Lawler, Casso resign from Strategic Planning Committee

Halen Doughty

Parish councilman Aaron Lawler and councilwoman Teri Casso have resigned from their seats on the Strategic Planning Committee amid ongoing tensions with the committee's chairman, councilman Daniel Satterlee. Lawler notified the council on Wednesday via email that he is vacating his position on the committee, while Casso submitted her resignation on Thursday.

In his email, Lawler said his resignation comes after Satterlee attacked him on social media. He referenced a video Satterlee shared on Facebook. In the post, Satterlee alleges that Lawler and other council members "hijacked" legislation from the strategic planning committee that would alter Traffic Impact Study (TIS) laws.

The post goes on to accuse Lawler, the transportation committee chairman, of burying the Urban System's 2016 TIS recommendations. Lawler said in the email these accusations are far from the truth.

"I find Mr. Satterlee's incessant and inaccurate attacks on me, other members of the council, members of the public, employees of this parish and the administration to be unprofessional, immature and embarrassing to the entire parish," said Lawler. "If the attacks were accurate, I would not be taking this action."

Satterlee and others have alleged that Lawler and parish CAO Ken Dawson buried the April 2016 TIS for years. Once it was taken up, Lawler mentioned Satterlee's work in bringing the issue to light. Satterlee said on Facebook that he gives "credit to [Lawler] for mentioning all the hard work I contributed throughout the process."

Satterlee shared a video published on the Ascension Parish Political Rumors (APPR) Facebook page, in which Lawler and Casso are accused of supporting "unbridled development" of subdivisions within the parish. In another post he said, “18 new developments have been approved under lax and insufficient current policy." Satterlee called the video "a stinging expose of good 'ole boy (and girl?) politics in AP at its' best." He goes on to say, "Hats off to whomever produced this ever-telling eye-popping video."

Casso was deeply disturbed by the video that attacked both her and a member of her family, as well as her peers on the council. She said in her resignation letter that her continued service on the committee has become impossible due to this kind of cyberbullying, which she said has no place in the discourse between members of the parish council.

"This week, during a sensitive time for my family, Councilman Satterlee chose to publish on his Council Facebook a disrespectful video designed to embarrass and bully me and my family," said Casso. "In doing so he disrespected me and frankly, his office."

In his resignation email, Lawler said he can be tolerant of cowardly individuals hiding behind anonymous rumors pages to attack people without regard for the truth. What he cannot tolerate, he said, are the untruths and half-truths spread by Satterlee.

"It is Mr. Satterlee's knowingly spreading of these falsities that is so pitiful," said Lawler. "I only wish the person(s) operating the APPR Facebook page and those sending the videos spent as much time working to improve Ascension Parish."

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