The council voted to hire former U.S. Attorney Mike Skinner of Lafayette at a rate of $250 hourly to represent it in its bid to force Fontenot to copy public records it wants for an investigation of the previous administration.
Fontenot is willing to copy records after the council decides which ones it wants. The council wants them all copied.
The matter is awaiting a hearing in district court.
Hiring Skinner was necessary because Judge James Dopherty, Jr. ruled Asst. DA Andrea West could not pursue the case because she is counsel to both the council and the parish president, who hired Peter Cavness to defend him for an as-yet undisclosed sum.
Before retaining Skinner, the council allocated a maximum of $5,000 for the suit’s pursuit.
It also hired Scherri Guidry of Opelousas to represent it in potential litigation over Fontenot’s placing CAA Executive Director Donald Robinson on paid leave while an investigation of accounting practices is completed.
She told the council she expects her billing to top out at $150 hourly. No budget was fixed for that legal work.
The council also again amended its meeting agenda to allow consideration of a matter not on the posted agenda.
This time it was to re-vote on veto overrides. Fontenot disputed last week’s votes, contending that since Council President Wayne Ardoin did not vote they overrides fell short and he was operating under that interpretation.
West, who previously told the council its votes met the override standard, opined Monday night that the topic could be resurrected since Fontenot’s letter had reopened the issue.
It was and Ardoin sided with the majority in each case.
Fontenot contends the ordinances usurp the parish president’s authority.
Where litigation will be necessary to resolve that question, and lawyers retained, remains to be seen.
The council also held another executive session Monday night, this one to discuss for the second time its response to a pending legislative audit report.
Council members and West contend such discussion and response is confidential until the report is released by the auditor, who has asked council members and the administration not to discuss it publicly.
Ardoin has scheduled another special meeting for Thursday night, one calling for the council to again go into closed session to discuss CAA.
The meeting call does not stipulate what exemption to the public meetings law is in play.