace says Gov. Bobby Jindal may be meeting with state education officials (hey - you mean HIS education officials, don't you, Steph?) but it is clear he's not looking for a solution in the Common Core fracas. Bobby wants an issue he can take on the road, and this one seems to be it, she says.
JUL 22 Columnist Jim Beam finds recent news out of Baton Rouge depressing. It seems every time you turn around there's another mess being uncovered or announced in state government, he says. Say what you want about Congress; in Louisiana we have nothing to brag about, either, he says.
JUL 22 Blogger Tom Aswell reports here that several legislators plan to ask for an investigation of the last-minute action that bumped State Police Commander Mike Edmonson's annual retirement income by $30K. One is gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards, who says he did vote for the amendment, but didn't read it - as he rarely does during the last hours of session.
JUL 22 This is a fascinating piece in the Picayune about the murder of a doctor in her St. Charles Avenue home 50 years ago. It's fascinating because of the mysteries and myths that have swirled around the incident for those decades, and because of the possible connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There are a lot of interesting names in here, including Ochsner and Marcello, and as usual the comments below the story are nearly as entertaining as the story itself.
JUL 22 LaPolitics examines the news that a bipartisan group of legislators filed court papers Monday asking a judge to decide if BESE followed proper procedure in installing Common Core as the curriculum to be followed by state teachers. The allegation is that BESE didn't do that, by failing to open a comment period and shirking legislative oversight. Great, but where were these guys back when the decision was actually made?
JUL 22 Here's a love letter from New York Daily News' Alex Palmer to Louisiana. In some ways it is the typical tourism article (with pronunciation guides and food definitions) but in another way it goes beyond that to list lesser-known spots to visit for food or tours.
JUL 22 This post on Gambit is an interesting look at an age-old discussion among people who live and work in urban areas - is graffiti property damage or public art? There are a lot of voices in this story, covering a lot of the bases of this conflict.
JUL 21 Education Week's EdWatch blog takes a look at our current snafu over Common Core in this post. To anyone outside the state, we certainly look like a bunch of dummies who can't agree on something as critical as what to teach our kids. That's good - right?
JUL 21 Rob Marciano, a former meteorologist at KPLC in Lake Charles, has been named senior weather guy at ABC, this post on TVNewser reports. In between those gigs he worked for CNN and Entertainment Tonight.
JUL 21 This story on The ABC out of Australia gives Louisiana some international notoriety that we really don't want. According to this story, Louisiana is one of the fastest-disappearing land masses on the planet. The planet. So, obviously we need to hold off on that levee board suit, because making Big Oil mad is much more serious than this.
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