Lawler firm’s $49,900 contract removed from Finance agenda

Juggling agenda items to await the arrival of a quorum-satisfying sixth member on Monday, Council Finance Committee Chairman Dal Waguespack’s first order of business was to remove No. 5 (o):

Approval of Legal Services Contract between Ascension Parish Government and Boyer, Hebert, Caruso & Angelle, LLC, to represent Ascension Parish in employment law cases.  Contract amount shall not exceed $49,900.00 (Jean Paul Robert, Parish Attorney)

Coincidentally (?), the firm is the employer of Councilman Aaron Lawler who had the sound judgment to be one of five members who avoided Monday’s meeting (along with Alvin “Coach” Thomas, Corey Orgeron, Chase Melancon and Teri Casso).  Councilman Travis Turner was a late arrival, forcing a meeting recess to allow for a quorum to take up the agenda items requiring committee  action.

While it is unclear who is responsible for including Item 5-o on the agenda, and no one is going to willingly assume the credit, hiring Lawler’s firm is an awful idea for multiple reasons.

Putting aside the obvious potential conflict of interest presented by Ascension Parish hiring one council member’s employer, the firm has established a track record which calls into question its competence.  Ascension Parish Government employed the firm to represent President Clint Cointment in an egregiously frivolous lawsuit filed against him by Councilman Corey Orgeron in 2021.  So frivolous, in fact, that…

Orgeron lawsuit dismissed (and he has to pay Cointment attorney’s fees)

More than a year has elapsed since Judge Tess Stromberg awarded the parish president attorney’s fees from Corey Orgeron and Boyer, Hebert, Caruso & Angelle has failed to secure the return of $9,896 owed to the taxpayers who paid President Cointment’s bill.  In the interim the Denham Springs outfit added Aaron Lawler to its payroll, another move which calls its fitness into question.

Curiously, the contract amount “shall not exceed $49,900.”  It is the magic number allowing near maximum remuneration without triggering the effects of Article 2-82 in Ascension’s Code of Ordinances.  That ordinance establishes the “professional services selection committee” tasked with recommending contract recipients.  Paragraph C reads, in pertinent part:

Qualification for review. Any contract for professional or consultant work, involving any department, agency or commission of the parish which would result in a fee in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) or more, shall be awarded based on the recommendation of the professional services selection committee.

While not illegal, engagement of Boyer, Hebert, Caruso & Angelle, LLC to conduct Ascension Parish business reeks of favoritism to benefit a firm that has failed the taxpayers miserably.  And the hypocrisy is off the charts.  Imagine the faux outrage by Lawler, Orgeron, Dal Waguespack…if it were Councilman Joel Robert’s firm in line to pocket $49,900 for a non-competitive contract.

Isn’t there an Ascension Parish firm that might want the no-bid, non-selection committee approved contract?

With Election Day only 13 months away, Lawler’s colleagues (those desirous of reelection) have a choice to make.  Which of them will cast his political career killing vote to hire Lawler’s firm?