`CITY OF JEANERETTE JEANERETTE, LA
MINUTES SPECIAL MEETING-BOARD OF ALDERMEN Thursday September 26th, 2023
Proceedings of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Jeanerette, State of Louisiana, at their Special meeting held Tuesday September 26, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.
Those present were: Mayor Carol Bourgeois Jr., Alderwoman Mariah Clay, Alderwoman Charlene Moore, Alderman Garland Bourgeois, Alderwoman Tia Simmons, Alderman Ray Duplechain. and City Attorney Lucretia Pecantte.
Mayor Carol Bourgeois Jr. made the following statement to the board. To move the people’s business forward and to clarify the respective authority of our City’s elected officials. I wish to acknowledge the council’s right to call a special meeting as in accordance with Section 1-109 of the City of Jeanerette’s Code of Ordinances. However, after having consulted with LLA (Louisiana Legislative Auditor) references and an attorney with the LMA (Louisiana Municipal Association), I believe this meeting format constitutes a violation of RS 42, Open Meeting Law of the Louisiana State Constitution. Henceforth, and therefore as Mayor of this community, I cannot nor will not participate in this meeting. Attorney Pecantte stated for her research, that there is an exception to the Open Meeting Law and that is executive session. An executive session, in revised statue 42:16 and 42:17, revised statue 42:16 the attorney says has a case law directly on point with what the Mayor is talking about it’s called Greemon vs City of Bossier et al.59 So 3d 412 (La App. 2011) and then Mayor said ya’all can have the meeting I am not participating. Alderman Duplechain said we don’t need you, we have the Mayor Pro Tempre. The Mayor left the meeting at 5:05 pm. Attorney Pecantte said this is really not a violation of the Open Meeting Law because you have a right to executive session. It says a public body may hold Executive Session upon an affirmative vote taken at open meeting for which notice has been given, pursuant to RS 42:19, by two-thirds of a constitute members present. An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempt from being discussed in Open Meeting. The exemptions are discussions of character, professional competence, physical or mental health, provided by such is notified in writing 24 hours exclusive of Saturday. But partially, investigative proceedings regarding all allegations of misconduct. Ms. Pecantte stated that she believes that this meeting falls within the purview of going into executive session. She continued that there is a case directly on point that the Mayor is talking about that is Greemon vs the City of Bossier, whereby it was appealed to discuss the Open Meetings law-and it was decided that the City council has the right to call an executive session. It goes into the bond of what executive session is and what can be discussed. If the Mayor chooses not to participate, that is not our problem. Also, after doing much research, so you’re not in violation of the Open Meeting, because you did the notice and you have the right to go into executive session. We have done it before and Attorney Pecantte believes the Mayor is just disgruntled by what the allegations are for. So therefore, for special council meetings note that Attorney Pecantte can refer to as well as this case law. Attorney Pecantte said she came adequately prepared to answer the questions the council may have regarding Executive Session, as well as you know that we have done this before. So why at this particular time is it a violation of the Open Meetings law?
Mayor Pro Tempore Christia Simmons called the meeting to order. Alderman Duplechain led the prayer and Alderman Bourgeois led the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Pro Tempore Christia Simmons. determined that a quorum was present.
On motion by Alderman Bourgeois and second by Alderwoman Moore to leave regular session and enter executive session to address allegations of hostile work environment and personnel issues. Voice vote of all yea, no nay and no abstain or absent, motion carried.
Motion to leave Executive Session and return to regular session by Alderman Moore and second by Alderwoman Clay. Voice vote of all yea, no nay and no abstain or absent, motion carried. Motion by Alderman Bourgeois and second by Alderman Duplechain to turn this matter over to the DA’s office for investigation. Roll call vote
Yeas: Alderwoman Clay, Alderwoman Moore, Alderman Bourgeois, Alderman Duplechain
Alderman Duplechain stated that not only are we dealing with allegations of hostile work environment but also interference with the duties of the officers, and Attorney Pecantte said she will speak to the DA about that as well. Alderman Bourgeois said that the City can’t keep officers and it is a shame. Attorney Pecantte wanted the record to reflect that when the Mayor said the meeting violated the Open Meeting law. Chief Vallot then interjected that he wanted to inform the council that Ned stated in a text to the Chief that this is all about race. The Mayor walked into the hallway and pointed to Ned and said you see him, I hired him twice and he continues to run his mouth, until Ned walked out. The unknown persons were all in the hall saying that they were going to start a riot. Then Attorney restated that she wished the minutes to contain in reference to the Mayors’ opening comments, to point to Greemon vs City of Bossier et al.59 So 3d 412 (La App. 2011) Open Meetings law is not an option and it quotes the case of Norris, the statue allows the public body to an executive session only after an affirmed vote by two-thirds of the members present and provides that the vote of each member is recorded and the reason for holding such session be recorded and entered into the minutes. Ms. Pecantte wanted the minutes to reflect that the clerk did her notice, she outlined the votes that were taken and she outlined what the meeting was about, she posted the notice within the required time. It met the statutory requirements as well as the City’s Ordinance requirements for a special meeting. Attorney Pecantte then pointed to revised statue 42:16 and 42:17 because she does not want this to come back because we did this meeting properly, procedurely and both substancely. She noted that there was also several attorney general opinions on this as well. She also informed the board to become familiar with Ordinance Section 1-109. She also added that if you have any questions you can reach her at any time. Mayor Pro Tempore Christia Simmons then cautioned the council that anything that was said and done during executive session is not to be discussed it can put you in jeopardy.
6. Adjourn - On motion by Alderman Duplechain and second by Alderwoman Moore to adjourn carried on voice vote of all yea, no nay and no abstain.
Christia Simmons,-Mayor Pro Tempre
Susan Colden City Clerk
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