Group to press recall effort for St. Tammany Parish coroner

A citizen’s group has voted to go forward with a recall petition to remove St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan from office amid questions and criticism of his spending.

Concerned Citizens for St. Tammany’s board met Monday night and voted unanimously to begin the recall effort, said Rick Franzo, president of Concerned Citizens of Lacombe, which falls under the Concerned Citizens for St. Tammany umbrella organization.

Franzo said two general membership meetings have been held in recent weeks to determine whether a recall was what people wanted, and the sentiment was overwhelming in favor of doing so.

The group also circulated forms in the general public to gauge interest, he said, with the same result.

Within two weeks, the group will file the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to launch the six-month effort to get the required 53,000 signatures on a recall petition, which Franzo called a “daunting task.’’

“The legal process will take its own course,’’ Franzo said, alluding to the scrutiny now being applied to Galvan’s office, including a review by the state legislative auditor. In the meantime, however, Franzo said the group’s board wanted to press the issue.

“If an employee did what he did, he would have been fired,’’ Franzo said, alluding to accusations of lavish spending and inflated salaries under Galvan’s management.

“We need to move on and move forward in St. Tammany Parish,’’ he said.

Earlier this month, the St. Tammany Parish Council passed three resolutions aimed at Galvan: one asked him to resign, another sought the state attorney general’s assistance in forcing the coroner to turn over financial information, and a third demanded that Galvan return money he paid himself for accrued leave.

The coroner has not responded to the council’s action.

The council also said it plans to determine the minimum amount of money needed to operate the Coroner’s Office and satisfy its debt obligations and then roll back the coroner’s millage to that level.

Concerned Citizens had been pushing for parish officials to take action on the coroner for some weeks prior to that meeting, Franzo and others said.