Jury members squabble over latest hiring practices

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 2010

VIDALIA — Sharp exchanges were made among members of the Concordia Parish Police Jury Monday when some members disagreed with hiring practices.

The first dissent came when the jury voted to hire Kevin Friloux over Patricia Martin as purchasing clerk.

Juror Joe Parker said jury policy is normally to try to hire from within, and while Friloux was not a jury employee, Martin is. He also said that the qualifications for the job had been changed and then later restored during the advertising process.

“We give people within (the system) an opportunity before we open it to the public,” he said.

“We do not give them raises, but we give them opportunity to move up. The way we have done this kind of puts that to the side.”

Juror Willie Dunbar said he felt Martin was more qualified for the position as an in-house employee.

“I think she would be loyal to us, and we should be loyal back to her,” he said.

The vote to hire Friloux was passed 5-3, with Jurors Randy Temple, Whest Shirley, Jerry Beatty, Jimmy Jernigan and Red Tiffee voting in favor of hiring Friloux and Jurors Carey Cook, Parker and Dunbar voting against.

Things became much more heated when Tiffee recommended that the jury hire Nathaniel Cowart as head custodian at the courthouse.

Monday was the last day for accepting applications, and President Melvin Ferrington said after looking at Cowart’s resume and meeting him he would recommend hiring Cowart.

“He has got a good resume, he is well qualified, he is well-spoken, and this job has got to be able to get along with each entity in this courthouse,” Ferrington said.

But Dunbar — who is a member of the personnel committee — objected to the outright hire.

“I read the application but I didn’t get to interview the man. I am on the personnel committee, and I feel I should have interviewed him,” Dunbar said.

Ferrington countered that the personnel committee had dragged out the hiring of another employee, the purchasing clerk, for two months longer than it should have and the position needed to be filled immediately.

The two continued to exchange barbs for several moments, with Ferrington threatening to use procedural protocol to cut Dunbar off and Dunbar stating that he had the right to air his complaint.

“They did not do the hiring procedure right — he did not come before that board and we did not interview him like everybody else,” Dunbar said, turning to Secretary-Treasurer Hazel Dickson. “Put that in the minutes that I said we did not interview that person the right way.”

The vote to hire Cowart passed 7-2, with Dunbar and Parker voting against it. Ferrington went on record as supporting the hire.

The jury also voted to hire Larry Morales as a worker at the parish maintenance barn with no dissent.

In other news:

4The jury voted to accept their yearly audit.

Auditor Miles Hopkins said it was a clean audit that did not receive any comment about internal control or monetary practices.

4The jury voted to abandon Raymond Cowan Road.

4The jury passed a resolution supporting Louisiana Elastomer receiving tax benefits from the state.

The parish cannot offer tax benefits to the company because the LAEL site has been annexed by Vidalia, Ferrington said.

The jury had previously declined to pass such a resolution on the grounds that LAEL had unpaid bills to local vendors.