Who’ll decide how to spend Library Board’s $14 million surplus? Personnel Committee interviews scheduled today

Hey, it could be worse. And it probably will be.

Below is the Parish Council Personnel Committee’s agenda for this evening.  No Committee operates outside of public scrutiny so much as Personnel which is nothing more than a rubber stamp for pre-selected appointments to those various Boards/Commissions; decisions already having been made within a cabal comprising a Council majority.  Having witnessed a few personnel interviews it is this writer’s opinion that the entire process is a charade, staged to create the illusion of actual vetting of applicants.

Personnel is chaired by Councilman Benny Johnson with Councilman John Cagnolatti as Vice Chair.  Rounding out the panel are Travis Turner, Teri Casso, and Randy Clouatre.  They will begin going through the motions at 6:00 to consider:


PERSONNEL COMMITTEE MEETING- Wednesday, July 12, 2017-6:00 PM
Ascension Parish Governmental Complex-Conference Room 106, 615 E Worthey Rd, Gonzales, La


1) Call to order/ Roll Call of Members
2) Interviews West Ascension Parish Hospital Service District Board
3) Interviews Waterway Commission
4) Interviews Library Board
5) Interviews Tourism Commission
6) Interviews Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
7) Interviews ACUD #1
8) Adjourn

This is the committee which has stamped its imprimatur on every Planning and Zoning Commissioner eventually appointed by the Parish Council which has caused so much angst to the citizenry of Ascension.  These shadowy proceedings have lasting effect on the lives of those citizens; and tonight’s Star Chamber is no different.  Two agenda items command particular attention.

On Tuesday came the revelation that Ascension’s Library Board is sitting on nearly $14 million.  Chairwoman Sandy Scallan updated the Council’s Finance Committee on all the wonderful plans to spend the fund balances; $7.3 million in the Capital Improvement budget, $6.5 million in the General Fund.  Ability to dispense that pot of political patronage is enough to attract a cache of campaign contributors to any Council candidate’s cause.  The only Library Board seat up for grabs is Scallan’s so the backroom dealing should be at a minimum.

More interesting is West Ascension Parish Hospital Service District Board since it is the body which will decide whether to place a ballot measure reducing the 1/2% sales tax to 1/4% before the voters.  In the recently concluded Louisiana legislative session House Bill 56 was voted into law which authorized the election at any time prior to November of 2018.  Councilman Oliver Joseph pushed a plan to redistribute half the sales tax revenue to a newly created West Ascension Recreation Facilities District No. 1 which made for a raucous Council meeting exchange between the Hospital Board Administrator Vince Catalda and Prairieville Councilman Aaron Lawler.

Every time you hear a Council member whine that public criticism of these appointed board/commission members is unfair; consider how those individuals came to sit on the respective boards/commissions.  It is some Council member who solicits the prospective appointee to apply; and rigs the interview process to ensure appointment.  If the finger of blame is going to be pointed, aim it at the Council.