What lead to the 'worst meeting St. John Parish has ever had'

Council meeting (FOX 8 photo)
Council meeting (FOX 8 photo)

LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - Witnesses described screaming and extreme disrespect at Tuesday night's St. John Parish Council meeting.

The arguments come as parish leadership tries to rid the public water system of a deadly amoeba.

"This is by far possibly the worst meeting St. John Parish has ever had," said St. John Council Vice Chairman Michael Wright.

Video shows that tensions started to rise when council members questioned the public records access process. Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard said that last week, she was trying to learn how much money was spent on a 17-page parish progress report recently sent out by the administration.

The conversation led to a heated dispute between Hotard and Kia Price, the St. John Director of Purchasing and Procurement. Video shows how Council Chairman Marvin Perrilloux stopped the argument by using his gavel.

He said, "Let's calm down, and we're going to talk to each other and understand each other."

Some council members described how what was already a steep rift between much of the council and the administration has grown since the discovery of a deadly amoeba in the parish water system.

"The same frustration that people are feeling, they can actually see that the council is dealing with the same frustration," said Hotard.

Video shows how frustrations mounted throughout the meeting to the point the council vice chairman felt he had to call a recess when, he said, Parish President Natalie Robottom spoke over council members and ignored the chairman's attempt to take control of the meeting.

"We actually went to recess because the meeting was getting pretty heated. The parish president and her staff- they were getting out of line. The meeting was getting uncontrollable. So, I did call a recess to allow things to calm down," said Wright.

Hotard said the arguments didn't stop with the recess.

"When they went into the recess, you could hear the yelling from the parish president out into the council chamber," said Hotard.

A St. John resident who was at the meeting posted a video to Facebook, which described the heated arguments.

"It was a total circus. Almost broke out into fights. Natalie was very unprofessional tonight," said Kevin Van Camp, a St. John resident.

Residents told FOX 8 they hope the lack of respect doesn't distract parish leaders from fixing the water system.

A spokesperson for Parish President Natalie Robottom said she chooses not to comment on the council meeting or the tensions between the council and the administration.

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