The mayor says he is innocent of a felony charge and two misdemeanors in a bizarre traffic stop in August when his son was driving in Independence.
The vote to ask Ragusa to take a leave failed:
A motion by council member Calvin Batiste to amend the proposal to ask Ragusa to resign failed.
Neither Mayor Ragusa nor town counsel Le’Anne Malnar were present.
Malnar is an assistant district attorney in DA Scott Perrilloux’s office. The DA must decide how to proceed with the incident report and criminal report of the Independence Police Department and later arrest by Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s deputy Thursday, Sept. 27.
Burnell Alessi: “It’s disgraceful to ask the mayor to resign when they [the board] have no personal knowledge of what happened. You weren’t there. You don’t know what happened.” Alessi said that a council member who called for Ragusa’s resignation, Calvin Batiste, wanted to be mayor himself. Alessi said one of the officers involved with the mayor incident had been dismissed in other police departments, including Tickfaw.
Calvin Batiste: “I have no aspirations to run for mayor. An ordinary man under these circumstances cannot function under these issues,” he said, urging the resignation. “We don’t need every council meeting to become a circus…When we get a report of an audit, there will be issues. Either he’s going to be mayor or he’s not. The town is best served if the mayor resigns,” said Batiste before the votes.
Angelo Mannino: “We can put in there a leave of absence without pay.”
Jimmy Gregory: “Last time I checked, a man is innocent until proven guilty. If it’s attention you wanted, you got it. Three TV stations. And it’s going on the Internet. We should have let this die. We’re driving a wedge between us. If you [council members] feel the mayor will inhibit this town, maybe you should not be in this place. We can call our own meetings. We can set our own agenda. We don’t need a mayor. We have no attorney. Your layer of protection is gone. You can have personal recourse. I will have no part of this resolution.”
The standing-room only audience burst into applause.
Michael Muscarella: “We’ve got internal issues on the board and with the mayor. We’ve got a lack of communication. We were sworn in to take an oath for the public…to do the right thing. We can work this out.”
Dale Brouillete is a former council member who replaced Louis “Nick” Joseph for a few months earlier this year. He asked the council a number of questions:
--”Are you going to foot the legal bill?”
--”If ya’ll met in any kind of meeting before the meeting, you are in violation of the open meetings law.”
--”Are you going to step down and resign?”
Pat Morris, Tangipahoa Chapter of the NAACP: “He’s a mayor of all the people. Check your facts. I have. Think about 9 million people watching this news. Would you as a business person want to come here after seeing this?” She asked Police Chief Frank Edwards III and IFD Chief Dennis Crocker: “Work it out with the mayor for the benefit of the people.”
Jimmy West: Mayor Ragusa “is doing the best he can with what he’s got. Don’t throw him under the bus. Let this thing die. Take it to court. I have known this man for 50 years.”
Larry Holland said this about Mayor Ragusa: “This man is no good for the town of Independence. I’m not saying he’s not a good man. He’s not a leader.” Holland said he has operated three businesses in Independence and got no help from the mayor over the past 18 years.