OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council unanimously voted Monday night to research whether the council or the parish president has ultimate authority to make decisions affecting the parishwide Community Action Agency.
That action came after several council members questioned Friday’s decision by Parish President Bill Fontenot to place CAA executive director Donald Robinson on administrative leave with pay and order that the locks be changed on the doors to Robinson’s office.
Fontenot told council member Leon Robinson that he could not specifically discuss some of the issues involving Donald Robinson’s dismissal since Fontenot considers it a personnel matter.
However Fontenot told the council that the parish president has authority over the CAA and its executive director.
Donald Robinson did not attend the meeting.
Fontenot said he has placed Cynthia Fontenot in charge of the daily operations of the CAA in Robinson’s absence.
St. Landry’s CAA oversees the funding and distribution of services of state and federal programs for individuals in the areas of rental assistance, utility assistance, transportation assistance, weatherization home repair, senior employment pregnancy prevention, teen Medicaid enrollment food assistance, home ownership counseling, mortgage counseling and foreclosure counseling.
Council member Pam Gautreau said none of the members of the CAA’s 13-member advisory board who spoke at the meeting knew for sure how Robinson was hired as executive director about 36 years ago.
Council attorney Andrea West said she could not research the issue, since she represented the agency in a previous matter.
West, an assistant district attorney, said no one else on the District Attorney’s staff could help clarify the CAA issue. “The District Attorney’s Office represents both the council and the parish president,” West said.
In an interview after the CAA issue was discussed, Fontenot said the agencies responsible for funding a residential weatherization program and helping others with utility bills over the past year have had questions about that handling of revenues for the program by the St. Landry CAA office.
Fontenot said he will report the findings of a parish president’s investigation to the council once it is completed in the next seven to 10 days.
Daphne De Beau, the CAA advisory board’s executive director, told the council the board is upset about not being informed of Fontenot’s actions taken against Robinson.