Corey Orgeron and Dal Waguespack are two of the Parish Council’s five first time members, having sat on the 11- member panel for 18 months. It is extraordinary for such newcomers to have alienated so many constituents that organized recall efforts have coalesced to target them both, especially considering the wide margins by which they were elected. How did things go so bad, so fast and what have they done to justify recall?
Two ends of the personality spectrum, Orgeron is all bluff and bluster without a shred of substance while Waguespack comes off as introspective and professes to be analytical. Simply put, Orgeron is a LIAR willing to say whatever seems politically expedient at the time especially if it attacks Parish President Clint Cointment. Waguespack, an Ascension Parish lifer, takes things to heart since his votes impact so many more friends and family members.
Orgeron, according to multiple of his colleagues is the least prepared, laziest member of the council. Given Waguespack’s interminable pedantic questions he does not seem all that prepared either. Somehow they find themselves on the same side of many issues.
On June 17 they joined Chairwoman Teri Casso, and four more colleagues (Aaron Lawler, Dempsey Lambert, John Cagnolatti and Alvin “Coach” Thomas) ignoring President Cointment’s proposed 12-month moratorium on subdivision of property. The vote infuriated a Council Meeting Chamber full of residents who demanded that Cointment’s moratorium be enacted.
They did it again on June 28 at a Special Meeting of East Ascension Drainage District (sans Councilman Thomas whose District 1 lies exclusively on the west bank), comprising the six-vote majority to strip Cointment of his role as EA Drainage Director.
Out of 87 public opinion cards 83 were red, indicating a preference that President Cointment retain that leadership role (and one of the individuals submitting a green card publicly apologized for making a mistake). Six members of the Parish Council ignored the PEOPLE, even after 33 impassioned residents spoke clearly…and very loudly. The council sextet’s vote was the tipping point and social media pages sprung up seeking their recalls almost immediately, rhetoric becoming reality when citizens began organizing to formalize plans soon thereafter.
Orgeron received more votes on October 12, 2019 than any other council candidate (2,087) and 60% of the total against two-term incumbent Daniel “Doc” Satterlee. Waguespack garnered a higher percentage of the vote (61%) against five-termer Todd Lambert. Anti-incumbency public sentiment aside, those are impressive vote totals (unsurprised by Orgeron’s victory, we did not anticipate that shellacking of Satterlee).
For whatever reason, both newbies came into office with a grudge against the incoming parish president, Clint Cointment, another newcomer ill-prepared for the political infighting in store with a council majority out to undo his presidency. Orgeron and Waguespack fell in line with Chairwoman Teri Casso and District 7’s Aaron Lawler, intent on spoiling anything Cointment proposed and relying on the new chief executive’s innate stubbornness to generate unflattering optics. Sometimes it worked as Cointment could not let perceived slights go unchallenged.
The current showdown would have happened sooner if not for COVID-19 and its videoconference meetings nearly devoid of controversy.
Dal Waguespack, if our observation is accurate, ran into trouble when the Planning Commission approved Windermere Crossing subdivision’s 103-lot preliminary plat by a 4-2 vote on January 13. The District 9 councilman sat it out, at least publicly, as the approval occurred during a videoconference meeting. Waguespack was present on May 17 when many constituents gathered at St. Mark’s Church Activity Center…
It did not go so well, many of those constituents casting Waguespack in the villain’s role.
It commenced a spectacularly awful 42-day stretch for him. One month later and he disappointed constituents again, ignoring President Cointment’s moratorium proposal. That was followed up by his vote to oust Cointment, seeking to substitute Bill Roux over EA Drainage.
Corey Orgeron has been heading toward recall since early in his council tenure. Anyone claiming surprise by his rabidly pro-subdivision development stance was not paying attention during the 2019 campaign season. Approximately half of his council-leading campaign finance total came directly from the development community, another quarter from proponents of abolishing Ascension’s parish presidency in favor of Parish Manager governance; two collectives against which his District 4 predecessor waged battle non-stop.
The Planning Commission’s unabashedly pro-development chairman endorsed Orgeron in a scathing critique of then Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee who, to be fair, never shied from bashing Chairman Matthew Pryor. There was no greater council supporter of Antebellum Pointe subdivision, intended along Hwy 73 and White Road in the heart of District 4. Orgeron voted to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial…
And voted again to approve the subdivision in a proposed settlement of a lawsuit filed by the property owners…
Orgeron’s complete indifference to his voters’ will drummed up some recall talk then. President Cointment would veto the April 15 vote to approve the subdivision. The same preliminary plat is scheduled to come back before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, July 14.
In 2020 two Council Strategic Planning Committee agenda’s included a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited new subdivisions on roads narrower than 20′ due to safety concerns. The ordinance had support from Ascension Parish Schools’ personnel frustrated over having to pull buses out of ditches because two cannot safely pass on many parish roads. It was Orgeron, along with Councilmen Dempsey Lambert and John Cagnolatti (subject to recall efforts themselves) who killed the Cointment administration’s ordinance in committee.
Arguably, it was the most valuable service Orgeron has delivered to his subdivision developer masters. Currently the road width requirement for subdivisions is 18′ and increasing to 20′ would eliminate many areas susceptible to subdivisions.
An eager shill for any corporate entity willing to feed his fragile ego (anyone bloviating nonsense like Orgeron does must have an inferiority complex, well-justified in his case), he might as well have been a paid agent for Ascension Sewer in 2020. Orgeron, appointed to chair the Utilities Committee by Chairwoman Teri Casso, did all in his feeble powers to give the Bernhard Capital Partners-backed conglomerate everything it wanted.
NOTE: Chairwoman Casso’s recall is justified by her appointing this buffoon to that important post.
President Cointment stayed the course and a better, by no means perfect, deal got done whereby Ascension Parish got out of the east bank sewer business entirely (for the time being anyway. If environmental regulatory agencies find fault in the parish local government could get drug back into a sewer mess).
Corey Orgeron was not the only council member eager to roll over for the corporate interest. While there are ample examples of his questionable policy stances, maybe his loathsome character is the greater justification for Orgeron’s recall.
He has personally attacked two highly-placed parish employees, one very publicly.
Councilman Joel Robert, outside Casso’s realm, was censured for similar conduct in a purely private incident, the District 2 member owning up to his mistake and apologizing. Orgeron, who is incapable of such simple humility, has also attacked two council colleagues. The most egregious was a sordid sexual reference with which Chairwoman Casso seems perfectly fine.