[StBernard] St. Bernard council wants ordinance changed

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Mar 4 09:10:44 EST 2010

St. Bernard council wants ordinance changed
Reported by: Jennifer Hale, Reporter
Email: jhale at fox8tv.net
Last Update: 3/03 7:19 pm

The Attorney General's investigation into JaRoy construction is prompting
some St. Bernard council members to try and pull power away from the parish
president and re-direct it back to the parish council.

The alleged problems with JaRoy Construction first surfaced in Chalmette at
Fire Station Number Five last year.

Some city council members say they wanted to fire JaRoy then, but were
blocked by a post- Katrina, emergency ordinance.

Now they want the ordinance changed.

When the Attorney General started investigating JaRoy Construction because
of allegedly shoddy work at Fire Station Number Five, Councilman Wayne
Landry learned of the situation in a surprising way:

"I found out about it through a phone call from the Attorney General who
advised me they had a crime scene there, and they asked for our assistance
to protect the crime scene," says Landry.

Landry says he didn't know about the problems because the St. Bernard
Council has no say in parish construction contracts or change orders. Landry
explains a post-Katrina ordinance says those only need to be approved by
Parish President Craig Taffaro.

"What it's done is vested too much authority in the administration of the
parish. As it stands now, the council has no input into any of the process
whatsoever," says Councilman George Cavignac.

The ordinance was put in place after Katrina's devastation to expedite the
re-building of St. Bernard. But some say now that the crisis is over, it's
time for the ordinance to sunset.

Landry plans to propose an ordinance requiring parish council approval on
all future construction contracts and change orders.

"I do want to make sure we're getting what we're paying for because we're
supposed to be the stewards of the people's money," says Landry.

Cavignac says the situation with JaRoy and Fire Station Number Five
highlights the need.

"We have a systemic sickness right now with the way things are operating
because we are absolutely out of the loop," says Cavignac.

In July 2009, Landry and Cavignac tried to fire JaRoy by asking the council
to step in and issue JaRoy a cease and desist order, nullify a hold harmless
agreement and require the parish president to engage the council in future
matters involving JaRoy.

"Had we executed those three things I wanted to do in July 2009, what you
see happening in the surrounding parishes, Jefferson etc - we'd have been
way ahead of the curve and they would have been following our lead," says

That effort failed by one vote.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish is now on the verge of canceling all contracts
with JaRoy.

Landry and Cavignac will once again need four votes to pass their latest
idea. Landry plans to propose it at the council meeting in 2 weeks.

Parish President Craig Taffaro says he's waiting to comment because he
hasn't seen anything in writing.

We've contacted JaRoy's attorney, but so far the company has no comment.

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