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Robottom calls Parish Council’s move cowardly

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom forcefully denied accusations of malfeasance shot her way by the Parish Council and St. John Parish District Attorney’s Office this week.

Natalie Robottom

Natalie Robottom

Through the parish’s media department, she released a statement late Wednesday night:

“First and foremost, let me say that any accusations of malfeasance in office related to hiring practices or management of the parish workforce outside of adopted Civil Service Rules as asserted by Council members, the District Attorney’s Office and anyone else are blatantly false.

“However, after careful review of the opinions and recommendations, it is clear that they are inconsistent with those rendered by the AG’s Office, existing policies and procedures and previous opinions rendered by the District Attorney’s Office.

“Although clarification on many of these items has been requested by my office for over a year, the lack of professionalism in adding this to the Council agenda with a last minute amendment with full knowledge that I would not be in attendance due to an injury is extremely disappointing and a sign of cowardice.

“Legal opinions are important to me and my staff, which is why legal meetings are held bi-weekly and the opinions were sought. Over the past 4 1/2 years, I have utilized and relied on their opinions on an ongoing basis and would not make decisions to put me, nor my staff in jeopardy.

“I plan to address the recent opinion and recommendations at a press conference (today, June 11) at 2 p.m. in the Percy Hebert Building, 1801 W Airline Hwy in LaPlace.”

The comments follow a Parish Council meeting Tuesday night that included numerous accusations made against Robottom.

The Council called for an investigation after the opinions were read and an executive session was held.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Perilloux read the opinions into record, saying violations to both state law and the parish charter have been committed by Robottom and her administration in regards to temporary employees hired to permanent positions and her hiring department heads that were not Council-confirmed.

The opinion said Robottom’s administration has provided retirement and vacation pay to temporary employees who are not legally eligible for such benefits.

“There is also significant concern as to whether the parish administration is following the proper civil service rules,” Perilloux read, which “potentially amounts to malfeasance.”

Robottom was not present at the meeting, but said in a prepared statement Tuesday she has been out of the office for over a week due to a recent injury.