Russell responds to letter from fellow jurors

by Malcolm Butler

As if there wasn’t enough heat surrounding the Lincoln Parish Police Jury over the last few months in regards to the on-going ambulance and rescue situation, the fire turned into an inferno Wednesday when a letter was sent out from jurors Logan Hunt, TJ Cranford, Matt Pullin and Glenn Scriber to fellow juror Skip Russell.

The letter reveals that Russell had a meeting with LPPJ Administrator Doug Postel last week where Russell asked Postel to resign his post due to some “red flag situations that came up several months back.”

Hunt, Cranford, Pullin and Scriber all showed support of Postel in the letter and questioned Russell’s decision to ask for the resignation. 

I could not be more disappointed with the situation at hand and with anyone involved in these efforts to quietly secure Doug’s resignation without presenting sufficient cause or evidence of wrongdoing,” said Hunt in a statement to the LPJ. “As stated in our letter, there are procedures in place to handle anything that might come up. The only way the jury can work effectively is when we are working together, in unity, with the same information. I will continue to stand up for the truth and what is right, and this simply isn’t right.”

When reached for comment on Wednesday night and for documentation of the alleged misdoings by Postel, Russell said he did not have documentation.

“I don’t have anything except conversations with a number of different people,” said Russell. “I’m going to call these individuals who shared with me information about things that have gone on and ask them to put it in writing. There’s nothing to hide.”

According to the letter sent by the four jurors to Russell as well as the rest of the LPPJ and Postel and shared with media outlets, Russell had told Postel in the meeting and Hunt in a phone conversation following the meeting that the allegations had been taken to the district attorney’s office by jurors and a conversation had followed.   

Russell said Wednesday night that he wasn’t involved in those meetings with the DA, but other jurors were.

“I do know the president (Richard Durrett) was involved,” said Russell. “And they went to talk to the DA. I do not know what the conversation was. I wasn’t part of it, but I know at least after that visit a number of jurors said we need to move forward, and so I was asked. I didn’t do any of the research work whatsoever. I was asked if I would talk to Doug and I did.

“That group that went to the DA asked some questions, (but) never provided any documentation as they said. (It) didn’t happen. This group visited with the DA, (and) we decided to move forward … that we had a majority of the jurors who wanted to make a change.”

The Lincoln Parish Journal called the District Attorney’s office Wednesday asking for verification that a member or members of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury met with the DA’s office and documentation was turned over to the DA’s office regarding Doug Postel’s job as policy jury administrator. 

First Assistant DA Laurie James responded. “We have not (received documentation). We haven’t received any documentation and no one from the police jury has discussed any complaints with John Belton.”

Another question that bears asking is why didn’t Durrett, who is the President of the LPPJ, meet with Postel instead of Russell? 

“I was confused why he was coming in because (Skip) is not the president, the vice president or the chairman of the personnel committee,” said Postel. “So I’m not sure exactly what he was doing here.”

“Because a group of jurors came to me and asked me if I would do it,” said Russell, who confirmed that Durrett was one of the jurors who asked him to talk to Postel. “I shouldn’t have, but I did. I did because I thought I could talk to him. But it hasn’t worked out very well. But that’s all I’ve done. I’m not involved in any research, any study – I haven’t done any.”

The LPJ reached out to Durrett Wednesday night for comment, leaving a voicemail. But as of press time had not heard back from him. 

In Hunt’s letter to Russell, he states that “this is not how the Lincoln Parish Police Jury should be handling its business, behind closed doors, with untruths and ultimatums.”

According to Postel, “everything that is in that letter as far as what Skip told me is accurate.”

Another issue with the meeting was the fact that according to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, an individual police juror has no statutory authority to “act, control, or have input in the everyday affairs of parish employees working in the scope and course of their official duties.” (LA Atty. Gen. Op. 90-212). When a jury has concerns about personnel matters, he should express the concerns to the entire police jury when convened as a body. The police jury, as a whole, can then discuss the employee’s actions. 

Thus, Russell nor Durrett nor anyone member of the LPPJ has the right as an individual to request Postel’s resignation.

Russell said he didn’t believe the letter was the correct way to handle the situation, especially making it public. 

“It is a poor way to handle business,” said Russell. 

 


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