JEFFERSON, La.--Despite concerns from some of its members that the process is a rouse, the Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Parish Finance Authority interviewed the top two candidates for the position of executive director Thursday.
William Burnell, a former Vice President of now-defunct First NBC Bank, and Wanda Theriot, a tax attorney and the daughter of former interim JP President Steve Theriot, were both interviewed by the board for about a half an hour. The third finalist for the job declined to be interviewed.
Tuesday, members of the board moved to hire Theriot without interviewing any of the candidates, basing their hiring decision for the up to $140,000-a-year position exclusively on a ranking of 14 resumes submitted by applicants.
But three dissenting members of the board took issue with the process.
"You interview people to work at McDonalds," said Trustee Marcy Planer at the board's regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday.
On a condition of anonymity, one of the applicants for the position said they felt the interview process was "basically a sham."
The fractured board of the little-known agency has been battling over spending, meeting frequency, per diems and even questions raised by some board members about the financial transactions the finance authority has executed in recent years.
The authority's mission is to expand home ownership in Jefferson Parish by offering down payment assistance for home buyers. It is a public trust that operates using public money, proceeds from financial transactions and municipal bonds, but not tax dollars.
Ten days after a series of WWL-TV investigative reports aired in February about the authority, Executive Director Terry McCarthy announced his plans to retire. He said his decision was not related to the reports.
Trustees have said Theriot and another potential candidate, former Parish President Tim Coulon, called them individually to ask questions about the position leading up to the application process. Coulon did not apply.
After Thursday's interviews that lasted about a half an hour each, Trustee Frank Muscarello wanted to amend the board's meeting agenda to immediately hire Theriot. Dissenting board members wouldn't sign off, instead pushing the decision to the agency's next scheduled meeting, next Monday.
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