Letter to the Editor – Rev Mark Megason


Dear Mr. Editor:

It is 9:46 p.m. on a Monday night. I have just returned from a Home Rule Meeting in the Natchitoches Parish Court Room. I had a poster saying it was about, Going Back to the Old Police Jury, because the Home Rule was not working. I made notes about what to say, but I sat and listened instead.

The first thing that happened was one of the Council members wanted to go against a “3 minute rule” that had been voted in at a previous meeting. The Home Rule Attorney said, “Giving more than 3 minutes to any person to speak will be a violation of the law. This Council member used his argument to get people riled up about only having 3 minutes to speak. Again and again this Council member kept on about the 3 minute rule. The people began to raise their voices as they became angry about the rule. Through out the meeting, it was plain to see the Council Members were divided, three against two; three saying that they would vote to go back to the Old Police Jury System.

I have read minutes from many other Home Rule Meetings where these three always disagree with the other two members and Mr. Nowlin. No wonder nothing ever gets done. I don’t think public officials should conduct themselves in this manner. Maybe they need to resign or at least apologize. The Chairman said in the beginning he would not allow people to get out of order, but they did get out of order. People would have 3 minutes to state their business and most talked 5 minutes and more. Each Council member was supposed to have 5 minutes to respond without interruption. Council members were constantly interrupted during their 5 minutes by other Council members or rude remarks from the people. The Chairman never called anyone down and he himself interrupted and interfered with other Council member’s time to respond. There was no order at all in the meetings.

The people began one by one to speak. Some were nice, some were nasty. Yes, these people have a right to be upset about their roads, but not to take it out on others. It looks to me like the one Council member was enjoying upsetting the people, trying to impress them. One thing for sure, he tried his best. Later, it became a word battle between the Council members and the people. I hope all the people remember what they said, because there was so much turmoil, nobody else remembers your point except that most of you were mad about something.

Most of the people in attendance were for the Old Form of the Police Jury. I am not. Let’s fix what we have or get a better plan. But, we cannot go back to the Old Police Jury. It was broken, is why we are trying this New Home Rule. Not enough money and misunderstanding about how it works is a real problem, preventing road repairs.

My wife printed some papers entitled: Parish Council: Home Rule Charter or Police Jury Form of Government. March 20, 2018. On the front of these papers was a picture taken of the meeting. Someone wanted to know who the Councilman was that was asleep. It was Doug DeGraffenried, but he was not asleep. He could have, however, been saying, “Lord here we go again”. A quote from this paper said, “Despite Parish Council Chairman, Rodney Bedgood’s highest hope, the meeting Monday night, March 19, did turn into a bit of a circus. He should know, he allowed it to happen.

These things going on at these Council Meetings must stop. The Chairman needs to apologize or resign for letting this meeting get out of hand. I think the meeting would have been better if the Chairman had stayed home. That’s what a Chairman is for: to shut down a circus that is getting out of order. People got way too hot under the collar. Also, I’m glad not many young people were there to see this. It would not have been good for them to see a councilman insist on breaking a written law that was already in place, because he wanted to and get mad at other council members because they would not go along with him. I think he also needs to apologize or resign. Mr. DeGraffenried tried to explain about the budget deficits, but no one wanted to hear him. Mr. Rachal tried to explain about why we are at this point in time. He was yelled at, by Mr. Bedgood, that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Next thing I knew we were adjourned.

I read in Mr. Dollar’s article in Saturday, March 16, 2018 paper about the extras that come with going back to the Old Police Jury that was replaced because it was not working. Adding 11 more job opinions, 11 more job salaries, and 11 more insurance plans is not the answer. While on the subject of wasting money, Mr. Nowlin’s pay is always a subject to talk about. He draws way too much money, right? After all, doing these things should be done for free, right? It’s a lot more jobs than we know. It’s the Home Rule System, Head Start, and much more that “us Road People” are not able to comprehend. He is Parish President over many, many things. Yes, it is his job. Along with a job comes pay. I would not do all he does for such a small pay.

