PEARL RIVER, La. -- The legislative auditor’s probe into the Town of Pearl River is expected to be released soon. With that report will be a town response to the findings, which the town attorney billed $7,500 to do.
Tuesday night, the Board of Aldermen voted to place the bill on the shoulders of Alderwoman Kathryn Walsh.
"All of this stems from one of our fine aldermen, Channel 4 News and the Concerned Citizens group," said Mayor James Lavigne, in a recording of the meeting from Tuesday night, which resident Clay Harper recorded.
"In my opinion, it's outrageous, insane," he said. "I really don't have any other words for it."
Also caught in the recording, the mayor suggesting Eyewitness News is also responsible for the cost because of our series of reports on questionable town spending and operations.
The recording captures Alderman David McQueen asking, "You gonna make a motion to make Channel 4 News pay it back?”
Lavigne responds, “I'm gonna send them a bill just like her and the Concerned Citizens group. And if that don't work David, I'm gonna take 'em to court."
"It's not Ms. Walsh, it’s not Concerned Citizens, it’s not Channel 4, it’s not Ashley Rodrigue's decision for the LLA to go into any town," said Rick Franzo, president of Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany.
The mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, but most of the Board of Aldermen did. Ella Brakefield, who voted for the resolution, said Walsh “didn’t explain what she was doing or what she was looking for.”
When asked if she was assuming Walsh was the reason for the audit, she said, “We know she is. The papers came out.”
Ruby Gauley said she was just following the mayor’s advice with her ‘yes’ vote, but she hopes whatever is in the report ends up helping the town. David McQueen, who voted against the measure, said he did so because “it’s only going to cost the town more money.”
Lastly, Walsh, stuck with the bill, said, “It should not, in my opinion, be a matter of who, but look at the why's and use this as a guide to doing better business in the town."
The vote also references a Board of Ethics complaint, but that agency couldn’t confirm any ongoing investigations, per policy.