It simply does not take thirteen people to run Catahoula Parish. We have two lawyers who tag-team the Police Jury meetings by alternating in attendance. We have two secretary/ administrators who, with occasional advice from the parish attorneys, actually do run the parish. There is a police jury president who does 90% of the work actually done by the police jury. And then we have eight police jurors who each collect $14,000 per year for rubber stamping state mandates and decisions made by the other five people mentioned previously.
Service on the police jury is, at least in theory, about administering the programs of public works such as road maintenance, garbage disposal, drainage projects and in general maintaining and expanding as necessary the public works and infrastructure of the parish. This entails administering and overseeing the expenditure of grant monies as well as those funds collected locally and those shared by the state and, occasionally, the Federal government. In other words, it’s an administrative position, but it doesn’t take 13 administrators.
In fact, there is really only one administrator in the parish right now, and that is the police jury secretary. She is like Snow White except that instead of seven dwarfs, she has nine of them.
We have made this point previously and noted at the time that this is not an unusual arrangement for police juries in Louisiana. It is just ridiculously inefficient and unnecessarily costly. Catahoula, though, doesn’t have the time and money to waste, and we need better economic results if we want anything else, especially our schools, to get better.
We are encouraged to see the rising number of people stepping forward to announce their candidacies for the Jury. But we want to take this opportunity to warn the people of Catahoula Parish; if you elect people who are thinking the same about the police jury as those previously in office, then you will get the same disappointing results as you have previously received.
Candidates for the Jury should make it clear to us what they will do that the person in that office now is not doing. Will they redraw the parish political map and reduce the number of wards from nine to five? Will they create a Home Rule Charter Commission to write a charter establishing a new, less expensive and more efficient form of government with a view toward economic development among its duties?
If you are running for police jury, we want to know what makes you different from the person you propose to replace. We are eager to support candidates who have thought about the future of the parish and who are concerned to improve that outlook.
We are hopeful that you will be the people to lead us away from chronic dependency on state and federal handouts to do only what they want done. We are hopeful that you will have made the effort to learn what your administrative responsibilities are. We are hopeful that you will be the difference we need to keep Catahoula from further population loss and economic decline. We are hopeful that you are committed to real change.
We are hopeful that your deeds, not merely your words, will take us to a better future.