Amid accusations of “political retaliation” and talk of “a hit list” Ascension’s Parish Council overturned the termination of Purchasing Director Joan Shivers as three other firings stood. Thursday’s meeting featured three lengthy Executive Sessions, two of them to consider appeals by the Purchasing Department’s Director and Assistant Director fired by President Clint Cointment in early January, days after his inauguration. Two other employees, including the Executive Administrator under Cointment’s predecessor, decided to have their appeals heard in open session during the four-hour meeting.
Parish Attorney Jeff Diez stressed the terminations were all part of a “restructuring,” without consideration of job performance and relying on Louisiana’s status as an “at-will” employment state. At–will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
A 7-3 council vote overturned the firing of Purchasing Director Joan Shivers. According to Ascension’s Home Rule Charter, Section 5-04.C.(2), the termination “shall be final unless overruled by a two-thirds (⅔) vote of the governing authority members present at the vote of the employee’s appeal.”
Shivers’ purchasing underling, Darilyn Berthelot fell one vote shy of reinstatement.
The vote came one day after Pelican Post published…
which a third appellant, an Executive Administrator and confidante of former president Kenny Matassa, would reference in open session. Kemlyn Lomas claimed this “local blogger…(is intent on)…sowing racial division.”
EDITOR’s NOTE: We stand by our reportage and conclusion; there was persistent preferential treatment dispensed to certain parties in the Shivers-led Purchasing Department during Matassa’s disgraceful tenure in office.
Lomas’ palpable hostility at the public speakers’ rostrum, while understandable, probably did not help her cause. In any event, she did not receive the requisite number of votes to stave off termination.
Lomas would concede that an incoming parish president “does bring in his own set of staff” and lobbied for a different position, one not so close to the heart of Cointment’s administration. Following her near tirade about “political retaliation” and “hit lists,” it sort of made the administration’s case.
“He’s (President Cointment) got to run the government with people he can rely on and trust,” argued Jeff Diez on the administration’s behalf. “(Cointment) promised to restructure government and take Ascension in a different direction. Which is what the people of this great parish elected him to do.”
Diez omitted other Cointment campaign pledges; to create more efficient/cost-effective government operations, instill transparency, and clean up the most corrupt government in Ascension Parish’s quarter-century experiment with Home Rule. A more fitting segue to…
we cannot conceive.