Jeff Charlet, who’s been director of the Harahan Regulatory Department since 2011, said he resigned Feb. 2 after being given the choice to quit or be fired by Mayor Tina Miceli, who took office this year.
By both officials’ accounts, the two did not see eye to eye on how the department should be run.
Miceli said she’s trying to rein in spending and have employees be more accountable for how they spend their time. Charlet said micromanagement and the day-to-day realities of regulating a complex business like construction don’t mix well.
Charlet said he came to work the morning of Feb. 2 with a letter of resignation, only to be called into Miceli’s office and told he could either resign immediately or be fired.
He said discussions with Miceli about how his office should operate had not been going well. She wanted more code enforcement citations, which he said isn’t the best use of a certified building official’s time because such an official is the only person who can sign off on permits and inspections for the city.
Charlet said his office had been moved twice without notice, and he thought the writing was on the wall when he decided to give his two weeks’ notice.
But the letter of resignation he was given by Miceli was effective immediately, and the city’s permitting operations ground to a halt.
Dane Doucet, of Doucet Bros. Construction, said he had just gotten a builders’ loan package for a house he was building, only to find he couldn’t get the permits he needed for plumbing and electrical subcontractors to start work.
Doucet said he finally got the permit he was waiting for on Thursday — signed by one of the part-time Jefferson officials — but for the past two weeks, “everybody has been on hold.”
Miceli said she went to work on a temporary solution to the problem right away and that it simply took some time to get an agreement with Jefferson Parish in place. She said the city is working to hire Charlet’s replacement and will do so as soon as it finds a qualified and certified inspector.
She said tight budgets mean employees need to start punching time clocks, filling out trip logs and expanding their duties, which she said Charlet wasn’t willing to do.
“I’m trying to make things very efficient,” she said. “We have no choice at this point. The city cannot afford to continue doing business the way it has been done in the past.”
Jefferson Parish officials could not be reached to discuss the agreement with Harahan.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.