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Appointment of interim Gonzales mayor posed an ethical question well before it occurred

2 months 4 days 10 hours ago Tuesday, May 14 2024 May 14, 2024 May 14, 2024 11:02 AM May 14, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

GONZALES — The appointment of interim mayor Robert Ryland Percy III posed an immediate problem for Gonzales: Could its city attorney continue to serve while his father temporarily held the reins of city government?

The Louisiana Board of Ethics says yes, but ...

The city council voted Monday to name Percy as its interim mayor for a period that expires in January. His son Matt Percy is the current city attorney, and ahead of the appointment Matt Percy asked the state Board of Ethics whether he could keep his job if his father was also interim mayor.

Matt Percy told the board that he is paid by the hour and typically receives direction from Gonzales' chief administrative officer, police chief or city engineer. "You stated that, except on rare occassions, requests for legal services never come directly from the mayor," the board wrote in its advisory opinion.

Matt Percy can remain in the role, but the onus actually lies with Ryland Percy, the ethics panel said. The elder Percy cannot take part in matters in which his son would have a substantial economic interest. 

"Therefore, your father, as mayor, will be prohibited from participating in any matter that results in you billing the city for your work as city attorney," the ethics panel wrote May 3. "This includes his participation as mayor in discussions or recommendations that result in your providing additional legal services to or for the city."

Ryland Percy served for 25 years as Gonzales city attorney, the job his son now holds, and retired in 2015. Matt Percy said Ryland Percy will not be a candidate for mayor this fall, and that his father has no ownership interest in the family law firm.

Ryland Percy replaces Barney Arceneaux, who stepped down to become executive director of the Louisiana Municipal Association.

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