CADDO COMMISSION PRESIDENT LINN STARTS OFF WITH POWER GRAB FOR NLCOG SEAT

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John Settle-Opinion-May 2015In less than 2 weeks as the new president of the Caddo Commission, Matthew Linn has caused quite a stir—as well as a wave of embarrassment for the Commission—by his actions, both as a Commissioner and as the president of the Commission. The first was an attempt to use his office as a Commissioner to unduly influence (and apparently successfully so) to have Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator have an investigator chase down the writer of a Facebook post that Linn did not like. Now Linn, and perhaps the Commission as well as the Sheriff, face a possible civil rights suit by a local attorney claiming that the email and subsequent actions of a Sheriff’s deputy violated her rights to free speech, unlawfully threatened her employment by a public agency and racially slandered her clientele.

Commissioner Matthew LinnLinn’s latest antic is to replace Parish Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson on the NLCOG (North Louisiana Council of Governments)—who is serving as chairman this year. Linn first sent a letter to all the NLCOG board members naming local attorney Robert Dunlap as the Commission representative; he then sent a letter retracting Dunlap and naming himself. Apparently Dunlap advised Linn that federal law only allows elected officials to serve on this Board.

Consultation around tableLinn did not consult his fellow Commissioners about his plans to replace Wilson nor inform Wilson other than by a copy of his nomination letter to the NLCOG Board. And evidently Linn decided to follow as gospel the legal advice rendered by Dunlap,- he did not bother to seek a legal opinion from the Commission attorneys Donna Frazier or Henry Bernstein.

Linn’s attempted coup may be derailed for his failure to follow the Commission bylaws which apparently require full Commission ratification of all appointments by the president. The Commission’s attorneys have been instructed to research these issues and hopefully there will be some resolution before the next NLCOG Board meeting on February 23. If not, one should not be surprised if Linn tries to play a game of musical chairs at this meeting to take Wilson’s seat at the table. To say that Linn is making a fool of himself by his actions as an elected official may be an overstatement, but no one can doubt that he certainly has cast doubt on his ability to provide positive leadership for the Commission and to enhance by example its tarnished image.
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