The Lafourche Parish Council narrowly approved a resolution creating a Home Rule Charter Revision Committee at the Tuesday, May 8 public meeting.
Council Chairwoman Luci Sposito has been pushing for formation of a charter review for over a year.
The resolution creates a committee of 6 to 10 members, with 9 members chosen from each parish district and 1 chosen by the Parish President.
The committee members, who were recommended by their respective Council members or by the Council Chairwoman, will meet for the purpose of reviewing the current Home Rule Charter for possible changes.
Proposed changes will be brought back to the Council for approval prior to possible voter approval.
Sposito said the committee meetings will be open to anyone who wants to attend and make suggestions.
“We’re not spending parish dollars, not hiring people to do this, were asking people to make suggestions. I don’t see anything wrong with it and that’s why I’m putting it forward and that’s why I’ve been working on it for quite some time,” she stated.
Bayou Blue councilman James Bourgeois voiced strong opposition to the formation of a committee.
“The Home Rule Charter is a pretty serious thing. Other than Mr. Lorraine, Mr. Lafont and Mr. Jones, most of us have only been in office for two years. I think that’s a serious undertaking considering we want to change the laws with only two years experience,” said Bourgeois.
Bourgeois said he did not receive proper notice from the Council Chair about the nominating or appointing of someone to represent his district.
Other members said Sposito gave adequate notice to everyone.
“I want to thank our council chairwoman for pushing this issue over the course of the last year, sending multiple emails and bringing up in meetings to please submit your nominees. She’s done it over and over. She has done more than her job in notifying everybody. I’m sorry, but on this one you’re wrong!” Councilman Armand Autin told Bourgeois.
Councilman Daniel Lorraine had several objections to the formation of a committee. He followed Bourgeois’ argument that the majority of council members were inexperienced.
He also argued the difference between a committee which recommends changes to the Council and a “commission” whose changes go straight to the voters.
“A charter change is political. You’re gonna form this committee, they’re gonna do whatever they got to do. It’s gonna come back to the Council, the Council’s gonna add, subtract, do what they got to do. A commission, you can’t do that. Whatever that commission comes up with goes to the voters,” said Lorraine.
Lorraine also took exception to the committee nominees.
“I don’t even know half these people on this list. They don’t even have a resume. Y’all are putting people on the most important board in this parish without a resume. I don’t know if these people are registered voters in the parish,” he said.
Councilman Bo Melvin supported the committee.
“Last year, our first year in office, Mr. Perrillioux and I co-sponsored to have term limits. It’s in the charter. We didn’t have to have a commission or a committee to change the charter, other than a vote here to send it to the voters,” said Melvin.
“Also, our charter is out of compliance with state election laws. That's one thing we want to change,” noted Melvin. “Were looking for more transparency to help government run more efficiently. Of course were going to send it to the voters. I trust the voters, I trust the committee. We’re not going about this haphazardly,” he added.
Sposito said the Assistant District Attorney will sit in on the committee meetings.
“I don’t do too much without talking to the DA. The District Attorney actually said it’s a great idea to review things every few years just as long as they are able to look at it to make sure one change doesn’t cause problems in another area,” Sposito said.
The vote was 5-2. Lorraine and Bourgeois voted “no” to the resolution. Lafont and Jones were absent.
Posted on Fri, May 11, 2018
by By Buster Avera Contributing Writer