Peggy Barton: Wilkinson’s Continuing Legacy of Arrogance and Incompetence to Further Facilitate Corruption Part II: Council Votes in Violation of Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinance 23-132.1. A Guest post by Whitmergate.

Having Capella vouch for Barton was not exactly what I was expecting or hoping for. And I would venture to guess that his trite comment did not assure anyone that the Parish Attorney’s Office had been purged of the decadent influence of Tom Wilkinson. This snippet from the Times-Picayune story Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson resigns by Paul Rioux illustrates:

Despite the upheaval, parish officials said the law department remains in capable hands.

“I have full confidence in Peggy Barton,” Councilman Tom Capella said. “We’ll continue moving forward doing the people’s business.”

Of course Capella in referencing the “people’s” business, most likely means his people: his family, cronies and contractor, consultant, lawyer campaign contributors. That would account for his “confidence” in Peggy Barton to carry on Wilkinson’s legacy of facilitating the corruptive conduct of those she depends on to keep her job.

My question to Mr. Rioux: What “upheaval” are you imagining? Barton is Wilkinson…where have you been! Haven’t you been covering the “Gretna Mentality” circus over on the west bank for several years now? Sorry, but your thinly veiled attempt at comforting the citizens of Jefferson Parish announcing that the appointment of Peggy Barton as Parish Attorney would somehow suddenly invest that office with professional competence and ethical standards failed miserably.

With such resounding support of Capella and the other Council members who chimed in by voting to confirm Barton as Parish Attorney, it is apropos that I segue into yet another current Barton (JP) vs. Seeman/Baird(CFGG) ‘tete a tete’.

Unslabbed, myself and now the Citizens for Good Government, Margie Seeman and Magaret Baird, have brought to the forefront an issue that encapsulates the taxpayers disgust and frustration with the systemic and rampant corruption by and of Jefferson Parish Officials, both elected and appointed, that is presently being investigated by Federal authorities. The question is whether the Council members are required to comply with a particular ethical standard set forth in the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, and is as follows:

Sec. 23-132.1. – Abstention or statement by certain elected officials relative to campaign contributors.

Whenever any member of the Jefferson Parish Council, in the discharge of an official legislative duty, is called upon to vote on a matter which would economically benefit any person who has made campaign contribution(s) to said council member during the forty-eight (48) months prior to the date of the vote, which contribution(s), in the aggregate, exceeds the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), the council member shall abstain from the vote on the matter affecting said person or shall submit to the parish clerk immediately prior to said vote a statement signed by the council member stating the reasons why said member’s vote would be fair, objective and in the public’s interest. The parish clerk shall cause the council member’s statement to be recorded in the official journal of the parish or in the minutes of the parish council. For the purposes of this section, “person” shall mean an individual, partnership, association, labor union, political committee, corporation or other legal entity, including their successors and assigns. (Ord. No. 18702, ยง 2, 3-10-93)

The article posted on ClickJefferson.com by Citizens for Good Government (Margie Seeman and Margaret Baird) is complete with the particulars of the most recent votes by Council members that violate this provision cited above. Ms. Seemann also sent a follow up letter requesting that Barton provide answers concerning the illegal voting of the Council. I found it interesting to note that up to this instant letter there has been no mention by the Parish Attorney about some “heretofore unknown” opinion allegedly given in the mid 1990’s by the Parish Attorney’s Office (more on that later).

In Barton’s reply, dated Sept. 28, she sarcastically suggests that Ms. Seemann and Ms. Baird are ignorant, and writes: “…It is clear from your email that you have a misunderstanding as to the obligations of the Parish Attorney’s Office.” She infers that this Office is somehow separate and apart from the public that pays for its operating budget and her over inflated salary. The fact is that Barton is a PUBLIC SERVANT; and all of the political entities that she states the Parish Attorney is accountable to are filled by individuals who are PUBLIC SERVANTS! God forbid that private individuals or entities who pay the taxes that pay the salaries for these retirement junkies, who repeatedly treat them with the utmost contempt, should ask for public information that would be of help in debating this, and other issues, intelligently, fairly and openly.

