Has St. Martin Parish President Cedars gone from chasing the gnat (Broussard) to being the gnat in battle with Lafayette Consolidated Government over spoil bank removals?

St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars, at a specially-called meeting of the St. Martin Parish Council of Tuesday, March 15, 2022, lambasted Lafayette Consolidated Government and its Parish President, Josh Guillory, for what he deems to be improper removal of spoil banks along the Vermillion River which he contends elevates flood risks for some residents of his parish.

In our March 14, 2022 feature entailing St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars going for the jugular entailing Billy Broussard, we pointed out that, the next evening (Tuesday, March 15, 2022) we’d be present to videotape a Special Meeting of the St. Martin Parish Government (SMPG) because Cedars was said to be highly upset at the removal of spoil banks along the Vermillion River by Lafayette Consolidated Government (with particular anger directed at Lafayette Parish President Josh Guillory).

We were certainly there and filmed Cedars’ performance, and so too were many other media outlets both of local TV stations and newspapers.  Let’s take just 2 1/2 minutes to view KATC’s (Channel 3 in Lafayette) Taylor Toole’s coverage of the meeting:

KATC’s Taylor Toole covers the SMPG special meeting of 3/15/22 and the controversy over spoil bank removals.

One of the major advantages we have in running a video blog is that we are not confined to small news segments and sound bites to cover the material upon which we report.  To that end, and especially since SMPG President Cedars seemed to go out of his way to frequently stare straight into our camera seeking detailed coverage of this controversy, we are about to present his entire presentation to the SMPG Council.

We want to preface that presentation by stating that we’ve previously stated that Cedars gave a crusade-like revival presentation in attacking Billy Broussard on August 3, 2021.  Well, in that instance, Broussard constituted the gnat and, as we indicated back then, we firmly believed that Cedars never remotely anticipated Broussard had retained legal counsel to go up against Cedars (much less the same attorneys who defeated Cedars entailing Champagne Boat Tours).  Hence, Cedars likely held the belief that he could simply take one good swat at that gnat (Broussard), and that would be the end of that.  He has since learned that was most certainly not to be the case.

So, if trying to swat the “gnat” (Broussard) with the likely belief that “gnat” had no legal counsel got Cedars to give a revival-like sermon sitting down, imagine just how much more of a televangelist-like performance Cedars would conduct standing up to deliver his sermon commentary wherein he has actually become the “gnat” being chased after by LCG!

We really want to encourage every subscriber and casual visitor reading this feature to watch the following Cedars-televangelist-like performance, which we’re only too happy to provide from beginning to end (or as Cedars said above, from the “alpha to the omega”).

In the words of a televangelist based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who used to conduct crusades all over the world, you’re about to witness an, “old-fashioned, heart-felt, red-hot, true-blue, devil-chasing, sin-killing, indoor camp meeting service,” on the following video:

3/15/22:  SMPG President Chester Cedars goes into full-blown televangelist mode in a fire-and-brimstone lambasting of LCG and its leadership over what he alleges was the improper removal of spoil banks along the Vermillion River.

Now, for those who took the time to view the above video, we want to say one thing:  engaging in a meeting such as the above is something SMPG President Cedars excels at.  The reason why that is the case is simple!  Just like when a charismatic televangelist delivers his or her message to the congregation, the camera has absolutely no ability to talk back or counter what is being said!  Throw in the fact that the congregation audience members are prone to clap, cheer, and reinforce his fire-and-brimstone deliverance style, and we have all the ingredients for an old-fashioned revival camp meeting service such as that depicted above!

What we openly wonder, however, is if Cedars would fare as well when placed under oath and placed in an environment where the forum rules change a little (okay, maybe more than a little).  We mean a courtroom setting wherein objections may be made and where cross examination of Cedars takes place.

Why do we wonder this?  Well, in the previously-linked “Billy Broussard jugular feature” above (wherein Cedars failed to force a Permanent Injunction court hearing on March 22, 2022 and which will instead transpire on May 3, 2022), we indicated that we were not going to divulge the reason that Broussard’s prior legal counsel, Michael Adley of the Gibson Law firm, chose to pull the plug on representing Broussard on February 16, 2022.  In recently speaking with Broussard, however, he indicated that he wants Adley’s stated reason for abandoning him to be made public.

