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Crowley clerk resigns; pens scathing letter

Crowley City Hall.JPG
Posted at 12:37 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 13:37:03-04

The interm City Clerk of Crowley has resigned, and left behind a scathing letter in which she accuses city council members of harassment, false accusations and threats.

In a letter printed in today's Crowley Post-Signal, Sarah Fontenot says she has "proudly" worked for the City for 26 years but she can't take it anymore.

"Since January 2019 proud is not the adjective I would use, more like disappointing. I have been disappointed in the current leadership of the City of Crowley and what they have slowly destroyed," she writes. "The previous administrations (mayor and councils) have taken years to create, for the City of Crowley, to be destroyed in two short years by current administrations (mayor and council) just because their beliefs or political candidate did not win an election."

In recent months, we've reported on several issues and incidents involving the administration and the council. There was a meeting that ended with a physical confrontation between two council members; there was the issue of the police department's bills not being paid; council members accusing the police chief of breaking state law; a failed attempt at recalling the mayor, and just last week the mayor insisting that decorum will be maintained at council meetings after repeated outbursts.

In her letter, Fontenot tells city leaders they should be working for the city, not against it.

"When you take over a well oiled working tool that has been proven to be productive and beneficial, you do not take a hammer
to that tool and bust it up, you oil it. When progress is on the table, you do not vote nay just because the person you wanted doing
the job is not the one doing the job. If the progress is good for the city no matter who is performing the progress you root it
on. Right now you all are known for controversy and bitterness," she writes.

In her letter, Fontenot encourages everyone at City Hall to learn what the Lawrason Act says about their role. The government structure of Crowley, like many of Louisiana's municipalities, is set by the Lawrason Act. It clearly delineates the powers and duties of each branch of government. In general, under the Lawrason Act, the mayor's office is the stronger, with power to hire and fire and to veto council ordinances.

She suggested that elected officials call the City Attorney, and if they don't believe him, call the Louisiana Municipal Association or the Legislative Auditor's Office. All of those lawyers will explain how the law works "freely," she said.

Fontenot writes that previous city clerks have been able to accomplish much for the city, "but for the last two years that seat has been insulted, antagonized, threatened, bullied and made to look like thieves and liars."

Fontenot lists her duties over the years for the city, which include serving as tax clerk, purchasing agent, accounts payable/payroll, deputy clerk and now interim clerk.

"The Clerk’s position has lost its integrity to bitterness and hatred for the administration (Mayor)," she writes. "The office has been ambushed by citizens led by some council leaders for public records request, which slows the work processes of the daily procedures. The Clerks have suffered a hostile work environment with threats and false accusations at Public Meetings. The majority of Crowley City Council chose to withhold passing a balanced budget in August of 2020 because they wanted a CPA to be
included among other items. That was done and now the same majority of Crowley City Council wants to replace the auditing
firm because they want “fresh eyes." Its not “fresh eyes,” they want but to discredit the mayor’s office trying to find wrongdoing
any way they can."

One CPA this majority brought to a council committee meeting employs a council member's daughter-in-law, Fontenot wrote.

Fontenot said that council members ran for their seat, and the mayor ran for his.

"Both sides are to always come to the table together but they each have their own job and it’s time both sides step up for their position and not spend time degrading the other position," she writes. "I am not suggesting each give in to each other but it’s time you all learn to agree to disagree and to move forward because stagnant is your only option right now working the
way you have been since January of 2019."