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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Lafourche council rejects advertising lease, attorney list

Lafourche council rejects advertising lease, attorney list

The Lafourche Parish Council on Thursday night rejected measures to approve advertising for bids on a mineral lease and attorneys to represent the parish.

Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said he was highly disappointed by the council’s decision to vote down advertising for the mineral lease. Although he was unable to say how much money the lease generates, Cantrelle said it would be another blow to the parish’s budget crunch.

Advertising for bids on oil, gas and mineral leases was to be through the Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board.

Some council members said the lease was being taken away from local business and would be given to out-of-state businesses.

“You want to take this from someone in the parish whose been doing business for years and give it to someone in Texas,” Councilman Jerry Jones said.

It was not clear who the previous lease owner was.

According to the state board, the matter had to be decided before today or the parish would not be able to lease the land this year and would lose revenue, Cantrelle said.

Councilman Nonnie Autin and Cantrelle said it’s the state board that decides which company gets the contract, not the parish.

However, Jones said he remembers approving the lease every year as a function of the administration, not the state board.

Such leases only end if they expire or a company no longer wishes to do the work, parish Risk Manager Brent Abadie said.

The lease is not being taken away from a local company, he said. It covers about 13 acres of land in the Acadia area of Thibodaux.

The council voted 4-2 and the motion to advertise for lease bids failed. Councilmen Bo Melvin and Jones voted against the measure. Council members Luci Sposito, Gros and LaFont were absent.

The lease was originally listed under an unanimous agenda item, meaning it did not require discussion before voting, at Tuesday’s regular council meeting. But after the meeting lasted almost four hours, Sposito adjourned the meeting before reaching the matter.

“Our rookie chairman messed up,” Councilman Daniel Lorraine said Thursday.

The council was equally split on a motion to approve a list of attorneys who could provide legal defense services for the parish. Councilmen Jones, Melvin and Corey Perrillioux voted against it, citing no cause.

“Just wow … that’s all I have to say is wow,” Councilman James Bourgeois said after the meeting was adjourned.

Approving legal representation is an annual matter, Abadie said.

A list of attorneys and their hourly rates is approved by the council each year so that when a suit is filed against the parish the administration has a group of pre-approved representation to choose from and respond.

Without approval from the council, the parish will have to defer all legal cases to the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office, Cantrelle said.

“They’re denying me the ability to pick my own attorneys,” Cantrelle said after the meeting. “And everyone blames me.”

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or Follow her on Twitter at @gingerale214.