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Wednesday, November 14, 2018



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Council Battles Over Public Records

Council Battles Over Public Records

Lafourche Parish Government’s Legislative body has made several requests recently to the Administration regarding public records and the timely forwarding of them. In return, Parish President Charlotte Randolph made her own public records requests to the Council at last Tuesday’s public meeting in Mathews.

Over the past few months, the Council Chairman, Joe Fertitta, and the recently appointed Legislative Internal Auditor, Dr. Tommy Lasseigne, have asked for the financial records of various boards and commissions within the parish, and have stated their dismay at the lack of cooperation from the Administration.

To that end, they have even asked the District Attorney to compel the Administration to respond to requests.

At the September 11 meeting, Lasseigne reported on the Office of Community Action but said he could not provide some answers because he did not get the information.

“I never got the reports from the administration,” he said.

“We were a little busy,” replied Randolph, explaining that the Parish was dealing with a hurricane and her administration had little time to look for requested documents.

Tuesday night, Randolph fired back with her own requests for information.

According to Randolph, in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac FEMA sent a letter to all parishes reminding them that “permits and adherence to building codes must be enforced.”

Lafourche Parish Government has made it clear in publications and on the airwaves that although permit fees would be waived, any repairs to personal property as a result of the hurricane must be permitted.

Randolph said at the Council meeting on Tuesday that Councilman Daniel Lorraine advised many people to do their repairs without getting a permit. She said that Lorraine in effect gave variances to these people, and is requesting a list of those variances.

Lorraine claims that the permit office was not answering calls, and that telling people to go ahead with repairs was the prudent thing to do in an emergency.

Randolph informed the Council that asking for the list is "a public records request which requires fulfillment within three days.”

Similarly, she requested that the person who changed the wording of an upcoming Home Rule Charter amendment proposition, to be presented to voters at the October election, should be revealed.

“The council voted on one document and the Secretary of State received a changed document,” she said.

Randolph explained that the original document showed an "October 20, 2007" date, but that the date was changed before the document reached the Secretary. By law, any changes must be approved by the Council before they are submitted, she said.

"Our question is who has the authority to change a document approved by the Council?" asked Randolph.

Finally, she called a recent meeting among councilmen and the solid waste contractor, Progressive, Inc., “unauthorized” and demanded to see any documents from that meeting and to know who was in attendance.