Ferriday mayor’s overturned for third time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FERRIDAY— The ordinance may have been different, but the results were the same as the Ferriday aldermen overturned a veto from Mayor Glen McGlothin for the second time in three months.

In a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, the aldermen decided to pay $129,000 in legal fees to former Mayor Sammy Davis.

“There are bills that are going to be hard to pay once we pay this,” McGlothin said. “We do have bills that come no matter what happens.”

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Davis was convicted of malfeasance in office, but that conviction was later overturned. Louisiana law allows for the compensation of legal fees of an elected official who proves themselves innocent of charges related to their conduct in office.

With very limited funds, McGlothin said he did all he could to avoid paying a bill the town was not legally obligated to pay.

“I have been asking for a bill for a long time on this case, and I have never received one,” he said. “How am I suppose to pay something that I have never had a bill for.”

Alderman Elijah “Stepper” Banks pulled an alleged copy of the bill out during the meeting, but confirmation as to whether the bill is authentic or not is yet to be received.

“I have never seen this bill,” McGlothin said. “How come he didn’t give the bill to me when I asked for it a couple of months ago?”

Ferriday resident Wilton “Wil” Nolan attended the meeting and stressed his concerns on the town’s decision for paying the bill.

“I am appalled. We are paying a bill that we do not have to pay,” he said. “It makes no sense. With everything that needs to be done in this town, why are we paying this bill.”

Ferriday resident the Rev. Justin Conner was in support of the town’s decision to pay Davis’ fees and said something needed to be done about the issue.

“We have people all over the town who are suffering because folks don’t want to step up to the plate, and we need to end this,” he said.

In other news:

4 Members from the Department of Environmental Quality were at the meeting at the request of McGlothin to explain to the board the current water quality situation in Ferriday.

McGlothin said since the water Ferriday uses runs into Bayou Cocodrie, there are stricter qualifications as to how clean the water needs to be because Cocodrie is a scenic waterway and is a small body of water.

With a struggling water plant and little money for upkeep, the DEQ has marked Ferriday as being in non-compliance with DEQ standards.

DEQ environmental scientist Wayne Slater said the DEQ has been working with the town to try and get Ferriday up to par.

“Every municipality in the state has to have a water discharge permit to discharge into state waters,” he said. “It tells you how clean the water needs to be before it is sent into state waters.”

Slater said the permit gives the municipality the number or times the water has to be checked each week. Ferriday is currently required to check twice a week.

“Once you check the water, you take the information and send it back to the DEQ,” he said. “We make sure you are in compliance, and we enforce that they are up to their standards.”

Slater said if a town continues to not meet the standards, the Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas requires the DEQ to step in and take action, which it is doing currently in Ferriday.

“There has been chronic non-compliance in Ferriday,” he said. “There has been page after page of tests that showed Ferriday is not meeting its standards.”

Slater said the current responsibility of the DEQ is to figure out what it is going to take to make sure Ferriday can meet DEQ standards.

“We are just here to make sure the town continues to make progress,” he said.

Slater said if a town continues to not meet the DEQ standards, financial penalties can occur.

In drastic situations, Slater said the EPA can take over control of the water system, leaving them in charge of setting water rates and fines for any problems with the water.

McGlothin said he has been working with the DEQ for more than a year to fix the problems with the water, and that any rate increases that may occur were never his intention.

“The rate increases were not my idea, but if we don’t do something they will increase,” he said. “We need to do whatever we can to get in compliance with these guidelines.”

McGlothin said the town already has $755,000 in grant money for a new water plant, and that he hopes to begin construction on it as soon as he can.

4 Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd brought to the attention of the mayor that she had heard rumors the Ferriday Police Department did not have insurance on their vehicles.

Lloyd also said she had heard there was no worker’s compensation benefits for the town’s employees.

“I just want to know if this is true,” she said.

McGlothin said Ferriday has both, but the town is working to get new policies.

“What we are doing is trying to renegotiate a price,” he said. “We have it right now, but we won’t have it much longer if we do not find a plan.”