Council learns of lawsuit filed by Civil Service Brd.
Playing into the city council’s concern for the lack of legal counsel during Tuesday’s committee meetings was the recent filing of a lawsuit against the city by the Crowley Fire and Police Civil Service Board.
“This coincides with the (need for an) extra attorney because we had passed a resolution to have this settled — we had this issue settled — and it was on legal.”
At a previous council meeting Tom Regan, city attorney, reported that the lawsuit had not yet been filed. A contention of the suit was pay for the board’s secretary, which was addressed in the recently passed budget.
“That was decided in our August meeting and the lawsuit went through (Tuesday) and we needed to discuss this and understand why because all of our names are on this lawsuit,” Stringfellow said.
Councilman Brad Core said he and a few other council members (Stringfellow and Clint Cradeur) attended the civil service meeting last week and were informed at that time that the solution agreed on by the council and assured by the mayor had not been resolved. The board filed the suit this week.
“The matter was resolved as of yesterday,” said Mayor Tim Monceaux. “The first matter of the back pay was taken care of and the attorney fees were also resolved. ... However, the other matter (holiday pay) is still at hand.”
“I would again not like to have a lawsuit out there and find out after the fact that we are named in that suit,” Stringfellow said. “Again, that is on legal. I hate to keep pounding a dead horse.”
Alderman Jeff Cavell added his concern over the matter.
“What good are we if what we pass (a resolution) at a meeting and it is not adhered to? That is what really concerns me,” said Cavell.
“Because, it was on August 13, I made the motion, I know what was in the motion ... and, it was ignored. That to me draws a concern. I hope it was a one-time instance of a mistake that, granted, can be taken care of but with ... another month of legal fees.”
Louis Romero, chairman of the civil service board, addressed the council about the lack of communication between the board and the council and requested a standing item on the agenda for the civil service board to bring any issues before the mayor, the council and the public.
Monceaux suggested that Romero let him know if he wants to be added to the agenda.
Romero continued to request for a regular line item on the agenda to open communication between everyone.
Monceaux recommended he contact city hall to be added to the public safety agenda each month.
Cradeur said he was concerned that “it takes a lawsuit for something to be resolved.”
He continued, “It tells people that next time you will have to file a lawsuit again to get something done because the city council has no power and no authority. When we actually pass a resolution it still doesn’t get done until a lawsuit is filed. It is ridiculous.”
He questioned where the problem lies — legal or administration — because the council passed a resolution made it very clear what they wanted done.
Stringfellow asked Romero if there had been resolution to the civil service board’s concerns.
“As of today at 3:45 p.m., no, it has not be resolved,” he answered.
Stringfellow asked Monceaux if the “hold up” was clerical or legal and why was it drawn out so long.
“The answer to your first question ... was a communication problem between two attorneys. Now, the other question that you had, Mr. Romero is correct, no it has not (been resolved) because he has not seen payroll. It was cut today. Payroll is Friday for everybody. The back pay is in her payroll check.”
Monceaux, added that the other check for attorney fees will be cut Friday.
“Even though the checks have been cut, and the efforts have been made, the lawsuit is still sitting in the clerk of court’s office and we have no paperwork from our city attorney or administration to inform us that this matter has been resolved,” said Alderman Brad Core.
“And Mr. Romero confirms that, as of this afternoon, the lawsuit is still being filed and we are still subject to being served with the lawsuit. So its still alive.”
Monceaux asked that the council discontinue the conversation “because it is a legal issue.”
“That is why having legal council present is important for both committee and regular session meetings,” said Stringfellow. “The council is under represented in the legal department and I think we made that clear.”
Core, however, was not finished.
“If I am served with a lawsuit for the city’s inaction based on our wishes, I would expect the city to pay an attorney that I will hire to represent me in this matter,” he said. “I want to make that clear that I am not going to rely on the city’s attorney to represent my interest. If I am being sued I expect the city to pay my attorney fees in this matter.”
Stringfellow seconded Core’s expectation and addressed Monceaux one last time, “I’m sorry, mayor, but you are put on notice with this. We are offended because all of our names are on this lawsuit. We are offended. There is no excuse for it.”
Cradeur publicly thanked Stringfellow for amending the Insurance and Personnel agenda to include discussion of the lawsuit, otherwise “the council would still be in dark over the matter.”
Stringfellow said that the item was on the agenda but had been removed.