Baton Rouge’s city-parish government needs less factionalism, not more, in addressing the long-term needs of this community.
That’s why we oppose proposals on the Oct. 22 ballot that, if approved, would expand the boards that oversee the parish’s library and park systems to designate three additional seats for residents representing Baker, Zachary and Central.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission has six members appointed by the Metro Council and one representative each from the Mayor-President’s Office, Planning and Zoning Commission and East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The Library Board of Control has seven members, all of whom are appointed by the Metro Council to at-large seats.
If the proposed amendments to the parish’s Plan of Government are approved by local voters on Oct. 22, each board would get three new members — one each from Baker, Zachary and Central, as recommended by the mayors of those three cities.
Metro Councilman Scott Wilson, who represents the Central area, led the effort to put the proposed amendments on the ballot. He and others have complained that the northern end of the parish isn’t adequately represented on BREC and the Library Board of Control.
Because BREC was created by the Legislature, the legality of changing its composition at the ballot box has been questioned. But regardless of that legal question, these proposed amendments are bad policy. Creating three new seats for these boards based on geography would give hugely disproportionate influence to people who represent only 13 percent of the parish.
The operations of the library and BREC already are closely monitored by the Metro Council, which ensures that regional concerns regarding libraries and parks are represented.
But in East Baton Rouge Parish, we tend to think too often in terms of regional interests instead of the broader good.
These proposed amendments, if approved. would simply make things worse. We urge voters to vote no.