A dispute over how the St. Charles Parish Council handled a subdivision waiver for State Sen. Gary Smith and his family escalated into an argument and the forced removal of Councilman Paul Hogan from the council chambers.
The council approved the measure at its Jan. 22 meeting under opposition by Hogan, maintaining it set a precedent or special exception for Smith. At Monday’s council meeting, Hogan pushed to rescind it, but Council Chairwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier said it had been done before without problem.
When Councilman Dick Gibbs called for a vote to table it indefinitely, Hogan fired back that he’d called “point of order” under Robert’s Rules of Order to clarify with parish Attorney Robert Raymond whether there could be further discussion on the move before the vote. When he persisted and refused to vote, Fisher told him three times “You’re out of order” and called for a deputy to escort him out of the meeting.
Both Gibbs and Fisher called for the vote, but Hogan demanded he should be able to clarify this with Raymond first, who did not reply.
“At this point, you’ve got to cast your vote,” Fisher told Hogan.
Hogan refused and repeated several times, “point of order.”
On Fisher’s request, a deputy approached him and asked him to accompany him out of the chambers.
Hogan refused to leave, maintaining he had the right to get clarification from Raymond. When none came, he angrily told the attorney, “I want to thank you for not doing your job.”
By then, three deputies approached Hogan and asked him to accompany them out of the chambers.
“He was out of order and after many, many attempts to give him an opportunity to cast his vote and gain control of himself, removal was our only option.” – Council Chair Julia Fisher
As he exited, Hogan told the council he would file a lawsuit against fellow members for having him removed from the meeting, which he maintained was illegal.
On Tuesday, Hogan declined to comment saying his attorney advised him against the move.
Fisher said the council abides by Council rules and Robert’s Rules of Order to maintain order in council meetings. A motion that had been seconded was on the floor to table the measure, which is not open for discussion.
“We were not voting for or against the piece of legislation, simply voting to lay it on the table and we followed the rules at hand,” Fisher said. “Mr. Hogan requested a point of order which was not recognized or supported any motion or second to override the chairman. He was out of order and after many, many attempts to give him an opportunity to cast his vote and gain control of himself, removal was our only option.”
Fisher said the vote after his departure was unanimous, which clearly shows “the council will not continue to entertain Mr. Hogan’s repetitive failed attempts to rehash items that did not go his way. We are a progressive parish and should have an elected body that moves forward at the same speed. Counter productivity is not fair to the taxpayers of our parish.”
Raymond said that Fisher acted in accordance with the rules.
“I do not think it’s a coincidence that Mr. Hogan has had very similar issues with the previous chairman, other chairman in years past, as well similar issues with the current and the previous administration,” Fisher said.
Fisher said she looks forward to the rest of this year in office with her fellow council members and “will continue to chair this council with the integrity our parish deserves. I’d bet eight out of nine council members would agree on that.”
Members of the council and administration have had previous contentious debates over what they considered Hogan’s excessive requested use of parish resources to address his concerns that exceed those of fellow council members. They’ve also maintained he won’t take “no” on a vote and argued his legal actions have been costly to the parish.