Sorrento to move forward amid allegations

Charlotte Guedry

The Sorrento Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening was a mix of moving forward and uncovering the mistakes of the past.

Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. began by reading from a list of rules set out for meetings, with the hope being that they can now run smoothly.

“Let’s forget about the past,” he said. “Let’s move forward and think about the town.”

Longanecker stated that the newly imposed rules would see to it that everyone was treated fairly in the setting.

Among the rules were a new three minute speaking time. If more than one person came in with the same issue, then a spokesperson needs to be elected to speak on behalf of all for that three minute period.

Longanecker also stated that it would not be tolerated for anyone to be harassed in the forum, or they would be put on warning.

“I will not hesitate to ask people to leave, or have them ejected if they are harassing anyone in this setting,” he said.

Chief of Police Earl Theriot spoke up for the youth in the area by requesting that a space be allocated for them within the town limits.

“We lost the Civic Center to the parish,” he said. “These kids need somewhere to go and something to do.”

The council agreed, as getting the youth of Sorrento off of the streets was deemed a necessity. They will now develop a Recreation Committee to look into options the town now has at their disposal.

Heather Tauzin was unanimously hired as a new full-time police officer for the town. Tauzin, who graduates from the Police Academy on July 5, was commended by Councilman Randy Anny.

“This woman is coming out of the academy with a 93% average,” he said. “That in itself is an amazing achievement. We are happy to have her on board, and she has my backing 1000%.”

Donald Hambrick, Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Committee of Ascension Parish, spoke during the meeting to inform the town that it was formally put on notice, as both the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would be investigating them.

Ordinance 10-09 was passed by the town council during last year’s Boucherie Festival so that alcohol could be served after hours at a bar/restaurant in Sorrento.

According to Hambrick, “A city official was involved in the ordinance and voted on the ordinance. Because of this, allegations of impropriety have been made, and the FBI now wishes to be involved in the process.”

An audio recording seems to backup Hambrick’s claim.

As for the EEOC investigation, Hambrick stated that Cornelius Morris, a town employee who filed a complaint with the EEOC over a prior termination, has failed to have anything done regarding his claim. Requests for meeting have been noted, but no meetings have been set up.

Hambrick claimed that an employee, Kenny Brock, who worked at the time of Morris, did not seem to have an application or time cards for his time of employment. Records are also missing fro Morris’ files with the town.

Councilman Anny called for a motion to allow both agencies to have the full cooperation of the council as they conduct their investigations.

The town was again put on notice regarding the allowing of 25 people to vote in elections since 1981. Hambrick advised the town to annex the area in, and stated that he would be informing the Justice Department that the 25 people can no longer vote until this happens.

It was also agreed in the meeting that the millage rate for 2011 would remain at 6.11 mills, and Chief Theriot agreed to sponsor the town’s recycle bin for the period of one year.