Again Barton recites the yada, yada, yada…blah, blah, blah of some pasted authority that gives support to her expected response in defending the indefensible. As though this pointed insult by Barton isn’t enough, she further states, “…If the documents you request are not afforded an exception in the public records law, then they will be provided to you in due course. ” Right! In essence, FUCK YOU Margie and Margaret, go away, don’t bother me.

And now enters the GATEKEEPER, Deputy Assistant Parish Attorney Louis Gruntz (29 years and soon to reach the rainbow’s end…a Jefferson Parish retirement!)

This tug-a-war over what is right and what is wrong is fluid…so much so, that the Times-Picayune dropped in with a story posted by Paul Rioux Wednesday afternoon. So here is what Gruntz came up with in defense of the Council, that year after year, casted illegal vote after illegal vote:

“In a legal analysis conducted in response to Seemann’s concerns, Deputy Parish Attorney Louis Gruntz wrote that after the ordinance was adopted, filing affidavits before each vote quickly “proved to be cumbersome, ineffective and costly and had no practical effect.”

In the mid-1990s, the Parish Attorney issued an opinion that signing a blanket objectivity statement would be sufficient to comply with the ordinance’s “spirit and intent,” Gruntz wrote in the two-page analysis. He said this 15-year precedent carries “great weight” in determining the intent and meaning of the ordinance.

Gruntz also said that technically no violations could have occurred because campaign contributions are made to “campaign committees” and not the council members themselves as stated in the objectivity ordinance.

Gruntz recommended that the ordinance be either “amended or repealed” to resolve the ambiguities.”

I have questions. Why wasn’t this “heretofore unknown” Parish Attorney’s opinion from the 1990’s produced and used by the Council at the meeting on Sept. 22 to justify their actions ? Who has possession of this document? Really, I want to know all about how this document came into existence…why was it written…who authorized it to be written…who wrote it…when was it written…any minute entry in the Council Journal that gives reference to this “heretofore unknown” opinion, etc, etc, etc.?

Gruntz’s cited extract above is black and white evidence of a seriously dysfunctional Parish Attorney’s Office lacking in grounded ethical standards and professional legal acumen. “Gretna Mentality” on public display again; and it’s only been a couple of weeks since the Porteous Impeachment Hearings ended. What can’t you understand Margie? That this is the way it’s done, no matter if it’s in direct violation of the law; the law here in Jefferson Parish is what I say the law is. Mumbo, Jumbo, Gumbo… a rigmarole!

Quoting from the above cited T-P article, Councilman Chrissy Roberts, injecting a bit of humor into what is a rather serious quagmire he and his colleagues find themselves in, opines:

“If we have violated the ordinance so has every prior sitting council and council member over the last 15 years,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “If something needs to be changed, I’m open to discussions. However, at this time the council has based our actions from legal guidance.”

I can only surmise that Chrissy is in the early stages of formulating some variant of the “Pied Piper” defense…I only illegally did what what other councilman have illegally done…that’s what Tom Wilkinson said we could illegally do !

Now they listen to Peggy Barton…

QUESTION: Will John Young have the balls to exorcise Wilkinson’s ghosts who continue to whore the office out for political patronage and personal gain? This Parish Attorney’s Office is in dire need of restoration: moral, professional, and legal competence.

*********************

Slabbed commenter Whitmergate is a member of Citizens for Good Government and is a resident of Jefferson Parish.

Slabbed welcomes all points of view on the topics we cover. Our readers can submit guest columns to Sop whose contact information can be found here. While we allow anonymous comments on the blog, guest columnist must submit a verifiable name and contact information in order to be published.

36 thoughts on “Peggy Barton: Wilkinson’s Continuing Legacy of Arrogance and Incompetence to Further Facilitate Corruption Part II: Council Votes in Violation of Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinance 23-132.1. A Guest post by Whitmergate.”

  1. What’s that old song, And the beat goes on! Apparently we in Louisiana have a barrel of rotten apples and we keep looking forthe one or two good ones to take out before they too become rotten. We need to do to the legislative offices of all local, city, parish and state offices what we do to crawfish before we boil them, purge them to get the mess out!!!

