When Councilman Paul Hogan pushed a lengthy resolution calling for an investigation on former Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr. and the controversial dumpster program, the council soundly killed the measure.
Hogan has maintained, per an Attorney General opinion that called for the parish’s reasonable effort to recover about $150,000in fees with the parish former Blight Elimination Program, that this effort has yet to be made and warrants investigation. He argued the program was “done clandestinely” in the parish’s Public Works department.
Former Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe has maintained 143 certified letters were mailed to residents who used the program to collect the fees. Per three earlier AG opinions, Boe maintained the issue was addressed by ending the program and asking residents for the fees.
Hogan denied the letters were mailed even though his name appeared on the mail list, which he later proved did not belong there because he paid for use of his dumpsters. Boe apologized for the error.
At the March 14 council meeting, Councilman Billy Woodruff called the effort “a horse that’s been beaten to death.” Woodruff added he felt a reasonable effort had been made to recover the fee.
“I think Mr. Hogan’s emotions about V.J. are clouding his judgment on this,” Woodruff said.
Hogan and St. Pierre had been at odds over the removal of the Pretty Boy, a sunken vessel that Hogan maintains the parish should remove as a public health threat. Despite his equally persistent efforts to get the boat removed, council members have rejected the move as one they argue would require using public funds on private property.
Despite the current council’s position, an estimated $30,000 was set aside in the budget for the boat’s removal. But, when the matter came up for a vote recently to proceed, a council majority ruled against it.
On request by Councilwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier, parish attorney Robert “Bobby” Raymond advised, based on his review of AG opinions and parish evidence on the dumpster program, that it appeared “the matter is over.”
Hogan disagreed and has since said he will seek another resolution to ask parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson to advise on the “reasonableness” of parish efforts to collect the fees.
Even Hahnville resident Milton Allemand, a regular attendee of council meetings, weighed in on the discussion. Allemand said the program was not clandestine because the council was aware of it, as well as questioned whether the parish charter allowed investigating St. Pierre as a private citizen.
Immediately following the vote on this resolution, Hogan and Woodruff also proposed a resolution seeking an AG opinion on whether Parish President Larry Cochran must execute the previous council’s approval to remove the Pretty Boy. The measure failed with only Hogan and Woodruff supporting it.
Allemand again commented, this time he added, “I wish someone would throw some gasoline on it and burn it. We’ve been talking about this for six years.”