Morgan City, Berwick housing authorities work on director deal

MORGAN CITY, La. -- A proposal has been sent to the Berwick Housing Authority by its counterpart in Morgan City on how the two agencies can share Clarence Robinson, the executive director in Berwick, until Morgan City hires a permanent director.

The Berwick board is expected to discuss the Morgan City agency’s submission and could have a response for its board meeting on July 23.

James Richard, Berwick Housing Authority chairman, said, “We are reviewing the proposal Morgan City sent us and making amendments to some items.”

In a different matter, Morgan City Housing Authority commission chairman Victory Ho said Monday he is considering asking the board to reopen the advertising period for hiring legal representation for the board.

Last month, Diana Pace, accounting technician for the authority, told commissioners there were two law firms that responded to the advertised request for proposal. The deadline to submit the paperwork was July 1.

The Law Office of Anthony Thibodeaux of Morgan City had responded along with Reno and Cavanaugh PLLC of Washington, D.C., she said.

Only the firm based in Washington, D.C., met all the requirements by the deadline, Ho said.

“I would like to get a director in place and he could assist us in the process of selecting an attorney,” Ho said this morning.

The housing authority has been relying on assistance from city attorney Greg Aucoin of Morgan City, according to Ho. The board can continue that temporary arrangement until it can hire its own attorney, he said.

The agency has been without its own attorney since Craig Stewart’s contract expired in September 2008.

Ending a nearly 5-year period without an attorney is not as pressing of a need as ending nearly two months without an executive director, according to Ho.

The Morgan City Housing Authority has been without an executive director since the June 4 resignation of Charles Spann. After his resignation, the Morgan City board authorized Ho and board member Jerome Guidry to begin the process of locating an interim and then permanent executive director.

Ho immediately opened discussions with the Berwick commission. In Ho’s absence, two Morgan City commissioners made a formal request at the monthly meeting of the Berwick authority commissioners on June 17. The Berwick commissioners authorized Richard and commissioner Jackie Ackel to confer with representatives from the Morgan City board and work out the details of that agreement.

Richard said last month the Berwick Housing Authority will invoice a monthly bill of services to Morgan City Housing Authority for the time that Robinson spends in Morgan City. He said this week he does not expect compensation to be a sticking point in the negotiations.

Robinson, who was hired by Berwick in 2001, said that he has a capable staff in Berwick which can continue to administer the agency during his absence if he is sent to Morgan City.

Richard said the amount of time that Robinson will spend in Morgan City needs to be discussed and agreed upon. The Berwick agency needs to consult with its attorney, Susan Dorsey, before signing off on an agreement, he said.

“We are the ones that need their help, not the other way around,” Ho said this week. “But, I know they want to help us and I am confident we can arrive at an agreement that is fair to everybody.”

Spann had been at the helm of the Morgan City agency since 2007. His contract expired May 22. He continued to work at the head of the agency as he weathered a month of questions over a critical legislative audit released on May 13. In his resignation letter, Spann accepted responsibility for the “failures” mentioned in the audit.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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Morgan City Daily Review
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Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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