Broussard Baloney is minority choice by parish

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 2009


EDGARD – St. John Parish Councilman-at-Large Richard “Dale” Wolfe has named the Broussard Baloney Law Firm as his choice to get half of a parish contract to lay down policies and procedures for selling off properties in the parish that have been seized for non-payment of taxes.

Wolfe, who announced his choice at Tuesday’s council meeting, was given the power to make the appointment last month when the council voted to split the contract between two companies. The council voted to approve a property title company recommended by Parish President Bill Hubbard and the parish administration, Choice Title Inc. of LaPlace, in addition to a second company that Wolfe could choose at-will. The council moved to split the work after Wolfe raised questions about the fairness of one company doing all the work without a minority share.

The firm is owned and operated by Geri Broussard Baloney, a Garyville attorney who unsuccessfully fought the Parish Council and administration last year in a grassroots effort to incorporate the town of Garyville. She said after the meeting that she feels no ill will toward the council and believes they share those sentiments.

“I have a good relationship with all of the council members and the Parish President,” said Baloney, who believed her actions last year to be “nothing personal.”

After appointing the Broussard Baloney Law Firm Tuesday, Wolfe proclaimed to his fellow council members that certain “attitudes” regarding minorities and minority companies must change.

“In regard to minorities, the attitude is that minorities don’t count,” Wolfe said. “Well minorities do count and you will feel the pain come election time. We always say ‘shop locally’ in the parish, but we don’t take care of business locally.”

Division B Councilman-at-Large Steve Lee, who voted against the motion at the last council meeting, defended his vote and said he felt Wolfe had “blindsided” the council with his motion to authorize himself to name the second company.

“I believe we made a grave mistake in passing the motion in the form we did,” Lee said. “We did not have time to think or discuss the motion. I always support more time for discussion. I’m going to vote with my conscience and I’m not going to be forced.”

Lee was the only council member who voted against the motion last month, but two other council members, Jaclyn Hotard and Darnel Usry, made motions Tuesday to change their votes to reflect in the minutes that they voted to oppose the motion instead of approve it.

As the discussion continued, Wolfe denied any attempt to “blindside” the council with his choice and then proceeded to accuse other council members of making deals that favor friends.

“I sit here and allow you to take care of your friends, and that’s OK,” Wolfe said. “But when Dale Wolfe does it, it’s blindsided. I didn’t ask to be the only individual. You all voted for that.”

When asked about his appointment after the meeting, Wolfe said he chose the firm because “they’re a minority, they’re my friends, and they’re qualified to do the job.”

Baloney said she has spent more than 15 years handling real estate law and property cases including adjudicated acquisitions. She also said she has run her own title company, Louisiana Property and Title Co., for the past five years.

Hubbard said after the meeting that he would still do his “due diligence” in examining Baloney’s firm to be sure they are qualified and experienced enough to do the job appropriately. He said the hardest part would be sitting down with both companies to determine how to split the contract 50-50.

Hubbard also denied Wolfe’s accusations that minorities do not get a fair share of parish contracts. He said Choice Title is a “certified minority” company because it is owned and operated by a woman. He said Wolfe needs to come forward and substantiate any allegations of “under the table deals.”