Council ignores AG opinion on Home Rule Charter, fixes errors by ordinance

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to ignore Attorney General Jeff Landry’s opinion on the Home Rule Charter, that a revote is necessary.

This after errors were found in the amendment voters approved back in December. 
 
Tuesday night, council members shot down an effort to delay the vote by Councilman William Theriot.
Instead they passed an ordinance to fix the errors in the original charter amendment, meaning a revote would not be necessary.
 
This day and age, the public wants to see light on what we are doing, said State Senator Bob Hensgens, District 26.
 
Hensgens sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office Monday, questioning if the Home Rule Charter can be amended and revised by ordinance.
In his response letter, AG Landry says such changes cannot be made by ordinance.
 
It is an advisory opinion, it is not binding on you, and it doesn’t change my opinion based on what I’ve read, said Paul Escott, Lafayette City-Parish Attorney.
 
In the ordinance approved Tuesday, it will fix the district boundaries, a whole precinct being left out all together in the maps, & more.
 
However, some members of the council questioned the timeliness of the AG’s opinion.
 
The Attorney General gives an opinion when it’s requested from the Attorney General.
For him (Landry) to do something prior to that, makes me kind of wonder what’s up his sleeve, said Jay Castille, Lafayette City-Parish Councilman.
 
By getting an opinion out in 24 hours in the time it was requested.
If you all can’t see that, that would be the greatest banana in the tail pipe that I’ve ever seen, said Kenneth Boudreaux, Lafayette City-Parish Councilman.
 
Others nervous that without listening to the opinion by the AG, it could possibly bring a lawsuit.
 
With an AG opinion coming out saying we can’t do it, and our Legal Counsel saying we can do it, litigation is going to happen, said William Theriot, Lafayette City-Parish Councilman.
 
This is a step in the process that I think needed to happen.

The public needed to see that their elected officials are trying to work towards a solution. But unfortunately it’s far from over, said Joel Robideaux, Lafayette Mayor-President.
 
If a lawsuit does come, the courts could either agree with the council that the errors can be fixed by the ordinance they passed Tuesday, or a revote would be necessary.
 
Candidates qualifying for the city and parish council seats starts in August.
 
The Fix the Charter Pac responded to the AG’s opinion on Facebook saying:

In what might be the fastest turnaround in the history of the Louisiana Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Landry has already released an opinion that the typos in the Charter cannot be fixed by ordinance and that a new election must be called. We respectfully disagree.

It’s a short opinion; you can read it for yourself below. We wish the AG had taken the time to address the very lengthy, very detailed opinion written by LCG’s own attorneys. That would have been more helpful to everyone who wants to make sure we can have legal council elections this fall—that was the will of the voters.

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