ACA.deconsolidate.01.021321

Lafayette City Council Chairman Pat Lewis attends a meeting of the Lafayette City and Parish Councils Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Lafayette, La.

Five people have been named to the Protect the City of Lafayette committee and 19 people applied to fill two vacant posts on the volunteer board that will weigh the benefits and detriments of Lafayette Consolidated Government.

The committee is appointed by the Lafayette City Council and is not an official charter commission. Everyone on the committee must be a resident of the city of Lafayette and registered to vote in Lafayette.

City Councilman Pat Lewis, who served in 2020 as council chairman, proposed the Protect the City committee after clashes between the City Council, Parish Council and the administration of Mayor-President Josh Guillory.

In January 2020, the City-Parish Council ceased to exist, replaced by separate city and parish councils. The split, approved by voters in 2018 as part of the Fix the Charter movement, was supposed to give the city of Lafayette more say-so over its tax dollars and decisions, without interference from the Parish Council.

That hasn't gone as smoothly as some, especially city residents and the City Council, thought it would, bringing up the question of whether it is in the city's best interest to remain part of Lafayette Consolidated Government, where it is believed city tax dollars are used to support parish operations. The parish has little revenue coming in compared with the city.

The City Council, in a resolution unanimously approved in January authorizing creation of the committee, wrote, "The Lafayette City Council has not been allowed to make motions or debate joint ordinances without Lafayette Parish Council concurrence. The City Council has no control over departments and component units of government that are funded almost entirely by city of Lafayette tax dollars" and the Guillory administration continues to fight the City Council's attempt to hire its own attorney to determine if the charter is being properly interpreted.

"The City Council is increasingly concerned that consolidation will continue to result in city tax dollars being improperly used to fund more than the city's legal share of consolidated services," the resolution declares.

Lewis said in November the committee will examine topics ranging from the City Council’s best approach to protecting city tax dollars, to protection of the ratepayer-owned Lafayette Utilities System, to the expenditure of city tax dollars outside of its limits, to whether consolidation or deconsolidation benefits the city of Lafayette.

Each of the five City Council members appointed one person to serve on the Protect the City committee.

Top stories in Acadiana in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

District 1 Councilman Pat Lewis appointed Joseph "Tag" Catalon, a long-time landman from Lafayette.

District 2 Councilman Andy Naquin appointed Mark Pope, who worked 27 years in LCG's environmental division, retiring in September 2016. He ran unsuccessfully in 2019 for the City Council District 1 seat and now works in conservative radio broadcasting.

District 3 Council Chairperson Liz Hebert appointed Roddy Bergeron, an unsuccessful candidate in 2019 for Parish Council District 4 who works as chief operating officer at Enterprise Data Concepts.

District 4 Councilwoman Nanette Cook appointed Jan Swift, who ran unsuccessfully in 2015 for Louisiana House of Representatives, previously was a city-parish attorney and deputy secretary of state, was executive director of Upper Lafayette for 10 years and now produces the "Discover Lafayette" podcast.

District 5 Councilman Glenn Lazard appointed Tina Shelvin Bingham, community development director at Lafayette Habitat for Humanity. She worked at LCG for more than 12 years as an engineering aide and planner.

Two people will be appointed by the full City Council at its Feb. 23 meeting. Two of the 19 who applied are high-level administrators in the Guillory administration who serve at the will of Guillory — Robert Benoit and Lorrie Toups.

Benoit is Guillory's chief of staff and was confidential assistant to former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux. He previously was director of planning, zoning and codes as well as director of public works for LCG, and was director of public works for the parish government prior to consolidation.

Toups has been the director of finance and management with LCG since 2011. She oversees all accounting, budget management, purchasing and property management, group insurance and wellness, and risk management operations. Toups also prepares and presents financial reports and annual budgets to the City and Parish Councils.

The 19 who applied to serve on the committee include:

  • Ronald R. Arceneaux II, a petroleum landman.
  • Robert Benoit
  • Stuart R. Breaux, a former assistant city-parish attorney who dealt primarily with planning, development and codes issues.
  • James Colvin, owner of Beausoleil Books and product co-owner of Digital Banking Platform.
  • Katy Dupre, former executive director at Stuller Family Foundation/Parish Proud and former business analyst with CGI Group
  • Keith Faulk, a disk jockey and community activist.
  • Steven Hebert, president and CEO of Billeaud Companies, former member of Lafayette Parish Planning Commission and OneAcadiana.
  • Daniel M. Landry III, who worked in the 15th Judicial District Attorney's Office from 1984 until January, when he was defeated for district attorney.
  • Steven M. Lazarus, who works at Population Health Analytics and was chief operating officer of Medicaid Managed Care with the Louisiana Department of Health.
  • William Leyendecker, a retired educator and former recreation centers manager for LCG.
  • Amanda A. Martin, an attorney working in the Louisiana Attorney General Office, formerly with the public defenders office of the 15th JDC.
  • Glynn Shelly Maturin II, litigation attorney and managing associate of the Lake Charles office of Galloway Jefcoat. He ran unsuccessfully for 15th JDC judge in 2020.
  • John Mayer, union steward and escalation management with AT&T Mobility since 2004.
  • Fernando Perez-Viart, a radio producer at KRVS and a bus driver with the Lafayette Parish school system.
  • James Proctor, a mudlogger with Schlumberger and former diver.
  • Sarah Gauthier Roy, a volunteer with the Fix the Charter campaign and a teacher at Wonderland Performing Arts.
  • Lorrie Toups
  • Jackson G. Voss, a policy analyst with the Louisiana Budget Project and former staff member in the U.S. Senate.
  • James Collin Wynne, a distance learning systems analyst at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.