At first blush Oliver Joseph’s refusal to vote on the measure to override President Kenny Matassa’s veto last Thursday seemed cowardly, or maybe Joseph is just incompetent. Having observed Joseph for nearly a decade though, we know better. He is not a coward, nor is he incompetent; so, what just happened as the ordinance limiting development fill at three feet, requiring structures to be built one foot higher than currently, was wiped off the books by Matassa?
Team Murphy Painter, the developers’ best friends, just gave a collective middle finger to east bank Ascension Parish. Meet the players.
Matassa, the lamest lame-duck in Ascension’s history, is openly supporting Painter (so is the St. James Parish judge whose failure to apply black letter law paved the way to Matassa’s freedom). It is Matassa’s veto of the May 16 ordinance which set the stage for one of the most disgraceful charades in council history, and that is saying something. The president and his judge, Thomas Kliebert, were both introduced to a welcoming crowd at Painter’s April 26 event at Gonzales Civic Center.
All four legislative operatives were in attendance. Oliver Joseph was singled out by Murphy Painter that night. Recognizing attendees from other areas of Ascension, Painter closed with:
“…Especially, my friends from Donaldsonville…My friend, and one I wanna be real close friends with, OJ,” Painter gushed.
Joseph, who chairs Strategic Planning Committee from whence the ordinance came, claimed he needed more information about the legislation. He abstained from the vote but, since it was to override a veto the abstention counted as a “NO” according to Roberts Rules of Order. Joseph chaired the meeting which considered the ordinance and a lengthy discussion, culminating in a unanimous recommendation for adoption to the full council.
Oliver Joseph is not that incompetent. The same cannot be said for Painter’s biggest supporter among Ascension’s elected officialdom.
Dempsey Lambert chairs EA Drainage where he actively delayed consideration of the ordinance for nearly a year. Lambert’s recalcitrance spurred his colleagues to remove the item to Strategic Planning. All of Lambert’s chips are on the table for Painter…
If you recognize the compound that’s because…
When Ascension’s Department of Public Works is one’s personal labor force, why would he want change. Dempsey Lambert supports Murphy Painter because the latter represents MORE of the SAME.
That’s why Randy Clouatre is touting Painter to anyone who’ll listen.
And then there’s the Empty Suit occupying the District 10 Council seat. John Cagnolatti was called on the carpet by Gonzales power-brokers who got him elected after his March 2017 “No Confidence” vote in Matassa. Cagnolatti coat-tailed on the SAVEGonzales faction that engineered two city council recalls in 2014, then shifted its PAC activities to “elect Kenny (and John) in 2015.”
All four them attended Painter’s campaign event, as did Council Chairwoman Teri Casso whose adulation of Painter is well known. Four votes (or non-votes) was all that was needed for Matassa’s veto to hold up. It affords little pleasure to have seen this one coming.
On May 30, killing time before a press conference at APSO, your writer was asked by WBRZ’s Brandi Harris if Matassa’s veto would stand. Harris had just interviewed Casso and Councilman Bill Dawson who, she said, were “confident in enough votes to override” the veto. Your writer pegged it this way:
Matassa would not have vetoed the ordinance unless he had four “NO” votes in his pocket, three of them a virtual locks.
- Oliver Joseph, west bank proud even though there hasn’t been a subdivision developed there in nearly half-a-century, was going with Matassa. The fill ordinance has little to no impact on his constituents and Joseph was not going against Kenny and the gang (all of whom are part of TEAM PAINTER by the way);
- Randy Clouatre who, since he is not seeking reelection, faces no political repercussions;
- Dempsey Lambert, because he’s Dempsey Lambert and there is no bigger development whore than Dempsey Lambert.
Thus, Matassa needed one more which was going to come from either of two members. (There was no need for both to anger voters with an election four months away). The fourth vote was going to come from either Cagnolatti or Benny Johnson. We figured Johnson would not show up, effectively a “NO” vote, or it would be Cagnolatti. The latter’s Gonzales constituency is nowhere near as anti-subdivision development as Johnson’s.
Election Day is October 12. If you want MORE OF THE SAME the top of your ticket is: