Below is Councilman Corey Orgeron’s response to our inquiry; is he “in the bag for Bernhard Capital Partners/Ascension Sewer?”
Despite your ingenious attempts to attack and ridicule I will offer answers to your childish inuendo. NO, I am not in the bag with anyone! I am not “lobbying” for any one proposal; however, I am responding to the need for a regional sewer plan for Ascension Parish. Even Mr. Cointment has recognized the need for a regional sewer system and is even on record as saying that he is hopeful that Ascension Sewer, LLC will be the answer. However, I don’t recall your ever accusing him of being “in the bag”. Even disbarred lawyers would know that the art of negotiation requires that a deadline is necessary to pressure the parties to act in good faith. The above timeline puts all parties on notice that we have less than 60 days to negotiate and have Ascension Sewer provide their best proposal to the People, then to the Council. At that time, if the proposal is not in the best interest of the people of District 4 I will not support it, as I am certain my colleagues feel the same as to their home districts. Until we have an up or down vote on the proposal we are incapable of moving forward. This much I am certain of, waiting another 17 months to begin anew on addressing this problem is not in the best interest of the people
Maybe Orgeron is simply guilty of rank incompetence. While “ingenious” (thanks, by the way) and “childish” are not necessarily mutually exclusive, it is incongruous to employ the adjectives to describe the same action. Orgeron has never exhibited a facility with the English language and simple truth-telling is beyond his capabilities.
Yesterday Orgeron wrote:
We ask that the public show both confidence and patience with us as we engage in seeking the best option to provide regional sewer to Ascension Parish. We further ask that the public appreciate the need to negotiate with Ascension Sewer, LLC as the Parish is bound to do so under the terms of a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement signed last year. A failure to negotiate in good faith could be considered a breach of the CEA, which could lead to litigation. I appreciate that there are those in our parish government that desire we look at other options; however, any effort by the council or the administration to do so could seriously compromise the Parish.
Which would lead the reader to infer Orgeron had analyzed the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement approved by the Council on May 16, 2019. Section 2.2 of the May 2019 agreement reads:
(a) Effective Date. This Agreement and the rights and obligations of each Party hereunder shall become effective on its dated date (the “CEA Effective Date”) however, the Parties recognize that a more detailed description of the rights and obligations of the Company to construct, manage, operate and maintain the System as well as certain other administrative details related to the cooperative endeavors evidenced by this Agreement will be set forth in a construction and operating agreement or similar agreement (the “Construction and Operating Agreement”) to be finalized between the Parties. The Company agrees to work diligently in cooperation with the District to develop and present within ninety (90) days of the CEA Effective Date a comprehensive plan for the construction, management, operation and maintenance of the System, along with proposed costs and rate structures for Parish Council review and consideration. Upon receipt of the Company’s proposal, the Parish Council will use best efforts to place the proposal on its agenda for consideration and a vote at the earliest practicable opportunity.
The Council already has “place(d) the proposal on its agenda for consideration and vote.” It happened at the Special Meeting called for that purpose on December 20 when Ascension Sewer’s proposal was defeated by a 7-2 vote. Any competent attorney acting in furtherance of Ascension Parish’s interests would argue that the parish has satisfied the contractual language and, having done so, is free to “look at other options.”
Thus, Orgeron is either “in the bag for Bernhard Capital Partners/Ascension Sewer” or he is incompetent.
On December 20 the Council would go on, by the same 7-2 margin, to schedule another vote for January 23 conditioned upon “at least” one public meeting having been conducted. None of which obviates the vote rejecting Ascension Sewer’s proposal.
There remains a contractual provision granting Ascension Sewer “the exclusive right to negotiate an agreement…to construct, manage, operate and maintain the System” for 24 months. Nothing in the contract precludes the parish from exploring other options. Ascension could hire an expert to analyze the viability of tackling sanitary sewer alone, even establish parameters for soliciting outside investment/partnership (other than Ascension Sewer) once the 24-month exclusivity expires in May 2021.
A competent attorney who is not “in the bag for Bernhard Capital Partners/Ascension Sewer” would know that.