Vote on Districts Delayed as Mayor Watts Requests Compromise

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By Dave Freneaux

    Five Districts.  That is what the Ordinance to be introduced by Council Member Louis DeJohn at Monday Night's City Council meeting called for.  Mr. DeJohn, who initially supported City Council elections by Divisions, responded to what he says he has heard is the will of the citizens by drafting an Ordinance giving Central five Districts with one Council Member elected from each District.  Seven Council seats, five elected from Districts and two elected "At Large".  That is what Council Member Messina favors.  Mr. Messina campaigned as being in favor of Districts and served as the chair of a committee formed by Mayor Watts to provide research to the Mayor on the topic of Council elections by District.

    Mayor Watts addressed the Council before the introduction of Ordinances in an effort to bring the two conflicting ideas into one productive discussion.  His request was that the Council delay any action on Districts until additional research could be done and a workshop with additional public input could be held by the Council to allow debate of the issue and to draft an Ordinance.  The Mayor called for research to answer questions such as: What will the Justice Department be willing to approve?  What is the actual cost of adding Council Seats?  Is there a natural lack of representation for Central's more rural areas based on an analysis of the voting patterns of precincts in our City?  What problems or advantages have cities across Louisiana seen in these different forms of City Council?  What is the actual cost of seeing this process through including legal fees and the hiring of a demographer?  How will this affect the current City Council Members as it is implemented, and should that even matter?

    The Mayor acknowledged the Council's right to proceed in any way they choose, but asked that they all consider slowing this process down in order to make the best possible decision for Central.  Council Member DeJohn agreed to defer the Ordinance if the rest of the Council agreed to delay any other legislation.  Council Members LoBue, Moak and Washington supported the Mayor's request.  Council Member Messina stated that he would not agree until after he discussed the issue further with the Mayor.


  1. Jessie

    June 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    My only question on all of this is why did you not put the video up so everone could see and hear what actually happened at the meeting? Your statements above are only a small part of what happened. Yes you did put what the Mayor said and what Councilman DeJon said, BUT you did not say what all the others questioned and ask for reasons of WHY drop it after all they had gone through in their meetings with residents. I believe Mike Manino (not sure of spelling)and a couple of others put it kind of plan that if it’s not what certain ones want then someone throws a sack over it.
    I may be wrong but from what I heard Mr. Washington & Mr. Lobue were agreeing with Mr. Messina and Mr. Moak was just sitting there watching the world go by and Mr DeJohn was just doing what the Mayor wanted.

    • dave

      June 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      With any luck, the video will be up tonight. I’m not complaining, but I have a full time job aside from the full time job I put in with CentralSpeaks for no pay. Do the math and the late night hours are all that is left. The videos cost you nothing and are provided as a service.
      Not because you have pushed, but because the paper is out and my day job is done for today, the videos will be up late tonight.

  2. Mike Mannino

    June 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    There is no reason to drop it Jessie except the Puppet Master has spoken and thats it. Every single item the Mayor listed has been addressed or looked at. The only uncertainty is the Justice Dept which we did discuss and decided since there is no racial component, should not be a problem there. Its as simple as this to me. This is a legislative function and the Council has the right to offer and pass this ordinance. If the Mayor doesnt like it, he can Veto it. But we will have everyone on record then. I certainly hope Mr. Messina brings this forward anyway and forces the Council to show themselves. To show you how strong I am about process and protocol, I actually voted for 5 districts as a committee member. But I support the committe recomendation because that is what we deemed the best solution as a group. Its now the Councils job to act on this, not put it on the shelf like happened with Mr Lobues committee.

  3. Alton R Ashford

    June 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Mike I have some questions you may be able to answer since you were part of the committee.
    1) What were some of the reasons the committee voted for at-large over 5 and 7 districts?
    2) Will candidates run for either a district or an at-large seat? If not, how will the at-large be determined.
    3) If the at-larges are voted on as a separate seat by the whole community, could these councilmen be perceived to have greater influence over those elected by districts?

  4. Alton R Ashford

    June 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Dave thanks for serving the public with the video’s. We all have excuses for not making meetings and it sure is nice to relax and watch meetings at our own convenience. Dave provides this service to everyone, even those who throw around accusations about him. That way those who couldn’t attend can form their own opinion of what transpired and not depend on those of others, himself included. Your a great guy Mayberry and you love your city!

  5. Because I Care

    June 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I do appreciate Dave providing the video’s of the meetings. This does indeed serve a very good purpose for this city. There are so very many people in Central that love this city and want what they feel would be in the best interest of our community. There are a lot of differing viewpoints out there, and these videos provide a good avenue for citizens to keep abreast of information when they cannot make it to the meetings.

