On Sunday, January 29th, KVPI News Director, Stephanie Ware, was provided with a letter signed by Resident, Arthur Sampson wherein he announced a Town Hall Meeting being held on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at the Northside Civic Center. In his letter he stated that representatives from the Mayor of Ville Platte, Chief of Ville Platte, Evangeline Parish Sheriff, Evangeline Parish District Attorney, Evangeline Parish Judges, Ville Platte City Judge, FBI, and the US Justice Department Lafayette Regional/US Justice Department Civil Rights Division Washington D.C. would be at the meeting.
After putting the meeting on the KVPI Community Calendar (as we do for all announced meetings), Stephanie Ware spoke with District Attorney, Trent Brignac, who asked if we had been in receipt of a letter about a meeting, he released the following statement:
On Sunday, February 5, 2017, the Ville Platte Gazette published a notification of a “Town Hall Meeting for Justice” which was to supposedly take place Thursday, February 9, 2017. The meeting was even the subject of the “Poll Question” for the upcoming week. KVPI also publicized this meeting.
The problem is that at least five (5) of the elected officials (and/or offices) named as attending the meeting had never been invited to the meeting and knew absolutely nothing about the meeting and in fact, were completely unaware that there was even talk of a meeting. These elected officials include myself (District Attorney, Trent Brignac), the two (2) District Judges, Judge Gary Ortego and Judge Chuck West, Ville Platte City Court Judge Gregory Vidrine and Sheriff Eddie Soileau.
How can any of us commit to a meeting that we are not aware of and have not been invited to attend?
More significantly, it concerns me that misleading the public about such a meeting could have a negative effect on the very issue the meeting is intended to address. For example, if members of the public attend based upon misinformation and public officials are not present because they have not been invited, what effect does this have on public trust and confidence and who’s fault is it?
Factually, inaccurate statements by the media in general (by no means only the Ville Platte Gazette and KVPI) do not help unite the community and its public officials. By no means does this suggest the announcement of the meeting was not well intended, we all make mistakes.
With the above said, it’s my sincere intention that we move forward into this new year with a positive attitude and a willingness to work together to communicate with each other for the benefit of everyone in Evangeline Parish.
KVPI News has also spoken with Mayor Jennifer Vidrine and she stated that she had “confirmed” with others that there was actually going to be a meeting. She informed the City Counsel, and told Mr. Sampson that judges could not attend the meeting. Vidrine denied confirming to Mr. Sampson that she had confirmed the attendance of the referenced entities. She said she spoke with District Attorney, Trent Brignac, just yesterday to inform him of the meeting. She also stated that she has not been able to reach the Sheriff to inform him and will be contacting Public Defender, Sonny Chapman. Vidrine said her calls were simply to inform these entities of the meeting.
KVPI News spoke with Arthur Sampson after the Press Release was received and he said “I may just cancel the darn meeting.” However, we have no confirmation of that happening at this time.