Parish Council Clerk – Full-time or Part-time?

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A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that employees spend at least half an hour of each day “loafing.” According to the American Time Use Survey, the number is closer to 50 minutes.  So, what qualifies as excessive?  Should taxpayers foot the bill for an employee whose productivity averages 75%?  What about 50% or even less than that? Should it be acceptable for employees to use government equipment to visit shopping sites or dating sites? What about gambling sites or financial and/or loan sites? More importantly, should three Council members be allowed to usurp the authority of the Chairman as supervisor of the Council employees?  Perhaps the most important question is whether or not these three councilpersons’ knowledge of a situation and their refusal to address it rise to the level of misprision of felony and/or malfeasance of public office?

At the urging of Parish Councilman Doug de Graffenried at the August Council meeting, NPJ submitted a Request for Public Information seeking documentation regarding the computer usage of Parish employees. The question has arisen whether or not certain employees of the Parish are spending excessive time surfing the Internet and/or working on non-Parish related projects during working hours. Councilman de Graffenried made the request after Council members Paige, Hoover and Bedgood refused to go into Executive Session at the July Council meeting. To understand how it is that we’ve gotten to this point, it is important to remember that the Parish Council is allowed to have employees independent of those supervised by the Parish President.

BACKGROUND:

In July of 2013, Catherine Hamilton, the former Parish Administrator who also served as the Parish Purchasing Agent and the Council Clerk, retired from the Parish Government.  In the months leading up to her retirement, the Council discussed at its May 20th meeting  whether the Council Clerk position should be full-time or part-time and voted 3-2 with John Salter, Chris Paige and Rodney Bedgood voting in favor of the position being full-time (see exhibit below). The Council also adopted the job description of the Caddo Parish Council for their Clerk (see exhibit below). At its meeting held July 15, 2013 (see exhibit below), the Council unanimously voted to set the salary of the incoming Council Clerk at $35,000 per year. At its December 16, 2013 meeting (see exhibit below), the Council voted to increase the Clerk’s salary to $40,000 to be retroactive to October 29, 2013. In March of 2014, all Parish employees, including the Council Clerk, received a 3% cost of living pay increase.

During this time frame, Councilmen Salter, Paige and Bedgood frequently complained about the salaries of employees in other departments of the Parish Government.

In February of 2014, the Parish Council unanimously passed a new personnel manual that applied to all Parish employees, including those employed by the Parish Council. The Manual specifically addresses Internet usage, personal phone usage, prohibited websites and conditions for termination, among other things. All employees must sign acknowledgment forms showing receipt of the Parish Manual.

In 2016, a new Parish Council was seated. At its first meeting, Mr. Russell Rachal was appointed Council Chairman and Mr. Doug de Graffenried as Vice Chairman. Section 2.06.A. of the Home Rule Charter states (see exhibit below), “… The chair shall be the presiding officer at council meetings, supervise or delegate supervision of council employees, and carry out any other duties the council may authorize.”

In light of the refusal by Councilpersons Paige, Hoover and Bedgood to go into Executive Session in July, the question remains on how they will address the situation now that they can no longer sweep it under the rug. The information obtained under the FOIA request clearly indicates that the position of Council Clerk should not be full-time.

NPJ will continue to monitor for new developments in this story.

ParishLogSamplePage

Sample of Parish Log Provided under FOIA

SEE LOG OF SITES IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER – >>  NPJ Activity Log – Clerk

 

Parish Council Meeting Minutes1Natchitoches Parish Council Clerk Job Description1
Natchitoches Parish Council Clerk Job Description2

Parish Council Meeting Minutes2Parish Council Meeting Minutes3

Page 4 of the Natchitoches Parish Home Rule Charter

4 thoughts on “Parish Council Clerk – Full-time or Part-time?

  1. HALLELUJAH to the writers above for coming out and speaking soundly on the CRITICAL problem we as citizens of Natchitoches Parish are having to live with and endure from the 3 dysfunctional members who are nothing more than a huge distraction; do not have the best interest of Natchitoches Parish tax payers at heart; have no sense of good judgement; are never reasonable in any of their thinking about the business needs and functions of Parish government, and simply lack leadership skills to be called representatives of the people of Natchitoches Parish. I do truly wish there was some legitimate way to nullify these 3 non-functional individuals and have them eliminated as so called elected council members. The citizens in the 3 districts from which these “3” have been elected need to wake up and realize they are not being represented nor or the needs Natchitoches Parish being met and fulfilled as long as they continue to hold seats on the Parish Council. More, my fellow citizens of Natchitoches, needs to be demanded of B-P-H. For B, P & H to permit and protect the misconduct of the Parish Clerk; to allow that individual to violate personnel practices is in total violation of ethical conduct and the oath of office they were sworn to uphold.

    I am totally resentful of the fact that the Parish Clerk has misused Parish government assets and equipment, thus resulting in wasting my hard earned tax payer dollars. This individual should be immediately relieved of her duties and dismissed as an employee of Natchitoches Parish. There is probable cause to bring legal charges against this individual and demand restitution.

  2. I find this disgusting. The “3 stooges” as someone named them do not represent their constituents. If they did Payne Subdivision would not be a ghetto. I know from personal experience because I lived in the hell hole for a few years, years ago. Paige has been in there far to long. What has he been doing all those years being on the police jury and now a member of this new council when he is unaware of the council rules? Obviously he is in la la land. Bedgood, how he could represent his district and vote with Paige and Hoover is despicable. People take notice of this and do not let either of these three be re-elected. They are not thinking about us. They have a personal issue to just vote the opposite of any of the other members. They are trouble makers and not thinking about you and me and our best interest.

    Mr. Rachal has every right to investigate who he wishes. Isn’t that what a chairman does? They look into issues of concern and report back to the members of the jury when deemed necessary. Any employee that spends so much personal time on the internet checking out dating services, Facebook etc. should be fired immediately. The replacement should only be part time since obviously the job does not require a full time employee.

    Frankly, all are paid to much. This should be an honor to serve and represent your constituents and should be paid only weekly per diam to cover gas for personal vehicle and a meal or two while doing their job. I also think $50.00 for attending the meeting and having a good free for all with the other council members would be sufficient. All of these people draw a salary from their workplace. How can an individual draw $100,000.00 plus a year and not have any accomplishments to show? These meetings are for nothing but an embarrassment to Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish residents.

    Hats off to Councilman Doug de Graffenried and Chairman Mr. Russell Rachal for their attempts to keep the others honest. They have a hard job. I applaud their efforts to represent Natchitoches Parish.

  3. Looking at the activity log it’s clear the person is not following the rules of using the internet for personal use. And Mr. Rachal and Mr. de Graffenried are well within the rights to take what measures are needed to correct the issue.Seems like these three council members are always causing issues where if they just followed the written rules the would be no issue. These three member don’t like the new form of government we have voted to use.Well it’s working and it’s going to stay maybe it’s over their head or just don’t work for their personal agenda. Maybe it’s time for these 3 members to retire and get out of the business. We are moving in the right direction and they are trying their best to slow it down and keep things the way they were for years in the red. Lots of question these three need to answer……..

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