On November 8, 2021 a 6-2 vote of East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 (EA Drainage) approved a Consulting Agreement with William Roux, the erstwhile Director of Public Works who left the parish’s employ in 2017 after a 17-year tenure. Now, EA Drainage and President Clint Cointment’s administration have to find something for him to do. On Monday EA Drainage considered (and adopted 7-1) a resolution intended to task Roux:
“…with creating a Gantt chart-based maintenance plan for Ascension Parish water conveyance ways, which is to be presented to the Commission for approval within 90 days, with a budget not to exceed 40 hours. William Roux is further authorized and tasks with coordinating with the administration of the EADC on right of way, right of access and/or permitting issues associated with the aforementioned maintenance plan, including, but not limited to working with our IT and legal departments to identify areas where right of way, right of access and/or permitting is required. The aforementioned task is budget not to exceed 80 hours. William Roux is further tasked with providing monthly updates on these tasks during regularly schedule EADC meetings.”
The resolution would be amended by its author, Commissioner/Councilman Aaron Lawler who suggested Roux should work up “a maintenance plan for Tier 1 and 2 waterways” (whatever those are). According to Lawler they can be found “in a lot of neighborhoods” which he could not identify. Roux should also “coordinate with HNTB and the administration” to develop a comprehensive plan including Tier 3 and 4 waterways (whatever those are).
Cointment “already requested the work” from Roux, which had to have occurred since February 26 when there were no public records evidencing such a request.
Proving that politics makes strange bedfellows, President Cointment backed Lawler’s play while stressing the importance of the comprehensive maintenance scheme. Cointment envisions having Roux “come in two days a week” to undertake the heretofore unmentioned, yet vital plan. Roux will also “be helping with (Hurricane) Ida cleanup,” adding his $50/hour to the $21.5 million already allocated, and counting, to the chore.
$15.5 million has been approved by EA Drainage to clear Bayou Manchac, Bayou Conway, and Panama Canal along with tributaries. President Cointment explained that parish crews have already performed $6 million worth of cleanup in roadside ditches with plans to shift the focus (and EA Drainage crews) to the west bank in the future.
“Thanks for playing well together,” Councilwoman Teri Casso chimed in, exposing this dog and pony show for what it is.
Politics, pure and simple. And, as it happens, the none of the tasks are specified in the Consulting Agreement:
1. Act as liaison between the EADD Commissioners and the Ascension Parish President for the purpose of providing a clear exchange of information and concerns relative to the performance
of lawful drainage activities within East Ascension Consolidated Drainage District.
2. Aid in the resolution of conflicts between EADD Commissioners and the Parish President/Staff.
3. Provide opinions to the Parish President and EAD Commissioners for consideration on matters and/or projects concerning the EADD.
4. Attend Project and Consultant Engineering meetings at the request of the EACGDD #1 Board or the Parish President to obtain a clear understanding of the status and scope of existing and proposed drainage projects. This includes but is not limited to monthly steering committee meetings for the ongoing Ascension Parish Floodplain Management Plan being led by HNTB.
5. Attend Drainage Board meetings at the request of the EACGDD #1 Board or the Parish President as an observer only unless asked to provide confidential information to individual Board members or the Parish President. No public comments.
6. Attend Regional Governmental meetings pertaining to multi agency projects when requested by the EACGDD #1 Board or the Parish President.
7. Attend USACOE meetings when requested by the EACGDD #1 Board or the Parish President.
8. Provide other services as agreed to by Consultant, EADD Board and Parish President.
It will be those “other services” by which Roux is going to pocket every one of the “not to exceed $49,999 per year.”
A single commissioner…
Joel Robert opposed the resolution, which was unnecessary to begin with.
Corey Orgeron and Michael Mason were absent.