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Wayne Ardoin

Attendance stalls Parish Council hiring

The meeting to begin the process of hiring a chief administrative officer for St. Landry Parish Government stalled when only five Council members called into the teleconference.
“This is discouraging,” Parish Council Chairman Coby Clavier said as the 5:30 p.m. meeting time arrived and it was joined by only four other members: Wayne Ardoin, Harold Taylor, Gil Savoy and Nancy Carriere.
“If they don’t want to come to the Council meeting you can’t make them,” Ardoin said.
Ardoin said the issue is a controversial one.
“We need to read between the lines,” he added.
Taylor called the lack of a quorum a confusing situation and possible malfeasance.
The Council needed at least seven members in attendance to introduce the ordinance even for a meeting held over the phone.
Clavier decided the Council should wait until its usual 6 p.m. meeting time and use the time to develop a backup plan for another meeting.
There was a moment when the decision to wait seemed to promise the business could be done. That was when Council member Jerry Red called in, but he spoke with assistant clerk Karen Barlow to say he couldn’t participate.
“You can read the handwriting on the wall,” Ardoin said. “It is an ordinance that we are trying to pass here and I know that it is not a popular ordinance.”
He added, “Ever since Mr. Fontenot has fell sick it is like we have some controversy about trying to run this parish government the way it is supposed to be run.”
In February Parish President Bill Fontenot announced he was taking a medical leave as he was being treated for squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer.
At Fontenot’s recommendation, the Council appointed Amanda Cain, chief financial officer, as the parish president designee.
Ardoin said Cain was handling multiple jobs until Richard Lucito began assisting her on a part-time basis. Lucito announced he would be retiring earlier this month.
“Now Mandy is stuck with three jobs,” Ardoin said.
“She cannot keep going the way she is going people,” he said.
Wednesday’s special meeting was to introduce an ordinance creating the chief administrative officer job.
Ardoin, who is chairman of the Council’s Administrative-Finance Committee, said Cain determined the parish government could pay an administrator $77,000 a year.
Parish government had a manager years ago, but in August 2012 was cited by the legislative auditor because the Council failed to create the job by ordinance, he said.
Cain is now finance director, CAO and parish president, Ardoin said.
“I just don’t think it is right. This lady did not sign on .. for all of this,” he said.
The chief administrative officer would supervisor department heads, employees and be in charge of finances, he said.
“Mandy can function as parish president and also watch over the financial problems and we have plenty of financial problems with the pandemic. I just don’t know how we are going to rebound,” he said.
A special meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to introduce the chief administrator ordinance. Also scheduled Wednesday is a 5:15 p.m. special meeting to appoint constables in three districts.
The regular meeting is start at 6 p.m. As of Friday there had been no announcement as to whether the meetings would be in-person or by telephone.

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