Council members trade barbs through the mail

July 02, 2010 at 9:46 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

After trading barbs at a recent council meeting, council members Dennis Nuss and Paul Hogan have continued doing so through the mail.

While discussing a proposed barge-fleeting operation in the Hahnville area at the June 21 meeting, Hogan told the audience that the council didn’t have much influence when it came to swaying the Corps from giving that project the go-ahead. Nuss replied that if Hogan didn’t believe the council had any influence, then he should stay at home the next time the group travels to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators.

Two days later, Hogan wrote Nuss a letter telling him that he was in violation of Council Rule 36, which is when a council member slanders or personally criticizes another. Hogan said that he has previously written council members letters when he feels they are in violation of that rule.

“Your disregard for following this Council Rule is unacceptable and shows lack of character on your part,” Hogan wrote Nuss. “This rule and all of our rules are to be followed in order to perform our duties in an orderly and proper way.”

When asked why he made the letter public, Hogan said he did so because he doesn’t want people to think he sits back and takes abuse.

“I don’t respond during the council meetings because I don’t want to stoop to their level,” he said. “I want people to know that I do take action though.”

Nuss responded to Hogan in a letter dated June 24 in which he asked for a clear explanation of precisely which comment made by him was in violation of Council Rule 36.

“I cannot recall any statements that were intended to slander or personally criticize you as indicated in Rule 36,” Nuss wrote. “However, if such a comment was made, it would be helpful to myself and to our fellow council members to have a clear understanding of what kinds of comments to steer clear of going forward.”

Nuss also brought up three ordinances introduced by Hogan that would have rezoned three similar properties of land he owns from C-2 to C-3. Hogan made a motion to consolidate the public hearings on all three zoning requests into one.

“I would like to bring to your attention the motion you made at the June 21 Parish Council meeting to consider all three of your rezoning requests together,” Nuss wrote. “This motion is in direct violation of Council Rule 22 and possibly of Louisiana State Law as well.”

Nuss said that he doesn’t recall Hogan disclosing the conflict of interest related to these proposed ordinances prior to making his motion.

“In fact, my understanding of recusal is that when a conflict of interests exists, a member of a deliberative body must recuse himself or herself from all participation in the matter, i.e. from discussing, questioning, commenting, and voting. Ideally, the person should leave the room so that there is no way that he or she can influence the procedure.”

Several residents spoke out against each proposed rezone and they all failed.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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