St. John Civic Center still debatable

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 28, 2005

By Molly Dryman

Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Many questions were raised at the council meeting held March 22 concerning how funded money will be used for the new Civic Center.

All the confusion started because of a lack of communication, between the council and the people working on the Civic Center project.

“A week before the council meeting is held, an agenda meeting takes place,” said Joel McTopy, Council Chairman. “At the last agenda meeting, I said to Jeff Clement, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) that I was told by legal console that I could not do anything until the State Bonding Authority gave permission to let us borrow the money. He said that’s true except you can advertise for bids legally. I said good, I want it on the agenda.”

McTopy said unfortunately items go on the agenda as they come up and he tries not to insert himself ahead of time, instead he tries to go last. There was one item between Clement and his, so he asked if the agenda could be suspended so when they finished Clement’s item, he would still be up there and the council could go on with asking him questions.

“I asked Clement what he specifically told me,” said McTopy. “He said the same thing he did in the agenda meeting and that some of the $750,000 would be used for this advertising.”

Bryan Faucheux and Tommy Brown, Sizeler Realty, were asked to come up. McTopy said the purpose of having them there was to give the council an update on the progress of the Civic Center. He said they started by saying they had a meeting scheduled at an earlier date, but we’re unable to make it.

“That is not acceptable,” sid McTopy. “We are the governing authority and whatever meeting you have, you can postpone. I didn’t even know about a meeting and if I did, I would try to be there. Without communication, there is nothing. I just want to be treated fairly, I am not an engineer or an architect, but I can read and I have friends who can help.”

Natalie Robottom, Chief Administrative Assistant (CAA), stated twice to the council none of the money used for advertising was from the $750,000. Clement was called back up and clarified money was being used form that amount to advertise bids, McTopy was upset about the lack of communication and confusion, according to McTopy.

“I needed to get a message across,” said McTopy. “I did this for two purposes, I wanted them to understand that we are the governing authority and I gave Nickie (Monica, Parish President) his credit as being one of the ten, but we make those decisions, no one else. I wanted them to also understand that if they did not want to communicate, we have a 30 day clause and I will terminate them. My sworn right to the council is that I am the vocal point of all communication, if I don’t get it, I can’t deliver it.”

McTopy said, in order to help the lack of communication problem, everyone was given the councils personal address and made reference to all the many ways of communication, including e-mail, telephones and faxes.