Ascension Parish Council votes 5-4 to remove planning and zoning member due to absences

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Ascension Parish Council voted 5-4 to remove Dwayne Bailey from the Planning and Zoning Commission due to absences.

Council members Joel Robert and Corey Orgeron were absent for the vote during the Aug. 18 meeting held in Gonzales. The four members voting against the dismissal were Alvin "Coach" Thomas, Travis Turner, Dempsey Lambert, and Dal Waguespack. 

A recommendation to remove Bailey was made to the council due to his absence for the May, June, July, and August meetings. Planning and Zoning Director Jerome Fournier said Bailey last attended the April 13 meeting when the seven members of the commission were sworn in.

The commission bylaws state a recommendation to remove a member shall be made after three unreasonable absences.

Attorney Spencer Long told the council he sent a notification letter to Bailey following the string of three absences.

Thomas, who represents the west side of Ascension Parish in District 1, argued that Bailey had not violated the bylaws since his absences were not unreasonable, and were actually due to a job transfer after the Shell Convent facility closed.

Thomas read a written statement on Bailey's job situation, which was kept private as matter of keeping his family safe while he was away. Thomas said Bailey's residency on the west bank of the parish never changed, and he had experienced a hardship due to his job transfer.

Thomas said no one from the west side of the parish served on the commission in 15 years.

"As soon as the seat is filled, there is a rush to remove the only minority member on the commission," he said.

As Thomas continued to read, he said it "feels and looks like a very warm blanket of politics."