From the editor: Matassa's Vegas trip backfires

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief

Most of us have seen or read something this week about Parish President Kenny Matassa's trip to the National Association of Counties conference in Las Vegas, held last weekend while everyone back home hunkered down for the worst storm we could have seen since 2016.

No it wasn't the worst storm. No it did not cause our area the flooding that was projected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (sorry Kenny, it's never the media who makes these predictions).

But it could have been a tragic event. That is also clear. As it stands, people are still being restored with power. I noticed several Entergy trucks in Gonzales yesterday.

Donaldsonville struggled with power outages a great deal. The heat typically fell on Mayor Leroy Sullivan, who's used to it by this point. But Sullivan was tending to his constituency on a personal level, which is also the way he chooses to lead.

A man named Mike called me at the office today and asked if The Chief had heard the news of Matassa's trip and asked if we planned on publishing a story about it. He was more concerned that Donaldsonville District 1 Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph was on the Vegas trip.

That fact was made clear in a separate paragraph in David Mitchell's article in The Advocate, which clearly intended to attack Matassa (who is an easy target, let's just all agree).

I told Mike that the trip to the conference was probably scheduled months ago, and we did not plan to get in the middle of something that is perhaps moot by this time anyway. Not to mention Scottie Hunter at WAFB seems to have his eye on the Vegas financial reimbursement statement that will be filed by the group.

That's always interesting.

Mike is still upset that he had a drainage issue in Donaldsonville, which he claimed Councilman Joseph was ugly about towards him on the telephone. And that it took the department six months to resolve.

I said it's not the first phone call I've received about Councilman Joseph. Last year he was under fire by many Donaldsonville citizens for wanting to take Prevost Memorial Hospital's tax money and put it towards, arguably, an east bank recreation fund.

Voters decided that Prevost Hospital, the only hospital in Donaldsonville, which consists heavily of elderly and less fortunate people, should keep the money instead. I'd reached out to Councilman Joseph for comment via email during that time and heard crickets. He's a busy man.

So far, the only announcement of anyone running for the District 1 council seat, presumably against Joseph at this point is a man named Kerry Williams, who was arrested in May for Domestic Abuse Battery.

Moving on, Councilman Daniel "Doc" Satterlee of District 4 in Prairieville was a primary source of public dismay for Matassa and the Vegas trip. He went on the record calling the move disgraceful. His personal Facebook page has been a place of contention all week long.

What else is new? The former poultry science academic, Satterlee, has been vehemently opposed to Matassa throughout the bribery indictment and trial and can seem to do no wrong by Wade Petite's Pelican Post. In fact, opposition to Matassa and the nameless "old boys" has sort of become Satterlee's de facto political platform. But I digress.

Because what is made clear is that St. Amant District 6 Councilman Randy Clouatre may be the hero of this story. Clouatre, who doesn't seem to be seeking re-election decided to stay with his constituency during the storm. That was made clear in Mitchell's article, and it bodes well here at the Weekly Citizen too.

We see you, Randy.

I have to be honest, it was a hard pill to swallow that Barry was to be as devastating as predicted especially remembering the minimal outcome of Tropical Storm Cindy in 2017. But I paid attention, as we all did. It was an alarming report, to say the least when OHSEP Director Rick Webre announced Friday that we should expect flooding somewhere between the March 2016 and August 2016 floods.

I thought I might soon be in a kayak tracking two other parish heroes, Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc and Sheriff Bobby Webre to do my part in helping piece back together a damaged area.

That's what a leader does. They stick it out. They get dirty. Remember when Curt Schilling pitched in the '04 ALCS versus the Yankees with the bloody ankle?

While it could've been a lot worse, our guys that went to Vegas during the storm didn't do us any favors. Seems like the council could've gotten the CliffsNotes from the Vegas conference somehow.

Not only Matassa, but the parish as a whole is blessed to have the supporting cast in place that they do. So that when someone is a no-show, we have a strong foundation in place to fall back on.

But leadership is often an individual effort. Furthermore, many of our leaders are paid well. Make no mistake. Keep all of this in mind when voting this fall. Although oftentimes limiting, character is the strongest thing we have to vote on.

While I assume Matassa could have been helicoptered in on Monday or Tuesday to begin on-site command a day or so later, Vegas was undeniably a testy move by some of our political representatives.