In our coverage of Jefferson Parish Government we’ve run across the name of former Jefferson Parish CFO Gwen Bolotte a few times, normally with me expressing the opinion she needed to be fired for not doing her job as Parish Finance Director. I termed her a doormat in fact and that is a good description of her job performance in both the Performing Arts fiasco and the Parish’s ham handed dealings with Waste Management in trying to cancel the contract with them so that the Parish’s garbage could be hauled to the River Birch Landfill at considerably more costs to parish residents. I mention this because Bob Ross has a curious story in today’s Times Picayune that allows John Young and Chris Roberts to capitalize on Bolotte’s departure for purely self-serving public relations purposes. Roberts using this issue is particularly sickening given he employes the Master of Disaster Deano Bonano as a council aid at a nice 6 figure salary despite Bonano deserving the same fate as Bolotte. Instead Roberts recycled him from John Young’s chop shop. First lets visit with Ross and his story for the Sunday Picayune:
Bolotte’s decision is more troubling, Roberts said, given her position as chief financial officer in Parish President John Young’s administration.
“Gwen is a CPA. She has a fiduciary duty to hold her ground in certain situations. I would expect our CFO — and I’ve told this to John already — that if she’s put in a compromising position that she knows may or may not be in the best interest of the parish, that she make a decision to stand up and say: ‘We have questions about this and I’m not comfortable, and we need further documentation.'”
Turning a “blind eye” to Whitmer’s order, as Roberts described Bolotte’s reaction, was not in Jefferson’s best interests. “That’s a real problem,” he said. “How many time have you heard her say over the years, ‘I was instructed to do that by my superiors.'”
Young generally agreed with Roberts’ assessment.
“Hindsight is 20-20, but if she had questions, she shouldn’t have processed the check,” he said recently, before Bolotte announced her retirement. “I can tell you this: We made sure Gwen knows that nothing will be paid without proper documentation. That will not happen again. Also, nothing will be paid without accounting doing the proper checks and balances.”
Both men act as if there was not an existing policy to never pay expenses without documentation in Jefferson Parish and of course there was and is such a policy. In both the case involving Waste Management and the Performing Arts Center, Bolotte was exactly what then Parish President Aaron Broussard and the council wanted in a doormat that would do exactly what they told her to do. Tom Wilkinson in particular was a thug in a suit and is no doubt the guy Pat Tovrea emulates over on the Jefferson Parish School Board. Tim Whitmer also used threats and intimidation as a management tool and that, along with a Parish President and Parish council directing everything is the real problem. All quality administrators like Reda Youssef and Rick Buller proved was that standing up to bullies by sticking to the policy and procedure book would not result in their termination because the risk they would squeal on the wrong doing would be greatly increased if they were fired for doing their jobs. We see that playing out now in the suit Anne Marie Vandenweghe has against the Parish, a news item the Times Picayune has mostly ignored. I bet both Youssel and Buller both know in spades to never turn their back on Roberts.
But reporter Ross was not done folks since he let John Young and Chris Roberts trash Bolotte to cover for their own culpability in the Performing Arts Center clusterfuck he had to get reaction from the LCPA, likely the last people who wanted to get dragged into Ross’s hit piece as we continue:
Whether Bolotte had an ethical obligation as a CPA to “take a stand” is unclear, said Grady Hazel, executive director of the Society of Louisiana CPAs.
The general rule is that a CPA should not subordinate his or her judgment to others, Hazel said. “That means just because my boss tells me to do something, my excuse can’t be that my boss told me to do so.”
But in this case, he added: “It really depends on the organization’s policies and what’s the normal process. I think you’re in a gray area here.”
There is no gray area here Grady as the Parish had good policies and procedures. Elected official and their henchmen, with the help of their doormat Gwen Bolotte, over rode the policies and procedures that were in place. There is no candy coating the downside to being a doormat here folks as not only are doormats not respected professionally they also get to play the role of patsy on the back end. That said I also won’t candy coat my critique of today’s story on Bolotte as Ross has peddled pure crap to the readers of the Picayune as his article is all about letting a couple of politicians seek some PR cover for their decisions. Harry Truman didn’t put the “Buck stops here” sign on the desk of his Treasury Secretary for a reason folks.
Finally I’ll now openly wonder if the beat reporters at the Picayune could do any reporting on Jefferson Parish if they had no access to the elected officials. I do not have such access for instance and frankly I don’t need it because I’ve found the people who truly know the score, the humble public servants that are the employees of Jefferson Parish are very happy to talk and share what is going on both now and back when during Aaron Broussard’s reign of terror on all but the politically connected in Parish Government. We see real flashes of quality journalism from time to time in some of Paul Rioux’s reporting but then a stinker like today’s story floats up and you simply gotta wonder what they were thinking. I’ve found that Parish employees want to tell their story and I think everyone that reads Slabbed is more informed because of it. I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about losing my sources because they all tell me to the person they do not trust the local media. I think stories like the one today would be the reason why.
Speaking of informed maybe next time Bob Ross goes to visit Mini-me Chris Roberts maybe he should ask him as to the role of his council aid Deano Bonano and now HR Director Peggy Barton played in the Performing Arts Center debacle as Bolotte has plenty of company in that saga in those two people. Maybe they should send some written questions to Councilman Elton Lagasse asking him whether he has retained a personal lawyer now that the feds have been poking around the Yenni Building again for several weeks recently. In fact that would also be a good question to ask Mini-Me Roberts too.
Another good question to ask Mini-me is why the council overrode the scoring by the professionals inside Parish Government to continue with Waste Management instead of going with the more expensive, albeit politically connected IESI. Who will reporters like Ross let politicians like Roberts blame when such questionable decisons come back to bite the taxpayers in the ass as they routinely do? I guarantee you it won’t be a sitting politican with a major role in the disaster folks.
So there you have it folks, John Young and Chris Roberts, with the help of the Times Picayune pissed all over Gwen Bolotte to cover their own culpability in the Performing Arts Center debacle. File this under SNAFU.