An East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council member’s criticism of the parish parks commission will not affect its chances of winning a national award for which the agency is a finalist, a spokeswoman has said.
Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel is a frequent critic of BREC’s handling of the Baton Rouge Zoo. In an interview, she said it is “mismanaged” and that BREC hasn’t offered a reasonable explanation for possibly moving the zoo to the south end of the parish, rather than renovating the current site, which is in her district, near Baker.
After BREC was selected as a finalist for the National Recreation and Park Association’s Gold Medal Award earlier this month, Banks-Daniel called the association. She said she did not criticize BREC to the association. Rather, she asked only whether BREC’s administration of the zoo would be a factor in the final awards decision and asked for contact information in case anyone wanted to weigh in.
Still, the association took the call to mean she was upset over the zoo. Spokeswoman Heather Williams said her office was “in disbelief” that an elected official would try to derail a local organization from receiving an award.
“They haven’t done a good job with the zoo,” Banks-Daniel said. “I’m very clear that they don’t deserve (the award).”
A BREC spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.
A few people have contacted association about the incident, mostly to ask whether Banks-Daniel’s call would hurt BREC’s chances of taking home the prize, Williams said.
“This will not interfere with the agency’s chance to win the award,” she said.
EBR Metro Council honors Wilson, Eaton
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council members stopped before their meeting this week to give special recognition to Buddy Wilson — father of current Councilman Scott Wilson and Parish Assessor Brian Wilson — and former Councilwoman Mary Frey Eaton, both of whom died in the past week.
Buddy Wilson was sworn into the council in 1989 and later was elected city constable in 1995. He died May 20.
Eaton was a councilwoman from 1988 to 2000, and she was named mayor pro tem in 1996. She died May 24.
Councilman Chandler Loupe described Buddy Wilson as “a public servant, a friend and an asset to our parish” before calling for a moment of silence for him. Scott Wilson then asked for a moment of silence for Eaton.
BRAC official heading to job in Las Vegas
Jared Smith, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s director of business development, is moving to Las Vegas, where he will take over the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance’s chief operating officer role.
Smith, who also is the chairman of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission, was showered with praise when he attended his final East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council meeting this week. Council members cheered him on in his new role but said they will miss him.
“We’re going to lose a great asset, but I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations,” said Councilman and Airport Commissioner Trae Welch.
Smith spoke of his love for Baton Rouge and thanked Mayor-President Kip Holden, his staff and the Metro Council for their commitment to economic development.
“Continue your focus on economic development; we’ve seen some of the biggest wins in the history of economic development in recent history,” Smith said. “Please continue to focus on that and fund that and be active in it.”
Davis to serve dad’s term on BREC board
The seats on the parish parks commission’s board are finally full again after the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council appointed Sandra Davis this week to carry out the remainder of her father’s term on the board.
Commissioner John Taylor, 81, died in February. It also was around the time several new commissioners were appointed, changing the board’s racial and gender makeups.
Davis applied to finish the rest of her father’s term and attended her first meeting as a board member this week. Davis is now the only woman on the nine-member board.
Taylor was a committed board member who missed only one meeting since his appointment in 2012.
Advocate staff writers Andrea Gallo and Steve Hardy contributed to this report.