  2. Having tried a judge trial yesterday with a judge whose name I will not mention, I saw the “Gretna way” in full display. The plaintiff’s attorney was a FOJ (friend of the judge) and I was not. Decision for ……. you guessed it – plaintiff.

    My out of state clients are in complete disbelief. They should not be if they had been watching the Porteous impeachment proceedings. Just disgusting.

  3. “Gruntz also said that technically no violations could have occurred because campaign contributions are made to ‘campaign committees’ and not the council members themselves as stated in the objectivity ordinance.”

    You have got to be f—ing kidding me. This statement alone underscores the absurd prism through which JP Govt. views things. Maybe it’s those absurd prism glasses he wears.

  4. I wonder how much money was made from the corrupt LP&VHPP for all the local government whiz kids & their friends. It must have been a good amount as they are trying very hard to have the pay back to FEMA and others voided.

    Don’t you just love statesmen? These guys would have been tared & feathered when we had morals above self!!!

  5. ‘GATE..well, another spot on post. Keep em coming..

    Couple of things:

    1) I believe Capella was misquoted. He said: “We’ll continue moving forward doing the people’s business.”

    I believe what more accurately has happened is : “We’ll continue moving forward doing the people.”

    2) Gruntz’s insightful comment: he says as regards Ms. Seemann’s concern over Parish Ordinance Section 23-132.1 & the requirement of the Council to adher to that ordinance : “proved to be cumbersome, ineffective, costly, and had no effect.”

    Actually his comments accurately describe the Jefferson Parish Attorney’s office under Barton’s divine leadership which has resulted in that office as being cumbersome, ineffective, costly, and has no effect.”

    Finally, as to your final comment as to whether Young has the ‘ca-honies’ to do anything to clean up a currently inept, ineffective , non – taxpayer friendly Jefferson Parish Government. Well, Mr. Young has been on the Council for 6 1/2 years and all he has uttered in those 6 1/2 years is two words: “so ordered.” Usually after a Council vote of 7-0 by our esteemed Council after voting on anything that fits the personal agendas of themselves and their cronies.

  6. Nice work Whitmergate

    Regarding campaign contributions are not bribes.

    This is utter bullshit. The Judge carefully monitors his/her

  7. So since murder has been around since Cain killed Abel does that mean the infinite number of years of precedent carries “great weight” in determining the intent and meaning of laws which punish murder? If an action is illegal it is not made legal by it being broken a lot of times by a lot of people.

    Apparently, if Louis Gruntz is to be believed, repeated violations of laws can create precedent which exonerates the violator(s). I don’t think so. Given his less than stellar record for giving advice to his Jefferson Parish clients ( Re Record Retention: Everything can be thrown out after 3 years NOT; and, Tim Whitmer is entitled to Due Process, including a pre-disciplinary Hearing and other amenities, despite his ‘at-will’ employment status ( thank you for that Louis); and now: Violating the spirit of the law by doing a once-per-elected term BLANKET STATEMENT is not only OKIE-DOKIE but said violation has established ‘precedent’ legitimizing the illegal behavior. I refer you back to the CAIN v. ABEL reference, infra. Holy moly Batman! The only people with a worse batting average at giving advice are the Weather Anchors with their daily weather reports.

    And Louis, about the legal concept of ‘ precedent’: Precedent is not set by repeated VIOLATION of laws, it is set by repeated refusal of a COURT OR COURTS OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION to punish said violations. And I have to believe that at this point in Jefferson Parish history, no Judge in his or her right mind is going to be DUMB enough to side with the bad guys. Too many GOOD GUYS observing ( and perhaps listening in on) their ramblings. So all Louis can rely on is maybe getting out before the divine M & M Sisters’ lawsuit(s) are heard. But of course, some high priced law firm will be fighting Louis’ battles for him once again. Wienie.

    I think the Parish of Jefferson should make a claim against Louis’ Professional Malpractice Insurance carrier. Let them fight out whether or not he purposefully advised his clients to violate the law ( thereby vitiating coverage and dismissing the Insurance Company from liability) or was just stupid or negligent or whatever which hooks the Insurance Company. Either way no one I care about gets nailed and my tax dollars are reimbursed for shoddy legal representation.

