On Thursday two Ascension council members went public with the plan to oust President Clint Cointment as the de facto head of parish drainage. Chairwoman Teri Casso and Councilman Aaron Lawler interviewed with a Baton Rouge television station, whether or not they speak for a majority of the voting council will be determined at the next meeting of East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 (more commonly referred to as “East Ascension Drainage Board”).
According to WBRZ the Board’s chairman, Councilman Dempsey Lambert, expressed support and a Special Meeting will be held on Monday. No agenda has been posted as yet.
With areas of the parish represented by Casso hardest hit by May flooding, the chairwoman told WBRZ it is “the most difficult situation I’ve been in in government.” Casso’s first term as the District 8 representative dates back to January of 2012.
“These folks are angry and I don’t blame them,” she conceded of “the disaster for my community… I don’t know how to help them.”
Truer words were never spoken.
Concluding that Ascension needs a drainage professional overseeing the operation, Casso continued:
“It’s not dictated by the four-year political cycle. So that there’s continuity in how they approach drainage, so that there’s education for their community about how drainage can be approached.”
A circumspect President Cointment, was still considering the implications Thursday night.
“My initial impression is that this is a bad idea,” he said. “What I want, the only thing, is to keep water out of peoples’ homes. I will do all I can to achieve that goal whether the Drainage Board hires a manager or not.”
According to WBRZ’s reportage, EA Drainage Chairman (and District 5 Councilman) Dempsey Lambert supports Casso’s position. The Board’s ten-member composition requires at least six votes, possibly a seven-vote supermajority, to effectuate the plan. Count Councilman Aaron Lawler in.
Drainage is very specialized, very much about having the engineering and having the hydraulic knowledge of how the parish works, how surrounding parishes work because it all feeds into us,” Lawler said.
How many millions of dollars have been approved by EA Drainage Board to hire engineers over Lawler’s tenure? He has been in office since January of 2016.