Berthelot’s son, one-time Recreation Director, fails drug test (and other tidbits)

The Berthelots: Olin [foreground] and son Brandon [head down in background] at SaveGonzales meeting in October 2014

The Berthelots: Olin [foreground] and son Brandon [head down in background] at SaveGonzales meeting in October 2014

If you blinked you may have missed Brandon Berthelot‘s tenure as Ascension Recreation Director.  In the most conspicuous case of political patronage since Boss Tweed doled out the spoils for Tammany Hall, newly-inaugurated President Kenny Matassa appointed Berthelot to head the department in what could only be repayment for Olin Berthelot‘s campaign support. Berthelot the Younger’s tenure atop parish recreation lasted a matter of weeks and now he has failed “a second drug test” according to information giddily provided by multiple of his co-workers.

Brandon Berthelot does not seem to have been very popular among Ascension’s workforce.

Wednesday, July 27 between 8:00 and 8:42 am Matassa and Olin Berthelot were recorded offering a job with Ascension Parish as an inducement for Wayne Lawson to drop out of the November 8 election for Division E, Gonzales City Council.  It was not the first time Matassa used parish jobs for political purposes and Olin Berthelot can be heard, in a vain attempt to entice Lawson to take their offer, describing the hiring of his son on the recording made public by Pelican Post on August 1.

“Look, Kenny’s been a man of his word, I can tell you Wayne.  He hired my son and I know there was opposition that he hired him,” Olin Berthelot vouched for Kenny Matassa’s trustworthiness.  “It didn’t quite work out, the head of the (Recreation) Department.”

Hear it at 20:20 into:

Didn’t quite work out?  Within weeks Brandon Berthelot was booted from the lofty perch and hidden…somewhere. Why would Matassa have hired Brandon Berthelot to monitor Ascension’s playing fields in the first place?  The question was put to the parish president in emails which Matassa ignored as a matter of course.

Brandon Berthelot

The charges evidenced by this Bill of Information, along with Possession of Marijuana, were dismissed after Brandon Berthelot successfully completed the terms of Pre-Trial Intervention program on December 1, 2014.  There is nothing at all out of the ordinary about the proceeding.

It is extraordinary, though, that Brandon Berthelot would be hired to head Ascension’s Recreation Department a mere 13 months later.  And while your writer can empathize with Berthelot’s struggles, your writer never funded his habit with taxpayer dollars.

Olin Berthelot continued to rip your humble writer on July 27 claiming Pelican Post “wore his son out” and 30:25 into the audio:

“Let me tell you something,” Olin Berthelot utters from under the sweetest wig Ascension Parish has ever seen.  “I don’t feel for him (meaning your writer).  He’s been wearing this guy (meaning Matassa) out, and me, and my son…He (meaning Brandon) ain’t never done Wade a single thing…and he (meaning your writer) picks him (meaning Brandon) out.  And I don’t appreciate it.”

Pelican Post is guilty as charged with regard to the parish president.  But, interestingly enough, Pelican Post had never written the name “Brandon Berthelot” in any story ever published…until this one, that is; nor had we engaged in “wearing out” Olin Berthelot in a remarkable show of restraint on our part.  Brandon can thank his delusional daddy for this coverage.

As for his employment with Ascension Parish, the administration is loath to comment on personnel matters but we can deduce an entirely new position was created, apparently just for Brandon Berthelot.

Brandon BerthelotOn June 27 the parish governmental website was updated to add “Supervisor” to Recreation’s contact list, and Berthelot was the first to occupy the new position.  Matassa did not respond to another email requesting an explanation either.  At least Berthelot’s salary was reduced.

According to the Employee Master List obtained by Pelican Post on February 10, 2016 Berthelot’s salary was $60,008.oo as Recreation Director.  His Recreation Supervisor’s salary, as of July 11, was $45,011.20.  Newly-appointed Recreation Director Rickey Dearmond’s salary is $67,704.oo.

While his status is unclear (we’ve heard Berthelot was suspended for 30 days but that is unofficial), given the difficulties confronting his father and the parish president it seems likely that Brandon Berthelot is a headache no one in the administration would care endure.

And speaking of political patronage, the Employee Master List makes for interesting reading.  The very same Recreation Department seems to be where Matassa hands out the spoils of electoral victory to his supporters.

In 2013 under former Parish President Tommy Martinez the parish employed 62 part-time Concession Stand Workers, all at the pay-rate of $10.46 per hour.  60 of those concessionaires earned $10,878.40 which would take 1040 hours to accumulate at that hourly rate.  Two part-timers including the wife of Don Hysell, the hackiest political hack in Matassa’s administration (more hacky, even, than “Moose” Pearce in our opinion)…

File photo: Thomas "Moose" Pearce (l) was none to pleased at being photographed with Councilman Aaron Lawler. Pearce was trying to convince Lawler that the April 18 Brookstone subdivision Appeal was above board at the time.

File photo: Thomas “Moose” Pearce (l) was none to pleased at being photographed with Councilman Aaron Lawler. Pearce was trying to convince Lawler that the April 18 Brookstone subdivision Appeal was above board at the time.

earned the same $10.46 per hour with an annual salary of $21,756.80; which would take 40 hours per week for a year (2080 hours) to accumulate.

Compare that with Matassa’s Recreation Department which employs 46 “part-time” Concession Stand Workers.  The July 2016 Master List omits Hourly Rate but every concessionaire earns either $10,878.40 or $21,756.80 per year, just like in 2013.  The difference is that 27 of the 46 earn (and we employ the verb loosely) the higher figure while only 19 make the lesser.

59% of Ascension’s part-time Concession Stand Workers earn just under $22,000!  Total bill to parish taxpayers to employ 46 of them…$794,123.20 in 2016.  It’s a good thing un-ratified DPW Director Bill Roux is going to save $4 million this year reorganizing departments (that was intended as sarcasm).  Maybe those Parish Council members who sit on the Recreation Committee can look into this next time they whine about the lack of funding for parish recreation.

And then there’s Mosquito Control Department headed by the parish president’s brother, David Matassa.

Kenny Matassa needed a hug from brother, David, after August 4 Council meeting...

Kenny Matassa needed a hug from brother, David, after August 4 Council meeting…

In 2013 Ascension employed 12 part-time “Night Sprayers” and two “Mosquito Control Specialists.”  The latter made $28,558.40 and $33,092.80 respectively.  The Night Sprayers earned between $11.24 and $12.77 per hour; between $11,689.60 and $13,280.80 per year.

In 2016 four of 11 part-time Night Sprayers make over $23,000 and one part-timer who was not employed by Ascension Parish three years ago will take home $40,144.00 (as “Mosquito Control Night Sprayer [PT]”). The parish now has six Mosquito Control Specialists who take home between $27,726.40 and $33,072.00, some part-time and others not.

We’ve heard “Ezekiel Virus” can be bad news but…

The lone Mosquito Control Supervisor took home $39,665.60 in 2013 which increased to $45,947.20 as of February 10, 2016; which seems a reasonable cost of living bump.  By July 11, 2016 (five months later and in the same calendar year) the same Supervisor is being paid a $52,000.00.

 

 

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