Can the adults get back to work?
During the second day of the trial, Gonzales Councilman David Guitreau asked me what I thought of all this. Here's my opinion:
Last week I witnessed something truly magical: a high-profile bribery trial. But that's completely inconsiderate of me to say, isn't it?
In reality, Olin Berthelot and Kenny Matassa are real people like you and me who've had a criminal proceeding looming over their heads for many, many months.
I've witnessed the tears and anguish of Matassa'a wife and children at last year's Parish Council meeting where 6-4 the council ruled him unfit to perform his duties.
I'm glad he stayed.
I'm glad because I've seen Parish President Kenny Matassa at more events in my year-and-a-half spent in Ascension Parish than perhaps any other politician or business leader in the community. Except maybe James E. LeBlanc, Bobby Webre, or Leroy Sullivan.
Moreover, I'm glad that when no one wanted to shed a positive light on Matassa I decided to showcase in April last year that he spearheaded the Edenborne Extension between 44 and Lamar Dixon. I love that road. It's the first new road built in the area in a long time. Good work!
Honestly, I'll admit that I used to wonder if Matassa was only working hard to improve his image in a time of great questioning. But the more testimonies I hear on his behalf the more I believe otherwise. In a sense even if that is true, I guess clouds do have silver linings. Wow! Was this case a win for the parish in some aspect?
Next, I met Olin Berthelot at the Mayor's Day at the Races last year, and I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes when someone told him I was editor of the Weekly. But the more testimonies I hear on behalf of his character, the more I like him too. For instance, I have a friend who played on one of Berthelot's baseball teams that adores the man. That's good enough for me.
Additionally, I was slightly amused that both Wade Petite and Dustin Clouatre managed to call Matassa "The Man, Kenny Matassa" while on the witness stand during the trial. It made me feel something. Like either there is a real hatred that I simply don't know the motive for, or a childishness that I simply don't know the motive for.
Here is a man who was acquitted. Found innocent. Found to be a target by a group of inexperienced detectives and a hustler that they've both come to dislike. These guys have succeeded at one thing though: confusing a large number of people in the parish.
I cover Donaldsonville, Gonzales, Sorrento and Parish Council meetings, and there is more dissent on the parish council than any of them. Can anyone guess why?
My guess is that Petite and supporter, Councilman Doc Satterlee may have bit off more than they can chew. Since now we have "A Better Ascension" and the parish manager system on the ballot seemingly looking to capitalize on the perceived corruption that's been properly chummed by the Pelican Post.
Furthermore, when people call Matassa part of the "Mafia," I call that racist. I don't care if he does have a poster of The Rat Pack hanging in his office. Cut it out with the racism, already!
Moreover, just before the acquittal was granted I realized I was sitting next to Wayne Lawson in the courtroom. He leaned over to me and said, "Looks like these two boys are going to get off. Only in Ascension Parish." He smiled. Then a court officer told him he couldn't be inside the courtroom.
The truth is by the end of the trial I couldn't tell who were the old boys.
An older gentleman in the courtroom at one point said out loud during the proceedings, "Wayne Lawson ain't want to work a day in his life! That dude hadn't worked in like five years!"
After all, evidence showed that Matassa had tried to get Lawson's food truck some help for months.
But when Clouatre repeatedly tried to tell Unglesby that Lawson couldn't figure out how to use the call-record app they used, I was deeply amused.
So, Mr. Guitreau, my thoughts?
Let's get back back to work shall we. I'm glad this circus has all but left town. Bravo!