John Adams once defined republic as “a government of laws, and not of men.” Ascension’s president and parish council seem unaware of the concept built into the constitutions, both Louisiana’s and the nation’s founding document. Oh, to be sure, the council has no problem enacting legislation; but adherence to/enforcement of inconvenient laws is simply ignored.
Case in point; Ascension’s governing authority, i.e. the Parish Council adopted Section 2-11 of Ascension’s Code of Ordinances on February 15, 2018. Entitled Ratification of Positions, it provides:
“(a)(1) An interim appointment is an appointment made by the president to a position requiring ratification. Interim appointments will expire if they have not been ratified, as required by Charter and ordinances, as of the one hundred and twentieth (120th) day following interim appointment. No reappointment of the same individual shall then be made for the same position.
(2) Evaluation of temporary appointment. The president shall submit an evaluation of the interim appointment prior to ratification.”
The ordinance applies to the Chief Administrative Officer and the heads of:
- Department of finance
- Department of public works
- Department of planning and development
- Department of human resources
- Department of utilities
- Lamar Dixon Expo Center
- Infrastructure division
It was part of an initiative, pushed by the Council’s Finance Committee in 2017 to achieve Efficiency/Effectiveness after dropping approximately $200,000 on SSA Consultants. At the time Finance was chaired by Councilwoman Teri Casso who ascended to chair the Council last month.
According to documents received in response to a records request on September 20, 2018 two department heads, Donald Hysell of Human Resources and Ron Savoy over DPW, had been appointed by President Kenny Matassa.
How good or bad a job are these individuals doing? There has been no evaluation as is required by Section 2-11.
On January 29, 131 days having elapsed, a second public record was received indicating both were still in place. Neither appointment has been publicly announced much less subject to requisite ratification by the Parish Council; both expired 15 days ago.
Does Chairwoman Casso and her council brethren, or Matassa’s administration have any respect for the Rule of Law? The answer is, especially in Matassa’s case, well known.
We are reminded of Thomas Jefferson’s seldom cited (not nearly enough) quote:
“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary; too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”