Robottom says hiring of relative within rules

Published 1:33 pm Saturday, April 19, 2014

By Richard Meek

Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom said the hiring of her husband’s niece as a special assistant is not in violation of state ethics law and that she met all of the requirements needed to fill the position.

Megan Collins, the niece of Robottom’s husband, Hernandez Robottom, was offered the job of Robottom’s special assistant on March 27 and began work April 7 at an annual salary of $50,000. Collins, a December graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, is filling the vacancy created by the retirement of former executive secretary Joy Cannons, whose career with the parish spanned more than 30 years.

Collins, who will report directly to her aunt, was previously employed by the parish while attending college.

“During her time with the parish, (Collins) demonstrated the work ethic, temperament and initiative required for the position,” Robottom said in an email request from L’Obsevateur. “Her attention to detail and timeliness are critical to the position, which led to her recommendation by other staff members with whom she worked.”

Robottom said the position was not advertised because Collins was hired as a “presidential appointment,” which does not require the job be posted.

“My primary concern is continuing to operate my office and the parish, following the loss of a 37-year veteran who worked for six parish presidents, possessed an historical perspective spanning almost four decades, managed my schedule and activities daily, interacted with others in a professional manner and maintained the confidentiality required of the position,” Robottom said. “This outweighs all other concerns.”

She said it was unnecessary to consult with council members before hiring Collins because the parish’s Home Rule Charter and an attorney general’s opinion dated March 19 grant the parish president the “authority to administer, direct and supervise all parish departments, officers, agencies and special districts.”