If you thought that a mere recall petition filed against Councilman Aaron Lawler would sufficiently incentivize professional, less devious, collegial behavior you just don’t understand him. Or maybe the most recent descent into petulance is intended to deflect the recall fire. But Joel Robert, maybe alone among their Parish Council colleagues, is not a target who will take shots without firing back.
Lawler took to social media on Friday to insinuate wrongdoing by his District 2 counterpart and President Clint Cointment’s administration.
Yesterday I wanted to see the exact location of where a potential I-10 interchange would be, along with the connecting roads between Hwy 30 and 74. The property owner, Grady Melancon was kind enough to take the council chair and I to see the area to explore other options. While going there, we noticed a Ascension Parish dump truck going into a property. I asked if we could see where they were going cause I was unaware of any work in the area. When we pulled into the property Joel Robert was pulling out. It turns out the Parish was delivering many loads of parish soil to Councilman Robert’s property. There were several other pieces of Ascension Parish equipment on the property and Parish employees doing work there.
…on June 23 I asked the parish president and the drainage director where the spoils from the New River dredging were going and how much were being paid for them. I was told that the president would respond during the July meeting…he didn’t. I’m not sure where dump trucks were coming from, so this may not be from that project. But this will all be investigated. Interestingly, by posting this clip on APPR, the real media now has an interest in this story.
It all stems from an exchange initiated by fellow recall target, Councilman Corey Orgeron who took a dig at Robert at Thursday’s Council meeting. When Robert noted that parish road improvements are all located in areas other than Robert’s District 2, Orgeron weighed in.
“I wanted to address Mr. Robert,” he began. “I know that there’s been some significant work being done on Robert Wilson Road by the parish. I’m pretty enthused by the efforts we’re taking out there.”
Robert Wilson Road lies in Councilman Travis Turner’s District 3, north of Hwy 30 and just west of Gonzales’ city limits.
“I think we’re moving south Joel. We’re gonna be getting to you soon,” Orgeron said.
Misinformed or simply telling an untruth, Orgeron’s claims were wrong since there is no work being performed by Ascension Parish on Robert Wilson Road; unless offloading the muck and mire extracted from the bottom of New River can be considered work. The spoil was being hauled to property owned by Grady Melancon until he was denied a variance on one of his developments. Melancon, every bit as petulant as Lawler and Orgeron, withdrew his authority in response.
Joel Robert took up the gauntlet from Orgeron, explaining that he had encountered Councilman Lawler, along with Chairwoman Teri Casso and Grady Melancon earlier on Thursday. They were on Robert’s property (see Lawler post above) and could confirm that no road work had been undertaken near Robert Wilson Road. For whatever reason, Lawler deemed it advisable to insinuate wrongdoing by Robert and the Cointment administration on a social media thread earlier today, 13 hours after the council meeting concluded.
“We have taken dirt from any number of individuals over the years,” Robert explained, “but never unusable spoil like the parish is dumping on Robert Wilson Road. If it wasn’t Ascension Parish’s we would not accept the material, and certainly not without charging a fee.”
“I’d be happy to direct the trucks to Aaron’s if he thinks the New River spoil is worth anything,” quipped the District 2 councilman. “In the meantime, I encourage him to investigate this situation fully, including the arrangement between the parish and Mr. Grady Melancon. I’m eager to review my District 7 colleague’s findings.”
President Clint Cointment did not comment for this article.