JPPJ Whacks Library Millage, Appoints New Board

At a special meeting of the Jackson Parish Police Jury (JPPJ) this morning, the seven member body voted unanimously to rescind a tax resolution adopted last June, and then voted to collect no ad valorem (property) taxes for operation and maintenance of the Jackson Parish Library for tax year 2011. The original tax rate adopted at the 06/13/11 meeting of the jury was 8.60 mils.

The library fund balance is about $6 million. See the document here.

The jury also adopted a new ordinance creating the library and providing for the appointment of five board members.

WHEREAS a search of the records of the Jackson Parish Police Jury fails to reveal the existence of any ordinance ever adopted by the Jackson Parish Police Jury creating the Jackson Parish Public Library; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of Louisiana Law, including but not limited La. R.S. 25:211 et. Seq. in order to exist the Jackson Parish Public Library must be created by an ordinance adopted by the Jackson Parish Police Jury; and

WHEREAS certain questions have arisen as to the validity of the Jackson Parish Public Library as it is presently operating as of the effective date of this ordinance and in order to remove any doubts as to the validity of the Jackson Parish Public Library:

NOW, THEREFORE, be it ordained by the Police Jury of Jackson Parish, Louisiana, in special session, duly convened on the 25th day of August, 2011, that the following Ordinance be and the same is hereby adopted:

See the ordinance here.

According to the jury’s legal advisor, Assistant District Attorney Douglas Stokes, no enabling ordinance could be found in the jury’s files or the files of the district attorney’s office, nor has the library been able to produce a copy of any such document.

“At this point in time, I don’t see any record of the library board having been created by ordinance of the police jury,” Stokes said. “I believe the statute is clear – that that is what is required – the police jury has to create the ordinance,” he added.

Appointed as the new board of control were: Dean Rushing, Forrest Petersen, Bertha Robinson, Cloteal Taylor, and Linda Devine. The appointments all passed on a 6-1 vote, with Ward Seven’s Troy Smith voting no.

“I’m saying no to all of them, and it’s not against those people. This thing’s not being handled like it ought to be,” Smith said.

Smith also took the occasion to reiterate his intent not to run for reelection for his seat at the next election.

Speaking passionately against the adoption of the ordinance and new appointments was former Jackson Parish Library Director Robin Toms, who noted that she took a day of vacation from her job as Ouachita Parish Library Director to support the present board. Toms urged the jury to exhibit restraint and patience.

“I urge you today to stand firm, to show restraint, to have patience and to be the voice of steadiness and the voice of reason,” said Toms. “I would ask you to stop and think that the action you take here today has far reaching consequences, not just for Jackson parish, but for other library boards in other parishes in Louisiana,” she added.

Crystal Gates, the present director of the Jackson Parish Library also spoke up, and presented the jurors with a sheaf of documents detailing the history of the library since it’s inception in 1959. One of the documents was an opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General that says library board members cannot be removed prior to expiration of their term.

See here the document.

Gates said that if the millage was reduced too much, then it could jeopardize plans to build new branch libraries elsewhere in the parish.

Redistricting

Also discussed at the meeting was the additional 17 precincts that were created by the reapportionment of the jury districts.

Jackson Parish Clerk of Court Anne Walsworth presented a list of the proposed precincts, which will require pre-clearance from the U. S. Department of Justice.

Also at the meeting was Planner Keith Guice of North Delta Regional Planning & Development District, the consultant who drew the new districts.

If the DOJ objects to the precincts, this fall’s elections could be delayed until next spring. Approval would need to come within the next few days, as qualifying for the fall elections is September 6 – 9.

Some Commentary

Today was one of the rare occasions in the almost 27 months that we’ve been covering the public bodies of three parishes, where we witnessed elected representatives actually represent the people who elected them – The Taxpayers.

We understand the arguments of those opposed to today’s actions by the jury, but remind them that what happened today was not precipitated by the Jackson Parish Police Jury.

It happened because the Jackson Parish Library Board of Control chose to award obscene pay raises to library staffers – raises that put the director’s pay among the highest in the State of Louisiana, and that are completely at odds with the director’s pay at similarly sized libraries in the state.

The numbers and the course of events have been amply documented here at Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

That action was a slap in the face of the taxpayers who pay for it all.

It was an unpleasant task for the jurors to fire a board that – up until now – had served with distinction. Ample time was afforded the board of control to undo its action, but instead it chose to call the police jury’s bluff.

The jurors had no choice but to do their duty and we applaud them.

