Rodriguez, who has been traveling to Lafayette from Houston for the past couple of weeks to help turn the troubled housing authority around after a series of blistering audits questioned its management and expenditures, gave explicit instructions to the LHA’s board of commissioners: not one penny can be spent without HUD approval.
When the board met on Oct. 28, three days after Guillory and Carmouche resigned, board member John Freeman told his fellow commissioners that Rodriguez had informed him it was standard HUD policy to pay for 30 days, according to fellow board member Donald Fuselier, who voted to make the payment. “Freeman advised us Mr. Rodriguez had agreed to it. I relied on what Mr. Freeman said.”
Freeman did not return voice mail messages left on his cell phone Monday and Tuesday.
Rodriguez, through the LHA’s human resources director, issued the following statement via email on Nov. 4: “The payment to the ED and Deputy ED of 30 day pay is NOT APPROVED by HUD even if the Board approved it,” he wrote. Rodriguez directed the HR head to send the statement to all board members.
Guillory, who was getting more than $186,000 a year plus a $5,000 business allowance when he resigned, and Carmouche, whose salary was $85,000 (though he got an extra $20,000 for inspecting homes in 2009 and had already been paid $11,300 when he stopped conducting inspections this year after the 2009 audit questioned the extra work), were eligible to receive payment for 48 hours worked and up to 300 hours of accrued annual leave, according to the email.
At that same Oct. 28 meeting, the board also came close to voting on whether to pay fired Disaster Housing Assistance Program case managers for a month of back pay, The Daily Advertiser reported. It was the first meeting attended by newly appointed board member Shirley Vige. The Advertiser noted that Freeman and board member Leon Simmons attempted to amend the agenda to include a vote on the back pay matter for the DHAP workers, who claim they are owed for 30 days because they did not get a 30-day notice of their dismissal, a requirement of their contracts -- all of which had expired when they were terminated in August. But when Fuselier and Vige shot down an attempt to vote on the matter, it failed to make the agenda for lack of a two-thirds vote.
Rodriguez did not return phone calls or an email seeking comment on these issues.