Going back to the Old Police Jury System would only make it look like progress is happening. The real problem is our hard heads. Common sense tells us if you try to buy a $100.00 gift for 10 cents that that is not going to happen. Our present road funds are like 10 cents verses $100.00. We must have additional income to do the same work we did 30 years ago. If we keep stalling, it will become 10 cents verses $200.00, then10 cents verses $300.00.

Folks: unless Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny brings us money, we must provide it ourselves, and it has to be more than 10 cents. I also agree with Mr. Nowlin’s article in the same paper. Pass the right tax that can be spent only for roads to help fill in gaps in road money. Mr. Nowlin speaks of a Federal Transportation Infrastructure Bill that will match some of our money, but we must have our money to get theirs.

Why is the New System not working? I believe it is because, #1. Not enough information, #2. Too many wrong opinions, and #3. Trying to buy a $100.00 gift with 10 cents. It is a wrong opinion that little money can fix all our roads, much less pave them. I must say the New System did little for my road; that is until they hired Earl Townsend again. If I remember right, the last time Earl was there, that was when you would look up and see a patch truck sometimes once a month without having to call for it. Earl is doing work with less money, that others could not do.

There is another reason I believe the New System is not working. On our Council are five members, two new council members and three members from the Old Police Jury. These members disagree on 75 percent of all things brought before them. It’s always 3 against or 2 for when it comes to the vote. We don’t really have a New System; it’s a mixture of “The Old Blocking The New.” Could that be why the circus comes to Natchitoches once a month? I think we should reallocate existing money for better use on our roads. Pass a new tax to fill gap differences of this present day and 30 years ago. We need to do some serious thinking about going back to a replaced system. Why not FIX or REPLACE the New System with a BETTER ONE.

At one time an article in the Times called these three, “The Three Stooges”. At that time, I thought that was distasteful, but I have changed my mind. Their shoe fits perfect, if you know what I’m saying, but they could always change to new shoes or walk away in those old ones.

Mark 3:25—And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

I say a council divided, cannot fix roads either. Is it really that the Home Rule is not working or is it; The Old Police Jury is preventing it from working?

Rev. Mark Megason
March 21, 2018

15 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor – Rev Mark Megason

  1. Rev Mark – Thank you for your sensible and common sense comments. To Mr. Wright, don’t know what the Dr. Nick reference is all about…and if it refers to an higher educational attainment – appears you have not learned a damn thing; furthermore, anyone who has to tout themselves, sounds like the making of a 4th stooges. So if you think you are the one and have all the answers, then the thing to do is sign up and run for election to fill the seat of Parish President when the time presents itself. Being quick to judge is sinful and unfounded criticism is senseless.

    I have kept up with previous writings and articles pertaining to the ineptness and the dysfunctional Parish Council and all of the idiotic back and forth that goes on which demonstrates how obvious it is that the most critical things that are in existence with our parish government is lack of awareness and understanding.

    It truly appears that there is not an UNDERSTANDING of what makes up Natchitoches Parish thus the contributing factor as to the disrepair to superstructures (that’s roads and bridges to the 3 Stooges) in all our communities. Natchitoches Parish, the largest geographical Parish in Louisiana is primarily a farming; logging; national forestry; gas well drilling area that has to endure the movement of heavy vehicles, farm machinery, and other oversize rig type equipment over our Parish roads, bridges, and highways (superstructure). State roads and highways seem to be kept up pretty good; but local roads suffer the most. Misguided notions of reverting back to a police jury form of government to fix this ain’t the answer – and this sort of talk needs to end.

    From an AWARENESS (as well competence) stand point, the Parish Council is empty on clues as to how government should work, and especially for the “3,” how to govern or conduct a business like meeting in accordance with standard operating and Parliamentary procedures. The five of you sit on the Parish Council because you were elected by the citizens of this community and trying to limit their voices shows total disrespect and caring about the people you were elected to serve.

