In a year when voters were confronted with no less than 14 proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution on Nov. 4, now it is Jefferson Parish’s turn to make the Dec. 6 runoff ballot quite a bit longer than it otherwise would be.
There are 11 propositions that would amend the parish charter. Some of them are minor updates, but others include a number of rewrites of particular sections by the Charter Advisory Board.
As voters are expected to slog through the list, as with the prior list of constitutional amendments, we present our views on the proposals. In some cases, we disagree with the philosophy of specific proposals, but we note that all are supported by the Parish Council and administration of President John Young.
In any case, it’s a long list, and we encourage voters to consult the invaluable guide to them by the Bureau of Governmental Research. Early voting begins Saturday.
Proposition 1: FOR. Language on investigations into parish operations by the council would be clarified.
Proposition 2: AGAINST. It would prohibit most outside income for the parish president. We believe voters are the proper judges of whether an official is giving full-time service for a full-time check.
Proposition 3: AGAINST. It would allow the parish, if permitted under state law, to do away with the most comprehensive advance notice of proposed ordinances, publication in the parish’s official journal, The New Orleans Advocate, ahead of time. While we have an obvious financial interest here, we believe first of all in transparent government. “While citizens can currently access summaries and notice on the council’s website, the practice of posting them is subject to change,” BGR noted in opposing this proposition.
Proposition 4: FOR. This would make explicit in the charter that the Finance Department does not oversee the Law Enforcement District. That is already the case, so this is a bit of housekeeping.
Proposition 5: AGAINST. This is one of the big rewrites on parish personnel issues. We agree with BGR that although much of it is positive, it imposes a one-term limit on Personnel Board members and introduces political appointments to positions in the Parish Attorney’s Office hitherto with Civil Service protection.
Proposition 6: AGAINST. The legal services section of the charter would be extensively rewritten, improving parts related to the authority of the parish attorney, but also allowing patronage politics through council hiring of special legal counsel.
Proposition 7: FOR. This would allow for eventual expansion of the parish planning board’s duties, though no specific proposal is on the table.
Proposition 8: FOR. This dedication of funding for the Inspector General’s Office would further insulate it from political retribution.
Proposition 9: FOR. This bit of housekeeping would correct some university names listed in the charter.
Proposition 10: AGAINST. This is a big issue, involving locking away potential proceeds from projected sales or leases of the two big parish hospitals. It incorporates, probably unwisely, existing powers of the Parish Council over hospital districts and the existing hospital governance structures, which have resulted in major conflicts over the sales. The idea of restriction of the proceeds of any deals to health care is reasonable enough, but BGR finds these proposals too restrictive.
Proposition 11: FOR. More administrative housekeeping: This would require that the parish retain records of the charter advisory committees.