PORT ALLEN — The City Council appointed convicted felon and former Police Chief Adrian Genre on Wednesday night as Port Allen’s new chief administrative officer, effective July 1.
Barry Brewer, who has overseen the city’s operations for more than 30 years, retired from the position on June 11, officials said.
Genre applied for a job as assistant CAO in 2010 during the administration of former Mayor Derek Lewis.
Back then, Genre had the backing of Councilmen R.J. Loupe Sr., Hugh “Hootie” Riviere and Ralph Bergeron, who joined in voting in favor of Mayor Roger Bergeron’s appointment of Genre as CAO.
Council members Ray Helen Lawrence and Irvrie Johnson voted against naming Genre as CAO.
Genre served as Port Allen’s police chief for seven years before resigning in August 2000 after pleading guilty to perjury in a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city and its Police Department.
The lawsuit asserted only black applicants were given a written test during a Police Department interview process.
Genre admitted to lying in a deposition about the department’s hiring practices. He was sentenced to serve six months in federal prison, plus serve three years on probation and pay a $2,000 fine.
Since November 2001, Genre has owned and operated Jason’s Restaurant & Catering in Port Allen.
Mayor Bergeron told the council Wednesday night he felt Genre is the most qualified of the five candidates the city’s Personnel and Finance Committee interviewed for the CAO slot. The mayor said 12 people submitted applications.
“I’ve thought about it and prayed about it,” Bergeron said.
The mayor’s recommendation drew gasps from audience members eagerly waiting to speak out about their opposition to Genre’s appointment.
“How, with a good heart, could you hire that man?” Gerald Gauthe, a former Port Allen police chief now retired, asked the mayor before the council’s vote.
Genre, “betrayed the trust of the people that elected him into office,” Gauthe said. “He went to the federal pen, cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lawsuit. You can stand up here and say you made a good decision?”
Gauthe asked Bergeron if he was going to hire former Mayor Lewis and former Police Chief Fred Smith as well after they are released from prison. Both Smith and Lewis were convicted of crimes stemming from the FBI’s Operation Blighted Officials sting.
“How long ... does a man have to be punished for making a mistake?” Bergeron replied. “Given all that it cost him already, what is the likelihood he would betray that trust again?”
Gauthe told the mayor he wasn’t trying to punish Genre for his past.
“I hope he gets the best job in the world, just not with the city,” Gauthe said. “I think this thing was cut and dried months ago. I’ve been hearing on the streets for three months Adrian was going to get that job.”
Mayor Bergeron tried to dispel any talk that his friendship with Genre was a factor in his decision. “This was about who I thought would do the best job,” Bergeron said.
Back in 2010, when Genre first came under consideration for the CAO job, Lewis asked the council to appoint Cenceria LeMone Dalcourt as Brewer’s assistant, with the understanding that she would take over after Brewer retired.
Dalcourt, who also applied for the CAO post, has been serving as the interim CAO for the past 10 months while Brewer was on paid leave.
“Cenceria’s ré sumé was outstanding,” Councilwoman Lawrence said. “There is no doubt in my mind she has been doing a pretty decent job. When I looked at Mr. Adrian’s (Genre’s) résumé , he did not have some of the qualifications she had.”
Dalcourt’s résumé says she served as director of disaster management at Glenn Shaheen & Associates, an engineering firm headquartered in Gonzales, before taking the assistant CAO job. Dalcourt also holds a civil engineering degree from Southern University.
The mayor would not discuss Dalcourt’s job performance during the meeting, but alluded to concerns he had. “Having worked here with her, I got to observe things you don’t see on a résumé ,” he said.
When asked by councilman Johnson if she had reviewed her personnel folder and found any disciplinary actions filed against her, Dalcourt said no.
“Since April 10, I have not had any disciplinary actions in my folder or poor job performance recorded,” Dalcourt told Johnson. “I’m kind of shocked to hear all of this as well.”
After the meeting, Dalcourt said she was shocked by the mayor’s statements Wednesday night because he heavily relies on her.
“I still have a job to do and I’m going to do that job,” she said. “God doesn’t put you through something for no reason.”