[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish councilman asked to resign by opponent, citing charter conflict

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Jun 17 20:14:07 EDT 2014

St. Bernard Parish councilman asked to resign by opponent, citing charter
Print Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Benjamin
Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
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on June 17, 2014 at 4:44 PM, updated June 17, 2014 at 6:47 PM

St. Bernard Parish At-large West Councilman George Cavignac was asked to
resign at a council meeting Tuesday (June 17) by his former contestant in
the 2011 election, who argued that a charter provision prevented Cavignac
from running. 

Earl Dauterive, who ran unsuccessfully against Cavignac and is a member of
the parish planning commission, said Cavignac should not have qualified to
run in the 2011 race because of the charter dual-office ban. 

"I know Mr. Dauterive may still be a little upset from his loss, but it is
simply technical language that needs to be changed because it does create
confusion," Cavignac said after the council meeting. He didn't address
Dauterive's statement during the Tuesday afternoon meeting. 

The charter provision Dauterive cited says that a "council member shall hold
no other elected public office, or any compensated appointive office or
employment of the parish government or compensated office of any state
political subdivisions until one year after leaving office."

Cavignac was the District B councilman when he beat Dauterive in the 2011
race to fill an at-large seat vacated by Frank Auderer.

(Below see and download all the charter sections that Dauterive marked up
and provided to the council and NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune at the

George Cavignac
Dauterive told council members that Cavignac should have had to wait a year
out of office before he ran for the at-large post.

Council Chairman Guy McInnis said he would be sending a letter to the
attorney general's office for its opinion on the matter.

The issue came up as the council has looked at placing four proposed charter
amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot, one of which would "help clarify" the
provision Dauterive cited, according to some sitting councilmen. That matter
was tabled until the next council meeting in July.

"After reading the charter changes that were proposed, it opened a Pandora's
box, especially for me as I had sought the office for the at-large council
seat west," Dauterive said at the council meeting Tuesday.

"Mr. Cavignac needs to forfeit his office per the charter," Dauterive said. 

The previous council passed, and voters approved, the charter language that
Dauterive cited Tuesday. Cavignac and Councilman Ray Lauga -- who both sat
on that council when the language was passed -- said Tuesday that the
council didn't intend to prohibit councilmen from running for other elected

McInnis said he has spoken with several other former council members from
that period, who also have indicated that preventing sitting officials from
running for another office was not their intent.

"And legislative intent means a whole lot to what something is," McInnis

McInnis said he agreed with Dauterive that the current charter language
states that someone cannot run until waiting a year out of office, and
that's why they are looking "to clarify that language." But referring to a
ban on sitting officials running for another office, McInnis said: "If
anyone thinks that that is constitutional, then you are living on another

He said that notion could even prevent him from running for president of the
United States until a year after leaving his post on the Parish Council.

"That, to me, is just not American," McInnis said.

That prompted a joke from Parish President Dave Peralta.

"So, are you announcing your candidacy to run for president of the United
States?" Peralta quipped.

No one has discussed a national presidential run, but there has been talk in
the parish that McInnis might run against Peralta for parish president in
2016. McInnis has not indicated whether he plans to run. 

Below see and download the charter sections that Dauterive marked up and
provided to the Parish Council and NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune at the June
17, 2014, council meeting:

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