The Lafourche Parish Council met Tuesday, but members of the parish administration did not attend the meeting.
Several council members said that Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle was out do to an eye surgery, but were disappointed that other members of the administration were not at the meeting to answer questions.
Cantrelle recently criticized and is contesting a Lafourche Parish District Attorney opinion that stated Brent Abadie could no longer serve as interim parish administrator after the council reject him for the permanent position.
Several items were deferred to a later meeting because of lingering questions, others were voted down.
The council rejected an agreement with the St. James Parish Area Agency on Aging for Lafourche Parish to provide job opportunities or training to senior citizens before they join the workforce.
Two amendments to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program were approved, however, by a 6-2 and 5-2 vote, with Councilmen Jerry Jones and Daniel Lorraine opposing both times, and Councilman Jerry LaFont abstaining from the second vote.
The LIHEAP program is managed by the Office of Community action, the agency embroiled in an ongoing power debate between the Parish Council, administration and Community Action Advisory Board.
Some members of the council were reluctant to vote on the amendments because of a possible conflict with other federal funding in the department.
However, the majority sided with a recent Lafourche District Attorney opinion which stated the council has the power to approve LIHEAP funding.
“Ya’ll are voting just to say you’re voting,” Lorraine said.
The finance department submitted a written report to the council ahead of the meeting, but did not make a presentation.
Councilwoman Luci Sposito questioned whether this violated this ordinance passed earlier this year requiring quarterly presentations from the department during meetings.
The newly-appointed finance director, Connie Duet, was at the meeting but chose not to speak. Duet is not required to give the presentation. It can be any representative of the finance department chosen by Cantrelle.
Some members of the council questioned whether parish employees were directed not to answer questions.
“The public has a right to know what’s happening and why,” Councilman Bo Melvin said.
LaFont asked the council clerk to find out if the parish employees present at the meeting were being paid for their time.
Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.