Port Allen: Time ticking to name interim mayor & vote on budget

The chair where the mayor sits for Port Allen City Council meetings remains vacant.
The chair where the mayor sits for Port Allen City Council meetings remains vacant.
Caster Brown is escorted out of the Port Allen City Council meeting.
Caster Brown is escorted out of the Port Allen City Council meeting.
Robin Ackerman
Robin Ackerman

PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - The Port Allen City Council meeting went on without the mention of two separate white elephants in the room: the budget and interim mayor.

Mayor or no mayor, the drama in Port Allen continues. People were still escorted out, loud outbursts and because Caster Brown did not sign up to speak prior to the meeting beginning, the council voted 3-2 not allowing him to speak.

"I'm going to speak any ways," Brown said. "It's been racial for a long time. Things haven't changed."

Soon after, the council went into executive session to discuss the lawsuit of Robin Ackerman, the city's former payroll clerk. After more than 18 years on the job, Ackerman quit while working under former Mayor Deedy Slaughter. Now, she wants to work for the city again.

"The conditions of my employment deteriorated very rapidly to the point that I just couldn't stay here anymore," Ackerman said. "So, now that the mayor has been recalled and she's not here, it would be better for me to come back."

However, after an hour in executive session, council members returned with no results. They went through the rest of the agenda without ever mentioning anything about the city still operating without a 2013-2014 budget that's now almost six months late.

"I think, soon, we're going to have a problem," said Port Allen CFO Audrey McCain. "I think we'll be safe through the end of the year and certainly early into next year, we'd be okay."

In order to pass a budget, the council needs to name an interim mayor to replace Deedy Slaughter. Many of the council members said they're not seeing eye-to-eye on the budget or an interim mayor. All five council members were questioned about both issues.

"What's going on with trying to adopt a budget?" council members were asked.

"I'll get back with you on it; I can't discuss it now," said Mayor Pro Tem Ray Helen Lawrence. "We're not in any agreement about it right now."

"What about naming an interim mayor?" she was asked.

As Lawrence walked off without answering, the other four are in agreement on one thing.

"If they have a consensus up here, then we'll go ahead before Monday," said Councilman Garry Hubble. "If not, then we'll have to let the governor do it."

"I'm pretty sure the governor would have to step in and appoint someone," said Councilman Brandon Brown.

"I would rather just let the governor do it," said Councilman Hugh Riviere.

"I want to wait," said Councilmember-At-Large R.J. Loupe.

The council has until 4:30 p.m. Monday to appoint an interim mayor. If it does not, then Gov. Bobby Jindal will have to appoint someone to the position. The governor does not have a time limit to appoint an interim mayor, but a spokesperson at his office indicated it would happen quickly.

"If the deadline comes, we will make an appointment in short order," the spokesperson said.

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