PORT ALLEN — There was a familiar divide among City Council members Wednesday night on several legal matters related to the contentious 11-month tenure of former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter.
The first was the council’s 3-2 vote to award Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain $112,500 in a settlement of the wrongful termination lawsuit she filed against Slaughter and the city in February 2013.
The second was the council’s 3-2 decision to pay $10,300 in legal fees to the attorney who represented three council members who also sued Slaughter, alleging she abused her executive powers while in office.
Councilmen R.J. Loupe, Garry Hubble and Hugh “Hootie” Riviere made up the majority voting in favor of both measures. Councilmen Brandon Brown and Ray Helen Lawrence were on the opposing side.
The divide was one frequently seen in the council chambers during Slaughter’s tenure before she was recalled from office in November 2013.
“I find all this equivalent to playing with the city’s money,” Lawrence said. “We have too many residents in this city who need things. Yet we’re paying all this money in legal fees.”
“I’m having flashbacks right now,” Hubble said after the vote to pay McCain $112,500 for the settlement in her case. “Y’all voted ‘no’ tonight but went into negotiations a few weeks ago and agreed on this.”
“I never said yes!” Brown retorted.
“You never said no, either. Everyone agreed,” Hubble replied.
McCain’s case was set for trial May 4, but state District Court Judge Alvin Batiste encouraged both sides to settle the matter outside of the courtroom.
The City Council, McCain and Slaughter spent the day in discussions with their respective attorneys until all parties agreed to the six-figure settlement about 5 p.m. that day.
McCain sued Slaughter after the former mayor tried to fire McCain in February 2013 over accounting deficiencies cited in an annual audit report for the city.
McCain quickly got her job back through a judge’s order. That judge ruled the mayor lacked authority to dismiss the chief financial officer without City Council approval.
A few residents on Wednesday also expressed their displeasure with the council’s decision to settle with McCain.
“Don’t go in a private session and say we’re gonna make a settlement,” Frederick Everson said to the council. “Win your case in court. The citizens don’t want this.”
However, Hubble praised McCain as one of the people who helped keep the city’s finances in order.
“If we didn’t have them, you wouldn’t have any money right now,” Hubble said.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.