The Natchitoches Parish Council met in regular session on June 17, 2019. There were several agenda items, but most of them were appointments/reappointments to various boards and Ordinances for zoning changes.
One item of interest was the employment of the Director of Public Works, which is occupied by Mr. John Richmond. Mr. Richmond is running for the position of Natchitoches Parish President. Several constituents of various Council members have expressed concerns in relation to Mr. Richmond being employed by the Parish Government and seeking election to the President position, which is ultimately the over the Director of Public Works position. The constituents have expressed concerns stating that it appears that Mr. Richmond is suddenly starting to fix roads now that it’s election year, when nothing seemed to be getting done prior to his announcement that he was running for the President position. We, as the Council, were advised that no one was sure if this was allowed or not.
On May 29, 2019 the Council was advised by email that Department of Public Works was currently unable to purchase a certain type of road repair material, and in order for Mr. Richmond to purchase a different type of material we will need to either call a special meeting to pass an emergency budget amendment Ordinance or issue an emergency declaration. I advised the administration that I wanted a meeting instead of allowing the Parish President to declare an emergency. The Chairman of the Council allowed the emergency declaration because a quorum of Council members was not available for an emergency meeting. I responded by email that I was in opposition to this, as there were some unanswered questions that remained.
On May 30, 2019 I sent an email to Mr. Rick Nowlin and Mr. John Richmond, pursuant to the Public Information Act requesting the following information:
1) In the email that I received from the Natchitoches Parish Clerk on May 29, 2019 I was advised the Department of Public Works is currently unable to purchase a certain type of road repair material. Please provide what type of material this was in reference to, as the Emergency Declaration states, “Certain types of road repair materials, including but not limited to, Winn rock, crushed concrete, stone and gravel.
2) What constituted the emergency, being that I was advised by Mr. Richmond on May 20, 2019, during the Regularly scheduled Natchitoches Parish Council meeting that there was no emergency in the rock budget.
On June 01, 2019, I received a phone call from Mr. Richmond stating that there was actually no emergency, but he just needed the money to get work done faster so it would look better.
During the meeting on June 17, 2019, I asked Mr. Richmond if it was true that he called me and advised me of this on June 01, 2019. Mr. Richmond advised that he did indeed call me and advise me that it was no actual emergency. I advised Mr. Richmond that I was in receipt of a Facebook post by Councilwoman Patsy Ward Hoover on May 22, 2019 at 7:21 pm stating that, “Mr. Nowlin has promised to visit Bermuda Road tomorrow. I have asked for emergency funding. I can be reached at 318-527-9294”.
Mr. Richmond had already stated that this material was placed on Bermuda Road. I advised Mr. Richmond that I was already aware a week prior to his request to declare an emergency that he was going to ask for one.
I was advised that our legal counsel advised the Administration that this was not an emergency, and advised them not to declare one, but they did it anyway.
Please understand that the Council has not changed the way we report roads and projects that are in need of repair. If the administration can fix roads now, they could have been doing it.
Thank you for your continued support and God Bless you and your families.
Natchitoches Parish Council
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