EBR council considering Parish Attorney Roper’s removal

The Metro Council could hold a special meeting later this month to discuss whether to oust East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney Mary Roper.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso said he and Mayor-President Pro Tem Chandler Loupe will request that a hearing on Roper’s employment be held May 28 before the council’s regular meeting.

“It’s a question of competency and do we have confidence in her remaining in this position,” Amoroso said. “What type of advice is she giving us?”

Roper recently was placed on paid administrative leave amid an investigation into the alleged theft of a parish-owned computer program.

Roper, who returned to work this week, said she heard of the plans to call a hearing on her employment from the media on Wednesday.

“If anyone is unhappy about the way the office has been run, they have not voiced that opinion to me so that I could take steps to rectify whatever they are dissatisfied with,” Roper said. “I’ll continue to do my job as long as I’m able to.”

This isn’t the first dust-up between Roper and the Metro Council. Loupe repeatedly has called for her removal since 2009, and two other Metro Council members last year called for a panel to review the office’s operations. The Metro Council appoints the parish attorney, and the office falls under the council’s supervision.

Roper said she is seeking documents from the city-parish government as “evidence to clear my name” in the dispute over the computer program.

“I intend to do that as soon as I’m provided with the documentation,” she said.

Roper told The Advocate last week that she had emailed source codes for the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness computer program to her husband, another city-parish employee, who has a background in computer programming. She denied any wrongdoing and said she sent the email for advice on the process of copyrighting the program.

But Amoroso said the dispute over the computer program raises questions for him.

“I don’t know if it’s criminal or what, but to me it seems like a lack of wisdom on her part,” he said of her decision to email the source code to her husband.

MOHSEP employee Kyle Jones remains on paid leave in the ongoing investigation into the potential program theft, according to William Daniel, chief administrative officer for Mayor-President Kip Holden.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III confirmed that officials met this week to discuss the investigation into Jones. Officers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI were there, in addition to local offices.

“The matter is under investigation,” Moore said, adding that it does not involve Roper.

The investigation centers on whether Jones was attempting to sell TRACE 360, a program developed by city-parish employees, as his own. MOHSEP uses the program to streamline disaster management.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow our City Hall blog at http://blogs. theadvocate.com/cityhallbuzz.