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 20 The Globe and Mail, a Canadian paper, has posted its story on Louisiana's coastal loss here. In it, author Omar El Akkad clarifies it neatly: it's "a battle between prosperity and the planet's well-being." Are jobs and money worth the trade we're making? As Jonathan Foret says in the story, Mother Nature may come and answer that question for us.
OCT 20 Remember those great posts from blogger Jason Brad Berry that featured emails and letters related to the BP claims process? Well, apparently Patrick Juneau (who was featured, but not in a positive way, in those documents) ordered a background check on Berry because of it, this story in Louisiana Record says. Huh?
OCT 20 The Washington Post and ABC ran a poll on several issues here, but of course the presidential fields are most interesting. Hillary Clinton has commanding numbers on the D side, and Mitt Romney is leading the R side, with 21 percent. He's followed by Jeb Bush, with 11 percent, and 12 other guys polling in single digits. Bobby Jindal brings up the rear with 2 percent, with only John Kasich and Scott Walker polling worse.
OCT 20 Blogger Tom Aswell quotes two former Commissioners of Administration in this post, both of whom are not impressed with the magical surplus that current COA Kristy Nichols and her boss, Bobby Jindal, have found. There's some pretty interesting detail here about the origin of these magic beans.
OCT 20 Blogger Robert Mann paints a pretty amusing (or alarming, depending on your point of view) picture of how DOA Kristy Nichols and Gov. Bobby Jindal came up with the "balanced" budget they revealed last week. An unbalanced budget would blow a hole in Jindal's "already dim presidential hopes," Mann says.
OCT 18 Columnist James Gill tells a sordid tale of a Port Allen judge facing sanctions -- shortly after he was re-elected without opposition. District Judge J. Robin Free accepted a free ride on the private jet of an attorney who had just one a big case in his court, and also failed to recuse himself from a class-action case in which his mom was a potential plaintiff, Gill says.
OCT 20 The blogger known as Crazy Crawfish is writing about Superintendent John White in this post, taking issue with White's claim that it is only pockets of isolated "troublemakers" who are opposed to Common Core in Louisiana. Gosh, Johnny, that's the best you can come up with? That's not even original.
OCT 17 Here's a weird one on WVUE from investigative reporter Lee Zurik. In it, he's quoting a guy who was in a car accident and filed suit against the other guy who (he says) caused it and is responsible for a lot of medical bills. What's weird is what he was told by his lawyer (whom he recorded -- Huh?)
OCT 17 Here's another document from the BP claims library that was delivered anonymously to blogger Jason Brad Berry. It is written on what appears to be BP stationery and is directed to Patrick Juneau. In it, the BP guy complains about a $14 million bill for an audit BP has never seen, as well as a conflict between Juneau's "public boasts of transparency" and the manner in which he has really operated.
OCT 17 Bobby Jindal's poll numbers still stink in Iowa, this post on the Bloomberg Politics blog says. A recent poll found him tied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 1 percent, trailing Cruz, Perry, Christie, Rubio, Bush, Walker and a partridge in a pear tree.
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