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Alexandria City Council votes to suspend investigation into Hall administration, will instead turn it over to DA’s office

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 3:56 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 8:39 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Alexandria City Council has voted to suspend its investigation into Mayor Jeff Hall’s administration’s handling of information on the Alexandria Police Department.

This comes after two lawsuits were filed against City Council President Catherine Davidson by officials with the City of Alexandria - including Mayor Hall and Chief of Police Ronney Howard, who are listed as plaintiffs. One of the two lawsuits also includes three other council members who voted for the investigation alongside Davidson.

Thursday night’s meeting was the third special meeting concerning APD information originally subpoenaed by Davidson on April 26. She’s asked for documents relating to personnel rosters and patrol assignment sheets but has yet to receive that information as Mayor Hall did not show up for the first two special meetings. The mayor was present for the third meeting, a week after the council voted to investigate the Mayor Hall’s administration - an investigation the mayor at first shared he would cooperate with.

The meeting started with Davidson reading the list of APD documents previously subpoenaed by her. With each item, Mayor Hall’s legal team said that because of the pending litigation filed by the city a day before the meeting, they could not comment on the specific APD documents.

Steve Oxenhandler, one of the lawyers representing Mayor Hall, shared first that the issues before them were as a result of “Ms. Davidson’s own personal agenda” adding that the council’s investigation was a “farce.”

Joshua J. Dara, Jr., another lawyer on the mayor’s legal team, brought up issues the legal team had with the council’s investigation as it deals with the charter, specifically Sec. 2-08, which reads:

“The city council may make investigations into the affairs of the city and the conduct of any City department, office or agency and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence. Any person who fails or refuses to obey any lawful order of the council shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in such manner as the council shall fix by ordinance.”

Mayor Hall’s legal team shared its belief that the “mayor’s office is not a department included in that section of the charter” and can therefore not be investigated by the council. The claim was that if the council wants an investigation, it should be handed over to Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell’s office.

The council ended up doing just that, voting unanimously to suspend their own investigation and turning it over to the DA’s office. Councilman Lee Rubin offered up the motion, with Davidson, Chuck Fowler, Cynthia Perry, Gerber Porter, and Jim Villard voting in favor. Councilman Reddex Washington was absent.

After the meeting, Mayor Hall claimed again that he is open to working with the council.

“We are always willing to discuss things and try to solve problems before they get public and get in an area where things can be misconstrued,” said Mayor Hall.

Davidson said that she will send a letter to the DA’s office immediately to officially request its involvement.

“We are asking for information that citizens want, not what the administration wants to give,” said Davidson. “We need a plan. We need some leadership.”

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