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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Council overrides Parish President’s vetoes

Council overrides Parish President’s vetoes

The Lafourche Parish Council Tuesday exercised a seldom-used process—overriding a veto by the Parish President.

Although it most often occurs during budget review (when the President may veto an expenditure added by the Council and the Council may then attempt to override), veto power extends to ordinances approved by the Council.

It is up to that body to get a two-thirds (6 votes) majority of all voting members to successfully override a veto.

After the August 8 public meeting, President Jimmy Cantrelle vetoed an ordinance which defined “extenuating circumstances” or streets which would not meet the present criteria for the installation of traffic calming devices or “speed bumps”.

“Extenuating circumstances” are defined in the ordinance as streets and roads with unusual conditions such as boat launches, dead ends, cul-de-sacs, or impasse streets with traffic due to a business or establishment located there.

In all such cases, the Sheriff’s criteria would not be met.

Cantrelle also vetoed two other ordinances calling for the installation of those devices on two streets in Kraemer, one which has a boat launch at the end and another which is a dead-end with a business on it.

District 2 Councilwoman Luci Sposito, in whose district two of the streets are located, successfully lobbied for changing the criteria for the devices to include the special situations which were not allowed for in the Code but which demanded consideration.

The streets are Larousse Lane down which the Kraemer Boat Launch is located, and Kraemer Bayou Road where Zam’s Swamp Tours is found.

On Larousse, speed bumps which had been placed on the narrow dead-end street leading to the Kraemer launch were not reinstalled after the road was repaved by the parish.

Public Works Director James Barnes said there is no record of a Sheriff’s survey ever being done on that road. He said he could not, therefore, reinstall the bumps.

Additionally, the road is a dead-end street, which does not meet the Code.

Sposito said it appears to have been done by a previous administration and that the speed bumps had been put there to slow the large amount of traffic going in and out of the launch as well as to protect the elderly residents who live nearby.

Sposito noted that Kraemer Bayou Road is the location of Zam’s Swamp Tours where large numbers of tourists and students on field trips cross the road to get to tour boats. The danger of a young person being hit by a vehicle was too great to ignore, she said.

Kraemer Bayou Road is also a dead-end street.

Parish Administrator Leif Haas, speaking for Cantrelle, said that the first ordinance was “a little vague in that it would allow people to bypass the process” of applying for speed bumps through the Sheriff’s Office and simply come before the Council to make their case. He also said that if the parish stuck to the strict adherence of the Sheriff’s opinion for specific streets, future liability would be lessened.

Kraemer Bayou Road was surveyed by the Sheriff and found to have low numbers of speeders. Haas noted that the survey found that about 85% of drivers did not exceed 12 mph.

Lastly, Haas said that funding for the placement of speed bumps has been and will continue to be a problem for the parish.

“The parish has streets from 2006 and later which were approved by the Sheriff but never funded by the parish,” Haas stated.

Sposito maintained that residents asked her to find a way to make their streets safer.

“These streets will still be evaluated by the sheriff, they will still have to come before the council, and the Parish President will still decide,” she said. “I’m just really disappointed in this act (veto).”

In 2016, Lafourche Sheriff Craig Webre expressed to the Council his support of traffic calming devices and pledged that he would pay for half of all those which met the present criteria, if the parish paid the other half of all costs.

Each has continued to budget $50,000 per year for the devices although few have been actually installed.

On August 22, the Council unanimously voted to override Cantrelle’s vetoes. All members were present.