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St. Martinville City Council doubles down on move to abolish Asst. Police Chief job

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Appoints new member to the Fire and Police Civil Service Board

The City Council last week fortified its position against appointing another assistant police chief to replace Nary Smith, who was terminated in 2011 upon reaching age 65.
At the recommendation of city attorney Allan Durand, the council amended an earlier resolution asking the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board to abolish the position, The new version, passed with a unanimous second, includes the statement that the council has determined the assistant chief’s job is no longer necessary.
In a separate agenda item, the council appointed businessman and restaurateur Bob Sevasten to the Civil Service Board. Sevasten replaces Glenda Kately Sonnier as ULL’s recommended member.
The other members are Mike Formeller, chairman, the council’s appointed member, and Detective Sgt. Lance Laviolette, the department’s representative. (The Evangeline Fire Department, being mostly volunteer, is not covered by Civil Service.
Laviolette has been recommended for the assistant chief slot by Chief Paula Smith (no relation to Nary Smith).
In what its city attorney calls a “belt-and-suspenders” approach, the council has also voted to “defund” the assistant chief position.
Last week, Durand said he was recommending the call for abolishing the position be beefed up after receiving a letter from Robert S. Lawrence, chief examiner of the state Fire and Police Civil Service. Earlier responses from one of Lawrence’s assistants had not mentioned the need to declare the position unnecessary.
The council is ostensibly trying to protect the city from duplicating a relatively high-paying position should Nary Smith win his court fight to be reinstated with another assistant chief in place. However, the mayor and members of the council have been critical of the department over the years, and especially of Paula Smith’s stewardship.
The local Civil Service Board was stymied by Sonnier’s resignation in its attempt to address the council’s request to abolish the job.
Chairman Formeller said he wanted to find out if the council would be compelled to fill the assistant chief position should the board refuse to abolish it. An attempt to meet with state officials was put off pending the selection of Sonnier’s replacement.

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