The embarrassment that is future one-term District 4 Councilman Corey Orgeron was at it again during Thursday’s video conference meeting of Ascension’s Parish Council. Nine of his colleagues simply ignored Orgeron’s attempt to derail the ratification of Ricky Compton as the parish’s first Director of Planning and Facility Maintenance, while a tenth mounted a vigorous defense of Compton. Joey Tureau (Director of Transportation) and Brandon O’Deay (Director of Technology) were ratified by acclimation.
The Council created two new departments on June 4 (Transportation and Planning and Facility Maintenance) with Tureau and Compton in mind, adding Technology for O’Deay in July. Corresponding job duties/qualifications were also codified and made subject to council ratification. All three have distinguished themselves as capable, dutiful parish employees.
Inexplicably, Councilman Orgeron has targeted Ricky Compton for special treatment. Compton’s near decade of service to Ascension Parish is beyond reproach. Eight years as Planning Director, Compton’s fertile mind presented any number of measures that would have led to more responsible subdivision development had former councils and administrations implemented his ideas.
All too often his advice was ignored until his disgraceful termination by a disgraced parish president in March of 2016. Ricky Compton does not mince words with an abrupt communicative style not for everyone as it tends to expose the ignorance and lack of preparation by too many part-time council members. Recent events have made that abundantly clear.
Compton is always prepared and his innovative thinking is an absolute boon to Ascension Parish. Maybe that’s why Orgeron masked his assault on Compton as an attack on President Clint Cointment’s administration Thursday. Orgeron focused on Compton’s January hiring as General Manager of Lamar Dixon Expo Center instead of his new title.
“If he was titled as General Manager of Lamar Dixon he should have been ratified within four months of his appointment to that position,” opined the District 4 councilman. “I feel he was not…At what point did this administration submit (Compton’s) name as General Manager of Lamar Dixon.”
Completely irrelevant to Thursday’s proceeding, Chief Administrative Officer John Diez took up the gauntlet anyway. Diez explained that Compton was given the GM title initially because there was a vacancy available, and the administration needed to find a fit for Compton’s considerable talents.
If Orgeron had a complaint with Compton’s hiring as General Manager of Lamar Dixon he should have lodged it earlier this year. The claim, in legal terms, is moot (not that Orgeron would understand it).
“Our charter requires that he be ratified within 120 days for whatever title the administration gives him,” proclaimed Orgeron incorrectly. “Has this administration followed the regulations within our charter that says you have to have him ratified within the 120 days?”
Ascension’s Home Rule Charter requires four positions (Secretary, Treasurer, CAO, Personnel Director) subject to council ratification, omitting any mention of a time frame. Additional positions were subsequently created and made subject to ratification by ordinance. Former president Kenny Matassa simply ignored the ratification requirement in numerous of his appointments.
So the council adopted a new ordinance on February 15, 2018 to set the 120-day time limit on ratification of subject presidential appointments. Ordinance 2-11 reads, in pertinent part:
(1) An interim appointment is an appointment made by the president to a position requiring ratification. Interim appointments will expire if they have not been ratified, as required by Charter and ordinances, as of the one hundred and twentieth (120th) day following interim appointment. No reappointment of the same individual shall then be made for the same position.
Since the Department of Planning and Facility Maintenance was not created until June 4, well within the 120-day window for ratification of appointments, Orgeron’s argument was legally unsound.
Beyond Orgeron’s powers of comprehension, he would have had a valid point if Compton was being presented for ratification as General Manager of Lamar Dixon. CAO Diez engaged him nonetheless, listing numerous impediments to ratification of several appointees (COVID-19 and the council’s amending job descriptions among them), delayed earlier this year. In fact, Orgeron himself offered amendments in June which were found to be unconstitutional according to the CAO, which delayed matters further.
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda,” countered Orgeron. “It’s incumbent upon the administration to follow these rules and regulations we have under the charter and under our Code of Ordinances.”
“Likewise,” responded CAO Diez. “It’s incumbent upon council members to present amendments that are constitutional.”
Parish Attorney O’Neil Parenton, present but unaccounted for, did nothing to clarify matters, leaving Councilman Joel Robert to champion Ricky Compton’s cause.
“Go censure yourself, Mr. Robert,” Corey Orgeron blurted out.
Robert, never one to shrink from the fray, chastised Orgeron for previous attacks on Ricky Compton.
Take heart Ascension. You only have to endure Corey Orgeron’s buffoonery for three more years. If you’re lucky, Ricky Compton will be around for a long time…along with Joey Tureau and Brandon O’Deay.