INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: 42-percent pay increase for EBR Council on Aging employee
BATON ROUGE- An employee who is tied to a questionable will that caused community outrage at the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging received a $20,000 pay bump in January when voter-approved tax increases took effect.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained that information through a public records request.
Trudy Bihm was the Executive Assistant to Tasha Clark Amar last year. In January, she was promoted to Special Assistant to Tasha Clark Amar/Special Programs and Projects Coordinator. That change in title came with a big change in pay, from $48,000 to $68,000.
We first encountered Bihm when she tried to block our cameras last year when we questioned the Director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging, Tasha Clark Amar, about Helen Plummer's questionable will. Bihm was listed as the "Alternate Executrix" in the event that something happened to Executrix Tasha Clark Amar. Helen Plummer's will would have benefitted Clark Amar to the tune of $120,000. But, she backed off when it was exposed. Clark Amar sued the Plummer family for defamation after the Investigative Unit aired stories about what happened.
"This is her payback," Robert Garrity said referring to Bihm's raise. "This is her reward for being a loyal soldier."
Garrity is one of the attorneys representing the Plummer family in the ongoing litigation. He said the public should be outraged by this.
"This is blatant theft of public funds," Garrity said. "This is the reason why our state is in financial trouble and the reason why the citizens of the state have said we've had enough. You don't get any more tax money because all you're doing is wasting it."
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso has long been a critic of the Council on Aging. He said the increase Bihm received is a slap in the face to City-Parish workers.
"There are so many people in the city that need raises, and when you see someone in the public sector getting a $20,000 raise, it makes you scratch your head and wonder what was going on," Amoroso said.
Last year, Amoroso called for Clark Amar to step down.
"I did go on the record and ask that the executive director needed to resign, and I still hold the same point," Amoroso said. "What happened with the Plummer will was despicable."
The calls for Clark Amar to go come after Southern University terminated Professor Dorothy Jackson. Jackson wrote the will at Southern's Elder Law Clinic. Jackson is appealing her termination and still sits on the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging Board.
Tasha Clark Amar turned down our requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a written statement she said, "The organizational chart was restructured with newly created positions as well as additional duties assigned to employees and approved by the board of directors. No employee was afforded an undeserving pay increase."