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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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New deputy permit director chosen

New deputy permit director chosen

After recently filling all of the vacant department head positions, Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle has now announced a new interim deputy department head for planning and permitting.

In a statement released Tuesday, Cantrelle announced his appointment of Joseph “JY” Delcambre as interim deputy director of permits.

Last month, parish Risk Manager Brent Abadie told the parish Civil Service Board that the administration had appointed Delcambre to the position effective Feb. 23.

“Mr. Delcambre has served in his prior Civil Service role with distinction; therefore, this promotion is well deserved,” Cantrelle said.

According to the administration, the promotion “will require no additional funding as the funding already exists in the enacted budget.”

Cantrelle said the move was part of his ongoing efforts to improve the permit department.

“In my quest to redefine and improve upon the Permit Department, a promise I have kept, I am dedicating talent to ensure that businesses throughout Lafourche Parish have the best possible experience. My dedication to economic development is my utmost focus moving forward,” Cantrelle said.

When Abadie announced the appointment, the Civil Service Board was debating whether Delcambre violated the Civil Service code by participating in political activity. Ultimately, the board said there was no violation because there was enough documentation to show he moved to the deputy position before any political activity occurred.

Delcambre is running for Assumption Parish assessor.

At the same meeting, Abadie said the parish had also appointed an interim deputy director for public works.

Cantrelle said he has the authority to make the appointment, citing Louisiana attorney general and Lafourche district attorney opinions.

“Despite debate regarding this appointment, AG Opinion 18-0093, issued by Attorney General Jeff Landry on August 13th, 2018, pointed out that ‘The Charter divides all of the parish’s powers and functions between the legislative and executive branches of parish government and mandates a strict separation of the powers and functions.’” Cantrelle said.

That opinion related to the parish president’s authority over employees of the Lafourche Office of Community Action. The opinion states the parish president has the authority to terminate any employees in that department as they fall under the executive branch, subject to any civil service provisions.

Cantrelle also cites a portion of the district attorney opinion, issued in 2016 under District Attorney Cam Morvant, who is no longer in office.

“Just as the Council is authorized to hire, assign and direct its own legislative employees without administrative approval, so can the parish president assign and direct executive employees without legislative approval,” Cantrelle quoted from the opinion.

That opinion was issued when the council was proposing an amendment that would limit department heads to a single, full-time position, eliminating the ability for the parish president to appoint the same person as the director of human resources and the finance department.

The amendment was approved but vetoed by Cantrelle and never overridden.

The only explicit mention of a deputy department head in the Home Rule Charter lists, “Department heads and one deputy department head per department” as among those excluded from the Civil Service System.

The parish code of ordinances, however, elaborates on the role of a deputy department director.

The code allows for the parish president to appoint a deputy director in the following departments: finance, public works, human resources and planning and permitting.

However, in each section, the ordinances states the positions are subject to approval by the council.

“The parish president may appoint a deputy director(s) of planning and permitting that will serve outside of the civil service system, as provided by the Lafourche Parish Home Rule Charter, and as approved by the council,” the ordinance states.

Cantrelle could not be reached for comment today to clarify whether he will seek to appoint Delcambre to the permanent job of deputy permits director or whether he believes he needs council approval to do so. Cantrelle has also not named the interim public works deputy director.

Parish public information officer Caroline Eschette said Cantrelle was attending a meeting out of town.

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