Stop using my tax dollars to protect violators of Parish Law

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARISH OF JEFFERSON from Anne Marie Vandenweghe, Citizen

It is interesting to note that the law firm of Phelps Dunbar is appearing on behalf of the Parish of Jefferson and ALL NAMED RESPONDENTS in the Whistle blower lawsuit I filed recently.

Since when does the Parish defend PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS?

And if the Parish does represent private individuals why am I not afforded the same protection? Surely my whistle blowing is of greater worth to the Parish than the corrupt behavior of the person/persons on whom I have blown the whistle.

All actions taken by the individual defendants in this suit were designed to protect themselves for not doing their job or for covering up violations of Parish laws, rules or regulations.

All actions taken by me were designed to expose same yet I am not supplied with outside counsel.

Under what premise is Phelps Dunbar representing ALL NAMED RESPONDENTS?

Are they representing them for their potentially criminal behavior? For their Civil Rights violations?

Defending the indefensible racist, sexist, corrupt behaviors of long-time Parish employees brings to mind the case of Jefferson Parish employee and Plaintiff, Mr. Simon, and his co-employee, Kerlec. Mr. Simon’s anti-Semitism case recently was settled by the Parish after 5 long and presumably expensive years. The Parish employee Kerlec was known to and did in fact violate Mr. Simon’s rights but Clem Donelon with the assistance of the Blue Williams law firm represented the Parish and fought the repeatedly victimized Mr. Simon for 5 years to protect Kerlec  defending the indefensible.

The individuals should have to mount their own defense and not get to use my tax dollars to fight me when they created the problem in the first place.

Whose side is the Parish on anyway? That of the racist, sexist, corrupt bureaucrats or that of the conscientious employee who follows the mandate in the Parish Charter and Parish promulgated rules and regulations to report violations of Parish law?

If this matter and the Kerlec case are any indication it appears the Parish has chosen to defend the indefensible against the employee who follows the rules.What a message to send.

And since that is the chosen path then REPEAL all requirements/obligations to report violations or suspected violations.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. The days of saying one thing to create the impression that the Parish has policies to protect employees who fulfill their obligation under Parish law to report violations, while on the other hand launching a full fledged attack on that same employee must end. And the defense of individuals who wield their power to subvert the system must stop.

Say what you mean and mean what you say and STOP USING MY TAX DOLLARS TO PROTECT VIOLATORS OF PARISH LAW.

26 thoughts on “Stop using my tax dollars to protect violators of Parish Law”

  1. Riddle me this Ann Marie, are attorneys’ billing records sent to the Parish considered public records? I would assume there would be quickly-invoked claims of attorney-client privilege, work product, etc. But if these attorney fees are paid with taxpayer funds, don’t we have the right, as the real client in interest, to know what the attorneys (Phelps Dunbar, Blue Williams, Connick & Connick, Golden & Fonte, Martiny, et al, Franz Zibilich, Chehardy Sherman) are charging?

    Who should make such a public records request concerning your case?

  2. Your absolutely correct AMV. The ability to shelter themselves with high dollar legal counsel is unacceptable , not to mention the lining of their own pockets with overinflated salaries and retirement benefits. Why wouldn’t the attorneys that were hired be able to distinguish the fact that the fees are being collected from the citizens and not the wrongdoers themselves.

  3. All I can say, from experience, is that AMV responded almost immediately to a PRR that I made. She was extremely cooperative and very friendly (can you actually say those two words in conjunction about a public employee in Louisiana?) Thus, from my humble perspective, I say she got a raw deal from Prez Theriot. Keep fighting the fight, Anne. Shine the light on all of the corruption in JP.

  4. I think IMAANGRY just volunteered to make a public records request for all billing records on the Vandenwghe lawsuit.

  5. Good luck with that one. I made a PRR on the five years of legal fees JP paid Blue Williams in the SIMON case and of course Mr. Giangrosso had his underling mail be Mr. Gruntz faux legal letter of why I was not entitled to receive what I paid for as a taxpayer. Now I am going to further ask for the amount JP paid to settle this case. I do not expect a satisfactory return.

