St. John Parish president’s director choices confirmed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / August 30, 2000

LAPLACE – Despite some debate and bickering by several council members, St. John the Baptist Parish President Nickie Monica managed to get thecouncil to approve his choices for director of Planning and Zoning and director of Health and Human Resources.

Walter Coleman, a 20 year resident of St. John Parish and chairman of theZoning Board of Adjustments, was unanimously approved for director of Health and Human Resources. The only controversy involving Coleman’sappointment was that some councilmen were worried if he could handle both Health and Human Resources.

“He’s a calm, patient man,” said Dale Wolfe. “I would ask that he only holdboth directorships temporarily. These are both hard jobs.”The appointment of Adrian Labat as director of Planning and Zoning did not go as smoothly.

In Monica’s introduction of Labat, he said, “I am confident in Labat’s ability, and I am proud to have her on my team.”Labat has worked for 10 years in the Construction and Subdivision office of Planning and Zoning. Monica also said the Planning and Zoning board hadvoted unanimously to make her director.

However, Wolfe said if Labat were confirmed as director he wanted to make sure that Meyers and Associates, a consulting firm for Planning and Zoning, was fired.

“We don’t need a baby sitter.” said Wolfe. “We don’t need these individualsthat work under contract. What we need is to spend our money on staffingthe office and training Labat.”The parish pays Meyers and Associates $24,000 year in consulting fees.

Labat will be making $35,000 a year in salary.

Wolfe then made a substitute motion to eliminate Meyers and Associates upon confirmation of Labat as director of Planning and Zoning.

Duaine Duffy told Wolfe the advice of the consultants was still needed.

Wolfe asked the council, “If we need that individual, why do we need Labat? Let’s take that $24,000 and train Labat.”Lester Rainey objected to Labat as director because he felt she wasn’t qualified. Rainey said Labat’s lack of a degree in urban planning or arelated field worked against her.

“I would like to hire the best if we are going to build a new St. John and’it’s a great time to be here’,” said Rainey, mocking the slogans of Monica’s presidential campaign and the parish. “I will not support Labat because sheis not qualified.”Monica said, “I still want Labat because I feel she is the most qualified.”Going back to the consultant controversy, Job Boucvalt asked Monica if the consultant’s duties could not be phased out.

Monica said, “When we first hired him he worked three days a week, now he is down to two days a week.”Ranny Wilson called for a point of order.

“We need to decide on a directorship. This other item is for a futureagenda. Monica is only asking for a approval of a director,” he said.The vote on the substitute motion failed 4-5 with Wilson, Steve Lee, Duffy, Boucvalt and Cleveland Farlough voting against it.

The vote for approval passed 8-1 with Rainey voting against the confirmation of Labat.

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