St. Tammany Parish, coroner stay at odds over property | St. Tammany group information

St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston misplaced a spherical in his courtroom case to regain management of his company’s property, with a choose refusing late final month to make the parish authorities return the belongings.

Preston filed go well with in July to make Parish President Mike Cooper adjust to a 2021 state regulation that directs the parish to revive monetary management to the Coroner’s Workplace and to return all of the company’s property unencumbered.

At challenge is 13 acres of Coroner’s Workplace land that the parish used to dig a detention pond close to Lacombe, the grime that was eliminated to create the pond and the Coroner’s Workplace water properly. The parish authorities agreed to let Tamanend, a personal residential growth, use the properly as a backup to its personal.

However Decide John Keller of the twenty second Judicial District Courtroom mentioned he couldn’t order the parish merely to carry out an obligation — particularly returning the property with out strings hooked up — because the coroner requested. “The very fact is, it has been encumbered,” he mentioned.

Coroner’s Workplace lawyer Paul Harrison instructed Keller his consumer is not in search of a cash judgment, as a result of it could simply find yourself sitting on the books as an uncollected debt. “We’re in search of the belongings again,” he mentioned, “or an settlement from the parish to pay the coroner for the usage of the land.”

Harrison argued that the Legislature overstepped in 2013 when it gave monetary management of the Coroner’s Workplace to the parish, following the corruption conviction of Preston’s predecessor, Peter Galvan.

The leaders of a number of businesses in St. Tammany have had bother with the regulation, Harrison mentioned, citing former Sheriff Jack Pressure and former District Lawyer Walter Reed. Each additionally have been convicted of corruption costs, however the Legislature did not shift management of these businesses to the parish authorities, he mentioned.

The 2021 regulation basically undoes the 2013 regulation, and Harrison mentioned it exhibits that “somebody awakened” and noticed there have been issues with what had been carried out.

Harrison additionally argued the 2013 regulation was supposed to permit just for oversight, not management, however the parish authorities used Coroner’s Workplace belongings, funded by a devoted property tax, for its personal profit. That included taking 13 acres of land “to dig a gap that does not work. It’s a quagmire in each senses of the phrase,” Harrison mentioned.

St. Tammany Parish used greater than $900,000 in U.S. Division of Housing and City Improvement grant cash for the drainage pond, Preston mentioned. Parish officers have argued that St. Tammany might be pressured to pay that cash again in the event that they lose management of the 13 acres.

The parish additionally let Tamanend use a properly that was paid for with public cash, Harrison instructed the choose.

What the parish did was both a taking, a misappropriation of funds or a constitutional violation, Harrison argued.

“What does the Coroner’s Workplace get in return? Nothing,” he mentioned. “If the coroner would not get something for it, it is a violation of the Structure. This petition is to comply with the regulation, not legislate from the bench.”

Keller mentioned Harrison did an excellent job presenting arguments that can be utilized in a lawsuit for damages, however {that a} narrower authorized challenge — whether or not to order the parish to adjust to the 2021 regulation — was earlier than him.

Assistant District Lawyer James Bolner, who represented the parish, didn’t supply any argument within the courtroom listening to.

Preston mentioned he plans to sue for damages, however can even attempt to work one thing out with the parish.

Earlier than he filed his present go well with, Preston mentioned the Cooper administration refused to barter and offered one-sided cooperative endeavor agreements. The Cooper administration wished Preston to signal an settlement earlier than it restored management of the belongings, however Preston has maintained he’ll achieve this solely afterwards, and that he is forbidden to present away company belongings.

“I hoped to keep away from an costly trial,” Preston mentioned. “Now now we have to go the costly route.”

However Cooper’s chief administrative officer, Gina Hayes, mentioned the administration has at all times been, and stays, prepared to settle the matter.

“In truth, the coroner has been provided 5 variations of CEAs from Oct. 20, 2021, via Feb. 18, 2022,” she mentioned. The final supply would have transferred all property to him and required solely entry to the pond and the properly, she mentioned, including that each are operational and functioning.

Entry to the pond is required to keep away from having to repay the federal grant, and properly entry is required to keep away from being cited for violations by the Louisiana Division of Well being, she mentioned.

Sara Pagones

4 locals named to state boards

Gov. John Bel Edwards introduced lately a number of native appointments to the next Louisiana boards and commissions.

•Constance A. Bellone, of Madisonville, was appointed to the Kids’s Cupboard Advisory Board. Bellone, the CEO of Well being & Schooling Alliance of Louisiana, will characterize the Louisiana Faculty-Based mostly Well being Alliance.

The Kids’s Cupboard Advisory Board supplies info and suggestions from the attitude of advocacy teams, service suppliers and fogeys.

•Shannon E. Bibbins, of Ponchatoula, was appointed to the Developmental Disabilities Council. Bibbins, deputy director of the Louisiana Division of Well being, will function a consultant of a principal state company, the Bureau of Well being Companies Financing, Louisiana Division of Well being.

The Louisiana Developmental Incapacity Council’s mission is to guide and promote advocacy, capability constructing, and systemic change to enhance the standard of life for people with developmental disabilities and their households.

•Jennifer A. Dexter, of Slidell, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Fee Advisory Board. Dexter, the manager director of Louisiana Alliance of Kids’s Advocacy Facilities, was nominated by the facilities.

The Human Trafficking Prevention Fee Advisory Board was created to supply info and suggestions to the Human Trafficking Prevention Fee from the attitude of advocacy teams, service suppliers and victims.

•H. Paul Hermann Jr., of Ponchatoula, was reappointed to the Veterans Affairs Fee. Hermann is CEO of the Disabled American Veterans, Division of Louisiana Adjutant. He’ll characterize disabled veterans.

The Veterans Affairs Fee is accountable for adopting and promulgating guidelines and laws governing the operations of the Division of Veterans Affairs. Moreover, the fee advises the division’s secretary of issues regarding the welfare of veterans and makes and publishes annual and particular studies to the governor regarding the operations of the division.

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