Oct 12, 2012 12:10 AM by Maddie Garrett
The legal battle continues between the St. Landry Parish Council and Parish President Bill Fontenot. Despite some council members' efforts Thursday, they will still go to court Friday over an ordinance passed earlier this year.
"I feel this is ridiculous, I feel we're wasting money on lawyers, I'm tired of it I want it to stop. But I mean some people may not feel the same way I do but I'm tired of court dates," said Council Member Fekisha Miller-Matthews.
The struggle started when Fontenot vetoed five ordinances in August, stating the ordinances violated the parish's home rule charter and took administrative power away from the president. But the council later over-rode the vetoes, landing them in a lawsuit.
But at a special meeting Thursday night, the council voted to rescind four of those ordinances, temporarily resolving that aspect of the lawsuit. However the fifth ordinance, which deals with an independent commission to oversee historical preservation, remains in tact and will still go before a judge Friday.
The special meeting Thursday was short, as four times over the council unanimously voted to rescind ordinances at the center of a lawsuit with Fontenot.
"They (the ordinances) were not applicable because they run contrary to the charter, which is the foundation of our government here in St. Landry Parish," said Fontenot.
The ordinances read as follows:
· Ordinance No. 2012-007: An Ordinance of the St. Landry Parish Code of Ordinances to amend Article IV. Distribution of Slot Proceeds.
· Ordinance No. 2012-010: An Ordinance of the St. Landry Parish Code of Ordinances; Cooperation with Internal Investigations
· Ordinance No. 2012-011: An Ordinance of the St. Landry Parish Code of Ordinances, Use of Racino and Video Poker Funds for Salaries Prohibited; Transfer of Racino and Video Poker Funds
· Ordinance No. 2012-012: An Ordinance of the St. Landry Parish Code of Ordinances, Inter-Fund Transfers of Monies
Two deal with the president's right to move money around within the budget, Ordinances 007 and 012. Ordinance 010 would have required employees to cooperate with investigations. And Ordinance 011 dealt with using a 4% administrative fee from Racino funds to go directly to road materials. Fontenot said all of them go against the Parish Home Rule Charter.
"They are attempting to circumvent the charter by passing ordinances that takes administrative authority away from the president," said Fontenot.
But the fifth ordinance, which establishes an independent commission to oversee historical preservation, was left in tact and will go to court Friday. This, despite efforts by councilwoman Miller-Matthews to add it to the agenda for discussion at the special meeting Thursday night.
"I'm tired of us having to go to court, I'm tired of us fighting with the parish president. I just want the council and parish president to come to an agreement on something tonight and then we can avoid the court date tomorrow," said Miller-Matthews after the meeting.
Fontenot said he feels his case is strong, but the Council Chairman Wayne Ardoin said they won't give up on all, or some, of the ordinances rescinded Thursday.
"So we may bring it back up with different wording so that maybe we can put more material on the roads," said Ardoin.
The council and Fontenot will be in court Friday morning at 10:00am at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse. It's there a judge will decide if the council can appoint an independent commission to oversee historical preservation, a responsibility Fontenot said should be the president's.
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