Council rejects efforts to remove chair, lawyer

Anger mounts between council members

A St. Charles Parish councilman’s attempts to get Councilman Dick Gibbs to step down as chair and fire the parish attorney over alleged lack of or poor communication drew a firestorm of blowback.

At Monday’s council meeting, Councilman Paul Hogan maintained he raised legitimate inquiries to Gibbs and attorney Robert Raymond that were being ignored or delayed. In response, Hogan proposed two measures aimed at forcing Gibbs to step down and firing Raymond.

In an 8 to 1 vote, the council rejected Hogan’s resolution on Gibbs. The council also unanimously rejected his second measure, including Hogan, who was told by Parish President Larry Cochran that he’d instructed Raymond to respond to the council from the start of his term.

Cochran also maintained, as did council members, that the attorney was doing his job.

“Raymond works for everyone and I’ve heard no complaints from anyone other than you,” Cochran said. “He spends immense time on your requests and now you want to fire him?”

Raymond said Hogan’s requests were typically five to six for every one made by other council members.

Overall, apparent mounting anger in dealings between Hogan, the council and administration surfaced at the meeting.

Gibbs maintained he had been responding to Hogan routinely until Hogan sued the council at a cost of $40,000 to taxpayers, which he said left him cautious about dealing with him. Gibbs, as did Cochran, also told him the problem was not a lack of response, but him barraging them with requests for information when he didn’t get the responses his wanted.

“Maybe we don’t have all day, every day, to answer your questions,” Gibbs told Hogan.

Gibbs also said he has communicated with fellow council members without incident, but described Hogan’s communications as issuing “marching orders.”

Hogan maintained he was making “legitimate legal questions” that deserve an answer.

“Your job whether you like it or not is to address the council,” he told Gibbs. “It’s not that I want to talk to you, I have to.”

But Gibbs argued Hogan has made so many inquiries and allegations that the parish District Attorney and Attorney General offices know him by name, as well as pointed to past issues Gibbs experienced firsthand when Hogan “pounded them” while Gibbs served on the parish Planning Commission.

Fellow council members, agreed with Gibbs on Hogan’s repeated requests.

Gibbs also said Hogan’s requests could be ambiguous and redundant, making it difficult if not impossible to respond to him.

“I’m not going to play your game,” he told Hogan when he persisted that his requests were not unreasonable.

Gibbs then demanded a written list of Hogan’s concerns or a vote on Hogan’s resolutions.

Hogan disagreed, especially that his requests were redundant.

But Councilwoman Mary Clulee added she felt Hogan was bullying the council and administration, which has caused them to avoid him and “a situation he created for himself.”

Councilwoman Julia Perrier said it appeared Hogan’s issue was really over the Sunset Drainage District, adding, “What are we trying to get done here?” She also called Hogan “juvenile” for taking out his frustrations on Gibbs and his efforts “to twist words to your favor at taxpayer cost.”

Hogan accused the parish of insufficiently maintaining the area’s levees in the district, lending to flooding risks.

But Cochran said the parish was maintaining them.

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