    I have evidence that JP had routinely given this information out before. AMV was under the direct supervision of Mr. Gruntz. Mr. Giangrosso is under the direct supervision of Mr. Gruntz. Same supervisor, different results. Hmmmmmmmm. So Mr. Gruntz, what are you trying to hide presently, and who are you hiding it for now ?

    The acting Parish Attorney Ms. Barton stated at the Council meeting that she was taking every “advantage” to find an exclusion in the law to block public document access; and this being said after the JP Council had just voted to reverse it’s support to legislate more exceptions ! This sounds an awful like Mr. Wilkinson of the past, and like he, she should resign, if only for such a rude and arrogant retort directed at Ms. Seemann, a JP resident and taxpayer. Quite frankly Council people, myself and most of the public are tried of the rude behavior displayed toward us by your assistants.

    Hopefully the avalanche of lawsuits that are soon in coming, as they relate to the refusal to give the public access to our taxpayer paid records, will change Mr. Gruntz’s mind.

  6. Oh forgive me again Mr. Theriot but I’m curious.Were you at the last council meeting and heard acting parish attorney Barton said she would take every exception to deny a public records request- the same meeting in which the council reversed itself on changing the public records request law? And I’m sure you were, so how does that attitude help restore confidence in parish gov’t which was the very purpose the council supposedly appointed you to do in the first place?Is that the attitude you wish to portray under your administration of gov’t? If it is, are we any better off in gov’t transparency than when Broussard was President?

  7. I heard Barton say what whitmergate and curiousgeorge referenced. I said out loud, “Did she just f—ing say that?”

  8. Under La 44:4.1 there are upwards of 40+ references to exceptions which if not included in that precise section would not have survived the early revision of the Public Record law. The specific reasoning was that the exceptions, exemptions and limitations were hidden all over the place and the Legislature said” This is not good.” So, saying “Let there be light” they decreed that if the exception, exemption or limitation was not specifically listed in La R S 44 it was no longer in force. Hence the sudden interest in ‘amending’ 44:4.1 to housekeep the forgotten exceptions, exemptions and limitations into law again. Breathing life into dead and dying laws which are cloying and designed to shield public records from the public is not transparency. Don’t even get me started on Ms. Carter’s email exception, exemption, limitation.

    If you look at the various numbers listed in 44.4.1 ( take #18 for example) it references La R S 33. It then lists a bunch of other numbers ( four in length like 1234). These are the exceptions, exemptions, limitations found in La R S 33 et seq which were incorporated by reference into the Public Record law to establish that they would remain as exceptions although not written out in 44. The legislature was very clear that only those written in 44 would survive. All others died.

    La R S 33:9614 is not in that list. La R S 33:9614 was the law granting local Ethics entities an exception, exemption, limitation. After La R S 44 et seq was passed 33:9614 no longer had any legal effect because it was not included in 44.

    So fast forward to Cedric Raymond’s #791 which he claims is just housekeeping…NOT!

    The exception for local Ethics entities did not make the cut initially and now he wants to make it one. At this time there is NO EXCEPTION for local Ethics entities. If his bill passes it will create an exception for local Ethic entities.

    Accept no other explanations this is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth SHMG.

    But look for yourself. Go to Louisiana Legislature website, look on the left side for Louisiana laws, scroll to where you can type in the number of the law you are looking for and go to 44:4.1. Then read through it until you get to the list of exceptions, exemptions, limitations, Go to #18 which is the paragraph containing all the exceptions, exemptions, limitations from 33 that made the cut.

    9614 ain’t dere. Which means 33:9614 ain’t dere no more to quote Benny Grunch. And it shouldn’t be. ‘Cause if it had been Val Bracy and Margie Seemann would not have gotten any public records about the Paralegals or Whitmer or Wilkinson or Whistle Blowers or Debbie Villio or anything else BECAUSE those local Ethics entities could quickly ‘launch’ an ‘investigation’ and claim the privilege of 9614.

