February 20, 2018
These are my observations of the Cormier administration’s first 14 months – in no particular order:
(1) Litigation – At the present time, I am aware of the following lawsuits that are nothing but political in nature and are making Plaquemines the laughing stock of the regional legal and business community:
a. Four Lawsuits against Hinkley, Buras, Lott and Williams. So far, these four lawsuits have cost the Parish $250,000 plus – the Ethics Board has found NO evidence of wrong doing – and this is something that EVERYBODY knows – these lawsuits will not make the Parish a dime as none of them have any merit. Cormier promised he would review these lawsuits and if they had no merit, they would be dismissed. 14 months later – Cormier is still pursuing these lawsuits even though the Council voted to withdraw their support. Cormier in a council meeting said they had merit – so far – he has lost everything legal he has touched as president – we will see if he can keep his streak alive with these four suits.
b. Ballay v. Cormier – Cormier claims he did not file the suit – and thus he is not the aggressor. But the facts are simple – the Council assigned the DA Bldg 201 (like it had assigned buildings to numerous departments in the past) – the PPG awarded the contract to CDW – but then Amos refused to sign the contract. CDW sued the PPG – CDW won – Amos was ordered to sign the contract – he refused – he was held in contempt for failing to sign the contract by an outside judge who must think we are crazy – and then tells the paper he won the war against Ballay? Now the DA and his staff office gets to stay in an office the floods every time it rains, leaks and has plumbing that is rotting away. But that is OK because Amos won the war. He says he is at war with the DA? Is that the reason he did not sign the contract – because he is at war? What a great impression this must have on businesses that might want to move here and the regional community at large
c. Council v. Cormier – Cormier won’t move – so far he has lost every hearing and motion in that lawsuit. It’s not like they want to move him to a dump – if they did – I would understand – but they want to move him to a newly renovated first class office that is close to finance, engineering, permits, health and other administration offices. I don’t get it
d. Council v. Cormier 2 – Cormier wants 5 votes not 6 to spend BP money – which by the way right now there is no BP money because it is tied up in litigation with the law firm that got the PPG that money – Council realizes that the BP money is the only thing right now keeping the PPG alive and wants extra control over the spending. Amos wants to get his hands on the money before the election. I think most prudent government leaders would want the additional oversight that one vote carries to insure wise spending of the BP money. I can’t fault the council for that one.
e. Cormier v. Bickford – Cormier does not want to pay the law firm that agreed to a much reduced rate when compared to the 25% charged by most law firms in BP recover. There is a contract with the law firm that is clear. The council approved the contract in a council meeting. But Amos says because the contingency fee is not recited in a resolution, they don’t get the money? Another wonderful news story to encourage business to come to the Parish. I know everyone hates lawyers – but a contract is a contract. This sounds like something personal between Bickford and Cormier – we shall see if it is as this lawsuit progresses.
f. Crescent Construction v. PPG – a contractor suing the PPG because Amos signed the contract and then cancelled it the same day. If you recall, the contractor called Amos a sleazebag as per the Gazette. Another wonderful impression we are making to the regional community.
g. CDW v. PPG – oh wait – that one has not sued yet. But mark my words – they will file the same lawsuit against the PPG that Crescent did. Same issue – another contract signed and cancelled on the same day.
(2) Amos refusing to honor Council requests – there are at least two items that keep coming up – the automated water meter readers and privatization of EMS. The Council has repeatedly requested the Cormier administration for cost cutting measures – these have gone ignored. So then the Council got specific – and requested proposals for privatization of EMS and the automated meter readers. This has been going on for months. I bring this up for 2 reasons:
a. Amos keeps saying he does not have the manpower to get these two requests done. Seems simple to me – a few phone calls and letters. So while he does not have the manpower, he has time to: attend every function in the Parish so he can take pictures with his taxpayer funded campaign manager – drinking Champagne at Fort St. Phillip – Pawdi gras – Family Gras – dancing with old folks – kissing babies – which is all fine if you are getting your work done. But clearly he is not.
b. Financially – the Parish is spending more than it is taking in. BP is the only reason we can do that. It is negligent to keep spending the BP money without doing something to tighten the belt – not just cutting employees – but truly innovative and permanent cost reductions. I think the right person could get it done. I know it will be unpopular. But the truth of the matter is that this is the longest downturn in the oil industry in modern history – and the days of generating 60-65 million a year are over.
I do not see Amos taking ANY initiative to try and lure new business to the Parish – he is too busy doing 2(a) above and handling the lawsuits in 1 above that have ZERO benefit to the parish and are just his personal retribution devices.
(3) Amos wants control over the Port District. The Port is the future of Plaquemines Parish – without it – as soon as the BP money runs out – we will have no choice but to raise property taxes – there is nowhere the money can come from. I know there has been a lot of criticism of Sandy Sanders – but there are several projects in the pipeline that are a direct result of his efforts – so only time will tell. To get rid of the current separation between the Port and the Parish President and Council would be a disaster. All it would result in is more lawsuits and using the Port money to fund PPG expenses before we even have a chance to let the goose that might lay the golden eggs mature.
(4) I see a general lack of maturity on the part of the parish president – quoting the paper and referring to Charles Ballay and his “New Orleans” lawyers – giving employees days or hours off beyond legal work days – thinking he is better than everyone because he is a lawyer – riding around in tractors and posting it on face book – and I guess some people buy into the us versus them mentality and will defend him to the death. All I see is a dysfunctional government – the laughing stock of Louisiana – a divided parish – and right now a Parish on life support until the BP money runs out. Everything is someone else’s fault.
All I can do is laugh because I don’t want to cry. I just do not see this kind of behavior from leaders of other parishes. Yes we have the Mike Yenni scandal – but notice how that went away and it is business as usual in Jefferson. Same thing in other Parishes. But not here – not a day goes by without some scandal or silly feud erupting or other embarrassing event.
The election is just 8 months away. I’d encourage you to keep a close eye on what goes on. I know there are those who are not interested in politics or vote based on who is in your church or who coached your kids in little league – but the truth of the matter is that you should vote for a candidate with the same consideration and scrutiny that you would exercise in choosing the doctor that is going to perform open heart surgery on you. I am quite sure you would not pick the doctor with the lower qualifications just because he coached your kid in little league or you grew up with his family. Please, do your homework before deciding who to vote for and really think if your happy with the way things have been going the last couple of years during the current administration. Can Plaquemines survive with the course this administration has put us on ? I think not and its time we all speak up to Help Plaquemines to be a place we are Proud to call Home and Raise Our Children in.