OPELOUSAS — The Opelousas Board of Aldermen agreed Tuesday to allow new Police Chief Donald Thompson to hire former Mayor Anna Simmons as an attorney and consultant to the Police Department.
The board approved the request on a 5-1 vote even though Jarvis Claiborne, the city’s new attorney, said he’s been hired to represent both the Police Department and the city.
Thompson said the $28,000 expenditure will be covered by dipping into revenue that would have been used for two officers who are retiring.
Simmons’ consulting responsibility will include training officers in handling issues that could bring about legal problems.
Thompson said Simmons, who is an attorney, will provide the department with advice on current lawsuits involving the department.
Simmons, who ran unsuccessfully last year for city judge, told the board that her employment with the department will continue until the city’s 2015-16 fiscal year begins Sept. 1.
Aldermen Julius Alsandor, Marvin Richard, Tyrone Glover, Sherell Roberts and Jacqueline Martin voted in favor of hiring Simmons. Voting “no” was Blair Briggs.
In another matter, the board voted 3-2 with an abstention to allow a Mardi Gras horse parade to take place in the city Sunday.
Paul Gennuso, a former Opelousas police officer, said the proposed event would violate a city ordinance that requires the organizers to have several permits.
Gennuso said the parade does not have the required federal permit, since it will be held on U.S. 190, which passes through the city.
Eva Noel, who is in charge of the event, said she expects about 75 horses and that all the necessary insurance requirements and parade permits have been granted.
Noel said the organizers also have ensured that cleanup crews will be following the horses.
Thompson said his officers will be able to handle any security problems.
Claiborne, however, said the parade probably violates a municipal ordinance, which says only horses kept within the city are eligible to participate in such parades.
Glover questioned whether the event is a parade or a trail ride.
Voting to hold the parade were Alsandor, Roberts and Martin. Briggs and Glover voted “no.” Richard abstained.
Also on Tuesday, Briggs said former police chief Perry Gallow has withdrawn his request for $43,658 in unused annual leave he claims he accumulated during his eight years in the office.
Briggs said in an interview that a 2005 municipal ordinance indicates that Simmons, the former mayor, would be the last city employee to receive money for unused vacation.
“I informed (Gallow) of the ordinance and he withdrew his request,” Briggs said.
Briggs said he also told Gallow that no one on the board was in favor of granting the request. Gallow did not attend the meeting.
According to the budget committee report, Gallow had asked to be reimbursed for 1,032 hours of unused vacation time.