By Edwin Crayton
At the first annual meeting of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF) at First Baptist Amulet, Tuesday, January 14, 2020, only 6 people showed up out of a 15-member board. Those numbers look a bit more dysfunctional when you consider that two of those present that night are not even supposed to be on the board according to the foundation’s own bylaws. Leo Walker Sr. (who is acting as chairman) and Diane Blake Jones are still holding on to seats that expired way back in January of 2019 according to the foundation’s own bylaws. So in fact only 4 properly seated members showed up out of 15.
Although it is understandable that people miss meetings from time to time, the obviously large number of absent board members seems to imply there’s a problem somewhere. Especially considering the fact that several of the absent members have each missed at least two or three meetings in a row. And consider the fact that there are six vacant seats which according to the bylaws are supposed to be filled by the process of the board holding elections to allow members of the public to fill vacancies. Late last year when I asked Mr. Walker if the board had received nominations, he said they had, yet they have not held elections. So what we have is a curious situation in which (1) The board has vacant seats to fill and nominations from the public but won’t hold elections to fill those seats. (2) Board members are allowed to hold on to board seats they are not entitled to according to term limits. (3) Other board members who have legitimate seats don’t attend meetings. Which also of course, means members of the public who would be willing to serve are shut out from having opportunities to serve.
It does not help matters that the board seems to attract controversy. Grant applicant Henry O Flipper Foundation (HOFF) took NCIF to court citing a range of complaints relating to how NCIF handled HOFF’s grant request. And at least one new member, Renee Porter expressed strong frustration with NCIF at a meeting last year. Porter was one of the absent members Tuesday night.
The board rescheduled the cancelled board meeting for Tuesday, January 28, 7pm at First Baptist Amulet. The public is allowed to attend. NCIF is an organization court ordered to distribute 1.8 million in funds to citizens of Natchitoches in the areas of education, recreation, housing and economic development.
The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF) board members are: Brenda Milner, Mildred Joseph, Oswald Taylor, Gwen Antee Hardison-Davis, Shaniqua Hoover, Gwendolyn Williams, Edwin Deon Powe, Renee Porter DeMarquis Hamilton (The following are sitting in violation of the NCIF bylaws: Leo Walker, Diane Blake Jones)
“You shall reap what you sow.” –Galatians 6:7
By Edwin Crayton