After Hatch opinion, EOC Director Tregre hands in letter of resignation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011



LAPLACE – Less than three months after taking over as Emergency Preparedness director for St. John the Baptist Parish, Mike Tregre said Monday he has submitted his resignation from the position.

Tregre said the resignation, which he handed in late Friday evening to parish Chief Administrative Officer Marie Brown-Mercadel, is a 30-day notice of his intentions to leave the department.

Tregre’s resignation comes less than a month after it was determined through a federal opinion by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that his position falls under the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits individuals employed by state, county or municipal agencies that manage federal funds from campaigning for public office. District Attorney Tom Daley sought the opinion after Tregre had expressed his intentions to run for sheriff in the fall.

The opinion from the Hatch Act Unit determined the parish receives an Emergency Management Performance Grant from FEMA, and the grant is intended to enhance local government’s ability to sustain and enhance hazardous management capabilities. A portion of that grant is used to fund the salary of the Emergency Preparedness director. Neither the parish nor Tregre were levied any punishment as a result of the ruling, but the parish would be at risk of losing those funds if Tregre had decided to move forward with his campaign while still employed with the parish.

Tregre would not say Monday whether the results of the opinion played into his reasons behind the resignation and declined further comment.

“I’m still an employee covered under the Hatch Act,” Tregre said. “I can’t say anything at this time.”

Parish President Natalie Robottom confirmed she had received Tregre’s resignation but said she had not yet spoken to him about the decision. She said the 30-day window gives her office some time to adequately fill the position.

“We have a few options we are exploring right now, but we are not quite sure how we plan to handle it just yet,” Robottom said. “We have made some changes in the department, so it will continue to run smoothly.”

Robottom said the Emergency Preparedness Department had given more responsibilities to Assistant Director Kathy Gilmore while the Hatch Act matter was being resolved. She also said many members of her staff have been going to seminars and getting training for emergency situations in anticipation of the start of hurricane season on June 1. Tregre’s employment will end Friday, May 27.

“This doesn’t change our plans when it comes to preparing for hurricane season,” Robottom said. “We certainly want to have someone in the director’s position, but the office and the parish can still function in an emergency.”

Robottom said with all the speculation surrounding Tregre’s potential political aspirations, she was not entirely surprised by the resignation other than that it came so quickly.

“I knew he would have to make a decision. I just wasn’t expecting it so soon,” she said.