Council overrides equalization plan veto

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 27, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / November 27, 1999

LAPLACE – A plan to equalize pay and advancements for parish employees was kept in place Tuesday night as the St. John the Baptist Parish Counciloverrode Parish President Arnold Labat’s veto of the plan.

In Labat’s veto, he cited over 20 problems he has with the resolution, the most glaring being the status of the secretary of the Civil Service Board.

Labat said it is unclear if the secretary is a supervisor or not.

Councilman Joel McTopy also said he is unsure about the wording of a job title. Under the new plan, a duty foreman was called a duty coordinator,and McTopy said he believes this is a demotion and would result in a loss of pay.

However, Councilman Perry Bailey was very upset at the veto.

“We have worked very hard on this equalization policy,” he chided Labat, “and I cannot stall this for two more weeks.”Bailey moved to override the veto.

McTopy moved the council sustain Labat’s veto and fix the flaws instead of overriding the veto and amending the plan.

Councilman Dale Wolfe, the architect of the equalization plan, responded angrily to the veto.

“People have been doing this for 12 years. Taking care of their own andshafting others,” Wolfe told Labat. “My displeasure is that we’ve neverbeen fair to our employees. This is a system that took care of the greedyand not the needy.”Shaking with emotion, Wolfe continued, “Labat could care less about the underprivileged and the black workers. We are not going to start a newadministration like this, not when we have employees that have not been fairly compensated. I don’t see how Labat could expect the council to sidewith him. I will never support his veto.”The council chambers was filled with parish workers, and his speech was received with applause.

Parish president-elect Nickie Monica, still seated as councilman, asked if this will be considered a raise for the parish employees.

Wolfe responded, “This is not a raise, but equalization to straighten out this mess.”Councilman Kevin Duhon said even though the plan may have some flaws, employees will have the right to appeal to a grievance committee that is part of the equalization plan.

Bailey was adamant about his disapproval of the veto.

“It is not the intent of this council to take anything away from the employees. We have played with this long enough,” Bailey told the council.”If we have to kill it, we will be hurting people and I don’t want that. Wecan override the veto and amend the resolution.”The council then voted to override the veto with McTopy, Ranney Wilson, and Steve Thornton voting to sustain the veto.

Later, Labat addressed the council about his veto. He acknowledged that heand Wolfe had their difference of opinions.

“But the salaries have been raised since 1992,” Labat said. “My biggestobjection is that this should have been done by ordinance and not by resolution.”Labat, who was not at the last council meeting, didn’t know the council had voted to put the equalization plan on the next election so it could be amended into the parish charter.

The council then amended the equalization plan to change the duty coordinator to duty foreman, making the post an advancement with an equal increase in wages.

After the meeting, Labat defended his veto saying he did it “for the new parish president so he wouldn’t have to amend it.”

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