Animal shelter a ‘political hot potato’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / September 17, 2000

LAPLACE – The issue of the St. John the Baptist Animal Shelter is stillmaking people hot under the collar and causing angry words to be thrown around the council chambers.

Unfortunately, the issue has not reached a conclusion and will continue to be what Cleveland Farlough calls a political hot potato.

St. John Parish Council President Melissa Faucheux read into the recordTuesday several letters from members of the Animal Control Advisory Board that were very critical of conditions at the shelter in the past couple of weeks.

A letter from board member Margaret Landry claimed animal control officer Kenneth Hicks refused admittance to the shelter to Landry and Councilman Lester Rainey.

Another board member, Barbara Falgoust, wrote a letter saying Hicks refused to let her into the shelter. When he finally admitted her to theshelter, Falgoust said, the kennels and dogs were filthy and there was no food or water.

Falgoust wrote, “The smell and conditions were worse than it was when the shelter was under the management of the St. John Humane Society.”Duaine Duffy said he thought it was inappropriate to let correspondence become discussion material at council meetings.

“The man (Kenneth Hicks) is not here to defend himself,” said Duffy. “Thisshould be an agenda item on the next meeting’s agenda.”Faucheux argued, “I’m inclined to respond that this is a political hot potato and I want to get administration’s stand on this.”But Rainey cautioned the council to move slowly on the matter. “I’m notexactly sure what we can do. We may not be able to discuss this becauseof what has happened.”Last week, Hicks was arrested and charged with 55 counts of animal cruelty.

And being a personnel matter Rainey felt the issue should be discussed in executive session.

Council attorney Barry Landry told the council that any personnel matter has to be discussed in executive session, but the conditions of the shelter can be discussed in an open meeting.

So Faucheux suggested the council and the animal control advisory board hold a workshop on what should be done at the animal shelter.

However, Ranney Wilson was not in the mood for any workshops.

“What is the agenda of the workshop?” Wilson asked. “I don’t want to justsit there and point fingers. What is our plan of action? Where will we get themoney? I want a plan to build a new shelter. I will not attend theworkshop if there is no plan. Come up with a plan and I’ll be there.”Wilson also said the personnel problems should be handled by the administration, but Rainey said the problem is more than a personnel matter.

He wouldn’t specify what the problems were and would only say, “These are very volatile issues.”Wilson got fed up and shouted, “How will these issues improve the dogs’ situation and will it put food in the dogs’ dishes?” Faucheux replied, “The workshop will come up with a plan to run the shelter.

We need to proved these services.”Finally, Dale Wolfe tried to smooth the waters.

“The administration should sit down with the animal control board,” Wolfe said, “and they have to take care of business. We don’t need to get into allof this. If the animal control board is not doing its job, then they should bereplaced.”However, Wolfe said the board is doing its job and so is the administration.

“We need to back off,” he told his fellow councilmen. “If they can’t resolveit, then they come back to us. Administration should work closely with theanimal control board. We can’t continue like this.”No workshop was scheduled.

On a related issue, Steve Lee read a letter from Kathy Murray, who is on the animal control board from his district. Murray is resigning from the boardbecause her family is moving out of the parish. Lee is asking for nomineesto the board.

Also, Allen St. Pierre informed the council he was waiting for the letterof resignation from his appointee to the animal control board, Chuck Bazile.

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