Councilman talks about Port Allen’s ‘rough patch’
An ordinance to properly set Port Allen Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s salary is expected to be introduced Wednesday and voted on next month, Councilmen Hugh “Hootie” Riviere said Tuesday.
What is expected to happen is the ordinance would reinstate her $84,960 annual salary, which the five-member council tried to reduce in adopting the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.
A state district judge ruled the reduction, merely by budget and not by specific ordinance, did not pass legal muster.
“I don’t wish to speculate on what will happen,” Riviere said Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon in Baton Rouge.
The ordinance is set for introduction by Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence, Riviere said after the luncheon.
The ordinance’s introduction will come a week after Judge Alvin Batiste ruled the Port Allen City Council had not followed proper procedures in trying to reduce the mayor’s salary by $20,000 a year when it adopted the fiscal year budget last year.
Batiste held that the council, in its attempt to reduce the mayor’s salary from $84,960 to $65,000 a year, needed to have adopted an ordinance specifically fixing the mayor’s salary at the reduced rate.
Batiste’s ruling, on July 2, was part of a lawsuit Riviere and fellow councilmen Garry Hubble and R.J. Loupe filed in the 18th Judicial District Court on June 25 asserting Slaughter was exceeding her executive powers as mayor through several actions, such as blocking the chief financial officer Audrey McCain’s access to the city’s bank accounts.
The lawsuit also accused Slaughter of making illegal financial transactions with taxpayers’ money.
At Tuesday’s luncheon, Riviere called the lawsuit “an attempt to restore honesty and integrity” to the city’s government.
“We are going through a rough patch right now, but I’ve always been of the belief that right wins out in the end,” he said.
The Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish had asked Riviere to speak at the luncheon about the ongoing political struggles between council members and the mayor.
Riviere expressed disappointment in the judge’s denial of the councilman’s request for a restraining order to prevent Slaughter from denying banking access to McCain.
“The judge ruled we could pass an ordinance to reinstate the CFO’s banking access,” Riviere said. “I would like to see that happen. The mayor stripped any semblance of checks and balances when she did that.”
Riviere also noted the judge said the council could adopt an ordinance demanding Slaughter reimburse the city for the nearly $2,400 she charged taxpayers for her trip to Washington, D.C., to attend President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremonies in January.
“She has not proven to me she did any legitimate (city) business in Washington,” Riviere said. “Honesty and integrity is a simple concept. You are held to a higher standard as a public official.”
Hubble, who was also asked to speak Tuesday, added, “There should be transparency beyond any scope in public money.”
Slaughter, a Democrat, was not asked to attend the luncheon.