Council must step up its role in Ameba case

Published 11:45 pm Friday, October 24, 2014

St. John the Baptist Parish’s water saga — the one where Naegleria fowleri ameba was detected in a parish water district — took a few important turns this week, with those carrying major roles along the way fulfilling their duties.

The Louisiana State Police conducted a fairly quick and, according to LSP officials, thorough investigation, identifying parish employees and turning over reports suggesting criminal negligence.

The state Attorney General’s office took those findings and have charged two River Region residents with crimes relating to the “brain-eating amoeba” (thank you constantly repeated headlines on

Attorneys for the employees charged have publicly stated their clients are being scapegoated, firmly pointing the finger back at the administration.

St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom held a press conference this week, distancing herself and senior officials from the crimes her employees have been charged with. She also said GPS in the charged parish employees’ vehicles — information apparently central to their arrests — was not something spearheaded by her administration, and GPS tracking reports were not being monitored on a daily basis.

Robottom said she couldn’t comment on specific questions about the employees because of a class action lawsuit filed against the parish concerning the infiltration and the ongoing criminal investigation.

Everyone seems to be playing a role in this case, and now is the time for Parish Council members to make their voices heard.

As the elected representatives of St. John, they are not tied to each parish employee like Robottom’s position. They can move for action, keep the public informed on all phases of the response and take a lead role in setting the course for solution.

Now is the time to hear their voices. The criminal investigation is over, the arrests have been made and the administration has already held numerous news conferences.

It’s time for the Parish Council to secure more answers and share those findings with the public.

They occupy our seats at the table and our lines for understanding.