NEW IBERIA — Residents in Iberia Parish will not have the chance to consider legalizing video poker in the parish during the Nov. 6 election because the item has been removed from the ballot.
The Iberia Parish Council voted unanimously Wednesday to remove the video poker option from the ballot and then passed a second agenda item 9-4 asking the state Legislature to authorize such an election for an unspecified date later.
Parish legal adviser Dean Wattingy said video poker was removed from the ballot because the proper procedure is to have the Legislature approve the election before it comes to a parishwide vote.
At least two residents voiced their opposition to the measure Wednesday night.
The Rev. Ron Perkins, a local pastor, told the council he was opposed to sending the ballot item for approval to the Legislature because parish residents already voted it down in the late 1990s. He asked the council members how much money would be generated.
Councilman Troy Comeaux said he did not have a specific amount of money but thought the construction of video poker facilities and other economic development opportunities could bring millions of dollars to the parish.
Parish resident Will Grubbs told the council the money may not be worth it if it hurts the community.
He said his concern was that people who could not reach surrounding parishes to play video poker currently will be exposed to it should the measure pass and they will waste money they do not have.
Council members Comeaux, Maggie Daniels, Lloyd Brown, Curtis Baudoin, David Ditch, Glenn Romero, Jerome Fitch, Aquicline Arnold, and David Wayne Romero asked the Legislature to approve the video poker ballot item. Council members Bernard Broussard, Roger Duncan, Ricky J. Gonsoulin and Marty Trahan voted against it.
Councilman Thomas Landry was present but not in the chambers during the vote.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
POSITION DEFUNDED: The council voted 8-6 to defund the drainage maintenance superintendent’s salary because some council members said paying for the position may be illegal. Council members Maggie Daniels, Lloyd Brown, Curtis Baudoin, Aquicline Arnold, David Ditch and David Wayne Romero voted against the move.
At the Aug. 22 meeting, the council voted to send an internal audit investigative report to the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.
The report said Drainage Maintenance Superintendent Holly Leleaux-Thurbron was performing work not listed in her job description.
Landry said Leleaux-Thurbron has not been at the parish Public Works building most of the day but has been at the parish courthouse instead writing news releases, sitting in on office meetings and performing other nonpublic-works-related duties.
Broussard said Leleaux-Thurbron’s position is paid out of a public works drainage tax fund that can only be spent on work that promotes drainage. He said the money for the other duties has to come from another source as dictated by parish law and the language of the tax proposition.
Landry asked Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero how much of Leleaux-Thurbron’s work is being done at the courthouse.
Romero said he didn’t know. He added that he has no chief executive officer or personnel director and is operating understaffed in other areas so he has not had time to make changes to Leleaux-Thurbron’s position.
Comeaux said the council could not wait to see if the parish president would make the changes to Leleaux-Thurbron’s position that they asked him to make at the Aug. 22 meeting. Comeaux also asked for a report at the Sept. 26 council meeting explaining how much time Leleaux-Thurbron spent on nonpublic-works-related work so that they can calculate how much money to pay back to the tax proposition fund.
CONSOLIDATION: The council also voted 12-2 to request the city of New Iberia to look at consolidating government departments or services with the parish.
Council members Lloyd Brown and Marty Trahan voted against the study.
New Iberia Mayor Pro-Tem Freddie DeCourt spoke in favor of the study, saying that before any consolidations take place he would like the council to consider using intergovernmental agreements.
He said the Parish Council and City Council could pool resources without reducing representation.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved