The search for a new Lafourche Parish administrator will be even more pressing now that the council voted to remove the interim employee.
Interim Parish Administrator Tommy Lasseigne was removed by a 7-2 vote Tuesday, with Councilmen James Bourgeois and Michael Gros voting no.
Lasseigne will still be employed by the parish, however, returning to his civil service position as project manager.
Before the council’s vote, Lasseigne elected to discuss his removal in open session rather than behind closed doors. Councilman Jerry Jones called for his removal because of complaints about his behavior.
“He’s not the best fit for the administrator job,” Jones said.
Although Lasseigne could not provide an exact timeline of when he was appointed as the interim, or how many times he has served in the role since about Feb. 1 when the former administrator resigned. Two nominations to fill that role permanently were voted down by the council.
With 14 months left in this administration’s term, Bourgeois said, he didn’t think many people would be willing to take on the job other than someone already employed by the parish.
Gros voted against the removal because, he said, it could lead to an increase in overtime if Lasseigne returned to his former position. Parish department heads are not allowed to collect overtime, but civil service employees are. Gros also said that since Lasseigne filled the position, parish projects have been seeing significant progress.
“I don’t see cause to get rid of him,” Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said. “He’s done the work.”
Lasseigne said that every project he presented to council members when he took the position has been completed or is in progress.
“Every one has been processed. I can’t do any more,” he said.
Councilman Bo Melvin disagreed, saying he has yet to see any major projects move forward in his district.
Councliman Daniel Lorraine criticized Cantrelle for what he said was a lack of leadership.
“I’m trying to figure out who’s parish president,” he said.
He also said Lasseigne lacked the “people skills” to do the job.
Lorraine has asked for Cantrelle to nominate Lasseigne to the position permanently. Cantrelle has until Sept. 8 to make his next nomination.
“I’ll put up somebody and y’all vote,” Cantrelle said. “This is getting ridiculous and the public doesn’t like it either.”
Some members of the council said Lasseigne was “running the parish” even before being named interim administrator.
As the council prepared to vote, Gros said, “He’s going to be doing the same thing except signing checks.”
After the council had voted to remove him from the interim position, Kelsey Benoit of the Choctaw area told the council that he had been threatened by Lasseigne. He alleged that Lasseigne recorded him during a conversation he had over a Community Action service for a friend. When he filed a public records request for that recording, Benoit said, he later received a “threatening” call from Lasseigne.
Lasseigne said parish employees felt threatened by Benoit’s presence at the office and that he never recorded the conversation.
“I wish I had a recording, because I’d make you a liar,” Lasseigne said.
As Benoit made an attempt to leave the meeting, Lasseigne called him a “punk.”
“And that’s why he got fired,” Councilman Jerry Lafont said.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.
Posted on Fri, August 31, 2018
by By Julia Arenstam Daily Comet Staff Writer