The Metro Council has ordered the parish’s mosquito control director to resign.

Following a closed-door meeting Wednesday, council members put Todd Walker on administrative leave until he submits a letter of resignation, which is to take place by June.

Walker has been under scrutiny in recent months over construction costs related to his department’s new headquarters and a planned tire shredding facility. Leaders have questioned his ability to administer his department.

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Councilmen Dwight Hudson and Matt Watson, who led the effort to oust Walker, voted to fire him on the spot. In an interview after the meeting, Hudson said that’s what would be expected in the private sector, and he didn’t see why government should be different; though as he understands it, allowing Walker to stay on a few more months will allow him to officially retire from the city-parish.

Walker did not speak during the public portion of the meeting and declined to talk to media after.

He did receive support from his staff and members of the Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control Board.

Chairwoman Martha Littlefield pointed out that under Walker the district always operated within its budget while developing an aviation department so the parish would not have to spend more money to hire the state for aerial mosquito sprays.

“We were fortunate to find Dr. Walker” after a two-year search, said MARC board member and LSU entomologist Lane Foil.

Walker’s second-in-command, Randy Vaeth, said his boss has done a “fantastic job to prepare us” for new technology, and advancements in understanding of disease and the mosquitoes that spread them.

Hudson expects Vaeth to take over MARC as the interim director until the city-parish hires a permanent replacement, and Hudson said Vaeth should be considered for the job.

Council members said they were prohibited from talking about what was said as they considered whether to fire Walker, because that part of the meeting was held in a closed-door executive session.

Hudson and Watson have questioned Walker's ability to lead the department in the past. Several recent council meetings featured tense discussions with Walker over the cost of a new tire shredding facility. Hudson and Watson have said Walker has been too reliant on contractors and needed to lead the department himself.

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Watson promised in an interview after the meeting that he had concrete reasons to fire Walker, but he was constrained because of the closed-door session.

He also bristled when discussing the fact that MARC hired its own attorney and sued the Metro Council.

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MARC's board challenged whether the council has the authority to fire their director, arguing that under state law they should be an independent agency. State District Judge William Morvant rejected their attempts to get a restraining order and allowed Wednesday’s termination hearing to proceed.

Walker is the second city-parish department head to depart recently under acrimonious circumstances. Parish Attorney Lea Anne Batson resigned earlier this year shortly before her own termination hearing.

Ultimately, Hudson and Walker were the only ones to support immediate dismissing Walker. Chandler Loupe suggested the June resignation compromise and was joined by Denise Amoroso, LaMont Cole, Barbara Freiberg, Erika Green, Hudson, Trae Welch, Tara Wicker and Scott Wilson. Watson did not vote on the motion, and Chauna Banks and Donna Collins-Lewis were absent.

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The East Baton Rouge Metro Council has ousted its mosquito control director.

With nine votes in favor, council decided to allow Walker to resign in June, rather than a competing motion to fire him on the spot.

Council members Dwight Hudson and Matt Watson have questioned MARC director Todd Walker's ability to lead the department. Several recent council meetings featured tense discussions with Walker over the cost of a new tire shredding facility. Hudson and Watson have said Walker is too reliant on contractors and needs to lead the department himself.

MARC's board has backed Walker, who has defended his conduct. Moreover, they've challenged whether the council has the authority to fire their director, arguing that under state law they should be an independent agency.

Walker is the second city-parish department head to depart under acrimonious circumstances. Parish attorney Lea Anne Batson resigned earlier this year shortly before her own termination hearing.


Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.