McTopy being sworn in at special Monday meeting

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2009



LAPLACE — Immediately following St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard’s announcement of his resignation from office in light of federal bribery charges, parish officials said Thursday the position now falls to Hubbard’s second in command — Chief Administrative Officer Pat McTopy.

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the change in command is in accordance with the parish’s home rule charter.

“Pat has the trust of the parish employees, and he’s one of Bill’s closest advisors,” Boe said. “He should make for a smooth transition.”

The charter indicates in the event of any vacancy by the parish president, the parish’s chief administrative officer would immediately take over the duties of the president. The rules state since Hubbard still had more than one year remaining in his term, a special election will have to be called by the parish council within 60 days of the vacancy. The election must occur within three to six months of the election announcement.

Boe said the council has called a special meeting Monday evening in LaPlace to swear in McTopy. He did not say whether the council would move to call the election at that time.

McTopy has a history of service in St. John Parish government that dates back to 1975 when he worked a secretary treasurer. In 1984, he was appointed utilities director under Arnold Labat. He left the parish in 1988 to pursue a law degree from LSU but returned in 1992 to serve as Labat’s CAO. When Labat left office in 1999, McTopy made an unsuccessful bid for parish president and eventually returned to the private sector until 2008, when Hubbard appointed him as his CAO.

Although he had mentioned previously he had not had the ambition to make another run for the parish’s top office, McTopy said Thursday during a meeting with local media that he is mentally and physically prepared to handle the duties.

“It’s a big job,” McTopy said. “I have some big shoes to fill, but I feel prepared to best represent the citizens of this parish.”

McTopy said the investigation and eventual indictment came as a complete shock to him. He said Hubbard had advised him earlier in the week of pending legal matters, but did not specify the exact nature of the actions. He added Hubbard knew he would have to make a grave decision regarding his future as parish president.

McTopy said he hopes to maintain the good working relationship the parish administration has enjoyed with members of the parish council over the past year. A few of the council members voiced their support of McTopy’s appointment.

“I have great faith in Pat McTopy as a leader for the parish,” said Division B Councilman- at-Large Steve Lee. “He is as competent as anyone could be to run the parish. Hubbard made a good choice in making him second in command.”