Councilmanâ€™s proposal to change alcohol selling times goes against ethics code
At a recent Parish Council public meeting, Councilman John Arnold proposed to change the ordinance regarding the sale of alcohol.
Under present law, the hours during which alcohol may NOT be sold are 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day. He proposed to change those hours on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing bars to close at 3 a.m. instead of 2.
Immediately, Councilman Jerry Lafont moved to ask for a District Attorney opinion regarding the legality of such a proposed ordinance. Lafont’s motion was seconded by John Arnold, and passed unanimously 9-0 to have the DA decide on the matter.
The problem with that is John Arnold owns a bar in Lafourche Parish.
Not surprising, DA Camille Morvant’s opinion, issued January 15th, on “the issue of a Council Member proposing an ordinance regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages when that Council Member owns and operates a business that sells alcoholic beverages”, is simple.
Morvant’s opinion states, “Louisiana Ethics Code prohibits any public servant from participating in a transaction in which he has a personal substantial economic interest of which he may be reasonably expected to know involving the governmental entity.”
His opinion goes on to say, “Therefore, a councilmember who has a substantial economic interest (statutorily defined as a 25% or more ownership interest) would be precluded from not only sponsoring an ordinance regulating the source of the economic interest, but also voting on the ordinance regulating the source of the economic interest.”
What was Arnold thinking?
Posted on Fri, January 18, 2013