Informer: Contract with city, not parish or special district

By By Andrew Perzo / American Press

Is it legal for Police Jury President Shannon Spell to have his construction company working on a gravity drainage project

that is being funded by the Police Jury?

In this case, yes.

State ethics laws bar public servants, their immediate family members and companies in which the officials have a “controlling

interest” — more than 25 percent ownership — from bidding on or entering into contracts that are “under the supervision or

jurisdiction” of whatever agencies the officials serve.

That means that neither a police juror nor his parents, wife, siblings, children or in-laws may do business with the Police

Jury or its special service districts, whose board members are appointed by the panel.

But the project in question — drainage work around old Maplewood’s East End and Eveland avenues — was put out for bid by the

city of Sulphur, and the parish money was provided after the project was awarded.

Spell said Friday that the funding request came from Police Juror Les Farnum, who acted on behalf of Sulphur and the area

gravity drainage district, which is involved in the work.

According to Police Jury meeting minutes printed earlier this month in the American Press, Spell recused himself from the vote — as required by ethics laws.

The company involved, R.D. Spell, is

owned by his father, and Spell — who owns a consulting business — acts

as its vice president.

Its bid was accepted by the Sulphur City Council on Oct. 9, a week

before the Police Jury’s Budget Committee took up the funding

issue.

Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said Spell consulted with the Police Jury’s legal counsel before the bid was put in.

Online: http://ethics.la.gov.

What to do depends on plant’s location

I live on a side road that comes out on Prien Lake Road and is a busy

roadway. A fast-food chain restaurant is on the corner.

They have a plant that is too large, so when you try to see the

traffic, it blocks being able to see. It is an accident waiting

to happen. Should the city address this or the business?

It depends on where the plants or shrubs are, said John Cardone, Lake Charles city administrator.

“If the shrubs are located on private property or if they were planted by the owner and it is creating a visibility issue

or safety hazard, the city would require the property owner to remove it from the intersection or visibility triangle,” he

wrote in an email.

“If the obstruction is in the city right of way, the city can have it removed or cut.”

To report such problems, call the city’s planning office at 491-1542.

Online: www.cityoflakecharles.com.

Landrieu DC office has no toll-free line

Does U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu have a toll-free number number for her office in Washington?

No.

Several senators have set up toll-free lines for their constituents to use in calling their Capitol Hill offices, but Landrieu

isn’t one of them.

The phone number for her Lake Charles

office — Suite 1260 in the Capital One Tower — are 436-6650. The number

for the Washington,

D.C., office is 202-224-5824.

Online: http://www.landrieu.senate.gov.

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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com