Five to be honored by Louisiana Civil Service League

State Bond Commission Director Whitman J. Kling Jr., LASERS director Cindy Rougeou, Thibodaux Mayor Tommy Eschete, New Orleans Civil Service Commission general counsel Gilbert R. Buras Jr. and Alexandria Civil Service Commissioner Ruth T. Weinzettle are the recipients of this year’s Monte M. Lemann Awards, presented annually by the Louisiana Civil Service League.

The award, presented to individuals outside the classified civil service system who have made contributions to the advancement of the merit system of public employment in Louisiana, is named in honor of Monte M. Lemann, who was a staunch defender of the merit civil service law.

WHITMAN J. KLING JR.: Kling, of Baton Rouge, is a 39-year veteran of state government who has served since February 2005 as director/secretary of the State Bond Commission and has many years of service with the state Division of Administration.

According to a news release from the league, he implemented GAAP reporting within state government, worked with converting various reporting processes for local governments from paper to electronic, and managed the $8 billion GOZONE bond program.

Kling serves as vice chairman of the board of the Louisiana Deferred Compensation Commission and as state Treasurer John Kennedy’s proxy on the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System. Kling, a CPA, is a 1974 graduate of LSU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

CINDY ROUGEOU : Rougeou was named executive director of LASERS in March 2006. LASERS is a multi-billion-dollar public pension system serving more than 100,000 active and retired state employees.

Rougeou’s career in state government includes services with Louisiana Public Broadcasting, the Louisiana Department of State and the state Attorney General’s Office.

She also has served as legal counsel for the Louisiana House of Representatives. She is a graduate of McNeese State University and the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

TOMMY ESCHETE : Elected mayor of Thibodaux in 2010, Eschete served a member of the Thibodaux Municipal Civil Service System for most of his 25 years as city clerk and council administrator.

He instrumental in the efforts to amend the Thibodaux Home Rule Charter to include provisions for the Thibodaux civil service system.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University in 1980.

GILBERT R. BURAS JR.: Buras has served as special counsel to the New Orleans Civil Service Commission since 2000.

He helped draft a federal consent decree that brought modern assessment practices to hiring and promotion decisions in the New Orleans Police Department.

After leaving city government in 1986, Buras was employed by a labor law firm representing civil servants in the appeals process and litigated labor cases on behalf of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Union, Local 632, the Kenner Fire Fighters Association and AFSCME. He is a 1976 graduate of the University of New Orleans and a 1979 graduate of Tulane Law School.

RUTH T. WEINZETTLE: Weinzettle served as a member of the Alexandria Civil Service Commission from 2004 to 2012.

During her tenure, new pay and class plans were implemented, the separation of duties and responsibilities between Civil Service and Human Resources was completed, and major modifications to the Alexandria Civil Service Rules were implemented.

Weinzettle, a professor of social work at Northwestern State University, received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Louisiana College and both a master’s degree and doctorate in social work from LSU.

The Lemann Award recipients will be honored at the Louisiana Civil Service League’s annual luncheon on Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in New Orleans.

Tickets to this year’s luncheon are available at the League’s New Orleans office by calling (504) 522-3875.