a resignation…

…that has rocked Jefferson Parish. Aaron Broussard has quit his elected position as president of Jefferson Parish.

C brought me back down to earth this evening as I watched everything unfold on the 6:00 news. I was happy to hear Broussard was out of there, but saddened that this had to happen in the first place. Listening to the staccato delivery by Bert Smith CAO of what’s next, and seeing the terror in his eyes means everyone in Elmwood and Gretna are scrambling from the federal pressure. And Bill Hubbard must be singing like a canary getting deferral after deferral for his future sentencing.

I tell you what, I wouldn’t want to be in Jose Gonzales’ shoes right now. Elevated to CEO yesterday, and Parish President today and nary a special election in sight until October.

Good riddance to politics as usual in da parish.

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard resigns
By Times-Picayune Staff
January 08, 2010, 11:04AM
Jefferson Parish President Aaron BroussardUnder scrutiny and criticism of business dealings of his former top executive and his own interests, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard announced his resignation this morning.

Parish officials said Broussard’s resignation takes effect today at 6 p.m. At that time, Jose Gonzalez, who yesterday was elevated to the chief administrative officer’s post under Broussard, will become acting parish president. Gonzalez had previously been head of the parish’s Public Works Department.

Parish administrators said Broussard showed up for work as normal this morning, but left the Joseph S. Yenni Building in Elmwood around 9:30 a.m. Around 45 minutes later he held a telephone conference call with his top administrators and told them he was resigning.

The administrators said Broussard was his normal, jovial self early today before leaving the building.

“He sounded good . . . like the typical Aaron Broussard. He hugged me as he usually does and was making jokes,” Gonzalez said.

Bert Smith, another one of Broussard’s top administrators, said Broussard “told us he is not the target of any investigation.

“He’s resigning on his own terms for the good of the parish and the administration,” Smith said.

Under the parish’s charter, Gonzalez will be acting president until the Parish Council chooses an interim parish president, possibly next week. The council has 30 days to appoint an interim president.Gonzalez expressed surprise at being thrust into the role of parish president.

“I was just appointed CAO yesterday and all of sudden I’m going to be acting parish president for a few days,” he said. “It came as surprise, but I can do it.”

Broussard’s resignation comes as several members of his staff were set to appear before a federal grand jury in New Orleans this morning in the wake of a criminal investigation into former Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer’s personal business dealings with parish contractors.

Councilman John Young said that under the Parish Charter, the council has 30 days both to name an interim parish president and to set a special election to fill out Broussard’s term, which expires in January, 2012. Whoever is appointed interim parish president cannot run in the special election, which will be held Oct. 2, officials said.

Reaction to the news included surprise from even close friends and associates of Broussard.

“I’m very surprised to see him resign,” said Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse, who taught Broussard years ago at Kenner Junior High School. “Very seldom have I seen him run from a fight.

Lagasse said that while he’s disappointed that his longtime friend and colleague will resign, his departure “will allow us to regroupand restore public faith in government. This has been like a little black cloudn hanging over our heads.”

Parish Council Chairman John Young said Broussard called him Friday afternoon to tell him about his resignation.

“He sounded upbeat. He sounded at peace with himself,” Young said. “He said he prayed on it and decided it was the best decision from himself and for the parish.”

Charlotte Burnell, who served as Broussard’s chief administrative officer for much of his 8 years as mayor of Kenner, said Thursday she saw Broussard just a few days ago. “I am as surprised as anyone else,” she said.

But Burnell said it wasn’t unusual for Broussard to make a difficult decision quickly and decisively.

“The decision, I’m sure, was based on what he thinks is best for the parish.”

Broussard’s top lieutenants and some Parish Council members were gathering at the Yenni Building in Elmwood and an official announcement was expected later in the day.

~ by maringouin on Friday, January 8, 2010.

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