Monica gets three cabinet appointments OKed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / March 19, 2000

LAPLACE – St. John Parish President Nickie Monica finally got his way, but notwithout a bit of arguing and some discontent among several of the St. JohnParish Council members.

At Tuesday night’s parish council meeting in Edgard, Monica and his chief administration officer, Chris Guidry, presented the council with three more appointments to his administration. This makes six appointments Monica hasmade since taking office in January. He already appointed Guidry as CAO, JeffClement as chief financial officer and Bertram Madere as director of public safety.

Guidry presented the three appointees to the council. Henry DiFranco, a civilengineer, would be the Director of public works and public utilities. JuliaRemondet would head up the economic development committee, and Errol Manuel would be recreation director.

Even though the three new nominations were accepted by the council with a wide margin of votes, Councilman Lester Rainey Jr., started a discussion onMonica’s method of appointing directors and how much they would cost the parish.

Before a vote could be taken on any of the three appointees Rainey moved for an alternate resolution in which Monica would come back in two weeks with the entire list of nominees for the council’s approval.

“I want to see the whole slate of nominations,” stated Rainey. “I want tocompare apples to apples and I want to discuss the salaries of department heads.”Rainey was still smarting from the news the parish would have to pay over $48,000 in unused sick leave to the former department heads in Arnold Labat’s administration, and he wanted to make sure the same thing didn’t happen under the Monica administration.

“We are close to $50,000 over budget in the administration,” claimed Rainey.

“Before I commit any more money to the administration I want to look this over. I want to compare dollar amounts between the new and oldadministrations.”Guidry countered, “We have examined the budget, and we feel the parish president is spending the taxpayers’ money prudently and well within the budget.”Councilman Ranney Wilson said, “I think it is wrong to hold this man hostage.

We need to put people in. I’ve been getting constituents calling me withcomplaints to get things done. The budget has to be amended anywaybecause of the sick leave issue. I don’t want this administration to be like theold one.”Even though most of the council had no problems with the qualifications of the appointees, they were frustrated with Monica’s method of appointments.

Steve Lee, said in wonderment, “I’m not sure what Monica’s organizational structure is.”Both Cleveland Farlough and Melissa Faucheux complained about a lack of communication between the council and the administration and said they would like to be informed of Monica’s appointees with some time to study the information on them.

“I want this government to be able to play as a team,” stated Faucheux.

Job Boucvalt made an effort to work with the administration.

“It is time to move on in St. John Parish,” Boucvalt told the council. “Theyhave brought us three names. Let’s give the man some latitude. We need togive them a chance to make their own mistakes or make good decisions.

They say they are working within their budget. Look, my constituents arecalling me, too. We can’t put this off any longer.”Rainey had the last word in the discussion.

“I have nothing against the three candidates,” Rainey said. “My problem iswith the administration. I need more information beforehand. I apologize formy frustration, but I still want to see the whole package.”Rainey’s motion died due to a lack of a second.

DiFranco was approved by a vote of 7-2 with Dale Wolfe and Rainey voting against. Remondet and Manuel were approved 8-1, with Rainey voting no toboth.

DiFranco, a civil engineer with over 10 years of experience, is presently the assistant director of public works in Jefferson Parish. He will receive asalary of $58,000 as director of public works and public utilities. UnderLabat’s administration, the director of public works made $46,000 and the director of public utilities earned $39,000 annually. DiFranco said he is givinghis two-week notice to Jefferson Parish, and he and his family will relocate to St. John Parish.Remondet, the new director of the economic development committee, has worked for the parish for 10 years, most recently as coordinator in the economic development department. Her annual salary will be $35,000, a$4,000 raise from her coordinator’s salary of $31,000.

Manuel is a physical education and special education teacher in the St. JohnParish School System. He was also an athletic director and coach with theSt. James Parish School System. He has a bachelor’s degree in recreationfrom Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas. He will earn $40,000 annuallyand will begin work Monday. The last director of recreation, Louis Lipps,earned an annual salary of $37,000.

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