Parish Attorney signed contract in May, council didn’t know till September

An item is on the agenda to begin process to remove Parish Attorney Andy Dotson due to loss of confidence in his job.

A contract between a law firm and the East Baton Rouge city-parish appears to have been signed four months prior to any of the EBR council members knowing about it.

Several EBR council members have been vocal that they were misled by not only EBR Parish Attorney Andy Dotson, but also by other members of the parish attorney’s office and the mayor’s staff. The allegation now is Dotson signed a contract in May with a firm over the storm water drainage compliance, but the council members found out four months later.

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Beveridge & Diamond signed a contract on May 10, 2022 for services to begin on May 9, 2022.

The service was to represent city-parish against the Clean Water Act. To explain that, the EPA and DOJ said that city-parish was not in compliance when it came to waste water discharge into the local waterways, such as how much waste was being released into the Mississippi River. Beveridge & Diamond was hired to help get the city-parish in compliance with the federal agencies.

But, council members say they knew nothing about that contract until September 2022 when the firm required an additional $200,000 on top of the initial $50,000 contract.

The initial contract was between Parish Attorney Andy Dotson and Julius Redd with Beveridge & Diamond.

Parish attorney signs contract in May, council learned of it in Sept

The specifics of the contract included paying Julius Redd, Andrew Silton and Richard Davis $500 per hour and three associates (Erika Spanton, Kacie Couch & Ethan Pauling) $385 per hour. The maximum they could all ring up was $50,000.

The contract said if the firm were to exceed that amount and require more, it would have to go before the metro council for their approval, which is what happened four months later.

Per the contract, the firm agreed to provide an initial case assessment within sixty days of getting the case. Plus, they would provide a monthly status report of the case as well and anything else requested by the parish attorney’s office.

Questions are if the firm was required to provide updates, who did those updates go to? Plus, why were the updates not provided to the council members if the city-parish was out of compliance. Also, was Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome aware of the initial contract and receiving the updates from the firm?

Parish attorney signs contract in May, council learned of it in Sept

A clause of the contract said the city would have no obligation to pay the firm “until this contract has been approved by the Division of Purchasing and/or the Mayor-President and Metropolitan Council.”

Unfiltered with Kiran received the contract through a public records request.

A look at the contract shows a signature from the Director of Purchasing, Parish Attorney Andy Dotson and someone else from the Parish Attorney’s Office. The metro council members were not aware of the initial May contract so they didn’t sign off on it. If the mayor’s signature was not on it and the contract required either her or the council’s signature, was the May contract even valid? Or, was the mayor aware and purposely chose not to sign it directing the parish attorney’s office to sign?

After a heated executive session at the Sept. 21, 2022 metro council meeting, the council approved an additional $200,000 for the firm. This time, that part of the contract was signed by Mayor Broome.

Parish attorney signs contract in May, council learned of it in Sept

The firm was required to submit quarterly invoices for their work. That quarterly invoice went to the Asst. Parish Attorney Bob Abbott. The council is now in the process of questioning Abbott on what he knew or didn’t know about the storm water utility fee and the non-disclosure agreement.

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