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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Council removes Drainage District Board Member

Council removes Drainage District Board Member

The Lafourche Parish Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to remove Drainage District No. 1 (DD1) board member and President Albert Guidry from his board position.

Parish Councilman Armand Autin moved on the resolution for Guidry’s removal for failure to comply with the parish’s request for public records from the Drainage Board.

Councilmen Daniel Lorraine and Jerry Jones voting against Guidry’s dismissal and James Bourgeois abstained. Jerry Lafont was absent from the meeting.

Parish Legislative Internal Auditor Reggie Bagala had requested meeting minutes and other information from DD1 beginning on December 14, 2017 and was never given all of the requested documents, said Bagala.

Another letter was sent to DD1 by Bagala on January 4, requesting the information and citing Louisiana law, again with no response, he said.

Louisiana State Law requires public governmental entities such as DD1 to at least respond to the request within 3 days, although the information requested does not have to be forwarded within the 3-day period.

In a lengthy and public executive session on Tuesday, Autin pressed for a vote, refusing to allow Guidry and his attorney John Bourgeois more time to present evidence that Bagala’s request letter was misplaced by Glover Chiasson, another DD1 board member.

“They turned their back. Even beyond December, there was no huge effort to comply,” said Autin.

Guidry said that over the period of time in question, he had several conversations with Autin and Bagala in which the issue was never brought up by either of them.

“Armand Autin and Reggie Bagala talked to me, but no questions were asked. They didn’t send a registered letter,” he said.

Bourgeois called the matter “a mistake,” but he said there was no deliberate attempt by Guidry or the board to ignore Bagala’s request.

The resolution also asks that the parish Administration advertise for the board vacancy.

Drainage District No. 1 covers roughly from the Gheens Road on the east side of Bayou Lafourche and from Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital in Raceland on the west side to Golden Meadow.

DD1 collects a 0.9 millage which brings in about a half million dollars annually, and spends that money on local projects within the district.

Recently, Guidry and DD1 were instrumental in securing a $4.75 million grant from Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Statewide Flood Control Program to begin the East Side Drainage Improvements Project, a 20-arpent canal clearing and drainage improvement venture.

DD1 and the parish will put up approximately $350,000 for the project which will improve drainage between East 39th and East 94th streets in Cut Off.

The project will also add a pump station with four pumps to move 800,000 gallons of water per minute to the South Lafourche levee and drainage system.