The gist: This meeting presents several items at the root of recent confrontation between members of the City Council and mayor-president. Items addressing the council’s bid for independent legal representation, the ongoing LUS investigation and finding permanent leadership for it, LUS Fiber, parks and recreation and the police department are all on that agenda. Plus, the Parish Council is moving forward with a plan to offload parks.
Council Preview 10/6: Answers on LUS investigation, what to do with LCG’s CARES Act money, polling locations, final adoption on parish tax increases
The gist: Some City Council members want more answers about the ongoing investigation into LUS and LUS Fiber, which the mayor-president escalated into criminal allegations. The Parish Council is likely to approve increases — without a public vote — for some property taxes to make up for lost revenue. Meanwhile, more money is pouring in from the federal government. Full agendas here.
Lafayette’s city and parish councils passed a compromise budget that doesn’t address any of the city’s or parish’s major budgetary problems.
The gist: City-parish attorneys kicked the findings of a forensic auditor’s report into suspect transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber to the FBI, according to email correspondence with council members. Based on the same evidence in that forensic audit report, and other documents previously handed over, the district attorney declined to prosecute crimes alleged by the Guillory administration.
No evidence of malfeasance, records destruction or other crimes by former LUS director, district attorney finds
The gist: Despite persistent efforts, the Guillory administration failed to mount a compelling ad hoc criminal case against longtime LUS and LUS Fiber Director Terry Huval, the district attorney concludes in a pair of letters to LCG’s legal department and the mayor-president obtained by The Current through a public records request. Further, District Attorney Keith Stutes insists what LCG alleged was a criminal scheme to cover up “illegal” subsidies of LUS Fiber is exclusively a matter for the Louisiana Public Service Commission, which has limited oversight of Fiber.
The gist: Late last night, City Council members questioned a representative of Metairie-based CPA firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram about his forensic analysis of transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber, pressing him on the decision to forgo an interview with the man the firm’s report repeatedly accuses of illegal conduct. The council also decided to send the findings to the […]
Council Preview 8/18: A report on the LUS report, go-cups (again), early voting in North Lafayette, splitting up city and parish parks
Here are the highlights for Tuesday night’s city, parish, and joint council meetings. To view the full agendas click here, select 8/18/2020 from the dropdown menu, and then click on the agenda or agenda item you want to dive into.
The gist: Reaching conclusions already voiced by the Guillory administration and its predecessor, a long-awaited forensic investigative report on suspect transactions between LUS and Fiber accuses former Director Terry Huval of flouting state law to inflate Fiber’s revenue by millions of dollars. Published Thursday — along with years of communications among Huval and other officials, as well as commercially sensitive information — the report singles out Huval but implicates current and former employees of LCG, LUS and Fiber.
In the next couple of years, LUS has to make a series of huge decisions. But the issues that matter are getting drowned out by the political theater that’s been drummed up around potentially illegal payments from LUS to LUS Fiber. Lafayette can’t afford to get distracted.
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.
Since launching 2008, LUS Fiber has missed its financial projections by $70 million. That puts it in a vulnerable position.
The gist: Two familiar faces, Jeff Stewart and Teles Fremin, returned to work this week at LUS and LUS Fiber, respectively, after being cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the Guillory administration’s allegations of a criminal coverup at the entities. Questions remain about the status of any criminal investigation and the agencies’ leadership.
Get caught up, quickly: Mayor-President Josh Guillory dropped a bombshell on local radio just a month into his administration, claiming that Lafayette City Police had “raided” LUS last year under Joel Robideaux’s administration. Guillory told the station he had put four unnamed employees on paid leave and would ask Louisiana State Police to initiate a criminal probe. The “raid” was apparently linked to Robideaux’s ongoing internal investigation into questionable payments from LUS and LCG to Fiber; the Public Service Commission, which has limited oversight of Fiber, confirms it is reviewing what Robideaux turned over late last year for possible violations of the Fair Competition Act.
There was no raid. “I saw no findings of a raid,” Cpl. Bridgette Dugas, public information officer with Lafayette Police, told The Acadiana Advocate a week after Guillory made those comments.
Based on information from a “whistle blower complaint,” LCG accused the four employees, whose names were redacted, of having information about the destruction of records and an “attempt to cover up a crime,” according to the letter to state police. The Current has not named Stewart and Fremin until now, only after multiple sources confirmed they had returned from leave and were cleared of suspicion — before any criminal probe by an outside agency has even commenced.
A void in experience at both LUS and Fiber. Stewart and Fremin were replaced as interim directors of their respective entities late last year when Robideaux named his CAO, Lowell Duhon, to the interim post at LUS and moved Kayla Miles Brooks into the top position at Fiber. Public records obtained by The Current confirm that NewGen, LUS’s consulting engineer who last year deemed Duhon and Brooks unqualified for the interim jobs, is scheduled to be in Lafayette this week for a site visit as part of its annual review of the public utility.
Both Stewart and Fremin have been with LUS for nearly two decades. NewGen met with Guillory in January, reminding the mayor-president in a follow-up email on Feb. 1 that LUS has been without a permanent director for 18 months, suggesting ongoing discomfort with the lack of permanent leadership.
The Feb. 6 letter to state police, written by City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan and widely released to local media, specifically names only one person, former LUS Director Terry Huval, while redacting the names of the current employees. The central allegation stems from 2011 emails alleged to be missing from an eight-year count of Huval’s email records, suggesting the destruction of computer files and email archives (along with “possible manipulation of accounting or public finance records.”)
“It appears that there was somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 of Terry Huval’s e-mails deleted for the 2011 time period,” Logan writes.
He goes on to say, “We believe certain individuals at LUS & LUS Fiber are guilty of injuring public records … theft … malfeasance … and/or criminal mischief.”
In confirming Monday that two of the four employees had returned to their jobs, LCG spokesman Jamie Angelle declined to comment on what he described as an “ongoing investigation.”
State police confirms it is not looking into the matter. “Everything is in the hands of the DA at this point, so we are on hold,” says PIO Thomas Gossen.
District Attorney Keith Stutes notified the administration on Feb. 7 that he considered Logan’s letter a complaint and requested a wide range of documentation, including audits and internal investigations into former or current employees.
“I have received, preliminarily, some of the information I requested,” Stutes says. “At this point, it’s a review process; it’s still under examination.”