Mary Tutwiler

Midnight litterer dumps on ex-official

by Mary Tutwiler

Johnny Romero must have been dreaming. A few weeks ago the New Iberia motel and trailer park magnate dumped about five dump truck loads of debris onto Jefferson Terrace, a boulevard that runs from Hwy. 90 to the town’s Main Street. At first, no one knew where the trash came from, but Romero fessed up . He first told the Daily Iberian that there wasn’t a “no dumping” sign, so he thought he was in the clear, then added that former Iberia Parish President Will Langlinias had previously told him to put trash on the side of the road and the parish would pick it up. “I didn’t think I was doing anything criminal,” Romero told the Iberian.

It gives one pause to think that anyone would think that egregious littering isn’t against the law, or expect that in the new era of state ethics, the parish would use public funds to pick up a private resident’s trash. Certainly not in the wake of Langlinais’ guilty plea last year to malfeasance in office, which resulted in his resignation. Using parish funds to help his friends was part of the package that got the investigation rolling against Langlinais. Could Romero have been having a Rip Van Winkle moment, thinking Langlinais was still in power and able to bail him out?

But even this logic flies in the face of another incident involving Romero dumping trash on a right-of-way and expecting it to be picked up by government. Several years ago, Romero was clearing a wooded tract within the city limits. He cut down piles of trees and brush and pushed the whole heap onto the verge of Main Street. It sat until the leaves browned and the city’s fire chief declared it a fire hazard. Romero refused to pick it up, declaring that Langlinais had told him he would take care of it. Langlinais responded by saying that he would have picked up a few dump trucks' worth of debris, but Romero had deposited about seven truckloads on the street’s shoulder. Evidently, even Langlinais has a tipping point.

Iberia Parish Public Works Director Kevin Hagerich told the Daily Iberian that no charges will be pressed and no fines will be issued. Seems a bit naive on Hagerich’s part, considering Romero’s penchant for littering. Then again, judging from Romero’s confused state, perhaps it’s best to treat him gently until he awakens from his delusion.