Guillory vetoes City Council ordinance to hire its own attorney

Photo by Travis Gauthier

The gist: Over the objections of City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan, who called the ordinance “illegal,” the Lafayette City Council voted 3-1 last week to hire Baton Rouge attorney Lea Anne Batson to represent its interests in determining how city tax dollars are spent.

City Councilman Andy Naquin voted against the ordinance, and Councilman Glenn Lazard was absent. 

Guillory vetoed the ordinance Friday. The council would need four votes to override the veto. Lazard, whose vote would clinch an override (Lazard supports the ordinance), could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. Lazard is planning to take a medical leave soon but has told The Current in recent weeks that he hopes to continue participating and voting. As of Friday last week, he still had not received an attorney general’s opinion on whether he will be able to continue to do so.

Council members disappointed but not surprised. “I’m disappointed to see the mayor does not want the City Council to have its own legal counsel, even though a majority of the council voted for it,” Councilwoman Liz Hebert says.

Guillory argues the council needs his and Logan’s permission. In explaining his veto, the mayor-president says the ordinance violates the language of the charter and would “strip the city attorney of his supervisory authority as head of the legal division.” He does not, however, offer a way for the City Council to hire the special legal counsel it needs to help it interpret the Home Rule Charter to protect the city’s interests. Read his justification here.