Central mayor blasts newspaper publisher over drainage op-ed

Dave Freneaux (Source: WAFB)
Dave Freneaux (Source: WAFB)
Mayor Jr. Shelton (Source: WAFB)
Mayor Jr. Shelton (Source: WAFB)
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Things got heated Friday night at a special meeting of the Central city council. The issue was how to clean out the city's hundreds of ditches, but the anger was directed at just one man.

"You're a liar. You're a liar, and you're doing it for personal political gain," said councilman Shane Evans, pointing at Dave Freneaux.

Freneaux is the publisher of Central Speaks, a biweekly newspaper mailed to 12,000 residents. A recent opinion piece by Freneaux called the city's
drainage issues a "crisis of inaction."

"I want to be sure this is on camera, because the citizens 27,000 strong minus one are sticking together, and the minus one is this gentleman right here," said Mayor Jr. Shelton, also pointing at Freneaux.

Shelton beat Freneaux in the 2014 mayoral election, earning 59 percent of the vote. Freneaux has since sued the city twice, but insists his frequent dissent has nothing to do with a personal vendetta.

"The promises that were made early in this administration that the planning would get done, that the planning would be done early on was not done, and now we find ourselves in a crisis," he explained.

"The residual effects of that big flood are what we're seeing now, and that's why we're acting now," Shelton countered.

During Friday's meeting, the council voted unanimously to set aside an additional $4 million to hire a contractor to clear every ditch in the city's jurisdiction. Shelton says the money is coming from savings and there's plenty more on standby if needed.

Earlier this week, city officials identified the major choke points to be cleared first and collected at least six bids from contractors.

"We'll take the weekend to go through [the bids], Easter weekend we're gonna' go through them, we're gonna' find out which one is going to do the best job for us, and we're gonna' go to work on it," said Shelton.

The mayor made no apologies for his passion and said he's just trying to do his job. "You can look in that camera and tell these people of Central that we need to sit back and wait, but I'm not gonna' do it, and neither is the council," Shelton told Freneaux during the meeting.

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