Ask The Advocate: Too many elections; where fire extinguishers go to die _lowres

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Voters process in and vote at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library in a recent election.

QUESTION: On May 2 we had an election for the St. George Fire Department. The first mention of the election that I noticed was on Tuesday in The Advocate for the Saturday election. What are the requirements for notifying the public of an upcoming election? How much does it cost to hold an election? Why do we have so many elections in this parish? Who approves all of these elections? With only a 4 percent voter turnout and the measures passing by less than 500 votes, I feel that the voters were blindsided by this election and that the number of elections we have has helped to bring about voter apathy.

ANSWER: “I agree there are too many elections in our state,” Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler says.

“In 2011, I was successful in getting legislation enacted to eliminate costly special elections, but I think more can be done. It costs the state approximately $1,250 per precinct no matter the turnout. Currently, I have been voting against all emergency tax elections when they come before the State Bond Commission. There is no definition for ‘emergency’ and many municipalities use that loophole to schedule tax elections when they know turnout will be extremely low.

“Additionally, my office supported HB 242 by Rep. Tim Burns (awaiting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature) which includes a provision that would eliminate the ability of local governments to schedule tax elections on a Saturday that is not a regularly scheduled Election Day.” (The St. George fire propositions, he says, were conducted during scheduled elections.)

The state constitution requires that when ballot items are submitted by local governing authorities within the proper timeframe, Schedler must hold the election regardless of the number of items on a particular ballot.

Notices of elections must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks in the official journal of the political subdivision, or, if there is none, then in a newspaper of general circulation in the parish.

Can those canisters

QUESTION: Where does one take expired fire extinguishers in Baton Rouge?

ANSWER: Curt Monte, spokesman for the Baton Rouge Fire Department, says the process for disposing fire extinguishers are as follows:

Release any pressure contained in the canister by shooting a small amount into an open area.

Let the canister sit for a few days, making sure the pressure has been released.

Once there is no longer any pressure, dispose in a trash bag in your regular garbage.

If you’re interested in seeing if your extinguisher is rechargeable, contact any of the fire extinguisher companies that provide that service.

Got a question?

Send your queries to Ask The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0371; or email