Many communities across the state of Louisiana have nicknames. Lake Charles has come to be called “The Chuck,” while New Iberia is referred to as “Da’ Berry.” Then more simplistically Youngsville is often referred to as “Y-ville” or maybe more appropriately “Why-ville?”
To many “Y-ville” is just a shortened version of Youngsville, but to others it has a deeper meaning. It also refers to a large demographic of the population of the City (people under the age of forty) who are often referred to as the Y/Why generation. Why? Because they ask a lot of questions. But are they asking enough questions? And maybe more importantly are they asking the right questions?
Politics is cyclical… and often cynical
Why did attention shift to Youngsville following the release of the police camera videos of the Kayla Reaux incident? The short answer is people were outraged over how political influence was inserted into an ordinary traffic collision. This caused people to take notice, start paying attention, asking questions and applying pressure to their elected officials. They wanted to know what was occurring, who was behind it, and what was going to be done about it? They demanded accountability.
What the public didn’t grasp was that at least one member of the council (other than Reaux) knew about the Reaux incident the morning after it occurred. He already had an ax to grind with Boudreaux and you can rest assured that it wasn’t long before the entire council and the Mayor were aware of the situation. Despite this THEY DID NOTHING!
This was not anything out of the ordinary. As Rickey Boudreaux himself proclaimed, each and every one of the Council had requested and received favors for themselves, their family, or their friends. That is why there was no special City Council meeting called in November, December, January or February to address the allegations surrounding the Reaux incident. So, when the video was publicly published in March of 2023 you can imagine the nonplussed reaction of the council and the Mayor. They certainly weren’t surprised as they already knew about the incident and the video being requested by media personnel. In fact, they already had four months to plan how to react once the video was released. Pressure was mounted on Reaux and Boudreaux to resign. Reaux quickly did, but Boudreaux inititally held out.
But the heat wasn’t dying down. So, in true political fashion, the remaining government officials needed another sacrifice to satisfy the masses. Boudreaux was the guy. Was he without blood on his hands? Absolutely not. Nor did he claim to be. But Boudreaux was the chosen fall guy. It was just a matter of how long he would resist.
Bow out with a smile!
Many believed Boudreaux had worn out his welcome. It had less to do with the Kayla Reaux incident and more to do with the danger he posed to the establishment. That scenario is not much different than with his predecessor, Earl Menard. Elected officials tend to get more comfortable, more controlling, and more power hungry the longer they stay in office. Boudreaux was no different. He had ticked some people off, but likely helped a whole lot more. In the end it was the people who he helped that turned on him. Why? Well, just maybe they feared the favors that they had received would be exposed.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun,” are the words of Solomon recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes (1:9). Caesar met his fate at the hands of Roman Senators who feared his power. For Boudreaux, it was the Council and the Mayor. The twenty-three stab wounds not only mortally wounded Caesar, but created a power vacuum that ignited brutal fighting that eventually destroyed the Roman Republic. That vacuum exists now in Youngsville.
Sheriff Garber moved swiftly to “offer his assistance.” If he couldn’t take over policing in the City of Youngsville he would push for the next best thing: to have one of his people installed. Meanwhile the Council, who claimed they were not allowed to interfere or influence the day to day operation of the Police Department, were pleased to appoint a Chief they could hold sway over. Since that time, council members have been meeting regularly with members of the Youngsville Police Department.
The Answers are in the Questions…
Some people just won’t do the homework. But there are some fundamental questions people should be asking. Questions which won’t be directly answered here, but which everyone should think about. Who has the most to gain from Boudreaux being out of office? Or who had the most to lose if Boudreaux remained in office? Who is vying to fill the vacuum of power created by Boudreaux’s departure? Let all that sink in for a brief moment.
When Boudreaux spoke at the March 20, 2023, Special Council meeting, most people had already made up their minds. Confirmation bias was already in full swing. You can rest assured the Council were among them. We had all seen the videos from the Reaux vehicle collision aftermath. We witnessed the interactions between Boudreaux, Reaux, and the officers. Quite frankly it just didn’t sit well. Most people focused on Boudreaux and Reaux as the villains while overlooking the other players. Boudreaux made some interesting statements at that council meeting. Could Boudreaux back-up what he said? We sought to find out.
The responses from Boudreaux seemed to lend a lot of credence to what he had said. We received various text messages to Boudreaux from Councilmen Simone Champagne, Ken Stansbury, Lindy Bolgiano and Matt Romero. It was no longer accusations that Boudreaux hurled in anger, it was a documented fact that every member of the Council at the time had requested and received favors from Boudreaux! Upon learning of our acquiring the text messages one Councilman even lamented that Boudreaux had failed to provide any communication from Mayor Ken Ritter.
In response to a request for information related to “ticket fixing” being reported to the State Police or District Attorney we weren’t told that no documents existed. Instead, we were advised “I have not been provided with any documents responsive to this request, nor do I have any knowledge of any investigation performed with regards to an alleged ticket fixing scheme.” Quite a different response from the many other requests we were told remained unanswered due to a lack of cooperation from Boudreaux.
