AMITE — The question of whether or not voters in Tangipahoa Parish will be offered the opportunity to decide on term limits for the parish president and the Parish Council remains unanswered after the council Monday chose not to take any action on two proposals to place the items on the ballot.
The first proposed ordinance calls for a special election on Oct. 24 asking if council members should be limited to three consecutive four-year terms.
Councilman Bobby Cortez offered the motion but only silence followed his introduction. With no second to the motion, Council President David Vial declared the proposal had failed. Cortez, who planned to introduce a second measure to have voters decide whether to limit the parish president to the same three consecutive, four-year terms, asked that the matter be deleted from the agenda.
Following the meeting, Councilman Nicky Muscarello said in an interview he will again introduce the term limit proposal at the next meeting with only one ordinance covering term limits for both the parish president and council members.
“My thinking is, the voters should decide this as the president and the council members being treated exactly the same. If the council members had term limits and the president didn’t, then the president could eventually gain unfair power over the council … and vice-versa,” he said.
Also on Monday, the council approved a resolution naming May 5 M.C. Moore Day in Tangipahoa Parish. Fifty years ago, Moore, now deceased, initiated a desegregation suit against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board in federal district court that is still ongoing. Councilman Louis Joseph read a lengthy proclamation spelling out the contributions Moore made to the parish.
“M.C. Moore was a man of God, a devout Christian and a man committed to the betterment of all of society, especially the school children,” Joseph said. “Mr. Moore did as much for civil rights in Tangipahoa Parish as Martin Luther King did for the nation as a whole.”
Members of Moore’s family accepted the framed petition from Parish President Gordon Burgess and members of the Parish Council.
The council also accepted a $2.8 million FEMA grant to construct a hardened “safe room” building where parish response teams and elected officials can continue to conduct operations during times of emergency such as severe storms. The parish will contribute a $900,000 match with $200,000 of that being property already owned by the parish. The “safe room” will be built adjacent to the Parish Courthouse Annex on the site of the old library building, which will be demolished.