The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, April 7, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.
Here is the agenda.
A sitting Monroe City Court Judge who was once removed from office may be the handpicked candidate of the Ouachita Parish political/legal “combine” to replace Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Division H Judge Benjamin Jones, who is reportedly retiring at the end of his current term late this year.
Larry Jefferson has been tagged for the promotion, sources are telling Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).
In 1999, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed Jefferson from office for engaging in “conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.”
See here the document.
However, Jefferson subsequently ran again for the office and was elected.
Jones is either at or near the mandatory retirement age (70) for judges.
While both entities are presently authorized to collect at the same rate as is proposed in the new election call, they are now levying at a slightly lower rate – 2.64 and 7.47 mils, respectively. That rate was set at the 9/16/13 meeting of the jury.
In other business, Parish Fire Chief Pat Hemphill noted the area’s dry conditions, and said that a burn ban may need to be implemented in the near future.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) voted 4-1 at Monday’s meeting to award employees a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and authorized the department heads to award raises of up to an additional 2%, at their discretion. The discretionary raise was done so that individual departments could better manage their own budgets, Finance Committee Chairman Walt Caldwell (District C) told Lincoln Parish News Online.
Voting no was Mack Calhoun (District B), who wanted to award 5% raises to the public works employees. Voting yes were Caldwell, Scotty Robinson, (District A), Ollibeth Reddix (District D), and Shane Smiley (District E). Pat Moore (District F) was absent.
Calhoun complained that entry-level jury employees would work for a couple of years, become trained, then private construction companies would entice those workers with higher pay.
Said Calhoun, “These contractors come by and they glean from us – they love us. They stop their car out there, and then look and see whose the best operator for the Caterpillar today.”
Caldwell agreed that indeed that was the situation, but the money just wasn’t available.
“I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but unfortunately this is all I can afford,” said Caldwell.
The action came toward the end of the two-hour meeting, and was moved on the agenda from its original schedule.
Also, the jury voted to award raises of 5% to five staffers at the Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center. That action followed a questionable executive session where the jurors said they discussed only the “character, professional competence, or physical or mental health” of the personnel, in accordance with LA RS 42:17.
We closely question several jurors and their legal adviser Jay Mitchell about the dubious procedure, but they all said no discussions were had regarding salary rates.
The Green Oaks raises were awarded because the employees had served their probationary period.
The jury also adopted amended 2013 and proposed 2014 budgets.