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Parish president, council at odds over legal fees

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LIVINGSTON - Thursday night, the Livingston Parish Council did not act on dealing with legal fees related to a lawsuit involving council members.

The council wanted the parish to pay attorney fees for two council members, but Parish President Layton Ricks wants to wait until a judge makes a decision on the lawsuit.

It stems from a defamation lawsuit between two council members, an engineering firm and a parish employee. Alvin Fairburn and Associates and Mary Kistler, the former council clerk who is now Ricks' executive assistant, both filed lawsuits after council members Cindy Wale and Marshall Harris made statements in a WBRZ News 2 report that aired in March 2013.

Harris and Wale commented about Kistler allegedly deleting e-mails and altering public meeting minutes.

Wale said in the report, "that is very scary to think that something like that could change that could cost dollars to the tax payer." Harris added "That is a problem. We spent money that was not authorized to do that."

Parish Council Chairman Ricky Goff says Ricks needs to do his job and pay the attorney fees like the council voted for him to do so.

"Sign the mans check, pay the bills and let's move on. I'm asking him to carry out his duties and responsibilities," said Goff.

Ricks feels it's best to wait.

"This is a private lawsuit," he said. "The parish has no responsibility, so I think I am doing my job by not paying it until they win the case and a judge determines that."

Last October, the state attorney general's opinion on the issue states that the parish should pay the legal expenses if the parish determines the council members performed the actions in their official capacity. The opinion also states that the best practice is for the parish to pay after the lawsuit has concluded.

Since there was a stalemate between Ricks and the council over paying the fees, the council was considering filing a lawsuit against Ricks



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