PPC approves Writ of Mandamus against NungesserNov 5th, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
The Plaquemines Parish Council Thursday unanimously passed two measures to file Writs of Mandamus against Parish President Billy Nungesser for two yet unstarted projects from 2008 and 2009.
Nungesser was attending a Natural Resources Damage Assessment meeting in St. Bernard Parish at the time of the vote.
The first resolution, sponsored by District 7 Councilman Jay Friedman, called for a Writ of Mandamus—a court-ordered mandate—for the parish president to purchase about six acres of land in Nairn for a recreational park. The ordinances for the purchase agreements between the parish and White Oak Realty and Citrus Realty were adopted in June 2008 and September 2008.
“I don’t want to have to do this. I think it makes a negative statement,” Friedman said. “This is two years pending, unfortunately, and at the time it should have been done. For two years to pass for the administration to not move forward and not try to acquire the property is beyond me.”
District 5 Councilman Anthony Buras voted against the 2008 measures but lent his support to the Writ of Mandamus.
“Although I originally opposed the purchase of this property for reasons of my own, I find it appalling that something as simple as the purchase of a piece of property that was authorized by this council, and money is appropriated to do so, has not been done,” Buras said. “It needs to be taken care of.”
Although the Council has voted to file the Writ of Mandamus, Friedman said if the parish administration can move quickly enough to purchase the property, the parish can avoid an internal legal battle.
The second unanimous vote for a Writ of Mandamus against Nungeser called on the parish president to contract with engineering firm Burk-Kleinpeter for a study examining a drainage problem between Empire and Homeplace.
Friedman said he filed the November 2009 ordinance after noticing water in drainage ditches flowing toward Empire. The pumping station is in the opposite direction, at Homeplace. According to Friedman, the company visited District 7 to examine the problem after money was appropriated to fund the study.
“If the administration goes ahead and signs the contract, as stated in the resolution, we don’t have to go to court,” Friedman said. “All I’m saying is get the contract signed and get the study done so we can address the drainage in District 7.”
Nungesser was not available for comment by press time.
The Parish Council Thursday also rejected 5-4 a resolution outlining residency requirements for elected officials making recommendation to boards and committees.
The ordinance, proposed by District 4 Councilman Dr. Stuart Guey, would have prevented parish council members from appointing members to local boards and commissions if that member doesn’t reside in the district he or she represents. Because the ordinance would have acted retroactively, Guey said, any board members representing a district other than their own would have been immediately replaced.
The only council member currently in that situation is District 6 Councilman Burghart Turner, who appointed a former district resident to fill a vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Commission when the representative in that seat was dismissed for living outside of Plaquemines since Hurricane Katrina.
Guey said he felt the ordinance was necessary because of potential conflicts of interest in which a board or committee member could potentially vote in the interest of his home district at the expense of the district he represents.
“I want my own representative from my own district to be on that board, commission or committee,” Guey said.