PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - The racial divide was front and center at Wednesday night's Port Allen City Council meeting. One of the issues dealt with passing an ordinance some say is already law.
In a 3-2 vote, the Port Allen City Council approved a measure that centers on the city's department heads and how they can be hired or fired. Some say it's simply clarification on what's already law in Port Allen, but gives department heads additional protection and a sense of security.
"The vote basically just affirmed what was part of our code of ordinances," said Port Allen Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Genre.
"When the city hires a municipal clerk or department head, all provisions of this division shall be complied with; however, the mayor's selection shall be subject to approval of the city council," the current ordinance reads.
"Department heads within the City of Port Allen are specifically clarified and acknowledged by the City Council to mean the following positions, namely, the Chief Financial Officer and/or any of its predecessor titles, the Director of Public Works and/or any of its predecessor titles, the Fire Chief, and the Police Chief. The requirement that the person holding these positions is first recommended by the mayor and then approved by a majority vote of the City Council has previously occurred prior to the time of adoption of this clarification," the newly approved ordinance states.
"Was there ever a question of you looking to fire any of them?" asked Chawla. "No, there was never a question," said Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter. "It's late in the game that they're trying to go back and say, 'Yes, they're department heads.'"
The council has taken a lot of heat. Wednesday, the people voiced their frustrations and concerns over race dividing the city.
"The problem is city government," said one concerned citizen. "You guys need to get your stuff together, not us."
Garry Hubble, R.J. Loupe & Hugh Riviere voted in favor of the ordinance, with Ray Helen Lawrence and Brandon Brown voting against it.
"As long as they're doing their job, I don't see why we should protect them," said Brown. "I think we will have a better hand on it if it were done through the human resource department," Lawrence added.
The mayor's brother-in-law, Ralph Slaughter, said the ordinance won't make it far because it needs to be recommended by her and this was not.
"I feel very strongly, based on the conversation she had with me, based on the requirement of the law, that she's going to veto that statute," he explained.
Mayor Slaughter confirmed she will veto what the council approved because department heads are recommended by the mayor and she did not recommend them. To override that veto, the council must have at least four votes in favor.