City hires civil service attorney firm

Published 4:25 am Friday, August 4, 2017

The Bogalusa City Council voted Tuesday to officially hire Briney Corry, LLP, as the city’s civil service attorney.

Before the roll call vote and after some discussion on the issue by council members and citizens, council president Tamira Smith asked Mayor Wendy Perrette if she had already officially hired Corry as the city’s civil service attorney. Perrette said she had not, and the ordinance to do so passed with a 5-2 vote. Gloria Kates and Brian McCree voted against the ordinance, while Scott Ard, Teddy Drummond, Sherry Fortenberry, Doug Ritchie and Tamira Smith voted in favor.

The contention centered around a bill that Angelo Pepe claimed proved that Corry was actually hired on May 19. Pepe said Corry was from Lafayette, would claim travel expenses, and urged the council to hire a local attorney for the job.

City attorney Dale Branch said he was asked to look at the bill and he determined the city was charged by Corry for individual cases, but not as a representative of the city.

Branch previously told the council, “Civil service has gotten very complex … You’ve got to get somebody who specializes.” On Tuesday he said civil service attorneys are limited in number throughout the country.

Ard spoke to the opposition, saying, “I’ve worked with 50, probably 75, lawyers. We’re operating out of a 40-year-old charter. Civil service law changes yearly. General law and specialist law are different things.”

He said the city needs to stay up to date with the law, and added that there are

probably two dozen to three dozen civil service specializing attorneys.

Vice President Doug Ritchie gave a practical example. He said, “If you have heart failure, you’re not going to hire a podiatrist.”

In other business, the Bogalusa Fire Department will get a much-needed new fire truck. An ordinance to authorize Perrette to enter into a lease/purchase agreement for a 2017 fire truck was passed unanimously.

Fire Chief Richard Moody said that the newest pumper the BFD now uses was purchased in 2009, and that the department’s other trucks include one that is 22 years old, one that is 18 years old, and a backup fire truck that’s a 1973 model.

The only ordinance that was introduced would authorize the mayor to enter into a cooperative agreement between the city and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

The meeting began with Perrette awarding a 50-year anniversary certificate to Josh Stogner, a representative for Double D Meat, Inc.

“Double D has had a positive impact on Bogalusa,” she said.

The public participation portion of the meeting was primarily taken up by citizens expressing concerns that the council was not spending taxpayer money properly, such as by hiring Corry in addition to Branch, or by not hiring more people to clean up the city.

But Terry “Foots” Quinn praised Wes Parker for his work on the Willis Avenue mural, and then asked Branch who had the authority to “eliminate” such things as Styrofoam and plastics. Branch responded that David Wolfe would have the authority, and that he would do the research and let Wolfe know.

Quinn then asked Police Chief Kendall Bullen if the Bogalusa Police Department had a plan for dealing with the “terrible drug” (opioid) situation.

“We have plans in place,” Bullen said. “It’s not just here. It’s everywhere.”

When it was time for the council members’ discussion, Ritchie said he shared the concerns of the public.

“I share the same concerns you do… the streets, trash. But it didn’t happen yesterday, and there’s only so many hours in a day, and so many guys,” he said.