Dale Wolfe annoyed by council successor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2010



EDGARD – A day after St. John Housing Authority Executive Director Richard “Dale” Wolfe was put on a six-month probation by the authority’s board for hiring people outside of protocol, the former councilman came before the St. John Council Tuesday to address rumors he was trying to dissolve the board.

Wolfe berated his chosen successor, Raydel Morris, for placing an item on the council agenda about the Housing Authority Board without making it clear what the item was concerning. Wolfe said the move created speculation that Morris was trying to remove the board at his request in response to the probation.

Wolfe’s probation, which has handed down Monday at a special Housing Authority board meeting, stems from his hiring of a maintenance supervisor and an accountant without proper board approval. The board enacted a hiring freeze shortly after these appointments because the authority’s tight budget did not allow for any room for new salaries.

Morris had asked Council Chairman Ronnie Smith to remove the item from consideration, but it did not stop Wolfe from taking the podium to address the issue and take Morris to task for his actions.

“I’d have to be a plum fool to put something like this on the agenda,” Wolfe said to Morris. “You put me and my job in jeopardy. This is something that deals with my character and my reputation. I don’t appreciate the effect it is having on me. If you didn’t intend to deal with it Raydel, you shouldn’t have put it on the agenda.”

Wolfe said he quit his job in the St. John Parish School system and left the council to take the $70,000 per year position as executive director of the Housing Authority. Wolfe recommended Morris as the Division A Councilman-at-Large replacement until a special election can be held.

Raydel would not comment about the item in question since it was removed from consideration.

Housing Authority Board Vice-Chairwoman Paula Hart addressed the council following Wolfe’s comments and said that the board and its new director are getting along fine and are working together to improve the agency.

“I have been on the board a year and that year has been total chaos,” Hart said. “There was no working together. Now we are working together. The board plans on working with Mr. Wolfe.”

Hart said after the meeting that the board dismissed Wolfe’s maintenance supervisor, but they are keeping the accountant appointment. She said there is not enough money in the budget to handle both salaries.

“Our plan is to get with Mr. Wolfe to get the budget straight,” Hart said. “If we didn’t think he could do the job, he wouldn’t have gotten the job.”

In other action from Tuesday’s meeting, the council introduced an ordinance to call a special election to permanently fill Wolfe’s council-at-large term. The general election will be held April 2, 2011, with a runoff date of April 30 if needed. Qualifying for the seat will be held Feb. 9-11.

The Division A at-large seat is elected parishwide, but only residents living in the western half of the parish, which includes Reserve, Garyville, the entire west bank and the westernmost parts of LaPlace, are eligible to run for the position.

According to the parish charter, an election is necessary because there is more than a year left on Wolfe’s term. That term expires in January of 2012.

The council will vote on the ordinance to authorize the election at the next council meeting, which is set for Nov. 23 in LaPlace.