Eddie Price III
Like his eponymous relative Eddie Price, Eddie Price III played football for New Orleans' Jesuit High School and for the Tulane University Green Wave. He was first elected mayor of Mandeville in 1996 after serving on the Mandeville City Council for a 16-year period characterized by exponential growth as well as administration largely free of controversy.
During his fourth term as mayor in 2008, Price became increasingly surrounded by scandals, one of them involving a wee-hours accident on April 22, when Price drove a city-owned luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) into a tollbooth at the north end of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway; he admitted that he had been drinking, but the failure of the causeway police to give the mayor a sobriety test, along with the failure of the police to issue the mayor a ticket until two weeks later when the story was in the hands of news reporters, augmented the controversy.
Failure of recall petition
Price gave up the keys to the city SUV in June 2008. In February 2009 a petition to recall Price from the mayoralty failed to collect enough signatures prior to its deadline. Soon after failure of the recall—and on the same day (March 6, 2009) as the inauguration of a city vehicle policy which Councilwoman Trilby Lenfant criticized as deficient in accountability—Price again began driving the city's SUV, which, according to Cindy Chang in the New Orleans Times-Picayune,
- remains fitted with illegal "ghost" license plates—untraceable plates intended for use by undercover officers—until the arrival of a new public plate.
On August 13, 2009, Price was indicted for perjury in a case against Gary Kopp, owner of SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up Company. Price maintained his innocence and refused to resign even as the Times-Picayune editorially urged him to do so. Instead, he announced plans to select a new police chief, whereupon the Times-Picayune published a second editorial calling for him to resign. On August 27, 2009, for the second year in a row the Mandeville City Council gave no raises to Price and his department heads but did grant raises up to 5 percent for others on the city payroll. At his arraignment on September 3, backed by his attorney Ralph Whalen, Price pleaded innocent. In the same month a grand jury began investigating allegations of corruption in Mandeville city government, including council members; on September 25 the Times-Picayune claimed that the implicit reason for the investigation "is thought to be" focused on Price. The next day, the newspaper—positing that the council members "were testifying before a grand jury investigating possible criminal wrongdoing by Mayor Eddie Price"—left less to read between the lines.
On October 9, 2009, Price resigned as mayor, supposedly in the context of a plea bargain with law-enforcement authorities—his nemesis, the Times-Picayune, then editorializing:
- . . . what's most notable is not that the disgraced politician finally resigned, but that it took him so long.
The Mandeville City Council set about to choose an interim mayor.
On October 16, 2009, Price plead guilty to tax evasion and depriving citizens of honest services through mail fraud. He was to be sentenced on January 28, 2010. On October 17, 2009, Edward "Buddy" Lyons, having been chosen by the Mandeville City Council, was sworn in as interim mayor of Mandeville. Lyons (born 1929) is a former mayor of Houma, president of Terrebonne Parish, and member of the Terrebonne Parish police jury. After retiring to Mandeville, he served for 5 months on the Mandeville City Council in 2000 to complete the unexpired term of Jack McGuire. Lyons, in applying to be interim mayor, agreed not to be a candidate in the March 27, 2010, special election to select a mayor to complete the term to which Price had been elected and which ends in 2012. The hotly contested election was won by Republican Donald Villere in a 3-vote majority over Republican Trilby Lenfant, 1,372 votes to 1,369.
On June 17, 2010, Judge Martin Feldman sentenced Price in U.S. district court in New Orleans on charges of income tax evasion as well as corruption. The sentence was for 64 months to commence on August 12, 2010. Price continued to face sentencing for the perjury charges. Two days before Price's sentence was to begin, Feldman granted a delay of the start of the prison term until September 11, 2010. On September 29, 2010, Feldman reset the start of the prison term to October 27, 2010 and shortened it to 40 months. The U.S. Attorney's Office agreed Price should be resentenced under the guidelines for traditional mail fraud, which carries a less severe sentence than the crime Price pleaded guilty to.
According to the mayor's biosketch on the Mandeville city web site, Eddie and Sarah "Sally" Price have five children: Shawn, Sarah, Shannon, Eddie and Samantha. Eddie Price III, a board member for the American Public Works Association (APWA), has served in leadership roles with the Saint Tammany Parish Municipal Association, the Saint Tammany Homebuilders Association, the Saint Tammany Parish Republican Party Political Action Council, and the Saint Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee (PEC). He is a member of Trinity Evangelical Church, an affiliate of the Evangelical Free Church of America. "A community that fails to plan, plans to fail"—that is his stated philosophy.
- Cindy Chang, Scandals threaten Mandeville mayor's political future, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), May 17, 2008.
- Matthew Penix, Congemi new Causeway chief, Saint Tammany News (Covington, Louisiana), July 25, 2008; Mandeville mayor Causeway clip 1 on YouTube. See also Mandeville mayor Eddie Price received toys intended for tots and Cindy Chang, Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price releases first quarterly report on credit card expenses, Times-Picayune, December 5, 2008.
- Doug Mouton, Attempt to recall Mandeville mayor falls short, reported by WWL-TV Channel 4 (CBS-TV affiliate, New Orleans); Bob Warren, Recall petitions face big obstacles, Times-Picayune, February 21, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B5. At time of failure of the Price recall petition, recall drives on matters unrelated to Price were afoot in adjacent New Orleans—one to recall U.S. Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao and one to recall New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head.
- Cindy Chang, "Eddie Price gets city SUV back" in Times-Picayune, March 11, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A9 (web version = Price returns to driving city SUV).
- "Mayor Price's failings" (editorial) in Times-Picayune, August 14, 2009, p. B4. Cindy Chang, "Mandeville mayor charged with lying" in Times-Picayune, August 14, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A6; Cindy Chang, "Price refuses to quit as woes mount" in Times-Picayune, August 15, 2009, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A4. Indicted on the same charge was Mandeville police sergeant David Hurstell, who was consequently shifted to a desk job (Jeff Adelson, "Indicted officer shifted to desk job" in Times-Picayune, August 15, 2009, Metro Edition, p. A4).
- Cindy Chang, "Indicted mayor presses to hire new chief" in Times-Picayune, August 23, 2009, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A12.
- "Mandeville needs a mayor" in Times-Picayune, August 27, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B6. A news article in the same issue reported that on August 26, 2009, Louisiana's Board of Ethics unanimously directed Price to file a financial disclosure report still overdue from his 2008 reelection campaign (Jan Moller & Cindy Chang, "Price ordered to file finance report" in Times-Picayune, August 27, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B3.
- Cindy Chang, "5% raises for top officials rejected" in Times-Picayune, August 28, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A8.
- Cindy Chang, "Mandeville mayor pleads innocent" in Times-Picayune, September 4, 2009, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A4.
- Cindy Chang, "Mandeville officials talk to grand jury" in Times-Picayune, September 25, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A10.
- Cindy Chang & Christine Harvey, "Council dressed to spill to grand jury" in Times-Picayune, September 26, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B1.
- Cindy Chang, "Mandeville mayor resigns under fire" in Times-Picayune, October 10, 2009, pp. A1, A11.
- "Mayor Price's resignation" in Times-Picayune, October 10, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
- Cindy Chang, "Council to pick interim mayor: Mandeville then will call special election" in Times-Picayune, October 12, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1, B2.
- Kia Hall Hayes, "North Shore city selects leader" in Times-Picayune, October 18, 2009, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A8.
- Suzanne Le Breton, "Lyons named interim mayor for Mandeville" in St. Tammany News, October 18, 2009 (Vol. 5 No. 21), pp. 1A, 6A.
- Jeff Adelson, Trilby Lenfant gains 1 vote in Mandeville mayor's election recount, launches legal challenge to Saturday's outcome in Times-Picayune, 2010 April 28 (accessed 2010 June 17); Jeff Adelson Trilby Lenfant concedes Mandeville mayor's race; Donald Villere is mayor-elect in Times-Picayune, 2010 April 28 (accessed 2010 June 17).
- Jeff Adelson, Judge scolds Price, gives him five years in Times-Picayune, 2010 June 18, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A13 (accessed 2010 June 17).
- Jeff Adelson, "Price granted 1-month prison reprieve: Ex-mayor will stay free until hearing" in Times-Picayune, 2010 August 11, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A9.
- Adelson, Jeff (2010-09-30). "Former Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price's corruption sentence reduced by two years". Times-Picayune (Metro ed.). pp. A1, A10. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- Mandeville City web site at the Wayback Machine (archived August 8, 2007). Trinity Evangelical Church is in Covington, Louisiana, adjacent to Mandeville.