Stanley Bazile joins port panel
VACHERIE — The St. James Parish Council unanimously backed Parish President Timmy Roussel’s appointment of Vacherie resident Stanley Bazile to the South Louisiana Port Commission.
Parish officials welcomed Bazile, a retired employee of Kaiser Aluminum and former parish 6th District constable, to the commission Wednesday after a contentious nomination process during which state Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, opposed Bazile’s nomination.
“Mr. Bazile meets the state senator’s criteria as an appointment from St. James Parish,” Roussel told the council. “I’m trying to, once again, do the best for St. James Parish. ... I hope and pray Sen. Brown sees it as we see it. Simply doing the best for St. James Parish.”
Bazile declined comment at the meeting.
Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Jason Amato, Terry McCreary, Ralph Patin, Jimmy Brazan, Charles Ketchens and Ken Brass all voted for a resolution affirming and ratifying Bazile.
Bazile, who is black, is Roussel’s second choice for the vacant seat on the seven-member port commission that is responsible for overseeing shipping in St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes.
Roussel originally backed Blaise Gravois, a Vacherie contractor, to fill the commission opening, but Brown and other state senators rejected Gravois’ nomination earlier this month during a confirmation vote.
Brown has said he and Roussel had an agreement to balance the parish’s representation on the commission with people representing the west and east banks as well as both black and white residents.
Gravois, who is white, earlier this year joined the port commission to temporarily fill a vacant seat. Gravois had said he was looking forward to serving again, but also acknowledged that Bazile would do a great job.
Gravois also commented on Brown’s rejection of his nomination, saying, “The senator did what he had to do. And the Parish Council did what it had to do.”
Brazan, who is council chairman, said that although he was disappointed with Brown’s rejection of Gravois, the council needs to work with the state senator and “get past this” so St. James Parish can move forward.
Brown said in an interview Thursday that while he respects the council’s decision to appoint Bazile, the Senate would not be able to confirm Bazile’s appointment until the 2013 session of the state Legislature.
In the interval, Brown said, he plans to speak with other port commissioners and the port’s executive director to see how Bazile does. Brown added that he does not know whether Bazile has the business experience needed to serve on the commission.
Brown also said he plans to file legislation next year taking away the authority of the council and parish president to make appointments to the commission.
Instead, Brown would push to give authority to the governor to name both St. James appointees to the commission. The governor already fills one of the parish’s two seats on the panel.
Brown had raised potential ethics conflicts in the fight over Bazile’s appointment, but said Thursday it is likely there is no such ethics conflict. Bazile’s nephew is Parish Councilman Ketchens.
Aneatra Boykin, staff attorney with the state Board of Ethics Legal Division, said in an interview Wednesday that ethics laws prohibiting such conflicts apply to “immediate family” only.
“Nieces and nephews are not immediate family,” she said.
Ketchens on Wednesday night disputed any idea of a conflict on the same grounds, adding that Brown already had told him he would support Bazile.
David J. Mitchell contributed to this report.