Port Allen’s former mayor offers help to successor

Former Mayor Roger Bergeron said Wednesday night he would assist Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter any way he could to resolve her new administration’s ongoing transition issues.

Bergeron’s offer delivered before City Council members and Slaughter came a week after Slaughter, who defeated Bergeron in the 2012 elections, had complained that Bergeron failed to help assure a smooth transition between their two administrations.

Admitting Slaughter’s assertions were “mostly true,” Bergeron reminded Slaughter he initially offered his help to her when the two first sat down together, along with other city officials, during a meeting in December.

“I told you if you ever have any questions, please call me,” Bergeron told Slaughter during the public comment portion of the council’s meeting Wednesday night.

Bergeron said he also gave Slaughter a four-page letter outlining the city’s ongoing issues and pending litigation.

“I think I, at least, made an honest effort to help in the transition — maybe not the best,” Bergeron said. “And I still offer my help.”

Slaughter responded, “I should have had at least a week of transitional training before having all these things transferred to me as an incoming mayor.”

Since taking office Jan. 1, Slaughter has made a series of controversial decisions that included attempting to fire the city’s chief financial officer, increasing her pay as mayor by $20,000 a year and creating the unpaid job of city chief of staff and naming her brother-in-law to fill it.

Slaughter also has been criticized for visiting Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama and asking taxpayers to foot the bill.

The state Legislative Auditor’s Office is currently investigating a number of Slaughter’s actions.

Other matters considered by the council included:

NEW VEHICLE: Slaughter and council members revisited their dispute over buying a new sport utility vehicle for the city fire chief, with Slaughter saying the December 2012 purchase contract was invalid because it lacked the mayor’s signature when it was approved.

“The (purchase order) was signed by a city staffer who was not bonded or authorized to sign contracts,” Slaughter said.

Adrian Genre, the city’s chief administrative officer, is the “staffer” to whom Slaughter referred.

Genre said then-Mayor Bergeron had approved the purchase of the $30,000 vehicle at the time he, Genre, signed the purchase order, adding, “I’m the chief purchasing agent for the city.”

The City Council approved purchase of the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe in June when it adopted the city’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

The mayor said, meanwhile, she would reconsider purchasing a new SUV for the fire chief with 2013-14 fiscal year funds.