Following through on an earlier promise to do so, St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta on Tuesday vetoed a pair of measures passed recently by the Parish Council to end a controversial contract with a local firm that provides technology services to the parish.
The vetoes mark the latest chapter in a contentious relationship between the council and the first-term parish leader.
Both ordinances ultimately sought the same outcome: forcing Peralta to end the parish’s 2014 contract with ParaTech LLC, a Jefferson Parish firm. One ordinance called on him to end the deal outright; the other stripped the money needed to pay the contract from the parish’s budget.
ParaTech’s contract gave it the right to “perform all necessary technology professional services” for the parish. But the Parish Council refused to let the company handle the council’s email system, saying the firm’s owner, Richard Perniciaro, is too close to Peralta. Perniciaro said the firm’s deal is worth upward of $70,000 a year.
In a two-page message that outlined the rationale for his vetoes, Peralta said the council was overstepping its authority. He said his office has “the exclusive right to contractually bind the parish” and is the “sole authority to select firms to provide nonlegal professional services to the parish.”
By trying to strip the money from the budget, Peralta said, the council was violating the parish’s charter and state law. He said the ordinance would eliminate needed funds in the parish’s technology services budget. “This significant defunding endangers not only our IT services but puts our electronically stored data at risk,” he wrote.
The council could override the vetoes with a vote of at least five of its seven members.
The measures were passed 4-0 at a special meeting, and it’s unclear if five members are prepared to vote to override. Council chairman George Cavignac didn’t immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
Peralta’s relationship with the council has been icy as he has faced mounting legal criminal trouble in the past two years. He faces pending criminal charges in two jurisdictions.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.