Murphy Painter’s opportunism and why it’s bad for Ascension

More of the same?  Murphy Painter (r) with Billy Aguillard (center) and Councilman Dempsey Lambert.

Murphy Painter is a walking, talking persecution complex; wrapped in delusions of grandeur secured by ribbons of paranoia.  And, after three decades of maneuvering for the job of Ascension Parish Sheriff, he wants to be parish president.  Painter, essentially an out-of-work private investigator…

has nothing to lose; which cannot be said of parish residents frustrated by four years of Kenny Matassa and the most corrupt administration Ascension’s Home Rule government has produced.

Painter claims that 500+ people reached out to him, urging that he forgo his life’s dream and pursue the parish presidency.  Given his penchant for hyperbole, divide the number by a factor of 10 and the bulk of those Painter-people want nothing more than maintenance of the status quo, i.e. they want those taxpayer-funded checks drawn on government bank accounts to continue filling their pockets.

A vote for Murphy Painter is a vote to retain Matassa’s policies and all those six-figure salaried deadheads on the public dole…

Vote-counting is the only qualification needed to advance in Matassa’s administration

In October your writer (enjoyed isn’t the right verb) endured a 90-minute lunch with Painter who had just left “a meeting in Donaldsonville” with politicos who convinced him to run for parish president.  Of course, given his obsession with perceived wrongs done him by two past Ascension sheriff’s, a former governor, the liquor lobby, et al. (anyone who has “enjoyed” Painter’s company for an hour or so has heard it all before), we did not get around to the business at hand until his post-lunch rationalization session in the restaurant parking lot.

NOTE: Painter was worried that I was recording.  I naturally assumed that he was doing so.  It’s a must since making heads or tails of his screed requires multiple hearings.

“It’s an opportunity for me,” Painter would repeatedly justify his presidential pursuits.  “I will be loyal to whoever helps me settle my lawsuit” against the State of Louisiana (which is how he understands loyalty).  “I need a half-a-million dollars after my legal fees are paid,” Painter declared.

He had been thinking about it for some time, opining that Louisiana’s Attorney General could authorize a settlement of $1 million without legislative approval.  Painter believes his case against the state to be “worth millions” but realizes there is no way to compel satisfaction of the judgment since municipally-owned property is immune from seizure.

Which immediately brought to mind one question.  If elected, would he retain all the deadwood of Kenny Matassa’s administration, specifically Thomas “Moose” Pearce?  His non-response was pre-packaged deflection.  The answer, revealed in subsequent communications, is YES.

NOTE:  Kenny Matassa’s purely political hires, amounting to nearly $4 million in annual payroll, are safe under Murphy Painter’s administration.

Matassa added 99 employees to payroll that increased by $3.5 MILLION

Quite a few new hires have come on board since we penned that piece eight months ago.

It was not the first time we had met.  At Painter’s invitation we spent three July 2017 mornings discussing his lawsuit; the case is predicated upon his allegedly wrongful discharge as the Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.  At the end of which Painter divulged his actual motivation.

Painter admitted to having been approached by “certain Gonzales businessmen to run for parish president” because the prospect of Clint Cointment terrifies them for some reason.  Painter wondered if a meeting with Cointment could be arranged, expressing interest in a job “after Cointment wins.”  Painter was also toying with an electoral challenge against Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson in 2020.

Your writer had come to know and respect Cointment during his 2015 bid for president that fell 117-votes short.  We had become, I am proud to say, friends.  With no plans to run again, Cointment declined to meet because, in part, Painter’s motives are not to be trusted.

A vote for Murphy Painter is a vote for…

eight council signatories who endorsed Kenny Matassa and the status quo in 2015.  Five of those signatories (Oliver Joseph, Dempsey Lambert, Randy Clouatre, Teri Casso, and John Cagnolatti) showed up to support Painter at an April 26 event.  Painter said he’s “especially” looking forward to working with Joseph whose west bank district is a must if Painter’s got a chance.

Also in attendance; Kenny Matassa (who received an ovation that evening) and the judge whose erroneous ruling paved the way for Matassa’s flight to freedom…

Honorable (?) Thomas Kliebert

Why would St. James Parish Judge Tommy Kliebert support any candidate for Ascension Parish President?  Do that math.

Subdivision developers are Painter-people because they have gotten richer building thousands of houses without regard for disastrous impact on Ascension’s floodplains, roads and other infrastructure.  A vote for Murphy Painter is a vote for Dempsey Pendarvis

Pendarvis sold part of his acreage for a 50,000 square foot warehouse

and all those developers fighting tooth-and-nail against every piece of legislation aimed at protecting the existing citizenry from ill-conceived subdivisions.  While Painter is not as smart as he believes (nobody is), he does understand that an openly pro-development platform is political suicide.  Consider what he had to say about “Two monumental events this week involving Parish Government entities…”

About the recently approved Master Plan intended to increase residential density, sweet music to the ear of every developer but loathsome to residents, Painter wrote:

” I recognize the process of developing the Master Plan could have been more open and allowed for much more public input. While it did not, this does not make the Plan bad.”

There was plenty of public input.  It was all ignored.

Cointment: “I Pledge to Repeal Master Plan”

About the Parish Council’s May 16 vote to cap fill material at 3′, an ordinance vetoed by Matassa, Painter wrote:

“(A)fter an exhaustive and costly study of new lot fill regulations was completed using tax payer dollars, the Council passed the new plan which was then vetoed by President Matassa.”

Exhaustive?  No.  Costly?  Yes.

No one who has paid the least bit of attention could make that statement.  Painter’s most ardent supporter on the Parish Council, Dempsey Lambert delayed consideration of the ordinance, stymied all public debate for nearly a calendar year.  As desperation and political reality set in, his colleagues adopted a document known to be arbitrary and flawed, because constituents were growing restless.

Election Day, October 12, is approaching.  A vote for Murphy Painter is a vote for: