In The News › Jefferson Parish Charter Proposition 1 would modestly restrain council’s investigative power

Jefferson Parish Charter Proposition 1 would modestly restrain council’s investigative power

By Ben Myers

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

November 17, 2014

This is the first in a series of stories on 11 proposed changes to the Jefferson Parish Charter. Voters will consider the measures on the Dec. 6 ballot.

Proposition 1 to change the Jefferson Parish Charter falls into the category of a routine procedural adjustment. It proposes a pair of modest constraints to Parish Council’s broad investigative authority.

Currently, the council may investigate “any department, office, agency, or special district of the parish,” as well as “any person in the service of the parish.” The proposition would strike “incompetence” as a reason for investigating an individual. It would retain lack of qualifications, neglect of duty, gross misconduct and failure to comply with council orders.

The current charter also provides that anyone refusing to “obey any lawful order” of the council “shall be” guilty of a misdemeanor. The proposition would restrict this provision to orders pertaining to council investigations.

The proposition includes an additional change that seems technical in nature. As of now, an accused person may require production of “books and papers” in their own defense; the proposition adds “other evidence” to those materials. The charter already lets the council require production of “books, papers and other evidence.”

The Bureau of Governmental Research supports Proposition 1. The non-profit public policy organization says it would “remove unnecessary subjectivity from the council’s investigatory powers.”

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