Leslie Turk

A founding editor of both The Independent and ABiz and senior editor at The Times of Acadiana in the 1990s, Leslie Turk has worked in the newspaper business in Lafayette for almost three decades. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and The Acadiana Advocate. Email her at leslie@thecurrentla.com.

Interim parks director Wittenberg leaves for Carencro parks job

The gist: Frank Wittenberg, who took over Lafayette’s Parks & Recreation Department in early June after longtime director Gerald Boudreaux was pushed out, retired today from the department and accepted a position as director of Carencro’s Parks & Recreation Commission.

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Said to be ‘deleted’ in a cover-up, former LUS director’s emails were never missing

The gist: Walking back an allegation central to the lingering scandal around LUS, Lafayette’s city-parish attorney admitted in the wee hours of Tuesday night’s council meeting that thousands of former LUS Director Terry Huval’s emails were never missing. The purportedly missing emails were a key factor in the Guillory administration’s request for a criminal investigation into LUS.

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Councilman Lazard: Local mask ordinance in the works for city of Lafayette

Click here to read council members Glenn Lazard and Nanette Cook’s press release about backing away from their effort to pass a local mask ordinance.

The gist: Lafayette City Councilman Glenn Lazard is moving forward on a local mask mandate he hopes will tighten and potentially expand upon the state order that went into effect Monday. 

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Old guard holds on to RPEC

The gist: A loosely organized effort to shake up leadership in the local Republican Party failed Saturday, with one notable exception: Lafayette Parish School Board member Tommy Angelle defeated Lafayette Parish Republican Executive Committee member and staunch right-wing activist Denice Skinner in District 1.

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Nationwide chief search attracts four local applicants

The gist: Four local men are vying to replace Toby Aguillard as chief of police in Lafayette, after a nationwide search yielded no outside interest

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No one in the department with a ranking above sergeant applied. Meeting the July 1 deadline for applications were Lafayette Police Sgt. Wayne Griffin, the department’s current PIO; retired Lafayette Police Lt. Guy LeBreton; retired Louisiana State Police Lt. Eric Burson; and Lafayette Police Sgt. Paul Trouard. The candidates will now have to sit for the civil service exam.

Only one Black candidate, Griffin, applied for the job, at a time of heightened national tension over systemic racism and its role in policing. Mayor-President Josh Guillory has moved to eliminate the position of retired officer Reggie Thomas, who as deputy chief was the highest ranking Black police officer ever to serve in the department.

Thomas was passed over as interim chief after Aguillard’s departure. Guillory instead chose Lt. Scott Morgan, who has 24 years with the city. Thomas initially told The Current he would seek the chief’s position, but later retired and decided to run for city marshal.

The applications were approved by the Lafayette Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service board today; the board has called on the state to set a testing date, likely next month, according to attorney Candice Hattan, who represents the board.

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Committee will evaluate candidates, make recommendations. LCG Chief Communications Officer Jamie Angelle confirms that a diverse, six-person selection committee with a wide range of professional experience will evaluate the applicants and make a recommendation to Mayor-President Josh Guillory. Serving on the committee are retiring 15th Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards, who is seeking a seat as city court judge; Sheriff Mark Garber, who was on the selection committee for the Robideaux administration; City Councilwoman Liz Hebert; attorney Pat Magee, director of the state attorney general’s criminal division; insurance executive Mark Romero, a member of the UL System’s board of supervisors who chaired Guillory’s police transition committee; and Parish Councilman AB Rubin. Angelle says Romero will chair the committee. Garber, Hebert and Romero are White, and Edwards, Magee and Rubin are Black.

When Aguillard sought the job in 2016, there were 14 applicants. Aguillard was pushed out soon after Guillory took office, but briefly resisted his ouster. In an interview with The Daily Advertiser (read more about the current applicants’ backgrounds and qualifications here), Guillory appeared to hint that the current field may not yield a recommendation. “[I] told one of the committee members today that this isn’t a check-off-the-box thing. … so if they go through this committee and there are no recommendations, we’ll open it back up,” Guillory told the paper. “I’m not going to rush through on the first batch. I’m hopeful, for our people, for our administration, for our police department, that the magic person is right there in round one, and they may be,” Guillory added. “The committee may not recommend any of them, and I’ve got to respect that.”

While he pledged to hold a nationwide search after pushing Aguillard out, Guillory did say he hoped to promote from within

Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic — not to mention mounting pressure on departments nationwide — Guillory told The Daily Advertiser he was unsure about the success of the national search.

“If they’re all internal then I don’t know how successful we were on the national search,” he said. “But I can tell you Jamie put the ads out there nationally. But they’re busy too, and that’s something we’ve got to consider. You’ve got all these other municipalities going through the same thing we’re going through, some worse than us.”

Angelle confirms the position was advertised in Police Career Finder, Police Magazine, Law Enforcement News-PoliceOne, DiscoverPolicing.org, The Acadiana Advocate, The Baton Rouge Advocate and The New Orleans Advocate.

“I am unaware of any others at this time,” Angelle says. “There may be other police-related boards or blogs that people could have shared it on, but I haven’t heard of anything being posted elsewhere.”

Lowell Duhon

Maligned LUS consultant accuses Guillory of playing politics

The gist: NewGen Strategies & Solutions, LUS’s consulting engineer, fired back at Mayor-President Josh Guillory, saying in a July 2 letter obtained by The Current that his decision to publicly lay out a case for firing the longtime consultant was malicious and politically motivated. 

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Video: Lourdes, LGH officials share concerns amid record hospitalizations

Amid concerns that hospitals in the Acadiana area are now treating record numbers of coronavirus patients — Region 4 had 126 patients Wednesday, one higher than the record set April 10 — the chief medical officers at Lafayette General Health and Our Lourdes of Lourdes’ local system issued a joint video statement Wednesday.

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Parks & Rec employee put on administrative leave same week Boudreaux was pushed out

The gist: A Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department employee was placed on administrative leave the same week longtime Director Gerald Boudreaux tendered his resignation after a heated discussion with Mayor-President Josh Guillory the morning of June 2. The employee later returned to the office but has since been temporarily suspended.

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Just in from Sheriff Mark Garber: COVID-19 hits LPCC

Four Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s correctional deputies and an asymptomatic inmate have tested positive for COVID-19.

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The Ross Report goes dark on KPEL

The gist: After more than two decades together, KPEL and its smooth but acerbic-voiced conservative personality have parted ways.

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Third Circuit upholds convictions of Marshal Brian Pope

The gist: The Third Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the three felony convictions of Marshal Brian Pope and affirmed District Judge David Smith’s decision to acquit him on one count of perjury. In a ruling issued Wednesday, the appellate court sent the case back to the lower court to clarify sentencing. 

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Questions surround parks & rec director’s ‘retirement’

The gist: Mayor-President Josh Guillory had an uneasy time explaining an email he sent to council members Tuesday morning claiming veteran Parks & Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux would be “announcing his retirement from LCG soon.” 

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