By Patsy Ward Hoover, Council Women
Leadership is the process by which a person influences others to accomplish a goal or goals, and directs the organization or team in a way that makes it more UNIFIED and SOUNDER. To accomplish this unity, leadership must use characteristics such as honesty, knowledge, skills, and respect for the creativity and opinions of others. Good leadership is not self-serving nor does it misuse authority to present a good image for itself at the expense of making the rest of the team look bad. Therefore, as a leader, I think it is important to explain several of the duties a Natchitoches Parish Council member has.
Residents from various districts have repeatedly requested that the roads, bridges, and drainage systems be repaired in their areas. Because this is a serious problem in the parish, it is often an agenda item open for discussion. Why is it shameful to discuss an issue that is so problematic in our parish, and why should it be called a complaint? The issue that needs addressing is not shamefulness or complaining, it’s the problem the parish has concerning the lack of repair of the roads, bridges and drainage systems. To ensure that residents receive factual and helpful information, a council member has the right to openly ask questions and discuss agenda items to ensure residents get the appropriate information they need. There is no shame in making sure they are properly served.
The right to cast a vote and express an opinion is another duty that each member of the council possesses. In view of the fact that there is often many request for items to be placed on the agenda, a deadline is used to ensure council members receive packets at least a week in advance to review and research additional information. It is never the responsibility of the Parish Council to make sure constituents or other parish departments make this deadline. When I voted not to add an item to the agenda from the Parish Engineer, it was based on professional reasoning. If the Parish Engineer decided to take a vacation or leave of absence, it was still his responsibility to ensure all parish business and documentation was taken care of before departure. If a delay could cause such a liability to the parish, then making the deadline for the agenda should have been of upmost importance. Also, the Parish President’s office had the authority to submit the request, which is just a few steps from the Parish Council’s office. So, instead of saying I was critical, the correct expression for this scenario is, “I saw an explanation that was not acceptable and provided words of wisdom for future request submissions.”
I do not believe Parish Council members purposely try to block, destroy or prevent agendas that are useful for the improvement of the parish. And none of the council members voted for an increase of waste removal. To be very transparent and address the strait truth, the request to renew the waste tax was not placed on the agenda. There is no way practical that the Parish Council could vote on something that was not on the agenda. This fact along tells me that the Parish Council’s motive was not to increase waste tax, and we certainly cannot work to build a common goal until we have an agenda to do so.
I decided as a leader to write this letter to ensure that the snare of unnecessary accusations do not become a “Blame Game” and to make sure the team doesn’t get thrown under the bus. Council members can not address or vote on items that are not on the agenda. I also admit that the Parish Council meetings sometimes do get hectic, but they do not purposely threaten or destroy what is beneficial for the parish. Yes, our opinions are different. They should be because a team should consist of different ideas to incite creativity that often causes a flare between personalities. We are not the opposition, and should not be put on the menu of the blame game for situations we do not control. In closing Mr. president when will you apologize for choking a young African American man in our community? That is the apology that is needed.
NOTE: This letter regarding the Parish Council meeting of March 15, 2021 has been published as received.