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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SEP 18 Here's a story in the New York Times about a New Iberia man who is trying to save his own little corner of Louisiana. A lot of people spend their spare time clearing their land, but Matt Conn works to restore the natural state of his property. It's a fascinating story.
SEP 18 Here's an amazingly personal piece from Naomi Klein, posted on the Guardian. It is long, and intense, a personal telling of her own process of covering, denying and realizing climate change. She addresses the issue of big business pretending to address the issue, the concealment of climate damage for corporate gain, and how her coverage of the BP spill led, she believes, to a miscarriage.
SEP 18 Sure, Louisiana Congressional candidate Lenar Whitney made the first page of Politifact's "Pants on Fire" statements section, and of course that's always entertaining. But really you need to go check out the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking website, which is run by former Lafayette journalist Angie Drobnic Holan, because it has a great new design.
SEP 18 The math might be simple to most - leave a lone Republican in the race against Mary Landrieu for a better shot at winning in the primary - but to Rob Maness (the "other" Republican) it's not that simple. This story on the E&E Publishing site features some of his more interesting viewpoints on energy, politics and the EPA.
SEP 18 This post on Howard Fineman's Political Read blog takes a look at the fine line that Bobby Jindal will have to walk if he wants to be the guy who can unite the creationists who don't believe in evolution with the Christians and others who do. On paper, Jindal could be the guy to do it, Fineman says, but politically, he'll have to start with the far right if he wants to get anywhere in the GOP.
SEP 18 Inspection stickers. They're a pain but you have to have them. Now there's a problem with the recent ones, WVUE reports here: they're peeling off. Last year, word from the state was we would be getting better glue, but apparently that didn't happen.
SEP 18 This week, four Louisiana College board members resigned in protest after Tommy French was re-elected chairman. This post on the Associated Baptist Press website reports that, just a couple weeks ago, French was handing controversial former LC leader Joe Aguillard a medal and the title of President Emeritus.
SEP 18 Bobby Jindal is spending a lot of time on the road helping candidates get elected - but none of them are in Louisiana, columnist Stephanie Grace writes in this post. None of Jindal's buddies are running (Cassidy dumped Teepell early on in favor of a Vitter acolyte) and maybe Jindal really does read polls and knows that his support is the kiss of death here.
SEP 17 If the "when white people fight" video was the war side, blogger Mighty Favog has found the love side. Here's a video of two (let us hope they aren't sober) inebriated white people who got so carried away in their demonstration of, er, affection that they fell. In Tiger Stadium. During the game. The best part is the reaction (or lack thereof) among their fellow fans. (Hey, there's a game going on!)
SEP 17 The controversy continues at Louisiana College, as some seem loathe to release their grip on the status quo. After the school's accrediting agency suspended the school's ranking and criticized its pattern of dishonesty, four board members had wanted a change in the chairman's position. When that didn't happen, they resigned in protest, the Alexandria Town Talk reports here.
SEP 17 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at Louisiana's Tea Party, and the decision to classify it as an LLC instead of a political party. He also throws in some illuminating facts about the so-called IRS "witch hunt" against Tea Party groups -- which, it turns out, was nothing of the kind.
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