Two Civil Service board members’ appointments called into question

"This same board votes to place her on some type of administrative leave and the question now is was the board properly constituted when it made that decision?”

The qualifications of two members who currently serve on the Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board (MFPCSB) are being called into question.

That’s according to Louisiana law, something brought up in a letter from attorney Jill Craft to the MFPCSB attorney.

Craft is representing the MFPCSB board secretary Penny Stobaugh. At the board’s last meeting on May 24, 2022, the MFPCSB voted to place long-time board secretary, Stobaugh, on administrative leave with pay. The record is unclear exactly why the board took the action. She remains in limbo at this time until the board takes further action to either discipline, terminate or reinstate her. It’s why she now has Craft representing her.

Full board with five members, board attorney & secretary

“My client’s integrity is being called into question particularly after she asked for FMLA. She served this parish for years, has had an impeccable career & suddenly when she needs to take FMLA, it’s called into question?” said Craft. “At the same time, there are issues with at least two members and there are questions about their qualifications to be appointed to this board. This same board votes to place her on some type of administrative leave and the question now is was the board properly constituted when it made that decision?”

In the letter to the board attorney, Craft said, “…we believe Mr. Williams and Ms. Lewis are not qualified to serve on the Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board.”

Craft points to a specific Louisiana law, R.S. 33:2476. It’s a law that outlines how the MFPCSB is to run, appoint its members any other duties & limitations for the board.

Law on Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board

The law clearly states if someone works in “public employment,” they cannot sit on the MFPCSB. Because both Southern University and LSU are state universities, both are deemed public employment. Sharon Lewis worked at LSU at the time of her appointment on Feb. 26, 2020 to the MFPCSB. She no longer works at LSU, but did at the time as the LSU Assistant Athletic Director. According to Louisiana law, that means Lewis may not qualify for appointment to the board.  

“At the time she was appointed, she held a position in public employment, which means she was quite possibly not qualified to be appointed in the first place,” said Craft.

Unfiltered with Kiran did attempt to reach out to Lewis, but her phone number has changed.

Earlier this week, the Baton Rouge Union of Police called for current MFPCSB chairman Brandon Williams’ resignation alleging he had been arrested for a felony and had several legal encounters with local law enforcement dating back to 1994.

READ NOW: POLICE UNION ASKING BOARD CHAIR TO RESIGN AFTER HIS ARREST

Now though, it appears Williams’ appointment may also be in question. The same law says a person cannot serve on the MFPCSB if they hold a “public office.”

You may ask what constitutes a “public office?” Louisiana law defines public office as “any state, district, parish or municipal office” or any “board or commission” that is established & governed by Louisiana law.

Law on Public Office

Williams currently sits on two different boards. In 2017, EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome appointed Brandon Williams to the EBR Parish Board of Appeal. Plus, as of Feb. 9, 2022, Williams also serves on the Louisiana Housing Corporation Board of Directors, a board that is governed by Louisiana laws, thus making it a “public office.”

Unfiltered with Kiran reached out to Williams earlier in the week in regards to the police union letter. He said “no comment,” and added his attorney Steve Moore would comment on his behalf.

Unfiltered with Kiran did reach out to Moore. He was not available at the time of this article.

Unfiltered with Kiran also reached out to Mayor Broome’s office seeking comment on the report. As of this report, no one from her office has responded.

About Kiran Chawla 578 Articles
I'm an Emmy & Murrow Award winning investigative reporter who simply loves my job!

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