    While the Parish is at it, they should sue Barton, Giangrosso, Broussard, Trahan, Whitmer, Wilkinson, the Council and any other employees who benefitted from illegal and/or unethical activities. More of my tax dollars recouped or saved by grabbing their retirement dollars to reimburse me for their bad, negligent, criminal, and/or unethical activities.

  8. Iamangry: You are not saying that the ‘hometown’ hitters struck again?! Didn’t they watch pOrteous get his and his ‘FOJs’ heads bashed in for this behavior? Arrogance is one thing but stupid is congenital. These bozos can’t really think they can continue in this vein. Guess it’s about time for a reprisal of Wrinkled Robe. Maybe it can be called ‘Disrobed’. Or ‘Diss-robed’. And everyone wonders why business ( decent, ethical business) doesn’t want to locate here? Why their employees say ‘ NO WAY’ to bringing their families into this cesspool?
    Jefferson Parish is as bad about corruption as Orleans is about violence. If Silence begets Violence it also begets Corruption. More people need to speak up and speak out: Name names and dates and times and tell ALL. Keeping secrets lets the abuse continue and spread. Don’t be a carrier. Tell anyone who will listen and the more the better. They cannot hide if everyone is pointing at them and yelling.
    Crime Stoppers needs to offer rewards for White Collar crime reporting and push that in Jefferson Parish like they push the Violent Crime reporting in Orleans.
    The silence syndrome is slowly being replaced by the LOUD SHOUTING syndrome as the Sheeple realize it is their money being stolen from them by their SERVANTS.
    Like a sticker burr in your sock the SHOUTERS are going to irritate and prickle the elected servants, like bubblegum on their shoes the Divine M & M Sisters will continue to attend meetings, file complaints and point out the crimes. Like a persistent toothache Anne Marie Vandenweghe will pop up in the government buildings smiling and watching and watching and smiling. Bank on it Buckeroos.

  9. Regarding scandals:

    Why would the TP run an article on Blain Kern taking up with a younger attractive woman to comfort him in his last years?

    Everyone jumps to conclusion as to why. She could be a nurse for all we know.

    I say let

  10. Jefferson Parish needs to share the stage with Orleans Parish at the federal and state levels. Foreclosure fraud is a NATIONWIDE scourge; and it is easy to prove here in Louisiana. Some people entangled with Freddie Mac and Wells Fargo in fraudulent foreclosures are FORECLOSURE MILLS Dean Morris Law Firm and Herschel C. Adcock, Jr., firms

  11. Some of you who are members of Citizens for Good Government already know this..but, for those who are not…here’s just an example of what the “DIVINE M & M ” sisters have done since the debacle which unfolded with the Jefferson Parish Council in the 9/22/2010 meeting with the entire Council violating Parish Ordinance.

    A formal complaint has been lodged with the Criminal Division of the A.G.’s office. Additionally, a compliant has been filed with the Louisiana Ethics Board (w/copies provided to all J.P. Council people – which is required by law).

    And, finally, notarized and certified letter compliants lodged both with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office.

    In a previous post, a poster on Slabbed referenced a line in the movie The Untouchables with Sean Connery in which he uttered the line “How far are you prepared to go…?” (he was asking this of Kevin Kostner concerning how far Kevin Kostner ( FBI chief in the movie) would go after law breakers).

    Well, I think you see how far CfGG is willing to go.

    A sincere shout out to the “DIVINE M & M” sisters…you go girls and we’ll be right there with you. POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

  12. I promised “Whitmergate” a Comment to his Guest Post, but I’ve been handicapped in commenting about “Peggy Barton”, because I don’t know her. (However, if she’s “directing” Louis Gruntz and Gregory Giangrosso, my personal experience has been 100% unsatisfying). So I’ve actually found something “positive” to say about “Peggy Barton”, notwithstanding her in excess of $150,000 salary (who in Parish Government could possibly be worth “that”?): I guess the taxpayers, landowners and citizens of Jefferson Parish should be glad that, unlike her mentor, she is working for us 24-7, and that she does not have a private law practice on the side. That’s “right”, huh? Ashton O’Dwyer.

