Folks the political class in Jefferson Parish takes the word “brazen” to another level. Our long time readers know that I am a fan of the old TLC series Connections so let’s make a few and begin with the agenda for tomorrow’s Parish Council meeting which I’ve embedded courtesy of Scribd:
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I invite the Slabbed Nation to scroll down to item 84 which I quote:
Resolution – requesting the Parish President to investigate the feasibility and to provide a cost-benefit analysis for the expansion of the Parish Attorney’s Office to allow said office to provide legal services in-house which are currently being provided by outside contracted law firms. (Mr. Roberts)
This agenda item is related to the post we did last week on the Tuesday Night Massacre where assistant Parish Attorney Louis Gruntz refered to former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson as “his client” despite the fact he represented the Parish. Now Councilman Chris Roberts is doing an end run a round the Parish Charter to allow the in-house lawyers to double deal and represent Parish employees that get in trouble due to their double-dealing. In essence this resolution allows Louis Gruntz to aid the disgraced Tom Wilkinson. So the question is why would Chris Roberts carry water for these disgraced civil servants?
Perhaps because he knows all about double-dealing. His main administrative assistant, Brett Lawson is the son of Gretna police chief Arthur Lawson
III Jr. Brett gained infamy last year for beating a tourist into a coma last year in the French Quarter and essentially beating the rap because of his connections as the editorial staff of the Times Picayune explains:
Police said Mr. Lawson hit 21-year-old Jaret Graham, of Texas, and left the scene. Mr. Lawson returned only after witnesses identified two women who were with him and one of those women called Mr. Lawson asking him to return. Mr. Lawson came back accompanied by a Gretna Police major, was not arrested and was issued a court summons instead.
Mr. Graham spent four days in a coma and was released from the hospital eight days after the altercation.
The severity of Mr. Graham’s injuries, Mr. Lawson’s decision to leave the scene and Mr. Lawson’s family connections raised questions as to whether Mr. Lawson received special treatment, something Gretna and New Orleans police officials have denied……………..
That does not quite explain how the incident escalated to the kind of altercation that left Mr. Graham in a coma, or whether Mr. Lawson’s reaction was justified. Likewise, New Orleans police have yet to explain why the two women who also had fled the scene were not required to identify themselves to the responding officer.
Things are kept all in the family in New Orleans except when Chief Lawson pulls rank and tells the commoners to go f*ck themselves as James Gill explains:
Over at the Gretna ferry meanwhile, the waiting hordes complained that Arthur Lawson III had suddenly materialized at the front of the line. Lawson’s father, who happens to be Gretna police chief, said it was all a misunderstanding; his son had just been returned to his original place in line, which he had left to help out with crowd control.
This is not the first time a Lawson boy has appeared to receive preferential treatment. Last summer Brett Lawson, after beating a man unconscious in the French Quarter, was not arrested, but merely issued a summons to appear in Municipal Court. Although French Quarter cops are not known for a reluctance to throw suspects in jail, the public was assured that it made no difference that Brett Lawson’s father was a police chief.
And this brings us back to the Jefferson Parish council and Chris Roberts who we’ll circle back to in a bit. Doing business with former CAO Tim Whitmer’s double-dealing Lagnaippe Industries has become a kiss of death for parish venders as this story from today’s Times Picayune illustrates:
Fleming Construction Co. was repairing Jefferson Parish water lines last year under a $5-million contract when it asked for more cash to finish the two-year job.
But in January, the Parish Council killed a proposed $1.25-million addition to the deal, ending its agreement with the construction firm seven months early. Interim President Steve Theriot said at the time that Fleming appeared to have a conflict of interest: the company bought insurance through Lagniappe Industries, the private brokerage owned by Tim Whitmer, the No. 2 executive in the parish who has since resigned.
That particular verbage is curious to me considering what T-P reporter Paul Rioux wrote yesterday evening while acting the part of waterboy for the pols in charge of running Jefferson Parish:
The Jefferson Parish Council canceled the contracts with Hubbard Enterprises in October. It was the first in a chain of events that led to the resignations of Whitmer and former Parish President Aaron Broussard amid a federal criminal investigation of Whitmer’s firm, which did business with at least seven parish contractors.
No evidence has surfaced of a quid pro quo between Whitmer and Hubbard. But the timing of the deals shined a spotlight on the Jefferson Parish Council’s frequent practice of extending contracts or increasing their value without seeking new bids.
So while past double-dealing with Lagnaippe on the part of Parish venders earns them the scarlet letter what of Parish employees turned politicians like Debbie Villio that received campaign cash from Whitmer and the gang? They get to hold more fund-raisers and this brings us back to Chris Roberts who counts Lagnaippe Industries as one of his political patrons as his campaign finance report illustrates:
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Also listed among the Robert’s contributors is a company whose name popped up a good bit in the scarlet letter reporting: Kass Brothers Construction. Kass is a family business on the West Bank that provided services both to the Parish and the River Birch landfill. Among the family members involved with Kass is James “Dutchie” Connick’s wife Jean. Dutchie turns up a lot in the trash biz along with Tim Coulon’s boy who is a lobbyist at Adams and Reese. With all that in mind and knowing that everyone in Jefferson Parish power circles knows everyone else lets circle back to January and this Mark Waller report where the pols of Jefferson Parish welcomed in the State Legislative Auditor with open arms:
“Many of my colleagues would agree that some of the most recent revelations have been quite disturbing,” Councilman Chris Roberts told the advisory panel about the concerns surrounding Whitmer’s private business ties to parish government entities and contractors.
“We do this with open arms,” Roberts said about the audit. “We welcome their input. We welcome their inquiries.”
If that is the case then I am certain Chris Roberts will be well pleased with this post as we’re inquiring why the heck he hasn’t resigned for taking money from Lagnaippe and Lagnaippe contributor Kass Brothers Construction. Something stinks alright as that Eau de Landfill smell permeates the Parish Council chambers.
Slabbed reports you decide.