With that being the case, Adley pulled the plug soon after Broussard sent Adley an email indicating that he (Broussard) wanted Cedars deposed.  That, however, was not the breaking point.  Broussard added (actually was emphatic), that Cedars’ deposition be videotaped and be published for the world to have the ability to see.  Broussard also added that he had been and was continuing to outline questions that he wants posed to and answered by Cedars under oath and videotaped.

While Broussard did commit a grievous error in copying SMPG opposing counsel Lee Durio on the email, we openly wonder just how bad of a “goof” that was on Broussard’s part given that Durio would have to be forewarned of any intent to videotape a deposition anyway.  At any rate, Adley justified his withdrawal as Broussard’s counsel (with all approximate $32,000 in legal fees paid with not a dime owed and with Adley actually having to refund about $4,000 in unused legal retainer funds) as a result of that single act of Broussard copying opposing counsel on that email.

What we infer from Adley’s (in our opinion) overreaction is that he and his firm didn’t like Cedars being forced to be videotaped for a deposition in the Broussard litigation.  It’s literally that simple.

Well, from our vantage point, one cannot have his cake and eat it too.  Cedars is masterful at exploiting a video camera to his benefit as made abundantly clear by the video clip above.  We have no issue whatsoever with Cedars doing so, and we even commend Cedars and his masterful ability to deliver a sermon as illustrated by the above video.  We’ll also note the fact that the video is ONLY able to be viewed by the general public as a result of OUR efforts.  Notice the media report shown above contained not a single word of Cedars’ sermon commentary to his congregation the Council or audience members!  Not one word!

Cedars is more than welcome to use the above video in any future re-election effort or any other elective office (e.g. State Senate) which he may opt to pursue.  It’s our pleasure to provide him with that tool, and we told several observes outside the meeting once it concluded that Cedars’ performance likely all-but-sealed his re-election should he desire to pursue same.

What we DO have an issue with is an individual demonstrating such profound ability to exploit a camera then turning right around and being camera-shy once a few ground rules change (i.e. objections, cross examination, etc.).  If anybody hasn’t guessed at this point, we are STRONG advocates of recent efforts by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) to get cameras in Louisiana courtrooms!  It should have been done decades ago!

So, in a nutshell, we believe that Adley and his firm’s withdrawal over Broussard’s insistence of a camera to videotape Cedars was a gross over-reaction EVEN WHEN taking into account Broussard’s grievous unintentional error of copying Durio on the above-referenced email.

We’ll emphasize that we’re speaking only for Sound Off Louisiana in making that statement, and we are fully cognizant that many attorneys who subscribe to this blog and follow it religiously are quite likely to disagree with our stand in that regard (or even on cameras in the courtroom in general for that matter).

At any rate, as we read through the transcript of SMPG v. Bryan Champagne, we noted that Cedars isn’t nearly as effective on the witness stand when the “game rules” change from his much-preferred televangelism mode (as depicted on the video above).  Let’s examine just a few excerpts from the transcript at this time:

<Cedars speaking>

Mr. Champagne’ s operation and, quite frankly, then and now, his illegal operation of commercial enterprise in Lake Martin would have commenced late 2015, early 2016 .

Perhaps when LSP Trooper Scott Lopez, who repeatedly, without any foundation whatsoever, at the January 6, 2022 SMPG Planning and Zoning meeting, referenced Broussard as acting “illegally,” he was merely taking a cue from Cedars’ transcript!

Now, to be fair, Greg Logan, an attorney representing Champagne Boat Tours, did challenge Cedars on his repeated references to Cedars making such claims in court entailing Bryan Champagne acting illegally, but Logan sure did seem to treat Cedars with kid glove in our opinion as Cedars sought to clarify such references.  Let’s take a peek:


Q . How many times did you use the word illegal today in your testimony?

A.  I used the word from a strictly legal perspective, meaning a violation of the zoning ordinance, not any criminality. Mr . Logan, you and I have had discussions on that, and I think that we work pretty well together .

Q . Oh, I work great with you .

A. And you knew full well that my view was to judicially resolve this issue .

Q . Correct .

