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GONZALES — Mayor Barney Arceneaux and Councilman Tim Vessel clashed Monday over the administration’s responsiveness to the councilman’s public works requests.
The sharp words centered on how the city administration handled a mobile home in Philippe Park that had poorly treated sewer discharging into a ditch.
The issue apparently drew the interest of a local television station, reportedly at Vessel’s prompting, city officials said.
The argument arose Monday near the end of a City Council meeting and continues a dispute between Arceneaux and Vessel over the line authority between the council and city workers. The mayor says it is his job to manage day-to-day affairs of city government.
In the meeting, Vessel charged that two city officials told him they could not speak with him without the authorization of the mayor and later told the mayor he needed to “do your job” to investigate problems.
“So you explain that. I can’t talk to the public works director?” Vessel asked, but the mayor “can’t get nothing done.”
Arceneaux accused Vessel of “playing games” over the incident. The mayor claimed Vessel would not tell Public Works Director Alvin Broussard or building official Jerry Self where and what the problem was the morning of Sept. 16 but then contacted the television station days later.
“You do not tell them where it was. You did not tell them what it was, Mr. Vessel,” Arceneaux said, his voice rising. “You did not tell them what it was, OK? They could have took care of it.”
Arceneaux added Vessel also could have called in a work order himself.
“So don’t sit here and start playing games with us, OK?” Arceneaux said.
“I’m not playing games,” Vessel shot back.
He said if city officials cannot get the job done, “you need to get out and do your job. That’s all I got to say. I don’t have to call in a work order. If you would ride there, you would see it yourself,” he said.
Arceneaux suggested that Vessel follow him one day on his job.
Arceneaux said in a later interview that Broussard was sitting in the mayor’s office when Vessel called him and that Arceneaux overhead Vessel’s entire conversation with Broussard.
In any case, Arceneaux said, the improper sewer connection was disconnected the day city officials found out where it was, Sept. 18, and the small amount of sewage near the ditch was disposed of.
Arceneaux added in a later interview he would like Vessel to call him or Broussard, but Broussard will report to Arceneaux what Vessel has requested.