A Department Head Pay Raise without a Public Vote?

The Journal was surprised to find itself, along with other local media sources, carbon copied on an email from Parish Councilman Doug de Graffenried to the HR Coordinator for the Parish. The email responded to a letter that was issued to the Council from Parish President Rick Nowlin regarding a request for a pay raise for a Department Head. Section 4-01.B. of the Home Rule Charter states that salaries for department heads are subject to the Council’s approval. Per the Sunshine Laws of our State, all public bodies must vote viva voce (by voice) and the Home Rule Charter (Section 2-06.H) requires that all votes be made by roll call with the ayes and nayes of the members voting recorded in the Council’s minutes by individual Council member.

When contacted, Councilman de Graffenried said that he wanted the voters of the Parish to be aware of the improper actions he believed Mr. Nowlin was attempting to take with regards to this matter. The Journal is publishing the correspondence with his permission and at his request.

See Red Circle at the very bottom


This response does not constitute a vote. This matter must be handled in a duly called open meeting of the Natchitoches Parish Council. The Executive branch has no authority to authorize a salary increase without Parish Council approval. The salary increase proposed is ludicrous on its face. The reasons given for the proposed increase are farcical. We are going to give an employee a huge raise for doing her job? What about the other people in administration? What about the folks working on the roads? The voters of our Parish deserve better from the Parish President.

No wonder the folks on Bermuda Road can’t get their road fixed, we are attempting to give huge salary increases to Department Heads! Actually it appears we are trying to slide a huge salary increase around the Parish Council while trying to hide behind you as the sender of the original email.

I am incredulous that this matter would be brought up in this manner. I object to this proposed action strenuously.

With due regard,


Doug de Graffenried
District 3

This response does not constitute a vote.


19 thoughts on “A Department Head Pay Raise without a Public Vote?

  1. think we need to ask ourselves..if we cannot save Shelby from dying
    how can we keep our roads from dying.Soul searching 101

  2. So the opening statement of the memo says proposed. Not definitive. And it closes with if there are any objections please feel free to contact us . And seeing that all council members were contacted via email and read this. Not a one of you had the scruples to say , “Hey we need a voice vote?” And whose to say you could interpret electronic machine being a computer ? Not everyone has a lawyer handy. In my opinion this could have all been avoided with a simple reply to the email .

  3. PAY ME 1/2 OF WHAT THEY MAKE AN I CAN LIVE A GOOD LIFE MONTH TO MONTH. $160,000.00 a year I think that’s what Mr. Nowlin’s gets a year.

  4. It is definitely time to abolish the parish council and return to the police jury same problem in coddo parish for years we should have known better

  5. The law suit is all about transparency and honesty! The council and others have proven they will do things and attempt to hide the facts. It’s needed!

    • Maybe you’re right. I just don’t like lawsuits in general. But, in this case, maybe the plaintiff will win on the merits and he can come back and say, see, I told you.

      I just got set off when I saw that post by Polly M. it seemed an advocation for lawsuits anytime you disagree with some governing body.

      I’m done on this matter.

  6. Now, on this matter. I do not agree with the way the parish president handled this. He did acknowledge the parish council has to approve such pay raises, but he also built in a clause the pay raise would go into effect unless there are objections. That is putting the cart before the horse.

    The proper response from the parish council is: Mr. Parish President, in accordance with the HRC, the council will put this item on a future agenda of a regularly scheduled meeting and will address it then. No action can be taken until after the council renders a decision.

    But please, folks, allow the council to handle this. No need for more lawsuits!

    • Suing Natchitoches taxpayers is no solution to anything. And don’t even go there with the “it ain’t costing taxpayers anything.” It is. Lawyers have been hired to defend the parish. Unless you think they’ll work for free.

      Also I hear all capital outlay projects that were in the works were postponed until next year because of the lawsuit, which asked for an injunction against any, and ALL, road work. Thankfully the judge tossed that request out, but it did cause the state to pull previously approved funding for the 2019 capital road projects. Good job Mr McMurtry!

      Let the voters of Natchitoches think on this, especially those in District 3, Mr. McMurtry petitioned the court to have ALL road work suspended until the lawsuit was settled. The judge denied that, but what if he hadn’t? No road work…none! for how long? These lawsuits tend to drag out in court as the lawyers, from both sides, milk it for all it’s worth. Meanwhile, you think our roads are bad now? How about no road work for the foreseeable future?

      Lawsuits only enrich lawyers and should be avoided, period.

      • Mr. Jason

        You are uninformed or lying in your comments. First, the Parish is defended by Mr. Mansour. He is employed by the Parish as an ADA and is being paid by the Parish whether he is sitting in Court defending Mr. Nowlin’s behavior or sitting in his office reading Law Reviews.

        Your statement that the petition requested an injunction against any and all roadwork is either a bald face lie or a result of astonishing ignorance or most probably disinformation on behalf of your candidate. The same is true of your mis characterization of Judge Bolin’s ruling. Completely false and mis leading.

        Your statement McMURTRY petitioned the court to have ALL roadwork suspended, is flatly false and designed to mislead the reader. It is you Jason, who is using this matter for political purposes. State your political allegiances Jason. You are as false as those you are supporting.

        I have held my tongue until now but you and your calculated lies need to be called out.

      • You nailed it. All lawsuits cost the defendant money, in this case, we the taxpayers of the parish will foot that bill.

        I did read, on this very NPJ I think it was that a judge denied the injunction. It can’t be too far back in the archives, I’ll see if I can find it.

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