Profile: Councilman John Cagnolatti

District 10 Councilman John Cagnolatti

Last week we posed two questions to District 10 Parish Councilman John Cagnolatti:

  • How would you characterize John Cagnolatti’s 3.5 years on the council (of what are you most proud, any regrets, etc)?]
  • What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

His reply, unedited and unadulterated, can be read…

Councilman John Cagnolatti assesses tenure, the future

That response is the first we’ve ever received after dozens of emails sent to Cagnolatti, many of which were forwarded by your writer as a constituent assuring any reply was “off the record” and not for dissemination.

Cagnolatti’s 2015 electoral success coattailed on Kenny Matassa’s campaign for parish president.  The Political Action Committee, SaveGonzales, formed to recall two Gonzales City Council members in 2014 took up Matassa’s (and Cagnolatti’s) cause four years ago and Cagnolatti has dutifully supported the Matassa administration, nearly without fail.

Cagnolatti and Matassa served four years together on Gonzales’ City Council.

Kenny Matassa with District 10 Councilman John Cagnolatti (file photo)

The single outlier was the District 10 representatives “No Confidence” vote after Matassa was indicted in 2017.  His tenure on the Parish Council has been unremarkable, otherwise.  Elevated to chair the Personnel Committee, nothing more than a rubber-stamp for predetermined appointments to various boards and commissions, Cagnolatti’s carries Kenny’s water.  There is a reason those committee proceedings are the only ones not televised on AP 21.

Cagnolatti listed the following as “accomplishments” since taking office in January 2016:

  • Traffic Impact Fees – After years of kicking the can down the road, in April of 2016 the Council imposed traffic impact fees on new developments. Since this ordinance became law, over $7 million has been generated to improve our infrastructure.
  • Move Ascension Program – The single biggest problem facing Ascension Parish is traffic congestion.  For the first time that I can recall, the Parish Council has made a meaningful and significant investment in improving traffic in Ascension Parish.  The total program invests more that $35 million in roads without raising taxes.
  • Sewer System – After almost 30 years of talking about a parish wide sewer system, during this term it became a reality.  No longer will 2.3 million gallons of treated affluent be dumped in Bayou Manchac.  The regional sewer treatment will be funded by a public-private partnership; therefore, no new taxes were needed.
  • Economic Development – Supported, approved funding and worked closely with Ascension Economic Development Corporation.  Since January 2016 six new projects and ten expansion projects have invested over $2,185,000,000 and created 508 new jobs in Ascension Parish
  • Citizens Service Center – Approved concept and funding for direct phone line for citizens to request assistance and be contacted within 48 hours by proper Parish department or agency.
  • Drainage – Made significant improvements to reduce the risk of flooding: installed seventh pump at Marvin Braud Pump Station; funded New River drainage improvement project; and reinstated the Parish-wide drainage maintenance program.
  • Animal Services – With voter-approved funding, the Animal Service Department will be expanded and a new animal shelter will be constructed.
  • Master Plan  – Contracted  CPEX to develop comprehensive Master Plan to include land use, transportation, drainage and recreation to  provide Planning Commission guidelines for managing future growth.

The proposed Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with Ascension Sewer, LLC must be a done deal, even though the agreement has not been presented, not publicly at least.  The referenced  Master Plan has been roundly criticized with one candidate for parish president vowing to get it repealed.

Oddly enough, some of the harshest criticism leveled at the council and administration is for not doing enough to “reduce the risk of flooding” after 2016’s devastation.  Most recently (on June 6) Cagnolatti voted to uphold Matassa’s veto of a long-awaited fill ordinance.  He was appointed to the committee impaneled by President Matassa to produce a replacement.

Lambert (Dempsey), Clouatre, Cagnolatti go with Matassa; Joseph sits it out as Veto STANDS

The final product is being presented at Thursday’s (August 1) Council meeting

Cagnolatti was, indeed, credited with the decision to remove New River’s weir, a project expanded to dredge 2.7 miles of the major drainage artery.

“His decision, from his district,” insisted EA Drainage Chairman (and relic of Police Jury governance) Dempsey Lambert in October 2017.  “I mean this is his decision.”

Supposedly, the project is about to commence after former Drainage Director Bill Roux wobbled and wavered from one plan to another, insisting from the outset that the City of Gonzales would have to foot half the bill.

Parish Councilman John Cagnolatti with Mayor Barney Arceneaux (file photo)

It was Mayor Barney Arceneaux who stepped up to protect citizens of the city who would have been double taxed.  Cagnolatti said nothing, not a single word to prevent what would have been a travesty for those city dwellers who make up nearly half of his District 10 constituency.

NOTE:  Your writer sent multiple emails to Cagnolatti concerning this issue, none graced by a response.

When it was revealed that the city contributes $3.5 million annually to EA Drainage operations, it was impossible to justify charging more for the, then estimated, $4.2 million project.  The weir in question is not within the city limits.  Only 1.2 of the 2.7 miles of New River to be dredged lies within Gonzales.

And then there’s…

Vote to pay Matassa’s attorneys in suit to recoup criminal fees incurred.

If you support Kenny Matassa, John Cagnolatti is the council rep for you.