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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on February 2, 2007 7:06 PM.

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Change the Lafourche Parish Home Rule Charter? You Bet!

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At it's January 23, 2007 meeting, Councilman Daniel Lorraine suggested that the parish Home Rule Charter be modified to give the Council more jurisdiction over day-to-day operations that are currently handled by the Parish President.

The Daily Comet, in its February 2 editorial, rightly came out against the very thought of the idea. I think the Charter should be changed, just not in the manner currently being discussed.

Like most parishes in Louisiana, Lafourche used to be ruled by a Police Jury system. In the late 1970's, the citizens of Lafourche voted to change the form of government to the present President-Council format. The Council would be strictly legislative while the President would be responsible for the day to day operations of the parish.

One of the principal precepts for this form of government is that it places one person in charge of the operation of the parish government. Under the old Police Jury system, each Police Juror had their own little fiefdom, which led gross to inefficiencies in spending parish money, not to mention causing stress among parish employees who had to answer to nine different bosses.

The problem today is that, thirty years later, citizens of Lafourche are still trying to hold on the Police Jury system. They are only interested in what is happening in their little corner of the parish. The reason for this is the parish Home Rule Charter.

Of the ten elected positions designated in the charter, only one, the Parish President is elected parish wide. This means only one position has to persuade the entire parish to vote for them.

Rather than change the Charter to get the Council more power over day-to-day operations, it should be changed to create three positions that are elected by the entire parish.

Follow the model of the Home Rule Charter in St. Bernard Parish, which has two at-large positions. In Lafourche, I would have three, one each to represent the three major areas of the parish, North, Central, and South. In order to run for one of these positions, a candidate would have to live in the particular area he wanted to represent. In other words, someone living in Thibodaux would not be able to represent Central or South Lafourche.

This gives each area a voice. However, the entire parish would vote on the position. Someone running for the North at-large position could not campaign on a platform that pro-North to the detriment of the rest of the parish. They would not be able to gather the rest of the votes needed to win the seat. This means they would also have to look at what is in the best interests of the entire parish and not just their area.

Currently, only the President is elected parish-wide and is the only position that is truly looking out for the entire parish. But the President has no say in governing the parish, she can only handle the day-to-day operations. None of the councilmen have any incentive for watching out for the entire parish since no one outside of their district will ever vote for them.

I say let's change the Charter. Expand the current districts so that we only have six instead of nine and give us three at-large positions so there is more incentive to look out for the entire parish.


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