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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Missing tapes lead to higher security

Missing tapes lead to higher security

The Lafourche Parish Council voted Tuesday to change the locks in the legislative branch offices and add other security measures after the disappearance of three important cassette tapes from their vault in Thibodaux.

The tapes in question were recordings of the 2004 Lafourche Parish Home Rule Charter Commission that revised the parish's charter.

When Lafourche District Attorney Cam Morvant's office went to get tapes that would give context to the intent of a law, some of the tapes were found to be missing. The 2003 Lafourche Parish Home Rule Charter Committee meeting tapes were still there.

"When we first noticed a tape was missing ... we thought it was just coincidence that the tape was missing," Morvant said. "Then another issue came up regarding the administrator's position, and when we went back to the archive, that tape was missing as well. On these two issues, both of the tapes were missing."

The first missing tape was noticed on Feb. 7 when Morvant was asked by the council to clarify the rules within the parish's Home Rule Charter as to how much time Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle had to name a new parish administrator to be voted on by the council.

The second, according to a memo sent to the Parish Council and Cantrelle on March 23, was discovered missing about five weeks later while Morvant's office looked into the order of succession if there was a vacancy for parish president with only an interim parish administrator in office.

Council Clerk Carleen Babin keeps a sign out log for all the tapes in the vault and said she has no record of the tapes being checked out.

According to the memo, an inventory of the tapes was taken and the two tapes, along with the last commission meeting tape, were missing.

Morvant also recommended in the memo that the council make digital copies of all the remaining tapes, submit either the original or digital copies to be held in the archives section at Nicholls State University's Ellender Memorial Library, take extra security measures and contact the Thibodaux Police Department if it is believed the tapes were stolen.

Babin said the council has not decided whether to contact the police on this matter. Babin also said the council is looking into digitizing the tapes and is in talks with Nicholls to have one copy stored in the library archives.

-- Staff Writer Dan Boudreaux can be reached at 857-2204 or Follow him on Twitter @dan_boudreaux.