Council candidate takes on inexcusable inefficiency

NOTE:  We turn over Pelican Post’s Op-Ed column to candidate for Parish Council District 10, Jeff Pettit, today.  Should the incumbent(s) challenged below wish to respond he will be afforded the opportunity to do so.

One of the most curious things I’ve witnessed as an avid observer, oftentimes critic, of local politics and governance is the ignorance of multiple governmental subdivisions as to what their counterparts are doing.  Parish officials have little to no interest, and even less knowledge, about what happens inside three municipalities where city officials don’t seem to bother about parish operations.  Aside from making little sense, many cost-sharing opportunities are lost that cost taxpayers millions.

Take, for instance, the Parish Council’s March 21 vote to allocate nearly $3 million to build (or is it expand?) a gym at Lamar Dixon Expo Center.  Ten days later it was revealed that the City of Gonzales is finalizing plans, in the works for years, to build its own gym on four acres along S Darla Ave.  Non-residents of Gonzales will not, I’m told, be prohibited from using the city’s gym.

From S. Darla Ave to Lamar Dixon (courtesy of MapQuest)

Is it possible that two parish council members…

whose districts include roughly half of Gonzales’ city limits, did not know of the city’s plans to build a gym ten minutes away from the one proposed at Lamar Dixon?  Or, worse still, did Travis Turner and/or John Cagnolatti know about the plans and say nothing as their colleagues deliberated on whether or not to spend $3 million precious recreation dollars from the parish’s general fund?  In either case, both have done their colleagues and constituents a disservice.

Travis Turner/Todd Lambert feud over gym funding leads to accusation of council deal-cutting

Would not these millions be better spent to correct serious deficiencies at other parish parks?  There are many.  Maybe $3,000,000 toward easier access to Lamar Dixon’s existing gym and soccer fields is preferable.

The list of alternatives for the funding is inexhaustible, the point is simple.  Shouldn’t 11 council members have factored Gonzales’ plans to build a gym into the equation before casting the vote on March 21?

After retiring to Ascension Parish a decade-and-a-half ago, a mile or so west of the Gonzales’ corporate limits, it was readily apparent that the city’s decisions affected my day-to-day life even though the Pettits are not citizens of Gonzales.  That’s why I began attending City Council meetings in addition to most parish meetings.

I have seen Mr. Cagnolatti at City Hall a few times; which is a few times more than I’ve seen Mr. Turner even though his brother is a City Councilman.  Apparently, the Turner brothers do not compare notes and it is the citizens who, literally, pay the (inflated) price.

Of course, the Lamar Dixon gym was done with as little fanfare as possible because the people of Ascension, by and large, think it is a terrible idea.  The gym, in this citizen’s opinion, is unnecessary and there are so many other priorities.

I am reminded of that other tug-of-war between the City of Gonzales and the parish council, doubling as East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District #1.

Jeff Pettit inspecting New River weir

It took two years for EA Drainage and the city to get on the same page when it came to removing, or not, the New River Weir.  The Town of Sorrento recently threatened EA Drainage with a lawsuit in the hopes of getting ditches cleaned/cleared.  It is all due to a lack of communication/cooperation between parish government and Ascension’s two east bank municipalities.

These are inexcusable inefficiencies that need to stop.

Jeff Pettit, Candidate

Council District 10