[StBernard] St. Bernard will not hire David Gorbaty as new CAO due to ethics rules conflict

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Dec 10 09:23:31 EST 2013

You mean NO ONE knew of this prior to the public announcement? Doing a
little research FIRST can go a long way to avoid embarrassment.

-----Original Message-----
St. Bernard will not hire David Gorbaty as new CAO due to ethics rules
conflict Print Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By
Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Email the author |
Follow on Twitter on December 06, 2013 at 2:19 PM, updated December 06, 2013
at 3:09 PM

St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta will not hire retired St. Bernard
and state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge David Gorbaty as the new parish
chief administrative office because it would have violated the state ethics
code nepotism provisions, Peralta said Friday. Peralta had announced
Gorbaty's hiring at the Tuesday evening Parish Council meeting and Gorbaty
was expected to start work Monday (Dec. 9).

Gorbaty's son, Nathan Gorbaty, is a parish councilman. At the Tuesday
council meeting, Nathan Gorbaty joked about whether he should continue
referring to his father as "Dad."

Peralta said that Gorbaty never was officially hired, as the paperwork was
going to be completed Monday.

"No member of the immediate family of a member of a governing authority or
the chief executive of a governmental entity shall be employed by the
governmental entity," the state ethics code says.

A NOLA.com | Times-Picayune reporter contacted state Office of Ethics
Administrator Kathleen Allen on Wednesday inquiring about the possible
conflict. While Allen said she could not give an opinion as to whether the
hiring was in violation, she did point out Thursday morning that the parish
council does act as a legislative authority over the parish, with control
over the budget and salaries.

But, she said that for an official opinion, a complaint would have to be
submitted to the Ethics Board. She said she could not confirm or deny if any
complaints had been filed in the matter because the matter is made public
only if the board finds a violation.

If such a violation had officially been determined, the state Ethics
Adjudicatory Board could impose civil penalties of up to $10,000 and could
order the violator's removal from that position.

The state ethics code says that if a violation is judged to have been
willful, then "the agency head, member of the governing authority, the
public employee having authority to hire and fire the employee, the
immediate supervisor of the employee, whether or not such persons are
immediate family members of the employee, and such employee" all could be
subject to disciplinary action and penalties.

Peralta said Friday that he and parish attorney Billy McGoey began speaking
to state ethics officials Wednesday, and that McGoey eventually was told by
an ethics board attorney that hiring Gorbaty would in fact be a violation of
the code's nepotism provisions.

Peralta said Friday he was saddened by the decision.

"It is a great loss to this parish, I will tell you that," he said. "But it
doesn't mean he (Gorbaty) is not coming on board, in a volunteer capacity

"I'm sure you hear it in my voice, I was disappointed, but I accept their
decision, and I will listen to the law and I will always follow the rules."

There also was a question of whether the hire would violate the parish's own
code of ordinances governing nepotism in public employment.

"No member of the immediate family of a member of the police jury, or the
secretary/treasurer of the police jury, or the chief administrative officer
of the police jury, shall be employed by the parish police jury or any
agency or department of the police jury," according to a parish ordinance.

It further states that the ordinance "shall be enforced by any judge of the
34th Judicial District Court," and that violators could face up to a $500
fine and 30 days in parish jail.

About two weeks ago, then-St. Bernard Parish Chief Administrative Officer
Jerry Graves announced he was leaving St. Bernard government for a new job
at the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. Graves had been Peralta's first
hire after Peralta took over the parish's top post in January 2012.

In the meantime, parish Director of Finance Ross Gonzales has been the
interim CAO.

"But it's a pretty big burden on him, doing both finance and the CAO duties,
so there might be some changes depending on how long the search for another
CAO goes on," Peralta said. "Right now, we are already sharing some the CAO
duties and responsibilities.

Peralta said that the hiring of a CAO is additionally tricky because of the
new parish government employee residency requirement that parish voters
approved in December 2012.

It requires that new employees have to move to the parish within six months
of their date of hire.

"And the problem is that technically I can only guarantee the CAO candidates
a two-year position," Peralta said. "Yes, I'm running for the next election,
and yes, I'm hoping to win reelection, but I can't guarantee that for them.

"So, for someone from out of the parish, they'd be agreeing to move out here
for a job that could just last two years."

More information about the StBernard mailing list