    Now the subject of funds (money) – and this Parish needs plenty to do what is needed to shore up our communities and lifestyles. The lack of UNDERSTANDING that comes into play here is no one recognizes that the taxation structure is all messed up and is a carryover from the previous form of government days when taxes were set up in pockets and based on taking care of the advantaged and privileged. The only way that taxation in Natchitoches Parish is going to work is when the wisdom and leadership of a sane council takes the bull by the horns – repeal all taxation laws that are on the books and put in place a parish wide structure that assesses everyone equally and fairly. Minimize and/or eliminate exemptions. All tax revenue collected would go into the Parish treasury for budgeting and distribution to cover all operational and functional needs. Then there would be something to work with when it comes to getting matching funds.

    Want to get rid of the members of this council who are counterproductive – then don’t forget to show up and vote come next election time. Might need to also begin grooming people who know how to serve and have a commitment to doing the doing right thing and understand how government works. It is idle talk and wasted energy to say “fire” current Council members…however, they can be recalled (thus an act of firing by the citizens).

    • Mr. Naïve vain guy whatever your name is, we have spoke about this before and how condescending to take everything I said and to make it out as your own. You know there is a reason you are not on the P&Z Board anymore…right? When ever you are ready to turn the other cheek, I am watching and waiting.

  2. Same thing I have been saying for a couple years! The three stooges just wanting it to fail where their elected time will started over and they can keep their job doing NOTHING! People if you want real change get those three out and put someone in there that wants things done for the good of ALL.

  3. great article and well put .The council members are at the level of children
    if not lower with the in fighting and name calling,the roads or anything else
    will never be fixed.I don’t see why if the council is elected why we can’t have
    and emergency meeting or fire these idiots.

  4. Rev. Mark, I have to say you have summed the situation up nicely! I wish the council would try to work together, we have not really had a Home Rule Gov. YET. One can have a difference of opinion without being an obstructionist. I have seen elementary school students behave better and get more done.

  5. Reverend, thank you for taking the time to observe the public meeting, listen to the attempt at dialogue and drawing well-reasoned conclusions. Mr. Nowlin is one of the best educated, most intelligent and diligent public servants that I’ve experienced in decades of working with and for public bodies. He deserves more than just an occasional compliment for doing a difficult job with very limited resources, he also deserves our respect and appreciation. This also extends to the individual council members who continue to support Mr. Nowlin, his staff and the entire parish workforce who serve the public despite unrelenting criticism and hardship. My best wishes for future improvement in the working relationship of the new members of the Parish Council and recognition by the beneficiaries of public works that we all must share in the costs of providing same.

  6. I would do Mr. Nowlin’s job for him and for half the price. He is very bad at it and I am very qualified.

    • That’s pretty bold. Can you give us an example of what he’s doing or not doing and your plan for correction? Thanks.

      • He said in March 2017 that he would bring a proposal to fix the ‘ad valoreum tax’ mess to quote him and Pastor Doug. He said this 5 days before the vote…he never fixed the mess before the vote, nor has he brought a proposal. He (and all of them) treat it like a forgone conclusion. A forgone conclusion leads to a false compromise. Give us police jury or give us gravel. The truth is give us leadership. There are too many chiefs, not enough leaders. If you can get your hands on the Minutes of March 2017, which have somehow disappeared from the NPG website, luckily I have a copy…it is on page 20-something. You can also Youtube the meeting which is at the beginning of “Part 2” in NPJ’s profile. I will send you a PDF of the minutes if you give me your email. The truth is success starts at the top, with the leadership, otherwise it leads to what is called negative selection and unethical culture, both of which can be seen in this administration. If he fixed the mess, the library would not have a surplus of $1,000,000 just sitting around. It should get at least 10% of its funds from CAPITAL CAMPAIGNS (bout $200,000). It is laziness. That $1,200,000 could be used with matching federal funds to make $2,400,000 toward better roads. That is how you bring money into this community, savings and investment. Thank you for your time.

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