A.  And to do so expeditiously.

Q. Correct . Thank you, Mr . Cedars .

I think any objective person would conclude Logan went “light” to say the least on Cedars, no?  Now, let’s move on to another interesting segment:

<SMPG Attorney Allan “Sprinky” Durand posing question>:

Q.  At some point in 2016 you authored a cease and desist letter on behalf of St . Martin Parish Government to Mr . Champagne which we have in the record as Exhibit #6 . Is that correct?

A.  If you say so. I have not seen that cease and desist letter, but I did issue a letter for Mr. Champagne to cease conducting all operations on Lake Martin. . . .

Wow!  “If you say so.”  What a sharp contrast from the fire-and-brimstone televangelist approach of shouting that you did various acts and took great pride in doing so!  We have Cedars recorded on video insisting that Durio issue a cease and desist letter to Broussard (even if Durio did get awfully confused on the exact date that letter was issued but we have cleared that date up for him), so there better not be any “if you say so” if Cedars is questioned when deposed or questioned in court.  That’s the advantage of video cameras!  Cedars point-blank stated that it was him who ordered Durio to send the cease and desist letter.

Now for another little segment:

<Champagne attorney Adley posing questions>:

Q.  Before the issuance of these two subsequent permits, the April 22, 2013 permits, a member of the Friends of Lake Martin had complained to the St. Martin Parish Government that they believed Mr. Champagne was in violation of the zoning.

A.  I do not know that to be a fact.

Q.  Mr. Cedars, I have St . Martin Parish Government’ s Answers to our Interrogatories.

A.  Counsel, I understand you’ re asking what I know, and I do not know of anybody complaining in the time frame you have mentioned to St . Martin Parish Government . I was the attorney at that point in time, and no, I wouldn’ t have been privy to that information unless it would have been shared to me by someone with St . Martin Parish Government . As I said here today, I have no knowledge that within the particular time frame you have cited whether anyone complained to St . Martin Parish Government . Now if the previous administration had received some complaints, you need to ask him. I can’ t answer for them.

Q.  Mr. Cedars, you are here testifying as a representative of St . Martin Parish Government; is that correct?

A.  That is correct . But you’ re asking me if anyone complained. I have no knowledge, personal knowledge of anyone having complained in that time frame .

Q.  Mr . Cedars, if you can, look at the Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents? If you flip to the Request for Production, that attachments –.  If you flip to the attachments, the second letter, and I ‘ ll give you a moment to read that.  I ‘m referring to a letter written by Connie Castille.

A.  Written by who, sir?

Q.  Connie Castille .


Your Honor, I ‘m not immediately seeing the relevance of a complaint somebody made to —

<The Court>

Overruled . He’ s on cross .

We want to point out the interesting fact that Adley references Interrogatories (they’re what attorneys like to refer to as the “cheap discovery stuff” vs. the expensive discovery efforts of depositions).  We were utterly stunned to find out that it was not until Broussard became “interim coach” of his own legal team did HE end up serving SMPG with this First Set of Interrogatories and this First Set of Requests for Admissions of Fact as well as this Request for Production of Documents.  Broussard just may be saying to himself, “If you want to get something done, you often end up just having to do it yourself!”

At any rate, like we said, it’s not nearly so easy when the game rules change, no?  Let’s take a look at what we deem to be a very important response by Cedars once he is forced to address the letter referenced above, which accused Champagne of zoning violations (which Cedars stressed he’d not seen the letter nor did it influence his decision entailing Champagne):

And I think I speak for the entirety of St . Martin Parish
Government. If I embraced and adopted every complaint I received from every constituency in this parish, I would be a pretty busy guy, busier than I am now . I ‘m not trying to be flippant nor evasive . I just don’ t understand the position articulated or Ms . Castille’ s relevancy to my testimony in this litigation . But that’ s for the Judge and you lawyers to figure out .

Yep, very different attitude and nature of responses once the game rules change from televangelist no-argument-from-the-camera mode vs. a courtroom (or deposition) setting, huh?  We believe more true words have never been spoken than Cedars’ first sentence above, however, based on the simple fact that, as we’ve stated before, the SMPG Council appears to us to have no independent thought ability whatsoever and merely marches to Cedars’ direct command orders (much like many congregations are fiercely loyal to their pastors).  As we’ve said before, we have no idea why they are even there!

