West Feliciana Police Jury to revisit charter repeal

After a 3-4 vote Monday killed a move to call an election on repealing the parish’s home-rule charter, the item is back on the agenda for a special West Feliciana Parish Police Jury meeting Thursday.

The meeting notice says the 5:30 p.m. meeting will be held in the second-floor courtroom of the parish courthouse, which has a larger seating area than the Police Jury meeting room in the adjacent courthouse annex.

Monday’s meeting was moved to the courtroom because of the size of the crowd wanting to hear a discussion on the home-rule charter, which has yet to be implemented to replace the Police Jury.

Jurors Lea Williams, Heather Howle, Ricky Lambert and Melvin Percy voted against adding the repeal election to the jury’s final agenda, while charter opponents Otis Wilson, Melvin Young and John Kean were in the minority.

The jury also voted 4-3 Monday to seek U.S. Justice Department approval of the overall plan, including the election of a parish president.

Williams sent an email Wednesday to 20th Judicial District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla, with copies sent to her fellow jurors, asking for information about a possible repeal election.

The subject line of her email says “Repeal election allowed by law. Not a revote.”

“Please provide me with this information by tomorrow (Thursday) as there is a desire to call a special meeting this week to discuss the entire charter and its meaning to the parish,” Williams wrote.

“What are the legal ramifications against the Jurors for considering the placement of any of these items on the October 2013 ballot?” Williams asked.

The reaction by home-rule charter supporters was not long in coming.

“It is amazing that only 48 hours after voting in favor of sending the home-rule charter to the Justice Department for approval, Lea Williams is proposing to hold a special jury meeting to discuss placing a repeal of the charter on a ballot in October,” former Home Rule Charter Commission member Z. David DeLoach said in an email to charter supporters.

“This is just the sensible, steady type of direction that gives us such confidence in our present government system,” DeLoach said.

Williams did not respond to messages left Friday on her cellphone.

Thursday’s agenda calls for discussion and a vote on whether to hold an “immediate public hearing” to discuss the charter. If the vote is favorable, the jury would open a public hearing.

The agenda also says a presentation will be made on 11 areas regarding the charter and the jury system of government.

The final item is a discussion and vote on calling an Oct. 19 election on whether the home-rule charter should be repealed.

“This is government run amok,” DeLoach said Friday, adding that supporters hope to get an even larger crowd to attend Thursday’s meeting.

Voters approved the charter by a 337-vote margin on Nov. 6. It calls for a parish president and a parish council of one at-large member and four members from single-member districts.