Now fast forward five months from when the original requests were sent. Boudreaux, the individual allegedly obstructing the requests, resigned from office effective August 21, 2023. Despite him being removed as the alleged obstacle to the outstanding requests, the requests remain unanswered to this day. Why?
There has been numerous follow-up e-mails and conversations regarding these and many other outstanding requests. However, the documents have not been produced. Well, perhaps Boudreaux wasn’t the one obstructing the information. So, who could it be? What specifically is contained in these documents that the City of Youngsville is concerned about releasing? Well, here are some of the outstanding requests for which responses have not been provided. We hope all the suspense is worth it!
- Any and all records of an internal investigation on an incident involving the ‘stealing of video evidence’ in which Shayna Bolgiano was involved or mentioned, as referenced by Chief Boudreaux during the March 30, 2023, special meeting of the City Council.
- Any and all documents pertaining to the ‘sunshine violation’ which allegedly occurred on or about March 28, 2023, as referenced by Chief Boudreaux during the March 30, 2023 special meeting of the City Council.
- The complete internal investigation file pertaining to the termination of former City of Youngsville Police employee Justin Ortis.
- Any and all legal bills received and expenses paid pertaining to the matter of Rickey Boudreaux, et al. vs. City of Youngsville, et al [15th JDC / Parish of Lafayette / Docket No. 2023-2326].
A legal demand for responses with regards to the April 26, 2023 public records requests was made, yet some items still remain unanswered. Again, why would responses to these simple requests be obstructed?
In June of 2023, we had also requested several traffic citations which council members had allegedly solicited Boudreaux to fix. Those requests have also gone unanswered for several months.
What we did learn is that a ledger recorded every time Boudreaux was solicited to ‘take care of’ a ticket. For the people on that ledger, the prosecutions would not move forward. Dozens of tickets were being fixed every month with approximately 50 tickets being fixed in March of 2023 alone. This was the same month the public started paying closer attention. From that point forward, the number of tickets fixed began tapering off with only three instances occurring in August of 2023, the month Boudreaux resigned.
We even learned of an incident in which Hunter Hargrave was stopped for a traffic incident in December of 2022. Many people in Youngsville know or suspect the relationship between Ritter and Hargrave. For those who are clueless, Hargrave himself made his relationship known to police during a traffic stop. Police video shows Hargrave exiting his vehicle, announcing himself to be “Ken’s (Ritter) boyfriend.” As the officer is writing the citation Hargrave can be overheard in a telephone conversation stating “Ken, you there?” When the officer issues the citation to Hargrave he remarks “I’m not worried about it. It will be taken care of this afternoon!” The officer then cautions Hargrave about public intimidation.
A helpless witness?
Of course that ticket was not prosecuted. Now think about that in the context of Mayor Ritter’s speech at the August 24, 2023, Special Council meeting where he remarked about ‘helplessly being witness to a litany of allegations,’ including ticket fixing! Really? The truth is the whole bunch was aware of ticket fixing and other issues within the City of Youngsville. They just chose to do nothing!
The politicians who illegally solicited Boudreaux to assist them with the cancellation of traffic citations were the same individuals pushing for the City Attorney to send a letter requesting the retraction of a story. As one self-righteous councilman stated: “I don’t like people continuing to think we do things illegally!” Wouldn’t it be better to just conduct yourself in a moral, ethical, and legal manner?
Although delayed, at least Boudreaux ultimately followed in the footsteps of Reaux and had the dignity to step down. Perhaps the remainder are playing the odds that the derelict and corrupt individuals operating within our criminal justice system won’t do anything. After all, Sheriff Garber’s office has been on notice of this kind of activity since they investigated Youngsville Police Officer Brian Baumgardner around June of 2021. Yet, they did nothing. When approached with the same information the Louisiana State Police and District Attorney’s Office (the same one presently under investigation by the FBI) chose not to do anything either.
Why-ville residents should ponder on a few questions. Such as:
- Why did the Council authorize an investigation into Chief Rickey Boudreaux beginning with his first term in office?
- Why did the original resolution call for an “internal” investigation?
- Why did Boudreaux resist the investigation of the Council?
- Why did the Council hire a law firm that specializes in Human Resources issues to conduct the investigation?
- Why hasn’t that investigation moved forward?
- Why did the City of Youngsville quickly dismiss their claims against the Youngsville Chief when a ruling of the Judge was imminent?
- Why has there still been no final judgement rendered by the court?
- Why has the City withheld records that would show the cost of the litigation?
- Why did Boudreaux ultimately resign?
- Why did the Council appoint an interim Chief of Police different from the Deputy Chief?
- Why haven’t the other elected officials taken responsibility for their role in the ticket fixing scheme?
- Why has the City withheld records pertaining to the investigation of Councilman Bolgiano’s wife and the termination of Justin Ortis?
You think officials in Youngsville would know by now that ignoring questions doesn’t make them go away. It just piques curiosity of those who already look upon their government with a wary eye.