Profile: Councilwoman Teri Casso

Chairwoman Teri Casso

District 8’s Teri Casso is the second woman to serve on Ascension’s Parish Council, the first to assume the chair after seven years wielding the gavel over the powerful Finance Committee.  Preaching “efficiencies in parish government” all the while, Casso’s former committee was nothing more than a clearinghouse to rubber-stamp every expenditure concocted by two presidential administrations.  If that sounds overly critical, we temper the condemnation by recognizing the sausage has gotta’ get made and it’s never an appealing process.

The process becomes even more disagreeable when dealing with a chief executive more concerned with paying off political debts with taxpayer monies, a weak-kneed lame duck who jams six-figure salaries for do-nothing hacks down legislative throats with impunity.  But Casso and the rest knew full well what they were getting in Kenny Matassa…

and endorsed him anyway in 2015.

For Casso it was an acceptable intellectual compromise to maintain the status quo wherein she would retain some semblance of authority, and prevent the outsider from usurping executive control  over the budget.  An ardent supporter of Chris Loar, the show horse in the 2015 electoral race (outside the money and the two-candidate runoff election), Casso has since explained the endorsement by reciting Kenny Matassa’s promise not to fire then Planning Director Ricky Compton.  Oops.

Why is the council so scared of Clint Cointment?  Care to guess who she’ll be endorsing this go around?

Matassa’s reneging on that campaign promise did not foster open animus in the District 8 representative who has been an apologist for one presidential gaffe after another.  Consider Casso’s recent comments on Matassa’s absence from Ascension as Hurricane Barry was projected to rain down 20+ inches.

“It’s gonna be fine.  He has made any decision that needed to be made,” she told The Advocate after filling in for the parish president at briefings during the weather event.

Teri Casso is non-confrontational…

Casso assesses council tenure, the future

and always willing to compromise with the current administration, even when Matassa has taken advantage.  In response to Pelican Post questions she included:

I am most proud of the team of professionals and elected officials who work to serve all the people of Ascension Parish.  Collaboration and compromise are the key to meeting the varied expectations of our citizens.  There are times in which we disagree, but we do so, for the most part, respectfully and with the understanding that our constituents’ needs are varied.

SSA Consultants, paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars, was presented by Casso’s Finance Committee as a cure-all to shepherd Ascension into the 21st Century.  Recommending an organizational chart favored by then Finance Chair Casso, Matassa was allowed to co-opt the process and present his version to the exclusion of SSA and the chair.

“We cannot continue the way we have,” she stressed in August 2018.  “It is not sustainable.  We will end up with payroll that is so exorbitant…and incompetent people, not getting their job done; or not being held accountable for the jobs we ask them to do.  That is just not acceptable in the modern world.”

And then, 11 months hence…

Matassa adds 140 employees, $5.3 Million to Ascension’s payroll (and counting)

While Teri Casso is not alone on a council all too willing to kowtow to the administration, she has enjoyed powerful positions which could have held it to better account.  It’s one way to approach the legislative function, but how does one expect to compromise with a political hack like Kenny Matassa?

Most recently there was the fill ordinance debacle.  After Matassa vetoed the unanimously approved ordinance, he impaneled a committee including four administration stalwarts…and Teri Casso.  Her inclusion lends a certain air of legitimacy to this swindle.

She wrote:

“My most immediate goals are to accomplish a Flood Plain Management Ordinance that will do even more to protect our current and future citizens who are vulnerable to flooding and to see a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers received by Ascension Parish in order to begin construction on a new control structure at Fish Bayou as well as shoring up the Frog Bayou structure.  The Fish Bayou project is essential to the residents of the Bluff Swamp and Spanish Lake.  While the Corps Operations Plan will allow water into the swamps, the structure will aid the levels to fall more quickly once Bayou Manchac reaches levels that allow for discharge.”

In June 2015 Councilwoman Casso informed her constituents that the “essential” project would commence before the year was out.

We believe Teri Casso’s heart is in the right place and her intentions are pure; but how long can one roll over for the most corrupt administration in Ascension Parish’s history?