    In the case of Wilkinson’s prohibited political activity that would have meant that Louis Gruntz could have stonewalled for enough time to let the Campaign Finance Report violation prescribe and then claim they had done all they could. No one would have been able to find out that Deputy District Attorney Wimberly and Deputy Parish Attorney Gruntz had determined that the Secretary of State Annual Report filings had prescribed and that they did not bother to investigate further to find the Election Finance Report filed by Wilkinson which had not prescribed. At least one would hope they did not know. One would hope they were not stonewalling to let it prescribe. No No…I am certain they would not have done such a criminal thing. It was probably just an oversight. Or undersight? Is there such a woid?

    Besides Gruntz has been so forthcoming and forthright with everything. Just ask Danny Martiney and the Jefferson Parish Council, President and Legislative Delegation.

    Oh well, time to retire with my BEARBOAT Pinot Noir and ponder the sunset.

    Hope this helped a bit and feel free to leave questions re Louisiana law. No response until manana however … gonna go drink, eat and be merry.

    Miss Margie and Miss Margaret: Hold the fort at the Tea Party. And keep up the pressure on the rascals.

  9. It took “20 depositions” on the taxpayer’s nickel to get such a “specious” lawsuit dismissed on summary judgment – give me a break! More Jefferson tax dollars hard at work……..

    Thomas P. Anzelmo and Kyle P. Kirsch won a victory in favor of Jefferson Parish in the case entitled Toga Society v. Harry Lee, et al. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana where plaintiff maintained

  10. This is a David and Goliath story in the making.

    The hiring of Phelps, Dunbar by the Parish of Jefferson is in effect an inverse SLAPP defense. (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Using the deep pocket resources, albeit taxpayers’ money, this administration’s course is not to investigate wrongdoing of the employees as set forth in AMV’s Whistleblower Claim; but to attack her for doing so ! To hire a mega-firm to pile pleadings upon pleadings is akin to legal harassment against a lone, single employee who has reported the wrongdoing. In essence, kill the messenger, AMV, before the message kills us, the JP Administration. Cover-up the inner secrets of their toxic workplace that would appall most anyone of common decency. Retain high priced lawyers, not to counsel and guide Theriot to alleviate those who foster such workplace hostility, but to stonewall for the status quo; its not their tens of thousands of dollars to waste, it’s ours !

    Charles Nesson, Wm. F. Weld Professor of Law, Harvard Law School referring to similar disparity of resources in Tanenbaum adv. RIAA, critiqued:

    The basic failing of the U.S. legal system is that it treats the plaintiff and the
    defendant as though they are equally powerful entities, regardless of the actual
    resources each may have.

    Justice demands that those who are treated unfairly take a public stand. After all
    David would never have beaten Goliath if he had not taken a chance with his slingshot
    while all Israel looked on.

    There are many lessons of human nature to be combed from this biblical story. Moral conviction and resolve to stand true in your defense against the Phillistines’ of power and corruption is a universal theme in the struggle for human dignity. When the Giant criticized and threatened, David did not stop or wave. Everyone else cowered in fear but David ran to the battle. He knew that action needed to be taken. David did the right thing in spite of discouraging insults and fearful threats. Only God’s opinion mattered to David.

    Ms. Vandenweghe, my prayers are with you as you combat the forces of evil that have such a stranglehold on our Parish Government. Truth, and not legal manuvering, will ultimately determine the outcome of this taxpayer war.

  11. I can’t write a comment as you’ve said it all so well, whitmergate.

    However, I can offer my favorite Sojourner Truth quote as a toast to AMV:

    If you feel small and think your words and actions won

  12. Thank you Ann Marie for your self sacrificing efforts in protecting Jefferson Parish Citizens from these self serving “GANGSTERS”. We need a major group recall petition NOW.

  13. “Under what premise is Phelps Dunbar representing ALL NAMED RESPONDENTS?”

    My guess is that there is an insurance policy that provides a defense to parish employees personally sued for the work they do for the parish. Its a good thing too, or else no one in their right mind would work in government. Not excusing the actors…just providing an explanation.

    1. The problem is breaking the law is outside the scope of their duties Matzerath. Also potential future conflicts of interest are huge, espeically once someone decides it is time to save their own skins and cut a deal.

