Loar, Johnson keep leadership spots on Ascension Council

Ascension Parish Councilmen Chris Loar and Benny Johnson will serve for a third year as the Parish Council’s leadership team, with Loar as chairman and Johnson as vice chairman.

For the second consecutive year, Loar was elected Thursday with opposition from some members and complaints about his leadership style.

Loar was re-elected 6-3 with Councilmen Todd Lambert, Bryan Melancon and Daniel “Doc” Satterlee opposed. Councilman Travis Turner was absent when the votes were cast, and Loar did not vote as chairman.

Johnson was re-elected without opposition.

As chairman, Loar runs meetings and sets the agenda but also serves as an informal go-between amoung council members on issues coming before that body.

Before the vote, Lambert said Loar needed to improve on his communication with the whole council and not just “certain groups.” He said he has experienced that lack of communication the past two or three years.

“And it needs to be corrected,” Lambert said.

He also found fault with Loar’s not following Robert’s Rules of Order when Loar, as chairman, makes comments on issues before the council. Lambert said under those rules, Loar should briefly relinquish the chairmanship to speak.

“I would like to see this done because that is the professional way of doing business,” Lambert said.

After the vote, Loar thanked several council members individually for their work on various council committees and subcommittees in 2013, from Councilman Oliver Joseph’s work on a parish utilities district to Lambert’s work leading a committee that recommends appointees to council committees and boards.

“I just feel very blessed to be serving with all of you gentlemen and lady and am looking forward to a very positive 2014,” he said.

In other action, the council backed 10-0 a resolution supporting U.S. Senate passage of SB 1846, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. Loar did not vote.

Councilman Randy Clouatre, who asked for the resolution, said the bill would delay implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. That law has raised hackles because it considerably raised some federally subsidized flood insurance premiums starting Oct. 1.

Clouatre, who has visited Washington, D.C., to lobby for relief from Biggert-Waters, said the law’s backers erroneously believed it would affect expensive vacation homes and not the homes of blue collar workers living in low-lying areas of the Gulf South. He said that’s how detached members of Congress can be from “the people that they’re serving.”