A Kenner city councilman is not breaking dual office-holding laws by getting paid to work a security detail in his capacity as a reserve city policeman, according to a new opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
Councilman Michael Sigur said Thursday that the opinion didn’t surprise him. “I was pretty well assured there was no problem as far back as last year,” he said.
Nonetheless, questions have surrounded Sigur’s arrangement because Kenner’s charter bars elected officials from holding “any other compensated position with the city.”
Sigur spent 33 years on Kenner’s police force but retired before taking his City Council seat on July 1. Patrolling the city’s Wal-Mart stores was among the off-duty details he worked during his career, and he retained the role after he retired and became a volunteer reserve officer.
While Kenner doesn’t pay Sigur for being a reserve officer, he does get paid when he works details at Wal-Mart.
The retailer pays City Hall an hourly rate of $47.50 per officer. Kenner pays the officers $35.50 an hour and retains the balance, city spokesman Bob Ross said. After Kenner gets its $12 per hour cut, the city forwards the rest of the money to the officers who work the detail, Ross said.
Sigur has maintained the money that ends up in his hands comes from Wal-Mart — not from the city, which would violate the dual office-holding laws.
The Attorney General’s Office agreed in an opinion released Tuesday.
Before he took office, Sigur said he anticipated his Wal-Mart detail might become an issue. He said he requested clarification from the Attorney General’s Office last May and was told the agency had already issued an opinion saying such arrangements are legal.
Nonetheless, Sigur said he asked for a review of his specific situation. “I don’t know why it’s taken so long for the written opinion to come out,” he said.
As Sigur awaited the opinion, the state Board of Ethics, apparently prompted by a complaint, conducted an inquiry into the matter. The board in August came to the same conclusion: that Sigur is paid directly by the businesses and not Kenner itself.
Yet some critics argued that the board’s opinion oversimplified how Sigur was paid, given that his detail payments go through City Hall.
Sigur on Thursday defended the Ethics Board’s opinion.
“It was Wal-Mart’s money,” he said. “The prohibition is I can’t make any money coming from the city’s (coffers).”
Sigur also has been criticized for the small number of volunteer hours he has worked, compared to the ones he’s accumulated on paid detail.
A policy adopted in November, after Chief Michael Glaser assumed the reins of the Kenner Police Department, requires reserve officers to log roughly as many volunteer hours as paid ones.
Sigur said his modest number of volunteer hours is not unlawful.
“That’s a policy issue between the police chief and his reserve officers,” he said. “That’s not law.”