By J. R. “Randy” Stelly
I took great pains in researching this article. Most of the pain came from watching the Parish Council meeting held March 19th numerous times! I’d like to thank The Journal for broadcasting the Council meetings so that folks like me who are out of town can stay informed about what is going on in the Parish.
A well planted lie is like an invasive weed with deep rooted tentacles that is hard to kill. Since the first year of the Home Rule Charter in 2013, former police jurors have been diligently seeding the fertile ground that is the rural and African American communities of our Parish. At this month’s meeting, Chris Paige harvested a bumper crop!
The number of lies told at the meeting was simply astounding and Chris Paige’s ego puffed up bigger and bigger as each one was told. I give him credit for his masterful manipulation of the gullible people in this Parish!
Chief among the lies was that the Parish President makes $160k a year. The President’s salary was set at $80k by the voters when the H.R.C. was passed (See Parish President Set..below). The salary is increased only when the Social Security Administration authorizes a cost-of-living adjustment. The only other way that the President’s salary may increase is by a vote of the Council in the form of an Ordinance.
Another major lie, this one told by Janice Perry, is that over half of those people employed under the police jury have lost their jobs. In order for her statement to have been true, over 100 people would have had to lose their jobs! It’s absurd to insinuate that a government should never terminate an employee. Unfortunately, it does not surprise me one bit that Ms. Perry wants to return to a form of government that allows employees to get paid for leave regardless of whether or not they had any time accrued and also allowed the Head Start program to run up huge deficits!
Mr. Richard Black (see below), a registered sex-offender, lied when he addressed the meeting and stated that “they claim they ain’t got no money to fix our rural roads, but they got $4 million to spend on this lakefront down here…” I have heard this lie told numerous time. The Parish Government had no involvement, financial or otherwise, in the renovations to the City of Natchitoches’ riverfront and had no control over the fact that the Cane River Waterway Commission did pour money into the Project.
Finally, while Councilman Rodney Bedgood didn’t tell an outright lie, he did demonstrate that he doesn’t understand the form of government that he took an oath represent. Even under the police jury form of government, police jurors were prohibited from interfering in the day-to-day operations of the Parish. And while Parish Council members do not have direct supervision over employees, they do have direct control over almost every aspect of the government’s operations (See Document A below). The Council approves salary ranges, the hiring of department heads, insurance benefits, annual budgets, capital outlay plans and so much more!
The Home Rule Charter form of government offers a checks-and-balances system that did not exist under the police jury. Go back and read the audits for the last 4 years and you’ll see that, under the HRC, the Parish has had no major findings. The same cannot be said for the police jury who was fraught with budget overruns and violated the law even in its last months of existence (See document B)! We need to focus on finding a solution for funding road improvements, not on how to destroy the Parish in its entirety by going back to a police jury!
Parish President Salary Set by Charter