68 Responses to “JPPJ Whacks Library Millage, Appoints New Board”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It always seems at election time that our elected officals are fighting for the people who elect them. What happens the other 46 months?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I commend the Police Jury for taking these steps today. The Library Board was given the opportunity to correct their actions on the exorbitant pay raises and chose to stand firm on their decision. The only choice for the Police Jury was the action at the meeting today.

    I realize that the action of the Police Jury was in some part influenced by this being an election year. Aren’t we fortunate that the timing of this all came about as it did? As a taxpayer, I appreciate their action for the cause of what is right for the citizens, who after all, supply the tax money.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Gone are the days of Mayor Zuber proclaiming Jonesboro one of Louisiana’s cleanest cities. These days, all I read about are the corruptive endeavors by public officials.

    I applaud the Jackson Police Jury for taking the appropriate steps to stop those that do not follow policy and standing up for the good people of Jackson Parish. People holding public administrative positions should be qualified for those jobs not working toward a degree. If there was a public announcement for the library director’s job, and there were qualified applicants for the job, they should be hired.

    I hope for the day that I can be proud again to be from Jackson Parish instead of being embarrassed to read of yet another negative story across the local and state news. Praying the good people of the parish can return Jonesboro to the productive city it can be.

  4. JustMr Says:

    What does this 8.6 mil equate to in $ ?

  5. sunrisesunset Says:

    I’m curious. Does the new Library Board comprise members from each area of the parish, …….i.e……north, south, east and west, or from one specific part of the parish?

    I would like to know in what area of the parish each of the new Board members reside. I would hope all areas are represented.

    I will await the posting.

    • Old Timer Says:

      I would like to know how they were chosen, who chose them and what were the criteria? There can no longer be any chastisement of the Town Council members, this action today was a mirror image of what everyone has complained about for almost a year……a group of YES PEOPLE, yes sir, yes we will follow your directive, yes, yes. Surround yourself with yes people and you will fail every time, surround yourself with people that tell you exactly what you want to hear and you begin to only hear what they say. Diversity is the integral part of any successful operation, today’s actions were just another replay of the Town of Jonesboro, except the actions affected the entire Parish, not just Jonesboro. Good luck new members, you will need all the help you can get, especially when you start getting the marching orders and you buck them one time. You will be sent packing too.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Its a popularity contest amongst police jury friends, family, and themselves at times. Right?

  6. anon007 Says:

    Puppets, now the puppet show can continue…..

  7. anon#1258 Says:

    They could have brought about change without firing everyone. It is ironic how they said in a previous meeting with the board that they didn’t want to say a bad word about them and really appreciated their board. Way to show appreciation!!!!

    • Anonymous Says:

      They gave this board the opportunity to correct their mistakes, and the board chose to make the jury take action. Their answer was not to follow directions from the auditor about what to do with the surplus funds that the library had collected. The auditor said use funds for the benefit of the citizens or refund the money to the taxpayers. This auditor’s letter is available in an earlier column on this site. The jury sent them a letter telling them what steps to follow to correct the mistakes they had made. That board had to go; it was never going to work after they all approved the high raises and refused to make needed changes. Public demands were met. Now let’s see about the director’s position. Will the new board review that? Will the qualified, experienced directors who applied for the job be given an opportunity to be interviewed? Will they advertise the job avability to the public?

      • The Jet Says:

        I’m sorry, has Mrs. Gates been fired? You thinking that’s a foregone conclusion, huh? The first act of this illustrious new Board? The purge continues! Kill ’em all!

        Dear God , what a sad day for Jackson Parish and it’s fine library. Father forgive them; they know not what they do.

      • anon54 Says:

        Why not ask the Police Jury about the advertising of job positions? All the responsibility for this does not lie squarely on the shoulders of the Library Board or Director. This is the end result of the Police Jury taking measures that comply with their wishes, and not adhering to the protocol or in this particular instance, the Louisiana State Library Law. Back up the wagon and look at how this came about. Then fast forward to where it is now. It still baffles me that so much emphasis is given to this issue, but the theft of funds was quietly swept under the rug. Here is a thought, who is going to RUN the board if they all get un elected? There could be a change in the plan if the entire Police Jury was replaced in the next election and those new Jurors vote to undo what was done today…..stranger things have happened.

  8. former resident Says:

    I have utmost respect for Robin Toms, but sadly, no respect for the present staff. But she does need to remember that nobody offered her the kind of raise that the present director was about to receive, although Ms. Toms does have the necessary credentials for the job. There certainly will be repercussions from today’s decisions, but they are a direct result of the foolish actions taken by the library board and the director. What in the world did you think would happen, that we would never know? Thanks, Walter, for keeping us informed.

