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Voters taken for a ride

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GONZALES - The political drama in Gonzales is as hot as ever and it seemed to boil Monday night.

People in the audience chanted "recall, recall, recall," ahead of their exit from the council chambers.  Two councilmen, Gary Lacombe and Timothy Vessel, were the focus of their outcry. 

The Gonzales City Council is at a standstill over new budgets.  Monday was Mayor Barney Arceneaux's third attempt at securing the city's budgets. Councilman Terrance Irvin introduced two amendments: one to lower the economic development budget from $75,000 to $50,000 and another to lower the police budget by $110,000.  The two items have appeared before, although with fluctuating values during each budget attempt.

Police Chief Sherman Jackson said he needs the money to replace old police cars and install additional surveillance cameras.  But, Irvin said those cameras are not necessary this year and can be included in next year's budget.

"There's enough money in my opinion to purchase nine cars, as have been requested," said Irvin. "The proposed camera's are more of a 'want' in my opinion instead of a 'need.'"

Jackson said cameras would be useful, and if installed, could have been used to solve a crime in Irvin's neighborhood, where there was a burglary last week.

"I can't understand for the life of me, why would we turn down equipment that would help us catch criminals," said Jackson.

The council has been at odds with each other, voting and siding with the same 3-2.  The positions continued Monday.

Irvin made two requests for an Attorney General's opinion concerning city business. One, as it read on the agenda, "[forces] the city to comply with the five year term requirement for Planning and Zoning members." The city is currently facing a zoning lawsuit.

The mayor said Buddy Caldwell gave that answer in a letter to the council last month.  He read part of the letter to the council.  "There does not appear to be any valid grounds for the Attorney General to investigate," he quoted aloud.

Irvin's second request was about city attorney Ryland Percy donating funds to Lacombe and Vessel's recall effort. Irvin did not wish to comment on his request adding, "I'll wait to see what the attorney general has to say."

After the meeting, Percy did not comment, but the mayor did.

"This is a recall effort and I would think that he's in his right to donate money and certainly sign," said Arceneaux.

The budgets will be voted on in two weeks. Mayor Arceneaux said, "I will not prolong this too much longer."




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