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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Bouziga Again Begs Promised Funds

Bouziga Again Begs Promised Funds


As Parish Council debates go, Tuesday’s words between Golden Meadow Mayor Joey Bouziga and Parish Councilman Daniel Lorraine were little more than some rough “sparring” between two men who obviously dislike each other.

Truth be told, other past Council meeting square-offs have been far worse, such as when Councilman Jerry Jones and Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle take sides over treatment of parish employees.

But as the debate unfolded on Tuesday, it was obvious such dislike in a political setting will hurt only the constituents of the “partners” who are at odds.

“You’re gonna make the people of Golden Meadow suffer because you don’t like me?” asked Bouziga of Lorraine, referring to his repeated request for the parish to make good on a 2014 pledge of $100,000 to help the Town of Golden Meadow pay a portion of the cost of the Phase III Golden Meadow Seawall Project.

“I’m not gonna kiss you,” replied Lorraine.

Throughout words about whether the $100,000 is in the budget or not, it was sometimes hard to figure out who is actually running the parish—Lorraine or Cantrelle.

“If you would have come to ME, you would have gotten your money by now,” said Lorraine to Bouziga.

While Cantrelle could not find any proof of the money being in parish capital outlay coffers, Lorraine debated protocol in Bouziga sending his request letter to Councilman Jerry Lafont instead of the person in whose district the Town rests.

“I represent the Town of Golden Meadow, but the Mayor can go to who he wants. That doesn’t bother me a bit,” said Lorraine.

“How can I go to you when you won’t talk to me?” asked Bouziga.

Lorraine at first said he didn’t care who Bouziga sought for help, but by the end of the discussion Lorraine changed course and told the Mayor “I don’t appreciate you doing what you did” for sending the letter to Lafont.

But most odd was Cantrelle’s statement that in several phone conversations Bouziga never mentioned what the money was for.

“Joey, you never told me it was for a seawall project. You only said $100,000,” Cantrelle said.

But if Cantrelle didn’t know what the money was for, how did he know what line item to search for in the budget?

And if, as Cantrelle admitted, he sought out Lorraine’s advice, how did he not know what the money was for, since Bouziga said Lorraine attended Town meetings when the problem was discussed?

The project was first listed in the 2015 budget under “Project Code 15033—Seawall Flood Protection”, and again in 2016.

It has disappeared from subsequent budgets on the parish’s government website, although Internal Auditor Reggie Bagala showed a screenshot of the MUNIS (parish management software) site which records budget items and shows the 15033 amount in all budgets since 2015.

“We looked for it too and so far haven’t found it. I will research it again and see if it’s there and we’ll do what we have to do,” said Cantrelle.

The Seawall Project Phase III was designed to reinforce the seawall in Golden Meadow, keeping it from falling into Bayou Lafourche.

By FEMA guidelines for the grant, the Town had to share about $350,000 of the cost of the $1.4 million project.

At the time, Bouziga asked the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, the South Lafourche Levee District and Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph for help. Randolph agreed to kick in the $100,000 now in question.

But since 2015, that money still hasn’t been paid.

Lorraine says Lafont and others didn’t stay abreast of the line item in budgets after 2016. Lafont and others like Bagala say it is still there.

Sounds like “Yankee Canal Levee Improvements” all over again, doesn’t it?