The Lafourche Parish Council continued this week to dig into the questions surrounding Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle’s May 23 wreck.
Cantrelle said he was leaving his hunting camp that day when he backed into another vehicle, owned by Jordan Lebouf.
The parish paid for the $100 in damage to the parish truck that Cantrelle uses.
That information arose at the July 25 council meeting, when Cantrelle was asked why he waited a day to report the crash to the parish’s Risk Management Office, waited weeks to report it to law enforcement and never submitted to a drug test. Parish employees are required by policy to do all three immediately after any wreck involving a parish-owned vehicle.
This week, further questions from the council brought out the fact that the parish also paid more than $2,000 to repair damage to Lebouf’s vehicle.
Although that brings the total cost to taxpayers to a significantly higher total, the issue still goes far beyond the money.
Why didn’t Cantrelle follow parish procedure?
Why did he never submit to a drug test?
Why did he tell the deputy when he finally reported the crash that he had paid for the repairs to his parish truck himself?
Later, when asked about it at a Parish Council meeting, why did Cantrelle deny telling the deputy he had paid for the repairs?
When the issue came up originally, why did the parish president fail to fully report the extent of the cost to taxpayers?
This is a confusing case, and the fact that the parish president has been short of candid has led to more confusion rather than less.
Cantrelle owes his constituents an explanation as to why his actions cost them thousands and why he was so reluctant to own up to the facts.
Parish Administrator Leif Haas said the administration is trying to fix the vagueness that exists in the parish’s policy. But that isn’t really the issue.
This is the policy as it is written in the employee manual:
“1. All employees operating a parish vehicle or personal vehicle while conducting business for Lafourche Parish Government, irrespective of fault, injury or damage, must immediately report all accidents to Law Enforcement, Risk Management Department and to his/her supervisor.
“2. Post-Accident/Incident Drug Testing: Any employee directly involved in an on-duty vehicular accident shall be required to submit to drug and alcohol testing.”
That doesn’t seem vague, and it doesn’t leave much room for misunderstanding.
If there was confusion over when Cantrelle was required to report the crash or take a drug test, he could have consulted the rules he’s responsible for enforcing. No vague statement in the policy led to a delay of nearly three weeks in reporting the wreck to the Sheriff’s Office. And nothing in the policy prevented the parish president from being honest about all the facts when the issue first arose.
Those are problems that go much deeper than the particular wording of the parish’s policy on wrecks of public vehicles — a policy that is clear, concise and easy to understand.
This incident is just the one that happened to expose them.
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