  13. Well Ashton sort of. Seems Peggy’s husband lives in Korea for the past four years or so. She would go visit him for weeks at a time and tell the Parish Attorney staff that she was still “working” because they could reach her by email. Albeit not until the following day with the time difference. No one has seen her passport to compare it to her leave requests So not so much 24/7.

  14. Whew! Then maybe “Pegs” should take a lesson from “Julette Saussy” of Orleans Parish (or maybe Former Judge Sonja Spears). Ashton O’Dwyer.

  15. I am sure John Young will restate all the cliches that go along with being elected to office no matter what the statistics are: that the voters have spoken and that he will represent all the citizens of Jefferson Parish with the desire that we move forward to do the business of the people; that we must put the past behind us and begin the healing process; that his administration will be transparent and accountable without favoritism for a few;… and yada…blah, yada…blah, yada…blah…ad nauseam !

    All this, regardless of the fact that he has been a principal participant in the corruption carried on by this Council he has been a part of for the last 6 1/2 years. That he is in fact the puppet of JP District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr. is all too disturbing. That business for the Burkes, the Connick Law Firm and all the other usual suspects of contractors, consultants and lawyer campaign contributors that appear on his campaign report forms will remain “SOS”; that the same people he, with his fellow Council Members, has voted 7-0 to award contracts to do business with Jefferson Parish over and over again will not be altered. Although not having a vote, his position as Parish President will give him the leverage of trade-offs with high salaried/retirement job patronage; this to insure that business will continue as it had when he was a Councilman.

    Here on Earth, as opposed to Uranus, Young does not represent anywhere near the majority of voters of Jefferson Parish he will claim regardless of what percentage of the registered voters actually went to the polls. There are approximately 273,175 registered voters in Jefferson Parish. Of that number only 52,049 bothered to vote on October 2, 2010 in Jefferson Parish, which equals 19%. That would mean, that Young, who received 41,451 votes, owns only 80% of the 19% votes cast. As a result Young can only own up to 15% of the total of 273,175 registered voters. That’s right, only 15% of those eligible to vote, whether they did or not; and that’s 85% who didn’t vote for Young !

    Sadly but strategically, this statistic of 15% could well represent a majority of voters who work for the various political entities such as the District Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor, Clerk of Court and JP’s Governmental Administration, and the contractors, consultants and/or lawyers who do business with the those previously referred to. And these are exactly the people, who besides themselves, entice their family, friends, and cronies to be sure to vote for Young; who in turn was endorsed by all of those politicians who control the offices I cited above. He’s one of them ! They have a vested interest…and the circle jerk goes on.

    So I will ask of soon to be Parish President Young… again:

    QUESTION: Do you, John Young, have the balls to exorcise Wilkinson’s ghosts who continue to whore out the Office of the Parish Attorney for political patronage and personal gain ? This Parish Attorney’s Office is in dire need of restoration: moral, professional, and legal competence !

  16. I would just like to thank Larry Haas for staying in this thing and giving we Americans in JP an actual choice at the ballot box.

  17. telemachus..agreed, thanks to Mr. Haas for staying in the hunt till the end.

    The election, as alluded above by ‘Gate..Young got the 15% of voters that work for the Sheriff’s Dept, Assessor’s office, D.A.’s office, & his hangers on within J.P. Government ( retirement junkies securing their positions)..so Young doesn’t represent the views or the votes of the voters of Jefferson Parish. The J.P. MACHINE did its job magnificently again .

    No change on the horizon for the better for Jefferson Parish. Just, unfortunately , more of the same – o , same – o.

    J.P. Government is a ship adrift on the open ocean with no rudder and no moral compass…

    Why I guess one could say IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL IN JEFFERSON PARISH.

  18. Perhaps everyone should put their money where there blogging is and have a cyber-fundraiser for Haas to reimburse him for any money he spent.

