Van ad angers local woman: Man worried about park’s trees, health

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 6, 2016

A routine Bogalusa City Council meeting ended with some sharp criticism from audience members Tuesday night.

The board’s agenda was passed largely without community comment, but after all the measures were passed unanimously, members from the audience complained variously of scantily-clad women, unkempt yards, cleanup progress at Cassidy Park and the mayor’s role in the community meetings. And one member of the public, John McNabb, asked for information about organizing a neighborhood watch.

Carol Vacek spoke out against an advertisement she saw on the side of a van often parked in the 300 block of Louisiana Avenue. Vacek said the van features an advertisement that includes “an almost nude woman in a bikini swimming suit.”

“I am not against swimsuits or advertisements, but I am against that picture,” she said. Vacek said she’d been fighting the advertisement since 2014 and she’s complained to the former mayor and to parish officials, but no one has done anything.

“That van on the street, that is nothing but filth,” she said.

She compared the van to “Playboy” magazine and suggested the city change a law to outlaw the advertisement. Councilwoman Tamira Smith pointed out that the woman in the advertisement isn’t naked.

“It’s close to it and the pose is suggestive,” Vacek said.

One woman in the audience loudly suggested that Vacek close her eyes when she drives by.

However, Smith said she would try and make contact with the owner of the van and ask the owner to move it to another location.

Foots Quinn also addressed the board. He criticized the city for alleged delays to Cassidy Park repairs, and he said trees in the park are dying because of the procrastination. He offered to volunteer and he suggested the city could have numerous volunteers help with the project to speed things along.

“All I want to do is help my beloved city of Bogalusa,” he said.

Quinn went on to say that he understands the city is waiting for possible funding from FEMA, but he believes work could begin in the interim.

“We need to save the things that are dying down there,” he said.

Later in the meeting, Mayor Wendy Perrette said the park will be closed to all residents — including would-be volunteers — until it is safe.

“With it not being safe I don’t think people should be in it, so it’s closed,” she said.

However, she said on Friday some work will begin on the trees, and eventually the city will call for volunteers.

Marvin Austin also addressed the city board, although he complained about an alleged child abuse incident at a local school.

Perrette said the incident in question was a school matter and didn’t involve the city because, Perrette said, the school district wouldn’t cooperate with police when police arrived.

“I don’t know why we’d give anyone $50,000 for a truancy officer if they’re not going to cooperate with the police,” Perrette said. “Why would we do that?”

John McNabb, who is the grandson of board president Sherry Fortenberry, asked the council for details on how to set up a Neighborhood Watch program. McNabb said he was harassed outside his home recently, and he wants to set up a “proactive neighborhood watch program that goes through regular patrols.”

“We can’t expect the police department to have a vehicle on every street at all times,” McNabb said. “It’s time that we step up and actually take care of our town ourselves so we have a right to complain.”

Fortenberry said she was already aware of the situation because it involves her grandson. She added that she’d already asked state officials how to set up a neighborhood watch program and that she is in the process of putting together a group.

“I am telling you it’s being done. Be assured I’ll be in touch with you,” she told McNabb.

Fate Ferrell, a city council regular, also spoke and he almost got ejected from the meeting by police.

Ferrell began by accusing Perrette of hijacking the informal town meetings that began last month. When she objected, Ferrell said, “I didn’t ask you to talk.”

“I didn’t ask you to attack me,” Perrette replied.

Fortenberry said he couldn’t insult the mayor and the board.

“You all can say what you all want to say but when the citizens want to speak, you don’t let them,” Ferrell said. He also accused members of the city council of insulting residents online. The police then approached the podium to lead him away, but Ferrell then changed topics and complained about an unkempt piece of property on Sullivan Drive.

“The city needs to clean up the property,” he said. “It’s ridiculous we pay taxes and can’t get anything fixed in the city. It’s ridiculous that you can talk about us but we cant talk about you. It’s time out. I think we need to do a recall on you all.”

In addition, Patricia Keller said she thought North Roosevelt Street should be paved by the city, and Warren Bolds said he believes all area veterans should register with the Veterans Affairs agency and people in Bogalusa need to work together.

“If we work together and put God first, we can have the same as every other parish that has things for families,” he said. “We could have a movie theater and a bowling alley if everyone works together … Bogalusa is a place that could be a lot more better and thriving and raising some revenue and we could be where we were 40 years ago but better if we could ever work together.”

In other business, the city council:

• Approved an engineering contract.

• Approved a contract with a company to teardown dilapidated property.

• Approved two airport contracts.

The council also adopted the following resolutions:

• A resolution supporting Our Lady of the Angels Hospital.

• A resolution ordering that existing taxes be placed on the November ballot.

• A resolution acknowledging a water audit report.

The next city meeting will be Tuesday, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall.

The next town hall meeting, which will focus on education, will be Monday, May 9, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.