      I don’t think anyone here begrudges a government official getting legal representation for their lawful official acts.

      Decisions like these are why I’m beginning to think the collective social IQ of the decision makers in the Parish Attorney’s office doesn’t break 80.

      sop

  14. They need a lawyer precisely because they are accused of breaking the law. Whether they were acting in or outside the scope of their duties is a question for the court AND may or may not be relevant depending on the language of the insurance policy.

    Also, I’m sure the lawyers have discussed the potential conflicts with their clients and they will cross that bridge when it comes time.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the outrage in this particular instance.

    1. It is the nature of the accusations Matzerath that is detail your not considering IMHO. So I’m clear, using your logic, you think Greg Meffert deserves a taxpayer funded lawyer because he worked for the City? What about Ike and Sonja Spears, do they deserve a taxpayer funded lawyer?

      The second someone, such as Debbie Villio, starts doing the political thing while still a Parish employee despite the strict prohibition is an example of when the line is crossed. I’m sorry but she needs to pick up that tab. And if it turns out that campaign fundraiser held for her by Newell and the gang is somehow a fantasy then let her get reimbursed by the taxpayers. Under your method tax money goes down a blackhole regardless of guilt or innocence.

      What will happen in the scenerio I described regarding the obvious legal conflicts is that Phelps Dunbar will be shown the door. More tax money down the toilet.

      You may not see the outrage but the people who pay the freight sure understand the score.

      sop

  15. One more comment and then I really need to get some work done. :)

    1. From my understanding of Ms. Vandenweghe’s letter, she has filed a whistleblower lawsuit. What that means to me is that she worked or works for the Parish and she was retaliated against for reporting some alleged violation. That’s a tort and, if proven, she’s entitled to damages. Its the same thing if a parish public works guy ran over her foot with his parish owned vehicle. Its against the law to run over someone’s foot. However, that parish employee wil probably still get a lawyer paid for by the parish’s insurer. I don’t know the details of the civil case against Meffert and I don’t know about any civil case involving the Spearses (Ike doesn’t work for the city though does he?). I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure, those guys would have to hire their own lawyer in a CRIMINAL proceeding.

    2. If my assumptions about this case are correct, the Parish (and you, taxpayer) is not actually paying Phelps Dunbar’s bills. The insurance company is because the Parish paid a premium to purchase an insurance policy to cover things like whistleblower lawsuits and foot injuries. Your taxes definitely paid for the premium but the cruel logic is that the more lawsuits there are the higher the premiums are going to be.

    3. Also, this is not about “guilt or innocence.” Its about civil liability and damages. (Again, I’m assuming this is a civil lawsuit). And yes, just as your insurance company is going to pay your lawyer’s fees when you get an accident regardless of whether you are at fault or not, the Parish’s insurer is going to pay Phelps’s fees. That’s why we have insurance.

    4. If there is a conflict of interest, the insurance company simply hires another lawyer. The lawyers win but, in real terms, the taxpayers aren’t going to feel it.

    5. Lastly, my rant presumes an insurance policy exists in this case. I don’t know anything about this case and I really don’t know who these people are because I live in the city and I’m just writing this for procrastination purposes. If there is no insurance policy, then that opens a whole new can of worms that I’m not going to write about now.

    6. Very lastly, I could be wrong about all of this.

    Snuggles,
    Matzerath

  16. The insurance policy to which you speak will not cover criminal acts. To the extent we well cover the topic of insurance, I’ll add they aren’t fools that simply open a checkbook simply because Lil’ Pup snaps his fingers.

    You write alot of words to end it with “I could be wrong about all of this”. You probably should get back to work. 😉

    Nonetheless I’ve enjoyed the banter.

    XOXO

    sop

  17. AMV, thanks, that’s all Jeff Parish residents can say. Someone here should say that to you.

    All:

    There is so, so much revealed and these people have no idea.

    Here’s one thing, note these guys have been hired along with Phelps(found on the agenda posted earlier) have also been hired:

    http://www.sfr-lawfirm.com/aboutus.htm

    One of their practice areas is employment law.

