Letter to the Editor: LPPJ did the right, but unpopular thing with administrator position

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From Mark Richardson

Born in Ruston and has called Ruston home for 43 years

Much has been said about the January 10th meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting and the 8-4 vote to not renew the contract with Administrator Doug Postel. But what I haven’t heard is any support for the 8 who decided that three years was long enough for them to decide whether to continue down the road with him as Administrator. Did the Jury handle this perfectly? No.  Did they act on behalf of the vocal majority who spoke to Doug’s character before the meeting? No.  Did they make their decision based on what would have been the popular thing to do? No.  Did they do the politically correct thing to extend their careers as Jurors? No. I think we all agree that No is the answer to all of those questions. So here’s the one where it gets debatable. Did they know something that me and you don’t know? Yes, I believe that they did. Why else would 8 people jeopardize their time on the Jury? Why?

A very wise old man taught me that when you can’t figure out the ‘why’ of some situation, the answer is usually money. In Lincoln Parish, a $100,000 per year job is rare. I know there are some, but not many. Most people that make more than that take many risks and own their own small business. $100,000 in Lincoln Parish puts you in rare company, very rare. When you make that kind of money, certain things are expected.  Among those things are that the job you are being paid $100,000 to do is your priority, work wise. You can’t for example have a side gig. Own and operate your own business ‘after hours’.  Right, wrong or indifferent, the perception of your loyalty will be questioned if you do. My guess, if I follow the old man’s wisdom, is that the 8 decided they weren’t getting the taxpayers money worth.

That brings me to the 4 that voted yes to the renewal. If the 8 knew something, then didn’t the 4 yes men know the same thing? Everybody wants to pile on the 8 and oust them in the October elections.  Well my question is, what about the 4? Did they act in the taxpayer’s best interest?

The Jury as a whole did themselves no favors in their handling of this. They told us we didn’t need to know why they voted the way they did. Legally, they couldn’t tell us and I get that. Why there are so many in our community, some of them lawyers, that don’t get that fact is a mystery. The last thing the Jury needs is a lawsuit.  But the Jury could have communicated that from the outset with a clear and unified message. They did try to communicate, but the message that they couldn’t discuss personnel issues was not emphasized. Hopefully they will learn from this. These Jurors are people just like me and you. They have day jobs. They don’t have a staff of people telling them how to handle these kind of situations. And they need to be given a break from the hateful way they have been treated in all forms of media.  My guess is half of these commentaries come from people who couldn’t tell you who their Jury rep is unless you gave them 5 minutes and a Google search.

To you 8 who have been chastised, berated and even threatened, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for going against the grain and voting your conscience. Peace be with you and yours.

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