Voters in Port Allen gear up for historic recall election
PORT ALLEN - A historic election in Port Allen this weekend has its roots in series of News 2 investigations which began in February this year.
It started when the News 2 Investigative Unit received public records requests in February detailing questionable spending and actions by Mayor Deedy Slaughter in February. News 2 showed up at the mayor's office on Feb. 11 to ask her questions about the spending and termination of Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain. News 2 waited hours, only getting a closed door as a response.
McCain's termination came after News 2 received public records detailing a trip the Mayor took to see the President's Inauguration without conducting city business, then asked taxpayers to reimburse her for. She also raised her salary without council approval, and appointed her brother-in-law Ralph Slaughter as her chief of staff.
"I made the trip to DC with Senator Landrieu to talk about more funds and revenue to city," Slaughter said to residents packing city hall for a meeting after the reports came out.
Despite what Slaughter told her constituents, Landrieu had a different take on what happened.
"I have no specific knowledge of anything specific thing we talked about," Senator Mary Landrieu said. "You're going to have to talk with whoever is involved in that, all we did was have a party."
That's when Slaughter began changing her tune. When News 2 asked her again about her trip, she rushed away in her car and said "no comment." During this time, Judge Alvin Batiste re-instated CFO Audrey McCain, blocking the Mayor's attempt to fire her. The judge ruled Slaughter didn't have the authority to fire McCain because her job was considered a department head's position, which only the city council could terminate.
The News 2 Investigative Unit continued following the story every step of the way as Slaughter squared off with city council members over the budget and her increased pay, the Louisiana auditor found her actions could have violated state law, and McCain's attorneys continued to claim Slaughter was keeping her from doing her job running the city's finances.
In September a group of citizens turned in a petition with enough collected signatures to force a recall election for Slaughter. The registrar of voters told News 2 this week a record number of people have turned out since early voting began to cast their ballots in the election.
As this weekend's election approaches the city still doesn't have a budget, and the racial divide in the community has deepened. A fiery reverend held a rally outside city hall Wednesday night, blasting African-Americans who aren't happy with the Mayor's performance.
"They've got black sellouts," Rev. Raymond Brown said. "The racial issue is the white power structure, including white city council members don't want a black mayor they cannot control."
News 2 asked Brown if that was the case, why two African-Americans chaired the petition to recall the Mayor.
"Because I already told you, you had black folks during the Civil War hanging around the confederacy," Brown said.
The polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday in Port Allen. News 2 will have live coverage on election day, and you can find more voting resources on our WBRZ Election Center page.