Parish employees can continue to reveal the source of building code complaints after the St. Charles Parish Council upheld a veto by Parish President V.J. St. Pierre.
The council originally approved an ordinance sponsored by Councilman Paul Hogan that would require anyone seeking that information to file a public records request to obtain it. If asked who filed the complaint, the ordinance required the employee to say "Per St. Charles regulation, I am not at liberty to discuss anything more than violations with you. As with all public records, all information relating to this violation is available through a public records request."
Hogan says he has received phone calls from concerned citizens who have had issues with their neighbors after the complaint came to light.
"This is something to try to help our citizens keep peace amongst our citizens," Hogan said.
In St. Pierre’s veto message, he said that the ordinance was overburdensome on parish employees and unnecessary.
At Monday’s meeting, St. Pierre said the issue first started when Hogan turned in a complaint about someone in his district and the Planning and Zoning Department gave out Hogan’s name.
"Throughout my administration, I have preached transparency. You created this ordinance, now you want me to take disciplinary action against a parish employee for telling the truth," St. Pierre said.
Hogan said his personal situation had nothing to do with his ordinance. Instead, he said he created the ordinance because of three phone calls he received from citizens.
"I have no problem with any of your employees telling them that I complained," Hogan said. "I made the complaint, I take the heat. I am the elected official. I’m willing to do that."
But St. Pierre said that the ordinance is unnecessary because residents don’t have to give out their names when they make a complaint and can remain anonymous. He also said that the situation is usually a battle between two neighbors who want the parish to get involved.
"When I have a problem with my neighbor, I go and talk to him and most of the time as you go talk to them and explain how you feel you will correct the problem," St. Pierre said. "But to make the parish employees have a card and read all of this out, I am not for all of that."
Hogan and Councilwoman Carolyn Schexnaydre were the only two to vote against St. Pierre’s veto. Council members Terrell Wilson, Traci Fletcher and Clayton "Snookie" Faucheux all voted in favor of Hogan’s original ordinance, but voted to uphold St. Pierre’s veto on Monday.