Port Allen mayor vetoes ordinance identifying department heads

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter on Monday vetoed a recently adopted measure from the Port Allen City Council seeking to clarify department heads within the city’s administration.

Slaughter said the council overstepped its boundaries in trying to grant department head status to five administrative positions.

“These type of changes must happen at the recommendation of the mayor,” Slaughter said Monday. “When they were trying to introduce this back in February, I made a statement this was never recommended by me.”

In her statement to the city’s clerk, the mayor cites Louisiana Revised Statute 33:362 which says any department of a municipality, other than the police department in a city with an elected police chief, must be “created, abolished, merged or consolidated” upon the written recommendation of the mayor.

The council approved the ordinance 3-2 on May 8, identifying the city’s chief financial officer, chief administrative officer, fire chief, police chief and public works director as department heads.

Councilmen R.J. Loupe, Hugh “Hootie” Riviere and Garry Hubble voted in favor of the measure. Council members Ray Helen Lawrence and Brandon Brown voted against the measure.

Hubble presented the ordinance to the council shortly after the mayor unsuccessfully tried to fire the Audrey McCain, city’s chief financial officer.

McCain’s firing was blocked by a state district court judge who said the mayor did not have the authority to fire McCain without council approval because McCain was, in fact, a department head.

Hubble said has said he was hoping the ordinance would clarify who had department head status within the administration to avoid any future confusion over the matter.

Slaughter said Monday, “I don’t see where it (the ordinance) was needed. The judge made the decision that it (CFO) was a department head.”

According to provisions in the Lawrason Act, the council must re-consider a vote on the ordinance at its next regular meeting on June 12.

It will now take a two-thirds vote from the City Council to override the mayor’s veto. That means either Lawrence or Brown will need to change their votes.

Lawrence said Monday she intends to sit down with the mayor to discuss Slaughter’s veto.

However, Lawrence made no indication she will change her vote.

“She has the Lawrason Act on her side,” Lawrence said. “Other mayors normally have total control with the business matters in their cities, too. If she wants to be in control, she should be.

“This has all been such a dysfunctional thing. Who knows where it’s going from here.”

Brown said Monday he has no intentions of changing his mind.

Brown said he feels the ordinance was just an effort by the council’s majority to give job security to “certain people” within the administration.

“I don’t see a need for it,” he said. “We should be judging whether or not they stay employed by the city off their job performance, not because certain council people want them there.”

Hubble said Monday that given the stance Brown and Lawrence took when the ordinance was voted on last week, he doesn’t expect the mayor’s veto be overturned.

“But if you look back in February when this was introduced, both Brown and (Lawrence) went along with every other council member and agreed 5-0 this should be done,” Hubble said. “In time ... the two of them said, ‘Oh no, we’re not going to do it that way.’ ”

Hubble said the ordinance was not designed to be another combative attack on the mayor’s inherent powers. It was meant to preserve the city’s historic practice of appointing the positions, excluding the chief of police, with the approval of the council, he said.

“A lot of people don’t feel the mayor or city councils should have complete control over these departments,” Hubble said. “It was just a cooperative endeavor between the executive branch and the legislative branch. But here, again, we don’t have that cooperation.”