Council could fill both P&Z vacancies tonight, not just one

Original agenda advertised filling 4-year unfinished term

Updated agenda opens door to filling either or both posts

Panel from council to recommend name(s) for vote

Updated August 12, 2021, at 8:30AM: Adds reference to council procedure on selection process adopted in 2020.

Updated August 12, 2021, at 10:26AM: Clarifies council procedure and process.

MANDEVILLE — The City Council could vote to fill both vacancies on the Planning & Zoning Commission at tonight’s meeting instead of just one, according to an updated meeting agenda released yesterday.

A vote to fill one of the vacancies was delayed at the July 22nd council meeting. A question was raised during that meeting over the availability of the list of applicants for public inspection as required by state law.

The Planning and Zoning Commission appointment provisions are outlined under the Comprehensive Land Use Regulations Ordinance (CLURO) Sec. 2.1.2: “All successive appointments to the Planning Commission (includes Zoning Commission) shall be appointed by a majority vote of the City Council. No person shall be appointed to the Planning Commission until a public hearing before the City Council attended by the nominee has been held.”

The point raised was, can the city hold a “public hearing” on an individual without publishing the name of that individual or individuals in advance. The Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 – R.S. 42:28) only states that meeting agenda items must be “described with reasonable specificity.”

Excerpt from Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 - R.S. 42:28)
Excerpt from Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 – R.S. 42:28)

The original agenda stated “Appointment of Commissioner to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a 4-year term.” The updated agenda, released yesterday (August 11th) at approximately 5:30 p.m., changed this item to read: “Appointment of Commissioner(s) to the Planning & Zoning Commission,” which opens the door to filling either or both vacancies.

RELATED STORY: Field of 9 applicants vie for 2 P&Z vacancies

This verbiage is the same that was used in previous years when P&Z appointments came before the council, but in those instances the complete resumes had been made available, a practice that had drawn criticism because it went beyond the scope of what the law requires, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 – R.S. 44:41) says only the names of the people who apply for such positions “with policymaking duties” along with “related qualifications, relevant employment history or experience” are public record, not necessarily their complete resumes.

Excerpt from Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 - R.S. 44:41)
Excerpt from Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 – R.S. 44:41)

Mandeville Daily filed a public records request with the city and received the redacted information in a timely manner.

The City Council updated its selection procedures in 2020 with the adoption of Resolution No. 20-17, which established a six-step process for making appointments to municipal or district boards and commissions, including the Planning & Zoning Commission. The procedure as adopted includes: 1) Announce at a council meeting the request for resumes; 2) Post the request for resumes on the city’s website and City Hall front door; 3) Publish the request for resumes in the city’s official journal of record (The St. Tammany Farmer); 4) Allow 14 days to receive resumes; 5) Review of the resumes by two members of the City Council (allow interviews by all council members) and then make a recommendation on one applicant (per vacancy); 6) Vote by the City Council to appoint “the candidate who received the recommendation.”

According to this procedure, the name of the person being recommended is known to at least two, if not all, of the council members at this point, and a public hearing will be held tonight on that recommendation before a vote. Presumably, the council could be voting on any of the nine applicants, whose names were released after a formal public records request was made to the city in late July.

Each Planning & Zoning Commission member serves seven-year terms, which are staggered by one year and expire August 31 of the expiration year. The applicant selected to fill Lahasky’s vacated seat will only serve to complete the remainder of his term which expires in 2025. The other applicant will start a new seven-year term, expiring in 2028. The applicants appointed to these two vacancies will join five other Planning & Zoning Commission members: Planning Chairwoman Karen Gautreaux (2027), Zoning Chairman Nixon Adams (2023), Simmie Fairley (2022), Mike Pierce (2024), and Brian Rhinehart (2026).

According to the original agenda, the council could only have voted to fill the unfinished term vacated by Lahasky. The updated agenda means the council could fill either vacancy or even both.

As of press time, the list — redacted or otherwise — was not available for download on the city’s website.

The City Council will have a field of nine applicants to consider when filling the vacant Planning & Zoning Commission seats at the tonight’s council meeting (August 12, 2021).

Five men and four women, representing each of the three city districts, have submitted their resumes for consideration to fill the slots being vacated by Ren Clark and Jeffrey Lahasky. Clark’s term expires in August and Lahasky moved outside city limits.

Here is a summary of the nine applicants, with their redacted resumes and cover letters available at the end of the story.

Michael R. Gagliardi, 73, District I

His resume says he has business management experience with a degree in economics and business marketing with food service management training. He is currently listed as the general manager of a local hardware store. His is listed as having a B.A. in economics and business marketing.

Christian H. Jones, 40, District I

His resume says he is an architectural designer and general contractor with over 20 years of experience, who owns his own design and construction firm. He is listed as having a Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Architecture with a minor in Urban Design.

Scott Kevin Quillin, 55, District I

His resume says he is an engineer, licensed commercial contractor, and project manager at a local company managing large construction projects in the energy industry. He is currently listed as project manager with a local engineering consultant firm. Served on the Planning & Zoning Commission one term from 2009-2016.

Cynthia Strong Thompson, 55, District I

Her resume says she is a financial advisor (member FINRA/SIPC, CRPC, and AAMS) and former surgical sales specialist who has been active with the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce and has served as board chair with several non-profits. She is listed as the managing director of her current firm. She is listed as having a B.A. in political science.

Elizabeth Barilleaux, 50, District II

Her resume says she is a licensed residential realtor and CCCIM candidate with B.S. in environmental engineering. She is currently employed with a local realty group.

Shawn C. Potter, 42, District II

His resume says he is an institutional research director with MBA and over twenty years experience with higher education institutions. He is currently listed as Director of Institutional Research with Tulane University.

M. Claire Durio, 54, District III

Her resume says she is a licensed attorney in the State of Louisiana and a state-licensed title agent with experience in land use, development, permitting, historic preservation. She is listed as a general partner in her current firm.

Andrea J. Fulton, 61, District III

Her resume says she has extensive experience in city government, community service, the public sector and non-profit and business settings, most notably with the City of New York, with a B.S. in HDSP/Human Resources and Industrial Psychology & Industrial Engineering.

Jeffrey R. Lyons Sr., 63, District III

His resume says he is a restaurant management and operations specialist with over 30 years experience with an emphasis on professional development. He is currently listed as the general manager of a New Orleans seafood restaurant. He is listed as having an associates degree in culinary arts and food service management. Lyons ran unsuccessfully for the District III council seat in 2016, being eliminated in a close primary.

Download the applicants’ redacted resumes and cover letters here.


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