You may remember our noticing that back on December 18th the Registrar of Voters had emailed the council about problems on the charter precincts, but no one on the council received the email. Now it looks like another notification has gone out, and none of the council members we tracked down have received it – again.
Since the problems surfaced, literally the day after the 60-day challenge period ended, we’ve been promised that a simple ordinance could fix the problem. However, the Secretary of State made clear the best solution was a vote of the people. In fact, you may also recall that we spent some six hours reading through the twenty-two years history to see what really happened those seventeen times the fixers say an ordinance fixed precincts without a vote of the people. We ended up identifying twenty times precinct changes that mandated by state law didn’t require a vote of the people. However, that narrative doesn’t fit this circumstance.
The City/Parish attorney was going to issue an opinion
This last week, we were promised that City/Parish Attorney, Paul Escott, was writing an opinion on the legal way to fix the charter precinct problem; either by a simple ordinance or a vote of the people. Nearly two weeks ago we actually expected that the opinion had already been released and submitted a public records request to get a copy. Every day, the clock ticked down to five o’clock without the opinion being delivered.
Even though the opinion never came, Friday afternoon we did receive a response to our public records request. While it didn’t say when, it did said that the opinion had been written and turned over to the Council and the Mayor/President. According to the response, which you can read for yourself here, the opinion is “protected pursuant to the attorney client privilege.”
Attorney client privilege?
Considering there is already a resolution and an ordinance on this topic slated for Tuesday’s meeting, this opinion is bound to come out anyway. What’s the big deal about it getting out a few days early? Not to worry, though, because the response said the council had been provided with the opinion. So, we reached out to a number of elected council members. Surprisingly, as of Saturday evening, none were even aware that the opinion was finished.
This is now the second time that news has been made regarding the charter precinct problem but has somehow eluded the council – the civilian oversight of local government. Why would the City/Parish attorneys tell us that the council has it when the council members we reached didn’t know anything about it? Who’s playing hide and seek with the council? Maybe a more important question is “Why?”