By Ida B. Torn
According to the Internet, Bigfoot lives in Kisatchie National Forest. This past week, I learned that there, apparently, is another mythical beast living in Natchitoches Parish that I was always told didn’t exist. I’m talking about fairness.
I often hear folks talking about fairness when it comes to the Parish Road System. It pains me to admit it, but I lose all patience when fairness is brought up. Fairness only exists when the results have a direct benefit to or for the person talking. In essence, fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Case in point, Pardee Road has been discussed at the last three Parish Council meetings and has been the subject of multiple news articles recently. One article stated that it would cost $705,000 to reconstruct and overlay Pardee Rd.
According to the Louisiana Tax Commission, there were 60 parcels of land along Pardee Road assessed in 2016 which generated $666.11 in revenues for Road District 40. Of those 60 parcels, 25 owners paid absolutely nothing into the District while 7 owners paid almost 68% of those revenues. Yet, the landowners along Pardee Rd. argue that they do pay taxes and, therefore, it is only fair that their road be fixed.
Psychologytoday.com ran an article in 2012 that discussed how elusive fairness really is. In part, it stated that there are three different ideas about fairness (sameness, deservedness and need) and that “Ideologues believe that only their notion of fairness is correct.” Based on this article, residents on Pardee Rd. will never get their road fixed. The residents certainly cannot argue sameness or deservedness. They could try arguing for need, but they would have to argue that the needs of Pardee Rd. are more important than the needs of the rest of the Parish.
Even if the residents of Pardee Rd. could convince the rest of the Parish to put aside their own needs, overlaying Pardee Rd. would likely violate Section 4-06 of the Home Rule Charter, which specifically states that (A) funds shall be used for the benefit of the parish as a whole according to a priority ranking; and (B) the most critical needs existing parish-wide according to the priority ranking shall be met first. Criteria for priority ranking shall include population served by a given road and economic necessity of the road to provide transportation for agriculture, industry and business operations.
I doubt that Pardee Rd. will ever meet the criteria to be at the top of the priority list and maybe that’s not fair but fairness is a myth. We need to have rational, realistic conversations about what it’s going to take to fix the road system in our Parish. If folks continue to argue about fairness we’ll never find a resolution and we might as well buy a sturdy pair of shoes and emulate Bigfoot.