Former Mayor blasts current administration over BRAVE contract blame game
BATON ROUGE- Former East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor President Kip Holden hurled verbal bombs at Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome today. It comes 24 hours after her administration blamed his administration for losing BRAVE grant money over reporting and compliance deficiencies dating back to 2016.
Emails Broome released back up what she's saying about BRAVE going away. But, she never directly addressed her close political allies getting BRAVE contracts. That's now under review by the Legislative Auditor.
"She is lying back and forth," Holden said.
Holden is beyond upset Broome blamed his administration for problems associated with losing BRAVE grant money.
"Until they turn the light on this, the roaches will not scatter," Holden said. "There needs to be a full inquiry including by the federal government, to come in there and see how she's run the program herself without trying to pass the buck and say it's Kip Holden."
In a data dump today, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome released a string of emails that detail her point about why the program was being suspended. In January, just weeks after Broome took office, an email went out to Assistant Chief Administrative Officer James Gilmore from the Parish Attorney.
"Contracts have been going to the Mayor's Office and while some have been signed, others have not," it reads.
That's about the time a woman by the name of Tamara Sabine, the federal and state grants coordinator was let go by Mayor Broome's administration.
"Yes we were late," Holden said. "But I don't do the reports. We have a federal and state coordinator, and got those extensions. The irony... she fired this state coordinator four days before the report was due. That's her (Broome's) fault."
From February until now, problems have been looming since Sabine left.
"She (Broome) should have at least made sure the reports were turned in," Holden said. "And there was nothing left unfinished. But yet she was so busy plotting her own course, and placing blame on someone else, she is the one that bears the burden of what has happened."
In May, Assistant CAO James Gilmore said in an email, "I'm not sure how this gap went on for so long between your reports and what actually is required to be reported. There are zeros in so many spaces.... We have been in clean up and asking for forgiveness mode since we took office."
An email from a BRAVE coordinator at LSU after learning the BRAVE extension would not be granted stated, "We have had good results over all, in spite of the city (prior administration).
"She (Broome) is not working under the sytem I worked under," Holden said. "We had a better more efficient system. We did not try to take control of the projects, and things you see right now. We didn't mess around. We got the services delivered, and never had what you're having now under her administration."
Over the past few weeks, the Investigative Unit showed you close political allies of the Mayor received lucrative contracts. Many of them falling well below the $17,500 amount that would require Metro Council approval. One of Broome's staffers wrote, "I promised the Feds I would not hold contracts up with City Council Approval processes which was one of the factors over a million plus in BRAVE was not spent previously."
Mayor Broome weighed in on her political allies getting the contracts last night, but stopped short of fully addressing it.
"There's no time that I want the public to think that our administration is doing anything but being transparent and looking out for this entire city and parish," Broome said.
As Holden looks back at where things are from when he left office, he says a lot of progress has been made. But, he's disappointed in where he says things appear to be headed.
"When you look at what she's doing, she's placing a racial wedge between people in this city and parish," Holden said. "There's no need for that."
WBRZ requested another interview today with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to respond to former Mayor Kip Holden's claims. A spokesperson said she did not want to engage in the back and forth.