  19. So does anyone want to bet when and WHO Young axes in the ranks of executive staff, directors, and parish attorney office? Not who you want but who you think will be history…..remember all of these people are at will….and remember most are forbade from campaigning for him thanks to an old Butch Ward Ordinance…the one AMV has been nailing people on

  20. Ignatius..I saw Young and Haas on Channel 4’s Sunday morning program with Dennis Woltering prior to the election. Woltering was questioning both of what they would do if they got into the Parish President’s office.

    One thing I did make a note of..Young said one of his concerns would be to
    make Jefferson Parish Government smaller.

    Guess it remains to be seen how he does that. Agreed, there are lots of 6 figure “assistants” tripping over one another down there at the Yenni Building- many of which do little if anything of substance.

  21. Ahhh yes Bunhare but just who does he get rid of? Some that have never had the pleasure of being named to Slabbed should be targets… Don’t let just the salarys be the target… some earn it some don’t…Young will need to use wisdom and cut deadwood without loosing the ones he needs. While it is easy to take the postion, can them all…because of the institutional knowledge some of these people are not only needed but do a good job inspite of the organization they have found themselves working in. Using an old saying we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water….that said look at the organiztion chart…who would you pick to stay and who to go?

  22. Ignatius… as to who should or should not have been raked on Slabbed…who should go and who should stay, maybe Young should use the following quote by your namesake Ignatius Jacques Reilly as a barometer:

    “you can always tell employees of the government by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces.”

  23. God forbid but having read the Barton postings I have been daydreaming a story about Tom Wilkinson and what it might be like waiting to be indicted.

    THE CLOCK

    He sits in his living room staring out over the swimming pool compliments of the $30,000 deal he made with his good friend Don Gardner via his brother and Joe Mole.

    These newspaper articles and television reports are killing me he says. These lawyers keep draining my bank account. I don’t get that $6000 every two weeks like I use to. Where are all my friends he tells his wife? Where’s my rich sister-in-law Nancy ? I did want they wanted me to so she was the only one to get that $400,000 job. I was once a man of power. I could do anything I wanted to do. No more back slapping. Hell, where is Fred now that I need him?

    Then he looks to the clock that constantly reminds him of the precious days of freedom he may have left. Damn clock he rumbles.

    He goes into his bedroom and puts on his Weenie Bikini and heads to the pool for what may be one of his last dips. Who cares that I look like a beached whale. Fuck ’em that’s what I say.

    Angered by his wife who cautions him not to repeat his past actions, she says,

  24. Don’t let the door hit’ya where the good Lord split’ya.
    New Orleans was flooded by engineering malfeasance.
    Spin it however you want to get your rocks off, but don’t try to call me the dick here.
    I don’t do well at all with betrayal of reality.
    This is not comfortable. It hurts.

  25. Let me tell you a joke. It’s a terrorist joke that belongs to John Cleese, the British actor and Monty Python comic genius.

    It’s called “Alerts to Threats in 2011 Europe”:

    “The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from ‘Miffed’ to ‘Peeved.’ Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to ‘Irritated’ or even ‘A Bit Cross.’ (The English have not been ‘A Bit Cross’ since the Blitz in 1940, when tea supplies nearly ran out.)

    “Terrorists have been re-categorized from ‘Tiresome’ to ‘A Bloody Nuisance.’ (The last time the British issued a ‘Bloody Nuisance’ warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.)

    “The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from ‘Run’ to ‘Hide.’ The only two higher levels in France are ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Surrender.’ (The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.)

    “Italy has increased the alert level from ‘Shout Loudly and Excitedly’ to ‘Elaborate Military Posturing.’ Two more levels remain: ‘Ineffective Combat Operations’ and ‘Change Sides.’

    Insurance companies reward local insurance agencies who tote their water. Sandy took the position she did not because it was the truth but because it made her money. At least she is acting in her own self interest, just like a good uptown Saint Charles Street whore should. And that ain’t no joke.

    http://www.otherwords.org/articles/ethnic_jokes_are_a_fools_game

  26. why yes, whimergate~ I do have the balls
    they have recently reached about the size of acorns
    very compact and julie loves them

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