We could further dissect Cedars’ performance on the witness stand, but we’ll let others who are so inclined draw their own conclusions in reviewing the previously-linked court transcript.

We want to conclude this feature with three quick observations on Cedars and the SMPG in general.

First, there’s nobody any better at whipping the crowd (or mob as has been referred to entailing Broussard opponents) into a frenzy than Chester Cedars!  He gets the Gold Medal in that category, and any finalist who is awarded the Silver Medal is way, way behind Cedars.  In fact, one such member of Cedars’ congregation (or “mob” as was claimed to be the case entailing Broussard) was so proud to be Cedars’ “mob boss,” that she showed up at the March 2, 2022 SMPG Council meeting with a special T-shirt on display letting everyone know that she is Cedars’ “mob boss” presumably for carrying out his marching orders in stirring up the “mob.”  Here’s the display:

Mendi Girouard proudly wears her self-appointed title of “mob boss” at the March 2, 2022 SMPG Council meeting in opposing Broussard’s farming operations where it concerns hauling in vegetive materials.

Of course, subscribers will recall that Girouard proudly assisted Cedars in stirring up the “mob” in making Facebook posts such as the following:

Now, Girouard handed the Council Members a petition that has a VERY, VERY interesting scratch out and handwritten change.  Let’s focus in on that little alteration, shall we?:

WOW!!  So someone scratched through the words “waste disposal” and replaced those words with “hauling any debris.”  Only Girouard can answer the question of when that DRASTIC alteration was made, but we’d bet money it was made AFTER all the signatures were obtained!  Heck, upon seeing it, Broussard said, “I would have signed such a petition with its original wording!”

Our second observation is that, given Cedars’ extensive focus on drainage, we find it more than a little ironic that SMPG Attorney Allan “Sprinky” Durand literally shut Broussard down at the January 6, 2022 Planning and Zoning meeting as he tried to explain all the drainage improvements Broussard has made to the property (which was previously an overgrown-with-brush-and-weeds disaster used extensively for makeshift tents where vagrants dealt drugs extensively).  Once Durand noted that the “mob” had no issue with Broussard’s drainage improvements (nor his improvement of the property for that matter), he said, “That’s not a problem.”

Let’s take a look, shall we?:

1/6/22 SMPG Planning and Zoning meeting:  Broussard attempts to explain the drainage improvements he’s made to his property, only to be shut down by SMPG attorney Allan “Sprinky” Durand who proclaimed drainage “not to be a problem.”

We can only assume that drainage is a bigger issue for Cedars when it’s convenient for it to be a major sermon-delivering message!

Our third observation is that Cedars goes out of his way in the above fire-and-brimstone sermon commentary to openly state that, while the other parish “neighbors” remain “trustworthy,” he openly questions if Lafayette Parish officials can, “ever be trusted again.”

Our only commentary is that, having seen first-hand with a front-row seat Cedars’ so called “compromise process” which he resorted to (in our opinion) only when he saw he was going to get his head handed to him on a platter in open court on September 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. entailing Broussard, we wouldn’t trust Cedars under ANY scenario to be above-board and negotiate in good faith!  It is literally that simple!

Given that some of the same attorneys who represent LCG were deeply involved in the Broussard matter (and thus had the same front-row seat that we did), perhaps they made the same conclusion as we have made and decided to just adhere to the Nike (which reports quarterly earnings tomorrow, Monday, March 21, 2022) slogan to, “Just do it!”

At any rate, a legal battle with LCG is going to get very expensive very fast, and one would have thought that a few SMPG Council members would have at least asked, “President Cedars, can you give us any ballpark range of how much litigation costs we may be looking at if we pursue this matter in court?”

Instead, they just led full-fledged cheers for their Pastor President and have apparently given him a blank check.  Perhaps that’s why so many attorneys and other concerned citizens of St. Martin Parish asked that we create a webpage devoted to St. Martin Parish legal fees.  Obviously, the amount of legal fees will soon skyrocket if Cedars goes forward with what SMPG Council Members have now authorized him to do without asking any pertinent questions entailing costs!

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