Unanswered prayers: LPPJ ignores outcries from public

Pictured are a group of Lincoln Parish employees praying together and consoling each other following Tuesday’s LPPJ vote not to renew the contract of Parish Administrator Doug Postel. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury voted 8-4 against renewing Parish Administrator Doug Postel’s contract during Tuesday night’s monthly meeting despite heavy support from parish citizens for the LPPJ to renew the contest.

On Wednesday, those four LPPJ jurors who voted in favor of renewing Postel’s contact issued a joint statement that read:

“It is hard for us to express accurately the level of disappointment we feel over the irresponsible and wholly unjustified action taken by some members of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night. The total lack of transparency and public accountability that is rampant in the Police Jury leadership is a disservice to the people of Lincoln Parish, many of whom clearly and powerfully voiced their concerns before the vote last night,  and is unacceptable from public servants. Lincoln Parish is much better than this.”

• TJ Cranford, District 4

• Logan Hunt, District 5

• Glenn Scriber, District 6

• Matt Pullin, District 7

Despite numerous efforts from the public throughout the meeting and even an 11th hour effort by fellow juror (Hunt) at the conclusion of the meeting, none of the eight Jurors who voted against renewing Postel’s contract other than District 8’s Skip Russell offered no comment other than President Richard Durrett saying that it was a personnel matter and he would not comment.

Russell, who first abstained before voting against retaining Postel, said after the meeting that he would be willing to sit down and discuss matters with anyone as long as it was done calmly and without emotions.

But emotions ran high for a packed house at the Lincoln Library Events Center, with every citizen who signed up to make a public comment expressing 100 percent support for keeping Postel.

Following are some of 14 pleas for the public appearing before the LPPJ before their vote to not have Postel retain his position:

• ”This police jury is not a private business. Instead of conducting your business, you should be conducting our business. We have the right, and you have the duty, to do it correctly and fairly. Not renewing Doug’s contract is contrary to all business principles and well-known employment policies. Not renewing his contract will seriously weaken the public’s confidence in this jury and its decision-making process.” – Bill Jones, Ruston

• “The right thing is to represent your constituents and to vote in a way they would be proud of. Skip (Russell), you’re my guy. I’ve talked to you. I’ve talked to people in your district. And your district wants you to vote to renew his contract. I think everybody here wants you to renew his contract. The right thing to do is to represent your constituents, not as Malcolm Butler so eloquently wrote in the Lincoln Parish Journal and put petty politics before performance. Every parish worker will tell you what a great job he’s done in his performance. So base this on performance, not petty politics. This is your opportunity to do the right thing.” – James Skinner, Ruston

• “About a year ago we were in this same room talking about the same thing. The Jury wanted to go into private session but Mr. Postel wanted it to be in public. Some of you tried to say his job performance was not going well. That he wasn’t doing his job. But you didn’t fill out his job performance sheets … publicly admitted to not filling out his job performance sheets that wanted him removed and not renew his contract. Where are we at as a Jury?” — Chris “Moose Garriga, Ruston

• “Doug was hired in the midst of a global pandemic. He dealt with a natural disaster (Hurricane Laura) and an unruly employee and the aftermath. And then had the ambulance issue to figure out all within 2 1/2 years. … … Doug is not Courtney (retired former Parish Administrator Courtney Hall, who Postel replaced in 2020). We will never have another Courtney. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a different thing. And learning to do it with a new person is difficult. It takes time. Please understand our office misses Courtney. We’re grateful for his leadership. However, Doug has allowed us to choose our own unique abilities to use for the good of the parish in such a way that we thrive as employees. We strive to be our best, do our best, but we’re all human and no one is perfect. Doug is absolutely what my parish needs right now.” – Lincoln Parish Administrative Assistant Devon Cannon

• ”I’ve worked the past 15 years as a public servant in four different parishes and have never dealt with an administrator who has shown more support to the departments under their administration. I’ve only got to work with him a short amount of time but I can say that he is a good leader, he’s a good representation of what our parish needs, and he’s a good person, point blank. … He is a support of this parish and its communities and the people you just saw standing up. … So I’m urging you to hear your public, and hear your employees. I feel that way tonight because I promise you, not renewing his contract – you’re going to feel the echo afterwards.” – Lincoln Parish Events Center Director Marcie Nelson

Other Lincoln Parish residents making comments during the meeting in favor of retaining Postel were Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control President Amy Miller, Loyce Miller, Robert Flournoy, Jimmy Sledge, Tom Byrnside, Lynne Gneml, Joe Anderson, Richard Banks and Choudrant Mayor Bill Sanderson.