Our View: LPG discord must end now
It is our hope that tensions between Lafourche Councilman Corey Perrilloux and Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle are rooted in hopes of doing what is best for the parish and its people, and not merely self-serving political poison pellets lobbed from one to the other.
But a look at the history of both men indicates that neither is keeping the parish and its people in mind. The same holds true for other administration members who act as if they are engaged in a turf war rather than proper administration of government.
A good picture of what’s going on has been developed in Karl Gommel’s story in this issue about the situation, which bubbled over noticeably during his coverage of a parish council meeting last week.
Issue-based political disagreement is no vice. But when it degenerates into personality-driven war, all the virtue has been drained.
A council president’s meeting with department heads or other officials – as District Attorney Cam Morvant has stated in his requested opinion on the subject – is not an open meeting according to the state’s open meeting’s statute. Just because the law does not require that council employees or citizens be admitted does not mean a meeting is required to be closed.
As Parish Auditor Reggie Baglala has already stated, provides for an opaque state of affairs rather than transparency.
Transparency is something Lafourche Parish requires a lot of right now to function as a healthy government entity.
It is, however, difficult to know who to trust.
Perrilloux has already shown his spots with hopes that the beleaguered statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, once removed from its New Orleans perch, be sent to Lafourche Parish for its permanent display.
Lafourche Parish already has enough tension. Placing the Lee statue in Lafourche is an invitation to unnecessary polarization. As benign as some might feel it to be on its Lee Circle perch, the statue has now taken on a life of its own. There are many places where the statue might be comfortable but Lafourche is not one of them. New Orleans already has racial agita because of the statues under removal order and the discomfort will continue any other place any of them are brought to. If Councilman Perrilloux wants to honor someone who was active in the Confederacy then maybe Leonidas Polk would be a better fit. In addition to being a general, the Bishop was also founder of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Thibodaux. Anyone who cares about the parish’s future should know that. That makes the suggestion that the councilman would lose sleep over embarrassment caused to Cantrelle by the current feud believable.
Now back to Cantrelle. We have been consistent – after initially giving him a break – that Cantrelle has a bad attitude and a bad approach to how the parish is governed. Demanding that questions be given in writing prior to council meetings is disingenuous. A parish president should be ready, willing and able to provide information upon the request of any council member or for that matter any resident. .
“Obstructing open access, even if just in an observatory fashion to the legislative branch, of meetings regarding the use of public funds, capital outlay projects, and budgetary matters should not be tolerated by this Council or the citizens of Lafourche Parish,” is what Bagala is quoted as saying in today’s story. We have no choice but to express agreement.
To say that Cantrelle has been obstructionist in his approach is an understatement. Therefore, any attempt by the legislative branch – that most directly representing the people – to gain information on how government is run at the administration level must be supported. Cantrelle simply must stop standing on ceremony.
Perrilloux, in his announcement for the office of parish president, said the parish deserves something much better than the “impotent and vindictive leadership we have now.”
The same, at this point, could be said of elements of the Parish Council.
The sniping has to stop. Administration meetings should certainly be open to members of the Parish Council, or their designee.
There is no law which forbids it.
There is a law that forbids malfeasance in office. And creation of or contribution to effective running of government skirts those elements in a disturbing fashion.