Parish hires lobbying firm

Despite the objections of some members, the St. Charles Parish Council awarded a two-year contract to a lobbying firm headed by former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin.

The last lobbying firm hired by the parish was Egle and Associates, which was started by former Lafourche Parish President Richard Egle. Egle and Associates was hired in January 2009, but St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre canceled the firm’s contract on June 16, 2010.

While Egle and Associates was paid $100,000 a year, Tauzin Consultants will make $258,000 during their two-year contract.

Council members Shelley Tastet and Larry Cochran said that there are huge differences between the two firms.

With Egle and Associates, Tastet said that parish officials would have quick meetings with representatives in Washington, some that were as short as five minutes. On a recent trip with Tauzin Consultants, which accompanied Tastet and Cochran to Washington free of charge, Tastet said meetings would last from 30 minutes to an hour.

“They were the best meetings I’ve had in 10 years,” Tastet said.

Cochran agreed, saying that on a previous trip to Washington with Egle and Associates he didn’t feel well received. But with Tauzin, Cochran said he was able to meet with every Louisiana delegate except for Rep. Cedric Richmond and spent 30 minutes to an hour with each delegate.

“We are fools if we don’t get this firm on for this price,” he said.

But some council members said that the parish should have looked at more options before awarding Tauzin Consultants a contract.

“I don’t know if we have the right person,” Councilman Paul Hogan said. “We should have gone out for proposals.”
Councilman Terry Authement agreed.

“(Tauzin) may be the best bang for our buck, but how do we know if we don’t go out for proposals?”

Authement said that Terrebonne Parish recently sought proposals for a lobbying contract and received 10 responses.
Councilwoman Carolyn Schexnaydre said that hiring a lobbyist now would be a mistake because money is tight at both the state and federal level.

“I feel like it’s a total waste of money,” she said. “If we have to do it, I think we should at least go out for (proposals).”

Hogan also took issue with the plan to give Tauzin Consultants a two-year contract. Though an early termination clause was included, he felt that the parish should give Tauzin a year and then renew the contract based on performance.

His motion to change the contract failed.

St. Charles Parish will be the first public client for Tauzin Consultants, which was founded by Billy Tauzin and his son Tom in December. Council Chairman Dennis Nuss said that because the parish is close to receiving a permit for the West Bank hurricane protection levee, they will need all the help they can get to secure funds for the project.

Schexnaydre, Hogan and Authement were the only council members who voted against Tauzin Consultants.


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