ASCENSION PARISH, La (BRPROUD) — Members of the East Ascension Gravity Drainage Board sent a 60-day notice of termination to Parish President Clint Cointment, removing him from the authority of maintenance, operation, and repairing efforts for Ascension Parish drainage.
Ascension Parish leaders said they feel like they were kept in the dark, blindsided and are now furious.
“This could have easily been discussed Monday night in our drainage meeting. But it wasn’t even put on as an agenda item and here we are three days later and it’s done,” said Ascension Parish District 11 Councilman Michael Mason.
The board was granted permission to move forward with the 60-day notice during their special meeting on June 28 where the district voted to terminate provisions of the intergovernmental agreement.
This is another example of the few making a decision for all. I was hoping that we would start moving forward in our efforts to be transparent, but this is just more of the same. The people of Ascension deserve better!Michael Mason, Ascension Parish Councilman District 11
During the June meeting, the majority of the public present were opposed to removing the parish president.
People argued Cointment was the right person for the job considering his background and track record of success within the parish.
“That’s what a lot of constituents and citizens of Ascension are complaining about is the lack of transparency and the lack of the ability to understand what’s going on behind the scenes,” said Mason.
Despite the public’s outcry not to remove him, six council members made the decision that led many people, including Cointment, to walk out.
In June, Aaron Lawler, John Cagnnolatti, Teri Casso, Dempsey Lambert, Teri Casso, and Corey Oregon (who wrote the resolution) voted to void a contract between the East Ascension Drainage District #1 and the Ascension Parish President.
A council member tells BRProud that some of the parish’s council members were blindsided by Thursday’s decision as Michael Mason, Dal Waguespack, Chase Melancon, and Joel Robert had no idea this was happening.
It is unclear which members of the drainage board made the decision as Dempsey Lambert is the only person listed on the letter.
“Clint thought we were working closely with the council to compromise. We made a lot of headway and it’s just one of those situations we had to deal with post-Ida recovery,” said Ascension Parish Government Chief Administrative Officer John Diez.
President Clint Cointment released a statement stating that the termination letter came as a shock to him. He continues by saying that his administration has been busy conducting business for the Ascension Parish people.
Read the statement below:
Today I received an official letter from the Chairman of the East Ascension Drainage Committee, Dempsey Lambert, officially notifying me that in 60 days I face termination as an administrator of East Ascension Drainage. This action puts the Parish Council in charge of drainage. This is unfortunate because negotiations have come a long way. My office received the latest compromise from parish attorney Kenneth Dupaty on 9/15 and my office was preparing a response. According to the author, I was given 7 days to respond; however, nowhere in the email did it say I had 7 days to respond. Today’s letter was a surprise. Though I have no idea who wrote the latest compromise, nor do many of the council members I spoke to. What I do know is that it was a very good document and something that could, with minor adjustments and legal scrutiny, result into a permeant compromise. As most citizens of Ascension Parish know, my administration has been busy with Hurricane Ida recovery, the 2022 budget, phase II of our budget transparency project as well as planning to turn dirt on well over $100 million in flood protection projects. My administration has been busy conducting the people’s business.
Before this sudden termination letter from Councilman Lambert, I thought that both sides were sincere about working towards an ideal goal that works for everyone. In closing, my administration has every intention of countering with modifications to the council’s latest compromise.”Clint Cointment, Ascension Parish President and Drainage Director
“We have to start acting in the best interest of the citizens of Ascension Parish instead of what we think is best. Because the citizens entrusted us with these positions and the citizens are who we answer to and the citizens have made it boldly obvious that Clint is who they want as their drainage director,” said Mason.