Parish Council meeting ends in chaos

Parish Council Meeting 010319 (2)

The Special Called Parish Council meeting Thursday evening, Jan. 3, had a rough start, which only worsened as the meeting devolved and ended in chaos. Allegations of impropriety were brought against the DA’s Office, two Council members and the Parish President.

It all stems from the inability of the Council to agree on the procedure for the appointment of a new Registrar of Voters for Natchitoches Parish. Council member Doug de Graffenried addressed what seems to be the core issue: The Home Rule Charter doesn’t address the procedure for appointing an ROV. On this specific issue, there’s a “hole in the Charter.”

“The process is flawed,” said de Graffenried. “We’re gonna have to work on a process that doesn’t leave anyone out.”

Council member Russell Rachal made a motion that the Council ask the District Attorney’s Office to recuse itself from the meeting after he asked Parish President Rick Nowlin if he felt disenfranchised by the procedure. Nowlin said he did feel disenfranchised and that he’s made his feelings known to the District Attorney’s Office.

“It is apparent that there is a disagreement,” said Rachal. “How can the DA’s Office represent us if it’s apparent that we’re on two different thought patterns?”

Assistant District Attorney Steven Mansour was sworn in an hour before the meeting. He is an attorney and counselor-at-law in Alexandria.

“How will he [the DA Office] fairly represent the Council and the President on a divisive matter,” said Rachal. “I don’t think there will be a fair judgement issued.”

De Graffenried seconded the motion. It failed when Rodney Bedgood, Patsy Ward Hoover and Chris Paige voted it down. Rachal then made a motion that whoever is named as the new ROV is done so by Ordinance and not by a Resolution so that the Parish President could be included. Hoover, Bedgood and Paige voted this motion down as well.

Paige accused Rachal and de Graffenried of “getting special phone calls” and “conspiring to obstruct the procedure.”

Bedgood said “I thought we’d come in here and be sensible with this and try to elect the best one for this job, but I knew in my heart before I came that ya’ld already got together.”

Paige said Rachal was “throwing malarky out to obstruct for one individual [Lynda Vance].”

None of the applicants were notified in writing 24 hours before the Jan. 3 executive session, which would discuss their names. The applicants received phone calls, which Rachal said would make the meeting illegal.

Statute quoted by Mansour: A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to 42:16 for one or more of the following reasons: discussion of character, professional competence or physical or mental competence of a person provided that such person is notified in writing at least 24 hours exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays before the scheduled time contained in the notice of the meeting at which the executive session is to take place. In that such person may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting.

Hoover made a motion that the Council go into executive session, which was seconded by Paige. Rachal stated that going into executive session requires a two-third majority vote. Rachal and de Graffenried voted against going into executive session.

Nowlin interjected at this point with a briefing on the ROV appointment process (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).

Rachal then prompted Mansour to reiterate that the open meetings law does require that two-thirds of the members present must approve going into executive session.

At this point, Bedgood said the best thing to do would be to close the meeting and request another opinion from the DA Office.

“We need to sue the president,” said Hoover.

President Briefing


28 thoughts on “Parish Council meeting ends in chaos

  1. It’s amazing a special called meeting on the third, but the regular scheduled meeting was cancelled. The best thing we can do is turn out to vote and vote all these clowns out. This is a circus and an embarrassment to our whole state.

  2. What in the Sam Hill is wrong with these folks !! I am absolutely disgusted with and embarrassed by and for our parish government – yes I said OUR. We seem to forget the council member represent US, which is not happening. They do what they want, when they want and damned the consequences for the residence of this parish. That said, it’s no wonder nothing can get done – all these people [ council members] do is fight and bicker among each other Here’s the deal folks, nothing will change, until we(the voters) make the change by cleaning house! The Home Rule Charter system is not the problem, The Police Jury system was not the problem either. The issue is a multi-layered one. 1) Lack of voter turn out. 2) Lack of trust of our said elected officials. 3) Cronyism 4) Apathy on the voters part. We have a conundrum here! The cycle needs to be broken, complaining on here will not fix the problem. Your voice at the voting booth will. If you don’t then you are part of the problem. I am counting down the days for the next election!! We had the opportunity to change some things, however, NO ONE showed up to vote – well, 13% did , SHAMEFUL !!!! Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result !! So people next election get off your BUTTS and VOTE!! There is not excuse not to and there is no excuse for us to put up with the deplorable behavior of the ENTIRE Natchitoches Parish Council !!

  3. these egotistical idiots are wasting the city and tax payers time and money,
    lets get rid of them and start new .We should do they the NFL when they wanna fight eject them or fine them $10,000,i am sure the candidate for this job wants to get to work asap and these goofballs are playing games.

  4. Executive Session? You can’t go into Executive Session to discuss the appointment, further the law does not require a notification to the applicants only public notification of the meeting.

  5. There’s plenty of bad behavior and lack of integrity to go around. The comments so far skew toward blaming 3 persons. I refuse to believe they are the only problem. There are a lot of competing interests and personal agendas being worked here and it’s important to acknowledge that.

