October 24, 2013 6:00 pm
The Caddo Commission has not fared well with its constituents in the past few days. On Monday October 14, pet owners and animal advocates blasted the Commissions Animal Services and its director Everett Harris. And on Saturday October 19, Caddo voters defeated both Commission proposals on the ballot.
The Caddo Animal Shelter and animal control program has gone from being one of the most progressive in the nation to one that is failing on practicing all points. The reason for the hasty decline in performance is simple, –change in personnel. Current director Everet Harris has been a bust since succeeding Matthew Pepper as the director of the Animal Shelter.
Both Pepper and Harris were hired by Parish Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson. Pepper had excellent credentials for the job; Harris is related to a close friend of Wilson. Harris’ only experience in animal control had been at the Caddo Shelter and he is clearly over his head. Apparently racial politics has entered into both Wilson’s decision-making as well as debate by Commissioners over the fate of Harris.
Caddo voters soundly defeated by a 2:1 margin the proposed amendment to the Caddo Home Rule Charter to extend the maximum term limits from three (3) to five. Too many of the Caddo Commissioners evidently confused them public service in an elected position with a full time job, –and why not with pay of over $21,000 per annum and other benefits.
On a much, much closer vote (59), the Commissioner’s proposed 1.75 million property tax to fund a $23,390,000 bond for 20 years was defeated. Its an understatement to say that there funds were not needed by the Commission; the Commission’s coffers have $87 million dollars in liquid reserve funds.
The trouble over the animal shelter will not fade away and in fact that fuss fueled much of the voters resistance to the two ballot proposals. Now that the Commission has faced a bond issue defeat, – which is a first in recent memory for any local government entity, -Commissioners and Wilson should expect more scrutiny from taxpayers, and rightly so. With shrinking dollars in households and businesses, accountability for elected officials and public officials will be more prevalent in ballot box decisions. And this is a good thing.