OPINION: Police jurors should disregard power, petty politics and personal agendas

Doug Postel (left), Richard Durrett (middle) and Milton Melton (right) will all be focal points in tonight’s LPPJ meeting.

By Malcolm Butler

 

To say that tonight’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting is important is an understatement.

A big-time understatement. Like mammoth.

Why? Because tonight the 12-member jury will vote on four things.

a) President

b) Vice President

c) Doug Postel’s possible reappointment as administrator

d) Buc-ee’s coming to Lincoln Parish

And the results of those four separate votes will not only shape the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for the next 12 months, but will have a direct impact on the direction of our parish for years to come.

If the past 12 months are indication, the people of Lincoln Parish need to come out in force and make sure their voices are heard.

Let’s start with Postel. Unless you were hiding under a rock the past year, you read how an attempt was made by some police jury members to oust Postel from his role as administrator. Police Juror Skip Russell asked Postel to resign from his role during a closed door meeting back in August.

Russell was simply the messenger, citing at the time that “my knowledge came from jury members who called me to tell me about things that have been going on. That’s where I got my info from.”

Russell and a number of unnamed jurors allegedly had “documentation” of improprieties when it came to Postel’s fulfillment of his position as administrator. When this attempt became public, Russell was left to fend for himself as none of the unnamed jurors came forward.

Attempts to reach all 12 members for comment were unsuccessful, including no responses from President Richard Durrett and Vice President Milton Melton.

When the Lincoln Parish Journal requested the said “documentation” from Russell, it was never provided. To this day, it still hasn’t been.

Russell, who declined to provide the names of the other jurors who were involved in the endeavor, did apologize to Postel a few days after the news became the talk of Ruston.

At the next police jury meeting following this attempt, many Lincoln Parish residents offered strong criticism to the entire police jury during the public comment portion of the meeting. This showing of support seemed to quell the attempt.

Until now.

Numerous sources tell the LPJ that a faction of the police jury is going to try to vote Postel out tonight, despite the lack of any documentation of wrong doing.

One police jury member is already taking a strong favorable stance on the performance of Postel.

“Several members of our Police Jury have a real fear there is a renewed effort to dismiss Doug Postel as Administrator,” said police juror Logan Hunt on Monday. Hunt wrote a letter to Skip Russell in September requesting evidence of the allegations. The letter was shared with the media.

“The closed-door attempts made this fall proved to be based on false accusations and untruths,” Hunt said. “Some will say that instead, this is now about job performance. These efforts are not about job performance, but simply power and petty politics.”

Power and petty politics. Unfortunately, those who have followed the police jury during 2022 have seen way too much of this. I know I have.

In fact in my opinion it’s personal agendas that led our parish paying four-to-five times the amount for ambulance and rescue moving forward.

Power. Petty politics. Personal agendas.

And none of this falls on Postel.

“Our parish has exciting days ahead, and our governing body doesn’t need to be distracted by these types of games,” said Hunt. “Doug has done a fine job laying the foundational work to ensure the Jury and Parish’s success for years to come. He has forged great working relationships with the other areas of our Parish government. We are truly in a good spot.”

The list of items that Postel and his team have accomplished over the past two years is long and impressive. Yet, power, petty politics and personal agendas are clouding what should be a clear picture of progress.

“To dismiss Doug and start over looking for an administrator right now would be a huge distraction from the goals that the jury still has before us,” said Hunt. “We should be collectively problem-solving the long-term funding for our ambulance and rescue services. We should be finalizing and implementing solid waste solutions. We should not be moving backwards and starting from square one.”

Tonight is an important night.

Is it time for new leadership at the president and vice president level of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury? That’s another question at hand.

The past year the LPPJ and some of its jurors under the leadership of Durrett and Melton has been anything but unified or transparent. A clear chasm exists within the police jury, much of it forming over the ambulance-rescue fiasco and the attempt to force Postel to resign under what to this day appears to be empty, silent allegations.

The Lincoln Parish Journal’s few attempts to reach out to both the president and vice president back in the fall in regards to both topics whether via phone or following meetings were met with one consistent response: silence.

How can the leaders of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury lack the accountability of responding throughout all the turmoil of the past six months? Why would they stay silent? True leaders lead in times of turmoil.

As a longtime resident of Lincoln Parish for more than 50 years, I desire true leadership in such important roles within our community.

I may not always agree with said direction, but at least I can respect it if its transparent and forthright. I haven’t witnessed much of either the last few months.

Tonight parish residents have an opportunity to come out to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting and let their voices be heard once again. It’s important that you do. There will be a public comments portion prior to each of the four votes above.

And constituents of all 12 districts need to pay VERY close attention to how your district representatives vote. In fact, I would go as far as encouraging anyone who can’t be at the meeting to contact your district representative this morning or afternoon and make your opinion known.

All 12 jurors will be up for re-election this fall. And each one of them should understand and focus on who they serve … not on power, petty politics or personal agendas.

 


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