Sep 28, 2011 7:12 PM by MIKE MAGNOLI

Red Light Camera Debate: Contracts, The Charter, Power

As we told you at 10 last night, LCG passed a budget after months of debate.

One controversial point of that budget- how money from red light cameras is spent.

Aside from that, at least one councilman is asking how the red light camera contract was renewed?

He says the Administration cut the council out of the process.

KATC's Mike Magnoli getting answers from Parish-President Joey Durel.

"I don't know anything about the budget, what I know is the redflex redlight contract was not extended properly." Lester Gauthier tells KATC.

More than the red-light cameras and LCG's new budget, this story is about contracts and power.

"There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the home rule charter, what is intrinsically wrong is not following it."

Gauthier is a well-known lafayette attorney, a political activist-- and a former Lafayette City Attorney. He says he doesn't understand how the red-light camera revenue even made it into budget talks...saying the administration over-stepped it's bounds when it renewed the contract.

"I am saying I told you so now, I told you so then."

But Joey Durel says the contract had an automatic renewal after a year. He says the council authorized him to extend-- just by approving the contract four years ago.

"In four years no one came to me and said before you renew that contract can we take a look at it, can we talk about it." Durel says.

Here's why this disagreement could be important: Next week councilman William Theriot will introduce an ordinance that forbids the administration from finalizing any contract without council approval.

Durel adds, "I am comfortable with what we did, we do a great job doing what the council wants us to do."

-And a final thought about motivation here. Parish President Joey Durel says Lester Gauthier is trying to pull political strings in Lafayette so close to an election. For his part Lester Gauthier says never mind his political affiliation or backing of a candidate, he cares about upholding the charter as it exists.

(Lester Gauthier is the Vice Chairman of the Lafayette Democratic party.)




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