Home Rule Charter Commission increases meetings, changes times

Wade McIntyre

The Home Rule Charter Commission tweaked its operating procedure and spent the better part of two hours discussing what to include and when to include what it includes in the commission agenda from now through January.

Members agreed during a meeting Wednesday to meet twice rather once monthly, and to move meeting starting times up from 7 to 6 p.m. Meetings were set for the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Commission Chairman Milton Clouatre said the commission would spend the next few months putting together a rough draft of material that the parish attorney will assemble for presentation to the Parish Council regarding Charter revisions.

One item discussed was whether members should invite elected officials and outside guests to commission meetings before or after the commission comes up with its own recommendations on issues of concern. Members did agree they should invite parish leaders to the commission before other persons of interest are invited.

The commission listed four proposed amendments recommended by the 2002 Charter Commission for discussion on Wednesday’s agenda. However, area resident Kathryn Goppelt told members the proposed amendment changes should be referenced to the existing part of the Charter that they pertained to, or the section of the Charter where the proposed amendment would be incorporated if it is a new item.

The agenda stated the proposed amendment listings were for discussion, but parish legal advisor Lindsey Manda said the commission at future meetings needs to follow the ordinance that created the commission. That would require referencing amendment items discussed to the existing charter as Goppelt suggested, according to Manda.

The four unreferenced amendment items included hot button issues that surfaced during the Ronnie Hughes’ administration about presidential vetoes and whether employees removed by the president cannot be reinstated by the council.

Removal of department heads serving at the pleasure of the president and authorizing the parish council to appoint its secretary rather than having the president make the appointment were also listed.

Commission members discussed the amendments, but took no action, per Manda’s suggestion.