By Edwin Crayton
In January, five members of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF) were supposed to vacate their board seats according to the bylaws of the organization. But instead the board voted to keep the five in their seats citing a lack of qualified applicants from the general public. The board further claimed they needed to keep the five in order to have enough people to perform the foundation’s work. Actually, in fact, their claim is not really true, as the board consists of 15 members and only needs eight to meet a quorum. So, if five stepped down, they would have 10 board members left—more than enough for quorum. Despite this fact, at that January meeting, the following five were voted back on anyway: Leo Walker Jr., Kevin Porter, Diane Blake Jones, Billye Johnson and Ed Ward. Now, surprisingly, one of these expired board members—Billye Johnson– is saying she did not even know she had been voted back on the board.
I spoke to Ms. Johnson and asked if she realized she had been voted back on the board even though her term of service was up. She seemed surprised to hear that she had been voted back on and replied, “No, I did not know they had voted me back on the board. And I would have liked to have had the chance to say yes or no.” Ms. Johnson made it clear that she realizes she has met her term limit and does not consider herself on the board any more. Sure enough, she has not shown up at any board meetings and is uninvolved and that is as it should be. On the other hand, three of the five with expired terms have shown up at every meeting and are pretty active in running the foundation: One of the three, Leo Walker for instance, actually chairs the meetings in spite of his expired status. The other two, Kevin Porter and Diane Blake Jones are also very active. By contrast, like Ms. Johnson, to the best of my knowledge, Ed Ward has not shown up at meetings since his term expired. (And I have attended each meeting.) It appears that he, like Ms. Johnson has stepped down properly. Ward could not be reached by press time.
In January the NCIF board said they would fill the five seats when they got qualified applicants from the public. However, at quarterly meetings since then, I asked if they had received nominations and they said yes. Yet as of their July 9th board meeting, the board has not voted on those applicants and has not explained why. I asked Ms. Johnson if she thought the board members with expired terms should step down. She said, “Yes. They should give up their seats and give others an opportunity to serve.”
“And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” –Jesus in John 8:32