  9. former resident Says:

    p.s. Ok, Troy, we got it—you won’t be running again. Who cares? The jury members, whoever they turn out to be—should be able to breathe much easier in the meetings without ALL THAT COLOGNE!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

    The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

    This is part of MLK’s speech…..it still rings true today.

    Replace the word “Negro” with Jackson Parish

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

    And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

    Let’s dream as MLK did that while our town/parish seems to be in a valley of despair, we will face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, and repair the damages done by those currently in office.

    Come together, right now,

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Just a thought…is Doug Stokes the only attorney in Jonesboro? How is it that he represents the town, the parish, the school board….any other public entities?

    Seems to this simple minded country girl, that a conflict of interest might exist.

    How come there are no other attorney’s hired?

    • Anonymous Says:

      That is an interesting question. I hope someone will give us an answer. Gary Nunn is the library’s lawyer.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Part of the District Attorney’s job is to serve as the attorney for those public entities.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I am mad as adder that all my taxes “taxes that total to about $9.00 a year are being miss spent! I want them to stop spending my tax dollars and give me a refund. hahaha Thats what it appears to me what all of you are saying on here. you say look at me i pay a whopping $9.00 a year in property taxes and how dare these ppl abuse my money. yall just to funny.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Go ahead and laugh…make fun of the ones who use their head and think a little….It will be real darn funny when Jonesboro is a ghost town with a bankrupt town hall.

      Just keep making fun and do not care to participate….

  14. Anonymous Says:

    When is the new Library Board going to meet?

  15. sunrisesunset Says:

    Anonymous @ 11:31 a.m.: Your taxes may be $9 dollars, but mine are hundreds more than that. Not everyone’s tax obligation is as low as yours. May of us pay high taxes.

    Former Resident: Please lay off Mr. Troy Smith. I will tell you that a good men’s cologne smells 1000% better than someone that seldom bathes or even reeks of beer. That’s a smell that is offensive, too! Sorry, if this statement offends any of you bloggers. But, that’s how my nose perceives smell.

  16. BigD Says:

    Bertha Robinson, Ha what a qualified board this is.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    What’s the deal with the huge, brand-new bookmobile that’s been sitting at the Vernon ambulance station for several weeks? Big as a Greyhound bus. Is it under wraps until this debacle blows over? Why do we need new branch libraries with two bookmobiles?

  18. wascator Says:

    Oooh, repercussions huh? What about repercussions from disrespecting the taxpayers? Anti-government winds are stirring as people begin to grasp the enormity of the take-over and usurpation of our freedom.

    • former resident Says:

      repercussions, YES! But they could work to the taxpayers advantage. How lucky are we that all this blows up right before election time! I hope all of us who DO have to pay property taxes in amounts more than $9 willl remember this and get out and vote!!

      • Anonymous Says:

        What about poor taxpayers who pay more than $9,.00 and don’t reside in the parish; therefore have no say so at the polls? But one day I will! Somethings aren’t quite fair. Would I be issued a library card? I own land and a house just don’t reside there?

        • Anonymous Says:

          Under those conditions you may obtain a library card from Jackson Spartan Library.

        • Anonymous Says:

          Did you come get your card? Come live in your parents house and just drive to Ruston for your job.

          Then you can vote and even run for MAYOR

  19. Barton D. Hood to Robin Toms Says:

    Hello, Robin, I sincerely wish this situation has not developed. Unfortunately, I believe that you are the primary constitute of this entire debacle. Who put this twelfth-grade person in POWER as the DIRECTOR in the first place? Who is she? I see her on these video clips; I have to admit, she is definitely well-fed. But beyond that, what are her QUALIFICATIONS. It is so clear to me; a criminal conspiracy is being, (or rather, was) being created. I am not going to let go of this. I know who put that Library there. And so do you. Yes, yes, she and I are constantly communicating about this subject. Robin, you are entirely responsible for this. And, you know it.

    STANDING IN THE SHADOWS

    • Anonymous Says:

      Who is the 12th grade person in power as the director?

      Also, who put the Library there?

      Who is “she” that you are constantly communicating with?

    • laying in the hammock Says:

      Standing in shadows? Shadow of the “MOTHER SHIP”?. I do have to admit, this has got to be one of the most humorous things I think I have every read on this blog…..lol…….I think I heard someone say the Library was put there by the contractor and his employees….just a nasty rumor, but I hear it…..she told me that……she called me on the super duper transporter device she keeps in her cigarette pouch…..criminal conspiracy…….yes indeed…….appears that some one has been guilty of taking all the words out of the library….they have stolen them from the pages of the books and from the screen of the computer monitor……….

