Lafayette library supporters sue Parish Council over board appointment, open meetings law

Lafayette Parish

LAFAYETTE, La. (Daily Advertiser) — Supporters of the Lafayette libraries are suing members of the Parish Council over alleged violations of the state’s open meetings laws surrounding a Library Board of Control appointment in February.

Lessie Leblanc-Melancon and Dominique Ducote filed suit Friday against Councilmen Josh Carlson, John Guilbeau, Bryan Tabor alleging the trio violated the state’s open meetings law by privately coordinating their appointment of Robert Judge to the Library Board of Control.

Leblanc-Melancon and Ducote are requesting the court void Judge’s appointment and require the council to vote again on appointing another member to the board, as well as award civil penalties against the three councilmen over the alleged violation.

The library supporters allege that Carlson, Guilbeau and Tabor violated the open meetings law by discussing Judge’s appointment to the board privately prior to their vote during a Feb. 9 public meeting to appoint him, which the lawsuit claims constituted a walking quorum in violation of state law.

The Parish Council voted to appoint Judge, a staunch opponent of the library’s contentious Drag Queen Story Time event in 2018, in a 3-2 vote during the Feb. 9 meeting that saw Carlson, Guilbeau and Tabor align to create majority support despite more than 20 people contacting the council in opposition to his appointment.

Judge’s appointment came at a tense time for the library board after it rejected a grant for a voting rights education program as too one sided, prompting the sudden retirement of Library Director Teresa Elberson in January.

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