AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council has voted unanimously to seek a state Attorney General’s Office opinion on the North Oaks Hospital board of directors’ authority to add a sixth member to what had traditionally been a five-member board since the hospital’s founding decades ago.
Earlier this year, Councilman Nicky Muscarello led a move to oust Dr. James Nelson, a longtime hospital board member, from the group. In his place, on a 6-4 council vote, Muscarello pushed through the appointment of Hammond lawyer Ron Macaluso to the hospital board.
Councilman Carlo Bruno hinted during Monday’s council meeting that the sixth hospital board member is Nelson, who was apparently added to the board without the council’s knowledge or approval.
Council Attorney Cliff Speed said he was not prepared to advise the council on the matter because he had not had time to research the legal questions raised.
Speed said he had received a communication from North Oaks attorney John Derenbecker about the issue. Speed said hospital districts enjoy more “privileges” under Louisiana law than do other such appointive bodies.
The council’s resolution instructs Speed to send the hospital board of directors a letter informing board members the sixth person appointed to the board is not to vote on any measures until the matter is resolved, then appeal to the state attorney general for an opinion on the appointment.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
CLUB DELUXE ROAD: The council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution stating the “urgent need” to make substantial improvements to Club Deluxe Road, a rapidly developing corridor on the south side of Hammond.
The resolution is seeking $4.9 million in funding under the Hurricanes Gustav/Ike Community Development Block Grant Parish-Implemented Disaster Recovery Program.
Parish President Gordon Burgess said if the grant is approved, culverts would be installed on each side of the road and the thoroughfare will be widened.
He said parish funds and some money from Hammond could be utilized to complete financing for the project.
SALES TAX FOR JAIL: The council unanimously agreed to endorse Senate Bill 247, which, if approved, would give the Parish Council the authority to call an election in the future for approval of a half-cent sales tax to support improvements to the Tangipahoa Parish Jail, which is described in a news release as being overcrowded and outdated.