Jurors table talk of parish president

March 1, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

Should Calcasieu have a president elected parish wide? The idea came up at tonight's police jury meeting but there's stiff opposition to even talking about it.

As jurors were wrapping up their agenda meeting Juror Brent Clement asked to put the issue  on the agenda for the upcoming regular meeting on March 8.  "I'd like to add: to form a committee to look at the feasibility of having a parish wide election for president of the police jury."

But, at the mere mention of discussing the issue,  tension seemed to fill the air in the meeting room.  Juror Elizabeth Griffin told the others, "I don't think it's good for the parish that we even study something like this. It would be my desire to table this whole issue."

And others seemed to be blind sided by Clement's motion. Juror Kevin Guidry questioned why it had been brought up.  "You took me for a loop as to why we would even suggest something like this."

Still others, such as Juror Sandy Treme, who seconded the motion to table,  are so opposed they wouldn't even talk about it after the meeting.

Clement says it's an idea worth looking at to help with issues such as hurricane recovery. "I envision the responsibility staying pretty much similar to what the responsibilities are. It's just someone able to dedicate their total attention versus having to be a sitting member and having a president."

But administrator Mark McMurry says Calcasieu is considered a most progressive parish and he fears such a move could be a step backward. "I would say there's probably not necessarily any correlation between the ability of someone to be elected to a chief executive officer role and their ability to manage the type of business that, for instance, Calcasieu Parish government is. We're close to a $180 million dollar a year operation."

With a nine to four vote jurors tabled the issue which makes it dead for now.

Also, jurors got an update on efforts to bring a second commercial airline to the Lake area. A negotiating meeting was held on Mardi Gras and airport officials remain optimistic. They say they cannot reveal the airline.