On March 16 Ascension’s Parish Council requested President Kenny Matassa’s “immediate resignation” by the same 6-4 vote which expressed “No Confidence” in him and his moribund administration. Several of those Council members comprising the majority regularly mouth obligatory, and disingenuous, praise and thanks for Matassa pretending to do his job. To the casual observer it may not register, but these well-mannered (and maybe well-meaning) Councilpersons are participating in the perpetration of a fraud on the people of Ascension Parish and a recent Efficiency/Effectiveness Study is the latest in a never-ending succession of boondoggles.
So long as Ascension’s employee roster is the repository for every worn out political lickspittle with no discernible skill set (other than turning out the vote on Election Day) the year-long, and counting, SSA Consultants study is another waste of time and money; sleight of hand on a grand scale to deceive the tax-paying citizenry that some value is received in return for all those tax dollars. SSA’s final narrative report (hopefully the un-filitered, un-sanitized version) has yet to be revealed which didn’t stop Matassa from claiming what passes for credit for his hopelessly inept, corrupt administration.
In another bizarre press release this week Matassa wrote/said (sure he did):
Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa announced today that his administration will fully implement the organizational structure as presented to the Council Finance Committee last month by SSA Consultants.
“When I hired SSA last year to do this study, my commitment to the Parish was that I would follow their recommendations,” said Matassa. “This week, I am putting those recommendations into place.”
The organizational structure takes effect this week. Department heads will meet with their personnel and the next step will be the realignment of budgets and adjustments in job titles, which will be done by ordinance
When SSA went about its task, trying to crack the code to find out who’s really running (or not running as the case may be) things it was met with resistance from an administration that refused to turn over requested information. Hiring SSA to perform the study was the result of a Finance Committee push, not the administration. At some point it was deciphered that the organizational structure was a source of the problem(s). Appearing in the 2017 parish budget book:
SSA’s preliminary recommendations included a reconfigured structure:
Shuffling up job titles, adding new ones and discarding others, does not a reformation make. SSA appeared at May 17’s Special Finance Committee meeting to present a slide show with 11 general recommendations, noteworthy only for its lack of specifics. And Dr. Cristel Slaughter’s three-hour presentation did little to clear up a murky situation styled “blurry lines of authority.” In short, employees don’t know who they answer to on a day-to-day basis and all the organizational structures of which she can conceive won’t fix that core issue because all of Matassa’s decisions are political.
Still on the parish governmental website is:
SSA did note Ascension’s technological deficiencies so maybe the personnel to update its website is lacking. What do these “General Managers” actually manage? For that matter what do a dozen or so Project Managers actually manage?
SSA’s solution, eagerly accepted by Matassa no doubt, create entirely new departments over which to place two General Managers who have outlived any minimal usefulness they ever had to begin with. Thomas “Moose” Pearce is now the head of “Facilities” Department under which appear “Jail,” “Lamar Dixon,” “Maintenance (Building),” and “Recreation.” All four already had their own department heads.
Donald Hysell is now over a new department: “Health and Human Services” under which are “Mosquito Control,” “Health Unit,” “Animal Control,” and “Grants.” (Grants?) Maybe Hysell fills in for the Health Unit Director when Matassa sends her off to notarize documents.
Among SSA’s few specific recommendations last month was the vital need to hire qualified, capable, professionals to head up four departments; Human Resources, Utilities, Transportation & Engineering, and Recreation. At present all four have “interim” directors.
HR was the focus of four general recommendations; Utilities must oversee a parish-owned water company and Ascension is poised to embark on another attempt at east bank sewer treatment; Ascension is seeking to bond $25 million for road projects leading Slaughter to recommend the hiring of multiple engineers; and Recreation went over the cliff with Matassa’s last appointment of a permanent director…
Un-ratified CAO Ken Dawson is the “interim” Utilities Director who appeared before the Council’s Utilities Committee recently to promise an extensive search to find his successor. What qualified candidate in possession of his/her mental faculties would sign up for the job after the boss fired two directors in nine months. The position was vacant after Bill Depew was handed his walking papers with Dawson assuming the interim tag only recently.
When Ascension posted job notices for two engineers last year no candidates applied. Might that have something to do with Matassa running off engineers in droves last year?
Former (un-ratified) Personnel Director Cheryl Kinchen quit, well she didn’t quit but decided she would like to get into Project Management when it became apparent the Council would refuse to ratify her over Human Resources.
One of Matassa’s first hires was Brandon Berthelot as Recreation Director in early 2016 and he was all too willing to play ball, the only indispensable quality required of prospective employees. That did not work out so well and the ill-effects are still being felt.
All the Council platitudes notwithstanding, nothing will change in the way Matassa conducts Ascension’s business.