With President Clint Cointment’s future authority over East Ascension Drainage up in the air, the Parish Council (doubling as Ex Officio Drainage Board) members who launched the power play against him are scrambling. Since the debacle that was the EA Drainage Special Meeting of June 28, the power hungry council faction has blinked after a approving four documents, one of which was an agreement with erstwhile drainage czar, Bill Roux. Now that they are stuck with him, they might as well try to get Roux on the cheap.
As recently as a week ago Chairwoman Teri Casso attempted to bypass the Cointment administration, dragging Roux to an August 2 meeting with constituents along Hwy 73 who had called in work orders in late May. Casso, passively aggressive as always, could not help but fire a few jabs at the administration, blaming Cointment for every clogged ditch as if vegetation did not begin growing until Inauguration Day 2020. All while propagating the fantasy that Bill Roux is the panacea to cure all of East Ascension’s drainage ills (or even a simple ditch cleaning)…
The same Bill Roux who admitted in mid-2017, mere months before his lengthy sabbatical followed by his early 2018 retirement, “Roadside drainage ditches throughout Ascension Parish are horrible.” That declaration came a few months after Roux famously declared the drainage work order system under his 18-year leadership had a two-year backlog.
“To be honest with everybody, we are about two years behind on work orders,” Roux confessed on March 6, 2017 (at 21:45 into the YouTube video of that EA Drainage meeting). “If you call in with a road ditch cleaning work order today, I can probably get to you in March of 2019.”
A parish crew performed the work requested by the May work orders on August 4…
without Roux’s involvement; or Casso’s for that matter.
NOTE: The Council Chairwoman, according to two of the citizens involved, politicized the occasion by claiming President Cointment’s administration had intentionally withheld crews from performing the work. EA Drainage Chairman Dempsey Lambert is making precisely the same claims (we’ll be getting into that later this week).
But Casso and her gang of six are stuck with Roux after their June 28 vote to approve a Professional Services contract whereby Roux, or more accurately the company he incorporated four days prior, would “earn” a $140,000 salary to:
- Assist EACGDD Board of Commissioners in transitioning from the Parish President having management and operational control of the Drainage District to a contracted Chief Executive Officer assuming those duties and reporting directly to the EACGDD Board of Commissioners
- Assume the duties of the Chief Executive Officer of the Drainage District until a search is conducted and a permanent CEO is hired by the Board of Commissioners.
After a permanent CEO is identified an hired Roux would have to content himself with a perpetual $50,000/year consulting fee.
In the face of withering public criticism and four petitions filed seeking their recall, Casso and other as yet unidentified members were forced back to the negotiating table. Though no individual is claiming authorship, documents were forwarded to non-participating council members by the Parish Secretary last week. Included is a new CONSULTING AGREEMENT-WILLIAM ROUX which grants much less in the way of authority.
The new proposal would pay Roux (not his new company) “Fifty Dollars/Hr. ($50/Hr) not to exceed $49,999 per year. Consultant will submit monthly invoices.” (Emphasis in original). If that “not to exceed” amount seems curious, it is utilized to avoid the state law requiring public bids for all contracts of $50,000 or more. Would Roux be chosen by the parish’s “professional services selection committee” created by Ordinance 2-82?
The committee must be convened because “Any contract for professional services or consultant work…which would result in a fee in the amount of $50,000, shall be awarded based on the recommendation of the professional services committee.”
And what is Roux going to do to earn his hourly fee, not to exceed $49,999? Under the heading, PURPOSE:
East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District #1 (EADD) and William Roux (Consultant) does hereby inter (sic) into a consulting agreement to:
- 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.
- Aid in the resolution of conflicts between EADD Commissioners and the Parish President/Staff.
- Provide opinions to the Parish President and EAD Commissioners for consideration on matters and/or projects concerning the EADD.
- Attend Project and Consultant Engineering meetings to obtain a clear understanding of the status and scope of existing and proposed drainage projects.
- Attend Drainage Board meetings as an observer only unless asked to provide confidential information to individual Board members or the Parish President. No public comments.
- Attend Regional Governmental meetings pertaining to multi agency projects when requested.
- Attend USACOE meetings when requested.
- Provide other services as agreed to by Consultant, EADD Board and Parish President.
Bill Roux is going to mediate conflicts; or provide a clear exchange of information within the District? Pick out any random EA Drainage YouTube video where he rambles incessantly and try to summarize what Roux just said. EA Drainage might as well withdraw $49,999 out of the bank in various dominations, pile it up in the DPW lay down yard, and light it on fire.