In response to questions raised by critics, challenging Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s legal standing to sue the organizers of the St. George incorporation effort, Broome’s lawyer Mary Olive Pierson is laying out a detailed response as to why the mayor-president is legally authorized to contest the incorporation.
She’s also adding a new named plaintiff to the suit—Metro Council member Lamont Cole.
“The mayor is certainly an authorized and proper party plaintiff in the lawsuit to challenge the incorporation, for many reasons,” Pierson says. “We are adding a council member Lamont Cole as an additional plaintiff, hopefully to save some time and end the crazy talk that Mayor Broome is not a proper plaintiff.”
For his part, Cole says he decided to join the suit because he is worried about the impact incorporation would have on the rest of the parish.
“For me, it’s really simple,” he says. “I am very concerned the incorporation of roughly 86,000 people is going to have an adverse financial impact on the rest of us who still live in the city.”
Pierson filed suit Nov. 4 against St. George organizers Norman Browning and Chris Rials on behalf of Broome, in her capacity as mayor-president, attorney Lewis Unglesby, as a citizen living in the St. George area, and community activist M.E. Cormier, as a resident of Baton Rouge who would be adversely impacted by the incorporation.
In a story Thursday in his St. George Leader community newspaper, publisher and St. George advocate Woody Jenkins challenged the mayor’s standing to sue. He cited one passage in state law that says only an elected representative of a “governing authority” that would be adversely impacted by a municipal incorporation has standing to contest such an incorporation, and then another passage in state law that defines “governing authority” as the body that performs the “legislative function.”
The mayor-president is the executive, not the legislative body.
In her response today, Pierson lays out multiple specific passages in the law that she says gives the mayor standing to sue. Previously, she had alluded to those passages.
What’s more, she notes that La. R.S. 33:4, which lays out the grounds for contesting an incorporation, “is permissive (not prohibitive) and lists three classes of persons who ‘may’ file a legal action contesting an incorporation,” she says. “This means that there could be others who qualify as plaintiffs.”
Still, she says she added Cole to the list of plaintiffs to silence her critics, who she says are distracting from the main issue.
“They are wasting precious time editorializing about me and the mayor when they should be trying to develop the plan, with facts and figures, for how they will protect the people who have landed in their sights for a new town,” she says. “All of this criticism is not creating any evidence which they will certainly need.”