I cannot, and will not support approval of the agreement between the parish and Ascension Sewer, LLC which is the subject of a Special Meeting of the Parish Council on Monday, December 16. My reasons are many and varied. Primarily, I can say without reservation that the deal is not the best one to be negotiated for the benefit and protection of Ascension Parish citizens.
Preparing to take office in less than four weeks, it would be my responsibility to execute the terms of a contract with no confidence in its provisions. I’m not even sure what those terms will be on Monday. Multiple versions have been reduced to writing, discarded in favor of earlier flawed documents, the people of Ascension Parish excluded in a familiar scenario as the Council does what it likes regardless of the public’s will.
I campaigned for two elections promising change; transparency and accountability to the people.
I intend to keep that promise.
On the parish’s government website there are two agreements, dated November 6 and November 27 respectively, both deeply flawed and unacceptable. I was allowed to participate in a working group tasked with improving the contract, meeting on six occasions and proposing amendments geared to protect prospective rate-paying customers of Ascension Sewer as well as every taxpayer in the parish. It seemed that significant strides were being made until Wednesday when council leadership pulled the plug, reverting to one of those agreements referenced above.
I reserve comment on specific contractual provisions until we know which document will be presented to the Council on Monday. Either version would jeopardize the parish’s financial stability.
While the document is deeply flawed, the process whereby it was generated was even more so. Having processed the agreement, I have serious legal concerns about certain provisions. Witnessing the machinations behind the scenes, I believe the actions of certain participants to be unethical justifying investigation by federal, state and local authorities.
Most disturbing is the fact that Bernhard Capital Partners never expressed an unwillingness to continue negotiating. It was the failure of leadership by current officials which ended the dialogue in service of Bernhard’s interests. I simply cannot understand why any elected official would prevent an effort to serve the constituents who put him/her in a position of power.
In less than a month I will be your parish president. When that day comes I will do all in my power to stop this agreement’s execution. Which does not mean that Ascension Parish will not undertake regional wastewater treatment.
With your input we will move forward in a manner that puts the interests of Ascension Parish first, last and always. That is another promise I make.
Parish President-Elect Clint Cointment