    • Anonymous Says:

      Bart,

      Leave Robin alone. Come out of the Dark Shadows….into the sunlight…Light of the Son.

      Have you even been to the library lately?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Hey Bart…did not see you at the meeting. Were you in the shadows or just a little early for you to get out?

    • Library user Says:

      Perhaps you should come to the library and ask Mrs. Gates about her education. I know her personally and know that she is a Weston graduate, an NSU graduate and a Tech graduate. I think she also has 30 hours of additional graduate credit and is at LSU now. I also happen to know that she graduate both with her BA and her MA with honors while working full time, getting married, having children, teaching at church and coaching a cheer class that competed. I believe she is well qualified and soon to be highly qualified. Try going to the library and talking with her instead of about her!

      • Anonymous Says:

        She was still hired by a board who did not advertise a vacancy for library director and solicit applications from those certified and experienced as library directors. There was no one else considered for this job. A degree in any other field does not qualify one to become a certified library director. Jackson Parish Library should have a certified director NOW.

        • Library user Says:

          OMG, look at the statistical report that Walter kindly posted and you will see that there are quite a few Louisiana directors not certified, and you might also notice that some have been in their positions for years!

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I think Troy Smith had a good point, whether you agree with all of his actions or not. We are being asked for taxes to support a new board of directors about which most of us know little or nothing about their qualifications. Isn’t it the responsibility of the police jurors who hired them to furnish the public with this information? I know it hasn’t been done in the past, but don’t you think now is a good time to start, with a complete turnover of personnel?

    • Anonymous Says:

      The public has never been furnished with any information/qualifications of the library board. Most citizens have not even known who was a member of the library board in the past.They have operated as they chose and would still be doing so if it were not for the irresponsible raise issue that Crystal Gates proposed as a use for our excess library funds. Unaware that people would be very interested in the facts, she is the one who focused the spotlight on other issues like the excess funds that have been collected from millage taxes, the non-advertised job opening for director, the fact that she was hired with no library experience, and other issues at the library. Perhaps we need someone with better judgement and more experience as the leader at the library. Perhaps, even someone with a degree in library science, as the citizens deserve. New library board members, please at least advertise and interview qualified candidates for director.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Crystal Gates did not propose the library raises. Kent Hightower, police jury/library board member proposed a raise. It is to my understanding Mrs. Gates supplied the numbers based off southeast averages.

        • Anonymous Says:

          Mrs. Gates numbers were way off for a small library and a small parish population. We could have kept the certified, experienced Robin Toms for the salary Gates intended for herself. I still cannot believe that the board approved such a suggestion. It’s good that they were replaced if their thinking had dropped to that level of functioning.

        • Library user Says:

          Seems like I also remember that Eddie Langston also came in the library once and I may have heard him talking about the poor ladies’ pay and how they should make more. Hmm, food for thought.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    AND I ask again, when will this new Board meet?

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Will these be staggered terms like the others were? It seems to me that six years is too long for anybody to serve.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Is this a volunteer board or paid?

  24. sunrisesunset Says:

    To Bart Hood:

    I suppose you mean you are communicating with your deceased mother, Faye Hood, who was the first director of the Library.

    Are you referring to her? And, you do not need to be too hard on Robin Toms, the past Library director.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Check your history Faye Hood was not the first director of the Jackson Parish Library.

  26. Voice from the clouds Says:

    I heard from her, she said to ask this question, If there is no record of the legal creation of the liberry as some refer to it, then how was the TAX ever legal? She said to tell Barton hello too………

  27. sunrisesunset Says:

    Please set me straight. Who was the first Director of the Jackson Parish Library & what was the year? I do not remember anyone earlier that Mrs. Hood. What year did she become director? Guess I am too young to recall this info.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Barton, where are you? Talk to us please…..

  29. Anonymous Says:

    1960 Jackson Parish was the 50th parish to have a public library service.For your infor. see legal creation in the brown book, Jackson Parish,La. Jonesboro 1982 published by Jackson parish Chamber of Commerce.First Librarian was Miss Shirley Brother, and etc. Mrs Faye R. Hood was appointed in 1972.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    What!! the library board isnt paid? And the police jury fired them? Im suprised they was able to find anyone else to serve. Can you amagine getting fired from a job where you wasnt getting paid lol. And btw Troy Smith is a good ole boy, and now that he anounces he isnt running for re-election he wants to do the right thing.

  31. sunrisesunset Says:

    Anonymous @ 5:38 p.m.:

    Yep! I was too young to remember Shirley Brother. Thanks for supplying this information.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Mrs. Gates…..please display your sheepskins at the Library….shut the joker up

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