Third commissioner resigns from Livingston panel

A third member of the Livingston Parish Charter Review Commission has resigned, citing the group’s waning credibility and refusal to follow legal advice.

Commissioner Rocky Brown Jr. said the decision was not an easy one to make.

“However, I feel as though the integrity of the commission has been greatly compromised after the proceedings of our last meeting,” Brown said in his resignation letter.

On March 18, the 10-member board reversed a vote taken a month prior regarding a recommendation to limit the parish president’s authority to sign contracts without council approval.

The parish’s Home Rule Charter says the president may sign contracts only for items “specifically identified” in the parish budget or an ordinance. All other contracts must receive council approval.

Commissioner Scott Jones sought at both the Feb. 17 and March 18 meetings to restrict the president’s discretion to sign contracts unilaterally to those under $25,000.

The commission voted 5-4 against the measure on Feb. 17, then 6-4 in favor of it on March 18.

Jones said the parish’s legal adviser and the district attorney consistently had said that provision of the charter has “gray areas.”

However, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, commission adviser Bob Morgan, Chairman Jimmy Durbin and Commissioner Todd Caruso — all lawyers — said the charter’s language is clear, although they said its application to a particular scenario may not be.

“I can no longer be a part of a body that simply ignores the advice of all legal counsel it has been provided, including that of our district attorney,” Brown said in his resignation letter.

Brown’s letter was dated March 19, but was not emailed to council Clerk Lisa Frederick until March 26.

Frederick instructed the deputy clerk on Monday to send a copy to Durbin, chairman of the commission.

Commissioners Rick Ramsey and Earl Price also resigned after the March 18 meeting. Ramsey said the commission’s reversal cast doubt on its credibility.

Price cited nonspecific personal reasons for his resignation but expressed confidence in the group’s work.