Council members appear split on next parish attorney

    One day before the Metro Council is expected to discuss and vote on the next parish attorney, most council members say they’ve yet to decide on a candidate ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, though Andy Dotson and Greg Rome are the clear frontrunners.

    The Parish Attorney Selection Committee, which interviewed and scored five candidates for the position in July, gave its highest marks to Dotson and Rome, both of whom work in the parish attorney’s office. Dotson is the interim parish attorney and former city prosecutor, while Rome is director of risk management and litigation.

    Most council members, who oversee the parish attorney’s office, weren’t ready today to say how they would vote. Two council members, Chauna Banks and Tara Wicker, say they’re leaning toward Dotson, whom they feel comfortable within the parish attorney role. 

    But two other members are expressing concerns about Dotson getting the job full-time. Councilman Chandler Loupe is questioning a raise Dotson gave to a staff attorney shortly after being named interim parish attorney. Councilman Matt Watson’s issue, meanwhile, is what he says is Dotson’s unfair treatment of council members.

    Dotson did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

    “It’s either Greg or Andy. Those are the two we have to choose from,” Watson says. “I haven’t gotten the service that I think a council member should expect from Andy Dotson. Different council members get different levels of respect.”

    Loupe, who is friends with Rome, also says the parish attorney post is a full-time position that should not allow for side private practices, something the council pushed for when Mary Roper was removed from the job in 2014. Both Dotson and Rome have side practices that Loupe says they would have to relinquish if selected.

    Questions previously surfaced about Dotson having a primary residence in Katy, Texas, though he’s worked in Baton Rouge for years as city prosecutor. Dotson does own a home in Katy with his family, but they are in the process of moving back to Baton Rouge, says councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, who spoke to Dotson yesterday about his residence. 

    Several council members, including Banks and Wicker, said there is no residency requirement for the job so they never had concerns. 

    “People are pulling at straws,” says Banks, adding she believes Dotson excelled in the interviews for the selection committee. 

    Rome says he has no comment on the selection process but maintains he and Dotson have no animosity and doesn’t care where Dotson lives. 

    “We work together and I have access to him every single day,” Rome says. “I know where he was on Aug. 3—my father’s funeral.”

    Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson doesn’t care where any of the candidates live, saying “that’s the least of our worries.”

    “Personally I think our prior parish attorney (Lea Anne Batson) has more experience and institutional knowledge than all the candidates combined,” Wilson says. “Nobody wants to work for this council … We had a capable parish attorney. Now here we are.”

    The parish attorney post has been open since January when Batson abruptly resigned amid an effort to remove her from the job, led by Councilman LaMont Cole. He never gave a reason for the move and Batson stepped down before a removal hearing was held.  

     

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