How was Plaquemines deputy chosen for new position?

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 2 at 12:07 PM

Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mperlstein

PLAQUEMINES, La. -- In an earlier 4 Investigates exclusive, we told you about a retired Plaquemines Parish judge who lobbied on behalf of his stepson for a job -- before the job was even created.

That candidate was being reviewed along with 11 other applicants when Hurricane Isaac hit.

Former Plaquemines Parish Deputy Patrick Harvey graded highly as an applicant for the newly created position of assistant homeland security manager.

According to Guy Laigast, the manager of the office, Harvey was among the top candidates under review when Hurricane Isaac came ashore with unexpected force.

"We didn't have enough people up there to do all the tasks during this storm. So when he asked me, I didn't give it a second thought,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Nungesser confirmed that, at the request of Laigast, Harvey was hired days after Isaac made landfall, cutting short the final steps in the hiring process.

"He was getting slammed,” Nungesser said. “We were sleeping here. We were working around the clock. I think it was the right decision to make at the time. "

Laigast had made no secret of his preference to hire Patrick. Both had been deputies who were let go by the new sheriff, Lonnie Greco.

But the process drew fire because of a letter in which retired 4th Circuit Appeal Court Judge Michael Kirby openly lobbied the council on behalf of his stepson Harvey. Some officials said the lobbying was heavy-handed because the position hadn't even been created yet.

Here's what Byron Marinovich, the council chairman, said at the time:

"There was some fairly heavy lobbying on behalf of the family,” Marinovich said. “And also, I've had quite a few of my friends come in and push for a certain person for the job."

That certain person was Harvey, and he's now into his third week on the job.

Laigast said his new assistant is getting on-the-job training with Isaac, but so far is doing a fine job.

Nungesser said that despite the expedited hiring of Harvey, he is subject to a job review after six months just like all other parish employees.
 

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