After a tumultuous 2020, strained relationships between the council and President Clint Cointment’s administration to begin the new year, hamstrung by COVID-19’s regulatory oppression, Chairwoman Teri Casso has reshuffled assignments in four of six council committees. It is the status quo in Finance, which includes every council member with John Cagnolatti in the chair and Dal Waguespack as Vice Chair; and Transportation with Chairman Aaron Lawler and Michael Mason in the leadership positions. Changes at the top occurred in Personnel, Recreation, Strategic Planning, and Utilities.
NOTE: East Ascension Drainage Board is comprised of ten east bank council members. Longtime chairman, Dempsey Lambert was reelected by acclimation earlier this month. West Ascension Drainage includes the two west bank council representatives, Alvin “Coach” Thomas and Joel Robert.
Chairwoman Casso’s committee assignments, compared to 2020:
2021: Chairman Corey Orgeron, Vice Chair John Cagnolatti, Alvin Thomas, Chase Melancon, and Michael Mason.
2020: Chairman Michael Mason, Vice Chair John Cagnolatti, Alvin Thomas, Corey Orgeron, and Dal Waguespack.
2021: Chairman Alvin Thomas, Vice Chair Travis Turner, Joel Robert, Aaron Lawler, and Dal Waguespack.
2020: Chairman Travis Turner, Vice Chair Alvin Thomas, Chase Melancon, Aaron Lawler, and Dal Waguespack.
2021: Chairman Joel Robert, Vice Chair Michael Mason, Travis Turner, Corey Orgeron, and Dempsey Lambert.
2020: Chairman Chase Melancon, Vice Chair Joel Robert, Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert, and John Cagnolatti.
2021: Chairman Chase Melancon, Vice Chair Alvin Thomas, Corey Orgeron, Aaron Lawler, and Dal Waguespack.
2020: Chairman Corey Orgeron, Vice Chair Travis Turner, Alvin Thomas, Joel Robert, and Aaron Lawler.
What’s it all mean?
Most prominently, given the years’ long effort to bring regional sanitary sewer treatment to east bank Ascension, is Councilman Orgeron’s ouster from the chair of Utilities. Elimination of the Utilities Department is a goal being bandied about in council circles, with support from President Clint Cointment’s administration. Tellingly, Melancon (with Casso, Lawler and Waguespack) took part in negotiations with/against National Water Infrastructure (NWI), the Bernhard Capital-backed company attempting east bank sewer treatment.
As chairman of Utilities in 2020, Orgeron was omitted. On April 24 voters will be asked to determine NWI’s ultimate fate.
Shifting Orgeron to chair Personnel means more of the same in board/commission appointments. Of particular interest to residents bemoaning subdivision development, three Planning Commission appointments are set to expire on February 8. Don’t expect Planning Chair Matthew Pryor, nor Ken Firmin to be expelled from what is perceived a developer-friendly commission.
Carmouche, a consistent vote against subdivision preliminary plats, may not be so safe.
Strategic Planning reverted to the repository where new ideas went to die in 2020 to the obvious frustration of then Chair/Vice Chair, Councilmen Chase Melancon/Joel Robert. With three votes (Orgeron/Lambert/Cagnolatti) present to kill meaningful legislation…
intended to impose stricter regulation on development, Strategic Planning may as well not have existed.
No member has more new, outside-the-box (sometimes wildly so) ideas than Joel Robert. While his elevation to the chair may not be very productive, it is sure to be interesting.
Recreation should proceed apace, flip-flopping Turner/Thomas in as Chair/Vice Chair while retaining Lawler and Waguespack. All four seem to favor aggressive spending on parish recreation. Robert assuming the fifth spot in place of Melancon is a wash.
We’ll have more in-depth analysis in the coming days.