Tommy Martinez, Kenny Matassa, and the TRUTH! (?)

Parish President Tommy Martinez (file photo).

Parish President Tommy Martinez (file photo).

One Thursday just after Kenny Matassa announced his candidacy for Ascension’s Parish Presidency the current occupant of the position summoned, well invited, this writer to his Donaldsonville office.  Tommy Martinez wanted to talk politics.  Martinez insisted that he would neither support, nor endorse, any candidate but would stay abreast of the race like any ordinary citizen with a penchant for local politics…sort of a hobby.

I didn’t really believe his feeble protestations that “I’m staying out of it.”  Did anyone?

“If anyone asks I’ll tell them that I’m voting for Kenny Matassa,” has been Tommy Martinez’ non-endorsement of the leading vote-getter on October 24.

He said the same about one other race, offering up that he intended to vote for Scott Angelle in the gubernatorial election as if to lend credence to his claim.

With Matassa set to take on political newcomer, Clint Cointment, in the November 21 runoff election (early voting starts this morning) Tommy Martinez’ involvement became apparent for all to see.  Martinez paid for an ad accusing Cointment of “numerous falsehoods, half truths and outright lies.”  Under the guise of defending his administration,  “TOMMY MARTINEZ ENDORSES THE TRUTH!” leveled the accusations at Cointment and his Flex Plan which was unveiled way back in April.

Cointment brushed aside Martinez’ accusations and no further exposition is intended.  But Martinez’ new-found devotion to THE TRUTH! bears closer examination.

Tommy Martinez doth protest too much, methinks.

It is well-known, by those in the know, that Martinez tabbed October 24’s third-place finisher as the heir apparent. Martinez put the word out and, then Parish Council chairman, Chris Loar compiled over $45,000 in campaign contributions at a single fundraiser all the way back in July…2013.  The contributor roll reads like a list of companies doing business with Ascension Parish under Tommy Martinez’ regime.

He and Loar were thick as thieves, metaphorically of course.  Martinez was only too willing to go after Loar’s council nemesis, District 4’s Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee.  At Loar’s urging Tommy Martinez authored a letter of complaint to Louisiana’s Attorney General charging Satterlee with violating the Open Meetings law by polling a quorum of his 10 colleagues.

This from a four-term Parish President who openly brags that he “won’t add an item to the agenda unless seven votes are lined up.”

File photo:  Doc Satterlee and President Tommy Martinez

Doc Satterlee and President Tommy Martinez

Satterlee was exonerated and even received an apology from Tommy Martinez.

By the end of 2014 Loar had fallen out of favor and Tommy Martinez searched for a new heir to the throne.  He found him in the person of Kenny Matassa.  Martinez confessed that he “had to call up all those same” contributors and tell them to pony up a second time to Matassa.  Several of those contributors openly resented the double-dipping but most wrote a second check anyway.

Martinez’ own campaign contributed a paltry $300 to Matassa.  But also paid for the ad to endorse THE TRUTH!

On the campaign trail with Mary Landrieu in late 2014.

On the campaign trail with Mary Landrieu in late 2014.

And he often called me, sometimes weekly, to talk about the race even while insisting that he did not read Pelican Post.  Martinez routinely scoffed at Clint Cointment’s chances boasting that he could “poke holes in Cointment’s Flex Plan” which was the subject of an 8-part series in Pelican Post.  The Parish President failed to see the irony or recognize the oxymoron.

But the darkhorse candidate hit his stride down the election backstretch and the Martinez/Matassa campaign began to take notice as the October 24 finish line approached.  Matassa’s campaign turned its attention, and its rumor mill, on Clint Cointment.

Matassa himself called me to say that Cointment had “fired his campaign manager” while griping that “Tommy Martinez must get more active” in the campaign.

That was a week or so after Matassa stood before a St. Amant church and made the outlandish claim that Clint Cointment “would bulldoze Lamar Dixon” Expo Center if elected parish president.

Kenny Matassa called the employer of a key Cointment campaigner to complain of the pro-Cointment activities.  If Matassa would like to challenge this assertion Pelican Point possesses a recording he might find interesting.

Matassa’s own campaign staff includes numerous members of the Martinez administration’s supervisory personnel, some of whom pressure Ascension Parish employees to support Matassa.  Again, if Matassa would care to challenge the claim Pelican Post is ready to name names with supporting documentation.

The latest rumors concern two candidates in the October 24 election who garnered 15% of the vote and who (unlike Tommy Martinez) openly endorse Clint Cointment.   Clarence Henry was recently hospitalized and Cointment is rumored to be paying his medical bills.  Cointment is rumored to have “paid to put Ricky Diggs in the race.”

Cointment’s struggle to raise campaign funds renders these laughable indeed.

Tommy Martinez interjection of “numerous falsehoods, half truths and outright lies” into the election recalls a quote from the cinematic masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia:

“A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth.  But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”

With early voting set to begin this morning “A Clear Choice for Ascension” appears on the ballot.  If you are content with the current administration and want to see it continued, the choice is Kenny Matassa.  If not, Clint Cointment is your candidate.