PORT ALLEN — Former Mayor Derek Lewis appeared before the City Council on Wednesday to make his case that the city owes him about $19,000 in accrued vacation pay.
Lewis resigned in June, just hours before he pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge federal court to a racketeering charge.
Lewis, 50, admitted he accepted bribes from undercover operatives posing as businessman who were looking for a city contract. The phony businessmen were pitching a government-created garbage can-cleaning service known as Cifer 5000.
The council discussed the issue of Lewis’ pay last month, but no decisions were made. During that meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Bergeron said he would be willing to vote to pay the former mayor for vacation time if documentation is available showing that Lewis is entitled to the 420 hours of pay he is seeking.
On Wednesday, an agitated Lewis told council members to check the minutes from a March 2010 City Council meeting during which the former mayor declared he was taking his first-ever vacation while in office. Lewis said the city’s then-custodian of records, Barry Brewer, agreed on the record during that 2010 meeting that the former mayor had not previously used any vacation time.
“I don’t have my official records because the FBI has them, but you can also ask my former secretary,” Lewis said. “She can tell you that I only took that one vacation … I’ve taken five days of vacation in six and a half years.”
Lewis also noted no one in the city oversees the number of hours actually worked by current Mayor R.J. Loupe and his top staff, much the same way the office was run in previous administrations.
“I might make you mad, I might not get paid, I may have to hire an attorney, but I don’t want to do that,” Lewis said.
After some back-and-forth between Lewis and Bergeron, Councilman Irvrie Johnson said the city should pay the former mayor. But Lewis wasn’t finished. He said the situation revolving around his pay is a good opportunity for the city to start a human resources department.
“We need to learn from this,” Lewis said. “Clean it up, clean it up, clean it up.”
After the meeting, Lewis stood in City Hall’s first-floor lobby and spoke about the reluctance of some City Council members to pay him money he feels he’s owed.
“I’m angry, I’m upset,” Lewis said. “I think the council’s just being vindictive.”
City Council members could vote on the issue at their meeting on Aug. 14.