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New Roads council targets Mayor's use of police detail for private purposes

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NEW ROADS - Six months after the New Roads City Council passed a resolution to limit Mayor Cornell Dukes' use of his police detail, they claim Dukes has ignored the resolution.

They are now planning to author an ordinance, which would carry more weight and could be enforced.

The resolution was passed in February and came two months after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed Dukes was using the New Roads City Police Department to ferry him around, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, Dukes told WBRZ last night's meeting was nothing more than a witch hunt. He maintained he's done nothing wrong and only wants to move the City of New Roads forward.

"We owe it to the taxpayers to ensure them that their money is spent for their benefit," Councilman Theron Smith said.

In December, WBRZ showed you Dukes racked up a $24,000 bill for costs associated with driving him around. New Roads has a population of about 4,500 people. Port Allen, Plaquemine, Denham Springs, Gonzales, Zachary and Central all have larger populations and all have their own police departments like New Roads. All of their mayors told the Investigative Unit they don't use a police detail at the taxpayers' expense.

"There are allegations that have been circling around for some time about some improprieties and the mayor's use of the detail," Smith said. "We want to let the citizens know we were trying our best to address this issue and get some accountability and ask the mayor some questions. He refused to answer them."

Councilman Kirk Clipper White said the resolution that was passed was ignored.

"We have gotten information that he's doing a lot of things other than city business," White said. "Mostly personal business."

Both councilmen said the mayor's defiance is a slap in the face to the council and the people they represent.

"If we had some accountability in place, when accusations came the council could come to the mayor's defense that it's being used properly because we have documentation," Smith said. "The mayor don't allow that."

The council members hope to introduce the ordinance in the next few weeks. They said Mayor Dukes has already told them he'll veto it.

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