Shadowy sewer negotiations the fault of Chairwoman Casso

Chairwoman Teri Casso

The time for modern sewer in Ascension Parish has come.-Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee (December 8, 2015)

Those words were spoken during a Special Meeting of the Parish Council to consider Ascension Environmental, the Public Private Partnership proposed by GSA Consulting Engineers and a consortium of companies supposed to deliver the goods, i.e. sanitary sewer for east bank Ascension Parish.  A 5-3 vote that evening directed Parish President-Elect Kenny Matassa to negotiate a deal with the consortium, still-born when Ascension Wastewater Treatment (AWT) pulled out a few months into Matassa’s term.  Like the great Yogi said: It’s deja vu, all over again.

Another Special Meeting of the council is scheduled for Tuesday (December 3) to consider:

(5) Approval of Construction, Operation, and Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between ACUD #2 and Ascension Sewer, LLC
(6) Approval of Contribution and Conveyance Agreement – Act of Transfer – by and between Ascension Waste Water Treatment Inc. and ACUD #2

Another 11th-hour move by a lame-duck council (on December 8, 2015 three members had not been reelected to the parish’s governing authority), a majority of its membership will not be around in just over a month, “heck-bent” on saddling its successor (and new parish president) with a deal not of its choosing.

History has a way of repeating itself; and those who fail to learn its lessons are doomed to repeat it.

Inexplicably, the proposed agreement is still being altered from the first version put forward by Ascension Sewer nearly five months ago.  That initial document, so one-sided against the parish and her citizen tax/rate payers, has been altered at least three times and is still being “negotiated” by a few select council representatives with others excluded.  The Matassa administration, by all accounts, is being represented by Infrastructure Division Director William Daniel whose platitudinous palaver gushing all over Ascension Sewer, his monotonous doom-saying without a shred of documentation, has pushed Ascension Sewer’s agenda at every opportunity.

Daniel is, we believe, another lame-duck.  His shilling for Ascension Sewer reminds us of the boondoggle that was the parish’s purchase of Peoples Water Company, a utility exclusive to the west bank.

Daniel estimates $25-30 million to replace PUA pipes; federal grant could fund the worst of it

Re-branded Parish Utilities of Ascension, taxpayers will be on the hook for decades to come, even though William Daniel painted one rosy portrait after another.  22-months post-purchase, in a spasm of truth-telling, Daniel revealed just how bad that deal was.

William Daniel orchestrates another subterfuge. GOOD RIDDANCE

Awful, indeed, but not capable of bankrupting Ascension Parish if it goes sideways like Ascension Sewer can.  East bank sanitary sewer is, by far, the biggest capital improvement expenditure ever contemplated by Ascension Parish whose citizens are being excluded from any meaningful input.  The most current version of the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement is not publicly available.

At least the council chair, Teri Casso, is keeping five councilmen-elect in the loop though without any say so.

Parish President-Elect Clint Cointment

What about Ascension’s next parish president, Clint Cointment, who takes office on January 6?  He’s been afforded three minutes (plus a few seconds) at the public speaker’s dais…and nothing else.  Casso has withheld the common courtesy extended to those five, soon to be, colleagues (why was District 9 Councilman-Elect Dal Waguespack left off?)…

Date: Wed, Nov 27, 2019, 6:18 PM
Subject: Fwd: Ascension Parish Agreements
To: Chase Melancon <chasem_lsu@yahoo.com>, Joel Robert <joelmichaelrobert@gmail.com>, Corey Orgeron <corey@orgeronlaw.com>, Michael Mason <masonms1@me.com>, Alvin Thomas <AlvinAlvnThms@aol.com>

forwarding the most recent version of the CEA at 6:18 PM on Friday.  Relegated to the sidelines, Cointment has voiced his concerns to anyone who will listen (which does not include Casso, or William Daniel, or anyone affiliated with Ascension Sewer).

Cointment’s (29) points of concern with Ascension Sewer agreement

To paraphrase Hall of Fame NFL coach, Bill Parcells: If you’re going to cook the meal, you oughta’ be able to buy the groceries.  We are all left to wonder; who is directing the negotiation on behalf of Ascension Parish?

NOTE:  On October 12 seven east bank Council members stood for reelection, four of them would lose.  All told there were 47 voting precincts on the east bank (where sanitary sewer is contemplated) tied to those seven council member districts.  Clint Cointment, with three opponents, out-polled those seven members in those 47 precincts by 845 votes (Cointment-6792; seven council members-5947).  We wonder who the People of Ascension trust more to negotiate against Ascension Sewer.

The current president is focusing exclusively on having his criminal legal fees reimbursed by the council, leaving William Daniel to mind the store for the administration.  The council chair and her Utilities/Finance Committee counterparts joined William Daniel at a July meeting when Ascension Sewer’s disastrous first version of the CEA was unveiled.

Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, who has declared his “sewer at all costs” stance on more than one occasion, chairs Utilities where the agreement was supposed to return for discussion…

LAME-duck council legacy is BANKRUPTCY if Ascension Sewer deal gets done

bypassed in the sort of subterfuge he used to decry.  It’s that pomposity and arrogance that led to Satterlee being embarrassed on Election Day.  Finance’s chair, Councilman Bill Dawson has been shunted aside for asking too many probing questions.

There are a lot of them to ask as the agreement, from our cursory review, has been significantly altered in certain respects.  There is a lot more to change if this lame-duck administration and council seeks the best deal for Ascension and her tax/rate paying public.

“IF”

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