by henri lejeune
Special to The Advocate
October 23, 2012
NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish Council expects Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero to follow through on a planned request for Louisiana State Police to possibly discover who placed an unapproved job description for a public relations officer among his files.
The document describes the duties of the drainage maintenance supervisor, the position Holly Leleux-Thurbron held until she left the job recently, but the document was altered to include public relations duties and a new pay scale.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, Council Chairman Bernard Broussard asked Romero to make the investigative request to State Police in light of the illegal activity. He said State Police can examine parish government computer hard drives to possibly discover the culprit.
Romero said he did not know who altered the job description or when it was placed there.
Councilman Thomas Landry asked Romero if he merged the job descriptions to fabricate a new one.
Romero said he did not know anything about it.
Parish Council legal adviser Dean Wattigny said the parish charter gives the council the authority to create or alter job descriptions not the parish president, who has hiring and firing powers under the charter.
Wattigny said the maintenance supervisor part of the job description was approved but not the public relations part. He added that the public relations job description did not exist until Romero’s office requested it in January from the Archer Company, which writes job descriptions for the parish.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
SECURITY CAMERAS: The council voted unanimously to allocate $14,000 to add at least four new cameras to the parish government building. Broussard said the cameras should allow them to monitor anyone in the parish president’s office. The cameras will be placed in the fourth floor office hallways, he said, and all exits and entrances in the parish courthouse.
JAIL CONTRACT: Broussard said the council would research how much money the parish government and Sheriff’s Office should each spend on maintenance and equipment at the parish jail.
The sheriff’s 10-year contract to operate the jail expired last month, and even though the parish has approved a new maintenance and equipment contract, Sheriff Louis Ackal has not signed it.
Ackal said he is spending $1.5 million a year extra of Sheriff’s Office funds to pay for maintenance and equipment at the jail when it should be coming from the council. He said the council pays $2 million a year on the jail.
Broussard said that because Ackal has not signed the new contract, the parish has had to start paying for electricity, water, sewage, gas, pest control, janitorial supplies and other utilities.
BUILDING PURCHASE: During the council’s executive committee meeting, which was held after the regular meeting, council members voted unanimously to move forward with a resolution to study buying the former Fruit of the Loom facility in Jeanerette.
Council member Aquicline Arnold said the town of Jeanerette, which owns the vacant building, is willing to sell it. The building has been appraised at $3 million, Arnold said, but the parish may be able to get it for $2 million.
Arnold said Si Brown, owner of Bruce Foods, is interested in locating in the building.
Broussard said that if a tenant is willing to move into the building then getting a loan to pay for the purchase and maintenance might be easier to obtain.
Arnold, whose district covers part of the Jeanerette area, said the Jeanerette officials wants to sell the building to the parish because they feel the parish has more resources to lease it.