Chris Paige pens letter to La. Ethics Board

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Claims fellow councilman has conflict of interest with Head Start and family operated daycare

By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Parish Council member Chris Paige believes Parish Council member Russell Rachal voted against ending Parish Government-sponsored Head Start because the program would compete with the daycare business operated by his Rachal’s wife and daughter. Paige outlined his claims to La. Ethics Board in a letter dated March 6. He asked the board to La Board to investigate whether Rachal voting to end Head Start would result in financial gain.

The letter reads, “This Councilman (Rachal) continuously wanted the Head Start Program not to be in existence in Natchitoches Parish. If other Councilmen would have known that he had a Day Care which is in competition with Head Start, which is an financial gain for his family, we would have never let him vote, concerning the process of voting toward the Head Start Grant renewal and Budget. It was after the fact, when this came to our knowledge concerning Mr. Russell Rachal and his involvement with a Day Care Center in Natchitoches Parish.

The letter continues, “This begins in September 17, 2018, the Natchitoches Parish Council discussed application for a new 5-year grant for the Natchitoches Parish Head Start Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start, and to procure such assistance as may be needed to prepare the application, which I voted yes to continue supporting a program that has been in this community for more than fifty (50) years. Councilman Rachal, stated, “Mr. Paige, can’t vote….because your wife works over there and that’s a financial gain…” Mr. Rachal was talking about working at the Head Start.

“On Nov. 19, 2018, the Parish Council discussed the same agenda item, from September, but at this time it was stated, “Council to consider approving Head Start 5 year Grant period. This I didn’t vote on, I found it very strange that Councilman Rachal, always was negative about Head Start and that the Parish should not be handling Head Start. Councilman Rachal voted no not to approve the Head Start Program for Natchitoches Parish which the Natchitoches Parish Government would be over. “Over a couple of months citizens began to call and talk and report that Mr. Rachal has been trying to hide the fact that his wife and daughter own and operate a childcare facility in Natchitoches Parish. In this very small and competitive market for children, this would be competition with the Head Start in this Parish. Council Rachal voted against Head Start so that the Parish would no longer have Head Start in Natchitoches Parish. “This is a clear violation of financial gain for Councilman Rachal and his family.”