Oddly enough, six members of the committee voted to recommend “The Council-Manager form of government be put on the ballot in December; and that we finalize the word for word language of the Council-Manager Charter no later than June 18.” The motion was made by Harold Jarreau whose contributions to date have been so minimal as to escape notice. Jarreau “think(s) we can easily” vet ABA’s document “by June 18, if not sooner.”
He was joined by Councilman Aaron Lawler, Councilwoman Teri Casso, ABA’s Brandon “2-PAC” Trosclair, Rodney Hernandez, and Van Lambert. Opposing were yours truly, Committee Chairman Roy Quezaire, former parish president Tommy Martinez, and Liz Laurent. So, we don’t know what we’re recommending, we’re just recommending it for inclusion on the December 8, 2018 ballot.
Conspicuous by his absence last night, the not so subtle specter of Council Chairman Bill Dawson pervaded the council meeting room, but subtle enough that no one seemed to notice. ABA’s new proposal takes in elements of Dawson’s earlier suggestion to elect one at-large council member who would be specifically elected as the governing authority’s chairman. While ABA’s newest proposal does not call it that, the “ceremonial” parish president would assume the powers of the council chairman (see Section 3-03 below); and would pay-off the “ceremonial” parish president to the tune of $76,800.
For comparison’s sake ABA’s proposed changes will appear in red text. Where corresponding language to ABA’s proposal exists in Ascension’s current Home Rule Charter and/or Parish Ordinances exists, it will be included in italics, with commentary when deemed appropriate.
Hot off the presses, ABA’s most recent proposed changes to Ascension’s 25-year old charter:
Section 3-01: Parish President and Parish Manager
The Executive Branch shall consist of a Parish President and a Parish Manager. The Parish President shall be elected, at large from and by the qualified electors of Ascension Parish in the regular election for the governing authority and shall serve a four (4) year term, concurrent with the governing authority. The Parish Manager shall be appointed by the governing authority as provided herein.
Section 3-02: Qualifications of the Parish President
A candidate for Parish President shall, at the time of qualifying, be a qualified elector of Ascension Parish who has achieved the age of 18.
Section 3-01: Qualifications (of parish president)
The president shall be elected at large from and by the qualified electors of the parish according to the election laws of the state for a four (4) year term and shall reside in and be a qualified elector of the parish for a period of two (2) years immediately preceding the time established by law for qualifying for office.
Section 3-03: Powers and Duties of the Parish President
A. The Parish President shall be the ceremonial head of the parish government and shall represent the parish government in intergovernmental relationships; however, the Parish President shall have no administrative authority over parish departments, offices or employees.
B. The Parish President shall serve as the presiding officer of the governing authority but shall not be considered a member of the governing authority for purposes of establishing a quorum thereof. In that role the Parish President shall have the duty and authority to:
1. Establish the agenda for the regular and special meetings of the governing.
2. Preside over regular and special meetings of the governing authority in a fair and impartial manner insofar as the recognition of members for the floor and rulings on matters of order or decorum.
3. Participate in the discussion of any matter before the governing authority; and
4. Cast a vote to break a tie on a matter before the governing authority.
C. The Parish President shall make appointments to parish boards and commissions, with the concurrence of the governing authority.
Ascension Parish Ordinance 2-95. – Powers and duties of the chair
(a) The chair shall possess the following powers and perform the following duties:
(1) Chair shall preserve order and decorum.
(2) Chair shall decide all questions of order subject to appeal to the council. The parliamentarian may render an opinion on parliamentary procedures only at the request of the chair. However, the chair shall not be bound by such opinion.
(3) In the vice chair’s absence, chair may substitute any member of the council to perform the duties of the chair.
(4) When the council shall be ready to go into the committee of the whole, he shall preside therein or name a chair from the body to preside therein.
(5) Chair shall be a member ex officio of all committees and shall have the right of notice of all meetings thereof and to vote on all propositions before any such boards and committees, and in his absence, the vice chair shall serve.
(6) Chair shall assign all members of the council to their respective committees and follow input by members.
(7) Chair shall represent the council in all public functions, ceremonies and events or assign this responsibility.
(8) Chair shall be authorized to assign council members to represent the council on all boards and commissions with ratification by the council.
-and, more importantly-
a) The chair and parish president shall propose the agenda to be completed by Thursday prior to next Thursday’s meeting.
(b) Chair’s additions. Any emergency two-thirds ( 2/3 ) agenda item shall be put in writing and forwarded to the chair before the meeting begins (with deadline of 1:00 p.m. meeting day) and must state the nature of the emergency two-thirds ( 2/3 ).
Section 3-04: Compensation of the Parish President
A. The Parish President shall be compensated in an amount equal to four (4) times the compensation of a member of the governing authority.
B. The Parish President shall be considered full-time insofar as benefits available to parish employees.
Section 3-02: Compensation (of parish president)
The president shall receive a minimum salary of $55,000.
- Currently, members of the governing authority are paid $1,600/month ($19,200/year)
- ABA’s version of a parish president would make $6,400/month ($76,800/year)
Section 4-08: Presiding Officer
The Parish President shall be the presiding officer of the governing authority. The governing authority shall elect from its members by a majority vote a vice-chairman, who shall preside at its meetings in the absence of the Parish President. The vice-chairman shall be subject to removal by two-thirds vote of the members of the governing authority. The presiding officer shall only be required to vote to break a tie.
Section 4-08: Chairman
The governing authority shall elect from among its members by a majority vote a chairman, who shall preside at its meetings. The chairman shall be subject to removal by a two-thirds vote of the members of the governing authority. The chairman shall only be required to vote to break a tie.