The Caddo Commission recently named the Charter Review Committee which is mandated to review the Commission’s Home Rule Charter every 4 years. The Committee, which may have its first meeting this week, has 6 members—Liz Swaine, Melva Williams, Rob Broussard, Billy Wayne, Ronnie Festervan, and Alex Washington. The Committee can make recommendations to the Commission—and then the Commission can place the recommendations for Charter amendments on the ballot for voter approval.
Unfortunately, problems have already surfaced. Commission attorney Donna Frazier has set the first meeting for this Friday—April 1st; seemingly April Fool’s Day is in order because several members can not attend on this date. And to top it off, Commission President Matthew Linn is attempting to run the Committee; he has requested through Frazier that committee members submit to her “the items you would like to see addressed during this review and any goals you have for the review.” Talk about getting the cart before the horse!! Thankfully several members have pushed back—saying they wanted to meet first before responding to Linn’s request.
Two Charter provisions that deserve close review are the automatic COLA (cost of living) pay raises for Commissioners and term limits. The current Commission, to their credit, has passed an ordinance deleting COLA raises for themselves; a Charter amendment would preclude revocation of this ordinance and restoring the COLA. Additionally Commissioners are limited to 3 consecutive terms; serious consideration should be given to a 2 term limitation like the Shreveport City Council.
The members of Committee are urged to use independent judgment, both individually and collectively in their deliberations of any Charter amendment recommendations. And citizens are encouraged to provide their input to the Committee members; hopefully the Committee meetings will be well advertised to allow for citizen review and comments.