Council upholds Robottom veto

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010



LAPLACE – The St. John Parish Council on Tuesday moved to uphold Parish President Natalie Robottom’s veto of a proposal to extend a series of grass cutting and janitorial services contracts for three years.

An initiative to override Robottom’s veto, proposed by Councilman Dale Wolfe, only received five of the six votes needed from the council. The override was supported by Wolfe, and fellow council members Charles Julien, Haston Lewis and Jaclyn Hotard.

Council members Danny Millet, Cheryl Millet and Darnel Usry cast votes to oppose the veto, while Councilman Steve Lee, under the advice of his attorney, decided to abstain from the vote.

Wolfe proposed the three-year extension at a May 11 council meeting moments after Robottom took the oath of office. He believed that smaller firms were getting into a bidding war with larger firms in an effort to secure contracts they have held for years and said he was not happy with a request for proposals process that was addressed by the council in January.

“These companies have updated their equipment and some have gone into debt in order to do their work properly,” Wofe said. “It is an injustice to local contractors who have done a good job serving the parish.”

Robottom said her reasons behind the veto action concerned the process in which the contracts were approved at the last meeting. She said her administration was not given adequate time to review the contracts and determine funding availability. The contractors were not publicly named and payment figures were not disclosed when the council voted to approve.

Before the vote, Robottom had agreed to allow the firms, five grass cutting and two janitorial, to work out of contract on a month-to-month basis until the end of the year. She later extended that time period a full year so that her administration can review the RFP process and set new criteria for what is submitted. The contracts cost the parish a combined $409,000 per year.