Ascension Parish President releases statement on East Ascension Drainage termination notice

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment speaks to the Ascension Parish Council during a meeting late last year in Donaldsonville

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment put out a statement regarding the official notice of his termination as administrator over East Ascension Drainage.

In a letter, East Ascension Drainage Board Chairman Dempsey Lambert notified Cointment that the termination would be in 60 days.

Ascension Parish government's Director of Community Outreach Rae'ven Jackson delivered Cointment's statement to media outlets through a news release on the afternoon of Sept. 23.

The Ascension Parish Council members who serve on the East Ascension Drainage Board voted 6-4 during the June 28 meeting to remove Cointment from the position.

The entire council serves on the board with the exception of District 1's Alvin "Coach" Thomas whose district is entirely on the west side of the parish.

At the time, meetings were held in-person and many residents spoke against the move during public-comment sections. 

Among other issues related to flooding, traffic, and infrastructure, the decision was partly why six recall efforts were set into motion over recent months.

Recall groups have initiated campaigns against council members Lambert, Teri Casso, Corey Orgeron, Aaron Lawler, John Cagnolatti, and Dal Waguespack.

Late Sept. 23, District 6's Chase Melancon, who serves as vice chair, also released a statement via his Facebook council page. 

In the statement, he said he was working night shift at his job and woke up during the day to find out the news. 

According to Melancon's post, multiple drainage board members were "left in the dark" and were not aware the letter was being served.

Melancon said he remained hopeful a new agreement could be put into place for the parish president's drainage position.

"Again, I’ll just ask you to be patient (I know how frustrated you are, so am I) to see if a civil resolution can be put into place," Melancon wrote.

Here is the full statement released by the parish president:

"Today I received an official letter from the Chairman of the East Ascension Drainage Committee, Dempsey Lambert, officially notifying me that in 60 days I will be terminated as administrator of East Ascension Drainage. This in effect puts the Parish Council in charge of drainage.

It’s unfortunate because negotiations have come a long way and a compromise is/was very close. My office received the latest compromise from parish attorney Kenneth Dupaty on 9/15 and my office was preparing a response. I have been told by council members that in the email I was told that I had 7 days to respond to their latest offer. However, nowhere in the email did it say I had 7 days to respond.

Today’s letter was a surprise, because though I have no idea who wrote the latest compromise, nor do many of the council members I spoke to about the latest compromise, it was a very good document and something that could, with minor adjustments and legal scrutiny, result into a permeant compromise.

As most citizens of Ascension Parish know, my administration has been busy with Hurricane Ida recovery, the 2022 budget, phase II of our budget transparency project as well as planning to turn dirt on well over $100 million in flood protection projects. My administration has been busy conducting the people’s business.

Before today’s termination letter from Councilman Lambert, I really thought that both sides were sincere about a compromise. In closing, my administration has every intention on countering with modifications to the council’s latest compromise. I honestly think we are close to having a compromise that works for everyone."