  6. Mike Mannino

    June 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Ray, there are some good points that were brought up concerning 5 plus 2.

    – This gives you the ability to have true committees with councilman without having a quorum. Could help to work some of the issues that cause meeting to run over beforehand
    – There would be a separate election/ballot for the 2 at large seats with the top 2 vote getters winning
    – The intent is to have these 2 at large seats represent the whole community, looking at the overall vs just their districts best interest. ZCould come in to play when dealing with allocation of funding, roads, projects etc. Ideally, all should be looking at things that way but we have seen how it works in other areas such as EBR and our neighbors in Livingston.

    Thanks for the question Ray. Hope that answers them but if not, please ask anything you would like. If I dont know, Ill find out for you.

    Dave thanks for this forum and the video. I know that is quite an effort and it is appreciated by many.

  7. Jessie

    July 1, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I wasn’t trying to put down on you for not having the video put up. I was just wondering why you didn’t put anything about all the points that Mr.Messina, Mr Lobues and Mr Washington brought out that this was the committes findings. That if you had put the video up along with your comments that everyone could have seen all The Facts not just your side of it.
    If you look a the Advocate it gives both sides of the issue.
    Also as for as working a day job, who cares almost everyone does. I worked everyday for 45 years. Sometimes both day and night if it was required of me to finish my job. My point is you had time to put your comments up, but didn’t put the video up. I guess I’m kind of like what Mr. Messina told the Mayor “I just don’t understand” what is another half hour if it’s really important to the City of Central to be able to see what goes on at these council meetings. I do thank you for doing these comments and the video. But please if your going to do the FACTS then do them all and maybe some of the people that don’t come to the meetings will get involved and start coming out. Thank you.

    • dave

      July 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      The video is up as of last night, and even that does not tell the whole story. Unfortunately, government is not a “snapshot” process. I wish it was that easy. I wrote about what happened procedurally. If I then write about what each speaker opined about it, including speakers form the public, then I have to go one step further and write about their motivations and about the factual history of the Districts Committee process going back to when it was formed in December of 2010. Before this issue is settled, all of that might become pertinent. Until then, take my procedural telling of the events for whatever you feel it is worth, watch the video of the meeting for some more of the story, watch the videos of the committee meetings if you are semi-serious about wanting to know more, and then research the actual issue of Districts on your own if you are dead serious about making an informed decision. Enjoy the show.

  8. Jessie

    July 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    As I was at the meeting and saw and heard everthing that happened I do not need to watch it again. I do understand that goverment is an on going process and it changes on a per moment basis. Your answer is now getting into something that has nothing to do with what I ask about. But just so you will know I have as a citizen of Central looked into the districts and the at large councilmen. What I don’t understand is why at the last minute everything was not what needed to be done. It was brought up that the meetings were not located where evryone could get to them? IT’s not that far from one end of Sullivan Rd to the other end also this is not the first time this type of thing has happened. But again Thank You for answering me.

  9. Mike Mannino

    July 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Keep on top of this Jessie. I watched this again and I am noticed that the Mayor seemed to be reading a speech he was not familiar with. He is a very well spoken man, has tons of experience speaking in public, and he didnt look as comfortable as he normally does giving a speech. Maybe its just my imagination.

  10. Kim Fralick

    July 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I seem to be having some trouble watching the video. Could you check to see if there is a glitch?

    • dave

      July 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      I just now went to it on the website and it played as soon as I hit the play arrow. Let me know if you can’t get it worked out.

  11. Alton R Ashford

    July 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    After watching the district committee meetings and the last council meeting I commend Councilman Messina for his words spoken in response to the Mayor’s plea. I remember being critical of him and his opposition to being left out of the city services committee. I feel his response and feelings were justified and honorable. Mr. Mayor thank you for recognizing a potential controversy could grow. Mr DeJohn, I question your judgement of introducing an ordinance that effects every citizen in this community based on a few phone calls and emails.

  12. Mike Mannino

    July 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Ray I know you are going to call me cynical but in my opinion, the Mayor didnt recognize anything. The cotroversy here is the fact that he stopped the progress of something that is clearly supported by the majority and disrespected a committee he commissioned. The Mayor didnt stop this on his own. He was instructed to by the puppet master. Only logical explanation.

  13. Alton R Ashford

    July 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Mike cynicism is part of your makeup. Your just being Mike. LOL

  14. Mike Mannino

    July 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Ray somehow I can take that from you and it doesnt tick me off ! MAin thing is you keep up with all this and that is a good thing.

  15. Alton R Ashford

    July 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Mike wasn’t meant to offend. I tend to want to believe people at their word without being naive. Maybe you, for a lack of a better word, are always trying to read into things that aren’t necessarily there. Your not one to bite your tongue, but to your credit you don’t run and hide either.

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