    • Yeah it is easy to believe that the three being blamed have been working for the betterment of the Parish when you willfully ignore their past behavior. Voting down efforts to allow residents set their own tax districts to fix roads comes to mind. One of them saying his constituents don’t drive so he”s not voting for road taxes shows how little he knows or cares about Fire, EMS and LE access to his and other’s constituents. Let’s also ignore the fact that they tell their constituents that there is plenty of money for roads IF we go back to the old and failed PJ system. Yeah, they’re really not to blame when they told their constituents that they would not support the type of government the majority of the Parish electors selected. SMH.

  6. Rumor is that Paige wants Brenda Snipes who has recently retired from a very ‘successful’ career in Florida. Duh!

  7. I know there are people in Natchitoces parish who have the maturity to work with others in getting things done for the parish and solve some of the problems this parish has. These are the people who should be elected to the Parish Council, not the spoiled children who have been elected in the past. Spoiled Children, really? Yes, for I believe that only spoiled children behave in the manner I have seen in so many council meetings. It is a bit disgusting to me to watch grown men try to talk over others, bully others, and then storm out of a meeting when someone makes them angry. What is being accomplished that way? I can tell you, NOTHING, absolutely nothing. And yet you keep being elected. Why?

    If I were in your districts, I would work to assure that you would no longer hold on to those seats. WHY? Because I want a representative that I can be proud of, one that works for me, and the entire parish, trying to make it better, not just a few roads, streets and what have you in your district. I have never seen a parish with so much dissention. I have to wonder why a few men can’t sit down and talk together, and work together. It’s true that you might not agree on everything, but it’s really bad when you can agree on nothing. Why, because you fight, you storm out, you play tough guy and that means everyone is going to do it your way, so the meeting ends. Period.
    You are accomplishing NOTHING by your actions in council meetings at this time. SO, it’s time for you to get to work on the business at meetings or resign and let someone who will work take your position. I think the public overall is pretty tired of your rediculous antics. If I offend anyone, I could apologize, but I won’t. I believe you deserve everything I’ve said to you.

    • I agree!! Get in there and do what’s right by the parish and the people . even if you personally don’t agree . You shouldn’t nhave ran for office for yourself,but for to make things better .

    • they should sale seats like a spectator sport,i would sure pay to see these idiots.They could sale food,beer and have round girls like in boxing .And all the proceeds go to the roads.
      I can see it now,Natchitoches parish meeting coming soon
      to you….do not miss out !

      • One doesn’t “SALE” anything; you SELL it. FGS, the illiteracy of people here is another fine representation of the education system. And you wonder why these idiots keep getting elected.


    The law requires that the “governing authority” of the Parish appoints the ROV. So the legal question is Who/What is the “governing authority” of Natchitoches Parish under the HRC.

  9. I feel bad for the candidate who has to sit and wait while these
    idiots play ego wars .to take the heat off this subject maybe we should bash roads again or sports

  10. When government entities are your parish”s biggest employer this is the kind of BS you get. Every job opening is viewed a’s a life or death power struggle. Sadly it is.

  11. they should just lock the doors and go bare knuckle sometime,all these stupid ego’s and old guys who think they are entitled .Why is it other citys and function normal be we look like “romper room”,the good ole boy and do you know who I am mentality will never change in the city of lights….by the way please turn the lights off Christmas was two weeks ago.

    • The voters didn’t remember this same type of behavior the last time. Hoover, Ward and Bedgood.don’t give a damn about the HRC and will do everthing they can to destroy it even though they swore an oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the US, the State and the laws of our Parish.

  12. Livingston parish appointed a new ROV s few years ago with a council vote using the same system. Maybe someone could contact the DA there and see what made it legal by state law and not blame a flawed system! This is not the first ROV appointment in Home rule charter history! But not in Natchitoches politics,we have to have a pissing contest over individual feelings! There is a legal process just follow it! Why is this so hard to undrrunder? And then you have one (Hoover) wanting to sue?? You have a council broke already wanting to sue the president,just another waste of money they don’t have and a waste of time! CONTACT OTHER CHARTERS THAT HAS GONE THROUG THE PROCESS!! YES ITS THAT EASY!

  13. Well….I HOPE we get an honest and good ROV. With so much voter fraud going on around the country…Florida, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois…just the cases I know about, it’s been satisfying that Louisiana in general, and Natchitoches in particular, appears to have risen above all of that and maintained fair elections. Lord knows my candidate doesn’t always win, and sometimes I scratch my head with “what were voters thinking?!”

    But I have never thought the results were because of voter fraud. Yeah, I am not naïve and do think maybe there’s been some isolated incidents, but surely not enough to alter the outcome of an election.

    Election officials are doing a great job when you hear nothing about them. Like refs in a football game, when you don’t notice they are even out there, they are calling a good game. Well, I have never heard of any voter/voting issues in Natchitoches, so apparently we’ve had the right people in charge. Let’s continue that.

    • Well said, Jason, I agree. Let’s please make sure we have open/honest elections. We all lose if our elections are not fair.

      That said, I don’t like what’s going on with the Parish Council. Speaking of elections…please remember who is doing what when the next election rolls around.

  14. why does the city and or people keep tolerating this behavior ? they all need to go and get new blood in there. They are starting off the same way they left
    arguing and not accomplishing anything.

  15. got to love it,first meeting of the year and already fighting just like last year.
    should fire or dis ban these yahoo’s and get new blood in there A.S.A.P
    the city deserves better,these meetings are a waste of tax payers money.

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