One Year Past His Term Limit, Walker Still Chairs Meetings at Foundation That Has $19,500 Unaccounted for

By Edwin Crayton/Opinion

According to the term limits section of the bylaws of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF), no board member can serve more than one consecutive three-year term. That means a total of six years. The bylaws say in section 3.3 that “A director may succeed himself (or herself), but for only one consecutive term.” Leo Walker was elected chairman in 2014. The same year an independent audit found that $19,500 was unaccounted for (and still is unaccounted for). It is now 2021. That’s seven years. He should have stepped down last year. Yet, Walker chaired the April 13, 2021 meeting of NCIF.

Diane Blake Jones is also on the board. But she was on the board in 2014 too. That means, she too, after having served two consecutive terms is supposed to step down for a year. Ms. Jones was very much still on the board at the April 13th quarterly board meeting. When I asked Mr. Walker about this issue at the meeting, he got irritated and yelled incoherently. That is not an answer.

The board needs members and sure enough, people are applying. That night in fact, the board voted to allow six people on. But then it said it needed to check with them to make sure these people wanted to serve. Couldn’t that have been done before the meeting so that at the meeting all they had to do was confirm the new members? Three current members have missed several meetings. Later the board said it wanted to also check on these three members to see if they want to remain on the board. Why? They are consistently not showing up. Doesn’t that answer that question?

Because one of the citizens newly voted on to the board was present, I asked her if she accepted the position. She said yes. Her name is Helen Obioha and she runs the Natchitoches Coalition on Homelessness. At some point, the board asked all members of the public to leave while they went into an executive session. One member of the public was Dorothy McGaskey who is a school board member, questioned Walker as to why the “executive session” was not on the printed agenda. By the way, the new member was not invited into the “executive session”, even after being voted on to the board.

So here is the situation: You have Walker, a so-called “chairman” running a meeting even though according to the board’s own bylaws, he is in violation of NCIF term limits and should not even be on the board at this point at all. You have a board that can barely put a quorum together to conduct business and at the same time you have citizens coming forward to volunteer and yet the board is still asking current members who have not been attending meetings if they still want to be on the board. And oh, they get to manage 2 million dollars of money designated to be distributed to you and the rest of the citizens of Natchitoches.

The ironic truth in all of this is, NCIF has basically good bylaws, approved by a district judge. But good bylaws do not matter at all, when the organization they are written for doesn’t follow them or follows them selectively. It’s simple NCIF. Just keep your word and do what you agreed to on paper and before the judge. I ran across something interesting in The NCIF Code of Ethics and Conduct. It says under “Purpose”: “The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation is obligated as a charitable, tax exempt organization to maintain the public trust. Later on it reads, “It is incumbent upon the Board of Directors of the Foundation to conduct the affairs of the Foundation with a commitment to the highest standard of integrity.” Really? So, is allowing board members to violate term limits and even run the organization while in violation, and allowing still other board members to remain on the board even though they are not attending meetings, is this “maintaining the public trust” and displaying the “highest standard of integrity?”

The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation Board members are: Oswald Taylor, Mildred Joseph, Gwen Antee Hardison-Davis, Shaniqua Hoover, Brenda Milner, Gwendolyn Williams, Rene Porter, Edwin Deon Powe, De’Marquis Hamilton, (The following are sitting on the board even though their terms have expired due to term limits: Leo Walker Sr., Diane Blake Jones. The board voted to allow Helen Obioha and five other citizens on to the board. Ms. Obioha accepted in the meeting).

“Let everything be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40

11 thoughts on “One Year Past His Term Limit, Walker Still Chairs Meetings at Foundation That Has $19,500 Unaccounted for

  1. Randy,
    I agree that the Boys and Girls Clubs would be some very good things to fund. There are so many
    worthy projects that could be funded, with some leadership. IF the judge on that court order is still around
    maybe (he/she) needs to be enlightened with the failure?

  2. Why don’t they fund the Boys and Girls Club? I could have sued them but change my mind! They was supposed to advertise their meetings and print their minutes in The Real Views by court order!

    • I’m sure the State and Federal Revenue agents would be interested in the illegal operation.

  3. Plain answer to some of the questions: They are a non-profit, with apparently no direct oversite, and a non-governmental organization. Unless enough citizens demand change I guess its not going to happen.
    Besides showing up for one of their meetings, I don’t know if there is any agency that can do anything.
    (Edwin, if I’m wrong set me straight)

  4. First thing, this money shouldn’t even exist. This thing was nothing more than a political payoff that never made sense in the original legal case to begin with. That 19k’s disappearance and the how and why must be mighty inconvenient for someone or some bodies.

  5. Mr. Clayton I enjoyed your column very much. You are doing a good job. Keep up the good work. Don’t give up.

  6. Maybe I have missed it, but who is over this Foundation that can do something about this. Shouldn’t members be voted in or appointed by City Council. I’ve had respect in the past for the articles that Mr. Walker has written, but reading about him not answering a question, and instead yelling at the person asking the question, puts me in doubt of his motives. I’m not saying he took money, but that man should cooperate completely and open all meetings until the matter of $19,500 missing is cleared up. Someone should be held accountable for this money. Before I retired, money came up missing, and every employee had to take a lie detector test. Why are these people not taking one? That is a lot of money that could have gone to help some needy person, and it just disappears and nobody does anything. That is just a great example of how Natchitoches DOES NOT HOLD people accountable. We had shady deals back in the day with the Police Jury. I still question why certain roads were chosen by Rhodes Construction and Parish Council President Richmond. In all these situations, it seems we never get a good answer, so it’s just dropped. WHY arer’t we actively pursuing answers as to where the money went? WHY aren’t people off the Foundation? WHY are they allowed to handle so much of our tax dollars, yet they elect the people they want on the Foundation? WHY is there not something that can be done about the way members are elected to this Foundation? WHY has not anything been done about $19,500 missing from a Foundation that seems to have complete control of everything, including keeping a new member out of an Executive Session? What did they discuss that they didn’t want her to hear, and weren’t they doing something wrong in keeping her out? CAN SOMETHING BE DONE ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, PLEASE?

    • Good questions MEWHP . Frustrating is the word I would use.
      This has been discussed here before and still nothing is done.

      The age of losing the power of the voices of the people.

  7. He makes some good points. Why are board members allowed to stay past their term limits ?

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