New Council on Aging chair commits to greater transparency, accountability

    The new chairman of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging issued a statement today, promising residents the embattled agency will operate with transparency and accountability moving forward.

    Attorney Jennifer Moisant now is at the board’s helm, after having succeeded former chair Brandon Dumas, whose resignation from the board amid questions about his residency took effect last week. Moisant—a New Orleans native—is a family law and personal injury attorney for Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Belanger law firm.

    In her statement, Moisant acknowledges the recent turmoil surrounding the agency and vows that the COA  will deliver its services in a manner that earns the confidence of the community.

    “The people of East Baton Rouge deserve a Council on Aging that operates transparently and with accountability,” she writes. “Put simply, the people must feel confident that their money is delivering the utmost value to East Baton Rouge seniors.”

    In recent months, public officials and others have called for the resignation of COA director Tasha Clark-Amar, who was accused of strong-arming a now deceased COA client into making her the executor of the elderly woman’s estate.

    Most recently, state auditors issued a report concluding COA staff may have violated election laws in pursuit of the passage of a 2.25-mil property tax voters approved in November. Metro Council Dwight Hudson has proposed putting the tax back before voters, who would consider whether to rededicate the estimated $8 million a year the millage is expected to generate to “senior services” that could be provided by other agencies. A separate effort to gain greater control over the makeup of the COA board, however, faltered in the state Legislature.

    Moisant says the council has reviewed and revised policies, procedures, and practices to facilitate greater transparency and guarantee accountability from this point forward.

    “There is perhaps no obligation of civilized society that is more solemn than to provide appropriate care and concern for our seniors in need,” she says. “For over forty years, the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging has had the privilege of helping meet that joy-filled obligation. Our efforts have been imperfect. Mistakes have been made, and problems have obscured the council’s good work.” Read the full statement.

    —Alexandria Burris

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