CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - New details are being uncovered involving the investigation into alleged unprofessional behavior by Caddo Parish Director of Animal Services and Mosquito Control Everett Harris.
A newly released document obtained by KSLA News 12 through a public information request, reveals more about the third-party company hired to conduct an investigation launched after Harris admitted to posting a picture many called offensive on the official Animal Services Facebook page. The page has since been deactivated.
The photo, posted August 25, is of a newspaper clipping with disturbing symbols scrawled on it. The clipping features dogs up for adoption in Caddo Parish, with the Star of David drawn in red ink on their faces and Nazi symbols drawn in black marker over their heads. Harris later called the post "an accident", and explained he did not create the photo.
Caddo Parish Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson, who in the past has made it clear he is a supporter of Harris, has been tight lipped about what he calls a "third party investigation" and how much it will cost, saying it is a personnel matter. After filing a public records request, KSLA News 12 received documents that reveal new information about the process.
The document shows that the same day animal advocates rallied on August 31 to have Director of Animal Services Everett Harris fired, Wilson agreed to hire an investigator to look into whether Harris used unprofessional behavior by posting the controversial picture on the animal services Facebook page.
The document, which is a proposal letter, reveals the investigator hired is Gayla S. Godfrey of SPHR Management Consulting out of Monroe.
In her proposal letter, she thanks Parish Attorney Donna Frazier for contacting her to conduct the investigation. She states based on her conversation with Frazier, "The scope of my work will include conducting an independent investigation into the allegation."
As part of her work she describes plans to "interview Mr. Harris, department employees, administration and other employees who may have knowledge of the allegation and/or other relevant information to the investigation."
Godfrey explained in the letter she also planned to review relevant information/documents, and pertinent parish policies and procedures. According to the document, Godfrey plans to provide a written report of the investigation findings and meet with Wilson to discuss the report and answer any questions.
How much are her services costing tax payers? According to the letter, her fees are $100 dollars per hour, plus hotel expenses, $56 for meals per day, and mileage reimbursements. After 4 weeks of the investigation, parish leaders don't know how many hours, hotel stays, or meals have been racked up.
That's because according to the document, Godfrey won't submit an invoice with the total amount tallied until the investigation is complete.
"I don't know how they are justifying this, spending all of this money," said BarkLaTex animal rescue founder Samantha Schuster.
Because Schuster has followed the case closely, we asked her to read Godfrey's proposal letter. Her first reaction?
"The first thing would be the time frame," she said.
In the letter dated August 28 and signed by Wilson August 31, management consultant Gayla Godfrey says quote, "I am available to start work immediately and anticipate all work to be completed within a two-week time frame."
One month has passed since then and parish leaders say the investigation is still not complete.
"What could possibly be taking so long?" Schuster asked.
When asked what has caused the delay and expanded time frame, Parish Attorney Donna Frazier says she and Wilson will not comment further because it is a "pending personnel matter."
"I don't understand how he can or any of them can not tell us anything, because they are public servants and we pay their salaries," Schuster said.
In the meantime, during the investigation, records show Harris has been paid $7,027.20 for 144 hours he did not work while on leave.
We did reach out through email and a phone call to Gayla Godfrey of SPHR Management consulting, but we have not heard back yet.
KSLA News 12 found Gayla Godfrey has a limited liability company business license (LLC) since September of 2010. According to a filing with the Secretary of State's office, it appears she works out of her home and is the only employee of her business. Her annual report status is "in good standing," which means she files the proper paperwork each year to maintain her LLC.
KSLA News 12 is still working to get answers about Godfrey's qualifications and experience.
To view the proposal letter, click here.