    Here’s another thing:

    The Riot, Broussard & Pals are yes offended, they are in fact in a RAGE. That is what we see here, lashing out. But there is something more.

    Look at the 11 screen names in the SDT. You can look up their comment history on nola.com (Side note: the program software they run or the interface format is that of a company called Advance.net, it’s questionable whether the TP really has the information, or if it’s Nola.com or Advance.net. Not only have they not named and served the TP even if they did that may not be the proper entity). It has also already been pointe out that most of the focus of those posts is Broussard, Whitmer and Wilkinson (and sometimes Villio), The Riot only comes in incidentally.

    If you look at the posting history of the 11 screen names (found in the SDT posted here and on scribbed) in a few instances a reply poster comes on and claims that the original poster is really AMV. I think that is really what’s going on here, they want an IP address that somehow confirms that AMV was posting from work, because they (the JP honchos in that firing room cum starchamber) were really working on their own surmising reading of posts, or that done by their minions.

    And that brings up another question: how did they come by this information? Weren’t they, the petitioners, in fact the ones reading and posting on parish time against their own rules? How did they come by this alleged information?

    Take a look at these screen names by using the search function on nola.com when you get a chance:

    taxesforannemarie

    (note: compare vs. “taxesfortim” and “taxesfortom” in the SDT)

    http://connect.nola.com/user/taxesforannemarie/index.html

    and:

    “goodbye”:

    http://connect.nola.com/user/goodbye85/index.html

    Or “taxxpayer”:

    http://connect.nola.com/user/Taxxxpayer/index.html

    There are at least a couple more like this.

    What you see are direct attacks on AMV and defending the Parish President / Broussard line (including various defenses of Villion, which is very curious) in a very direct and personal way. Who wants to bet those are parish employees doing the bidding of the barons of corruption?

    This all seems to go down between 2/23/10 and 3/5/10, though perhaps it goes back to December too.

    This page (pages 2-3) is an example of one such exchange, but there are more.

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/03/jefferson_parish_attorney_resi/5520/comments-2.html

    Clearly the JP executive krewe is spending their time on nola defending as well as reading, so someone should really bring that up, aren’t they really doing what they accuse others of?

    By the way: this is ALL public record, freely available on the worldwide interwebs.

  18. Yep, it’s all adding up.
    The suit is about getting (back) at AMV.

    Congrats to the folks who “called it early.”

    The comment count at NOLA.COM is over 300.
    Dontcha just LOVE “unintended outcomes.” ;-}

  19. The Parish of Jefferson is SELF INSURED…at least for liability purposes…don’t know about professional liability insurance

  20. We probably need to get our readers up to speed on exactly how many people Theriot is paying to defend. This goes way beyond the whistleblower complaint AMV filed.

    sop

  21. Here are some other “attack” AMVposts: happyholidays, callItlikeIseeit ,winstonsmith. There are 2 others of note: sueyplong (Feb. 24, 2010) lists verbatim alleged names used by AMV. We now know she didn’t blog on parish computers or a laptop at work or for that matter possibly not at all. So who gave these names to sueylong, names that seem to have come from that 5″ stack of blogging she was framed with ? Blogging that Theriot said she did, and was the reason for the job action taken against her. Then there’s thefactjack (April 3, 2010) who makes a thinly veiled threat of bodily harm to befall AMV at some future date. What we need to find out and know is, who acquired these blogs and how, and who decided that they were AMV’s to use in framing her ? FBI where are you ? Maybe an investigation of Banano (Homeland Security) and BBEC (private computer contracter on the 9th floor of the Yenni Bldg) might be helpful at this juncture.

    Theriot, Barton and Gruntz standing around laughing while citizens aired their concerns about this lawsuit, it’s costs and constitutional liberties is telling. Arrogance, arrogance and more arrogance. I’ll bet they won’t be laughing in depositions !

  22. “We probably need to get our readers up to speed on exactly how many people Theriot is paying to defend. This goes way beyond the whistleblower complaint AMV filed.
    sop”

    Please do.

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