In The News › St. Tammany DA rails against charter change

Nov 15, 2015

Source: The Advocate

Filed under: Governance, On the Ballot, St. Tammany Parish

St. Tammany DA rails against charter change

The Advocate

November 15, 2015

The St. Tammany Parish Council and 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery have been at odds for months over a proposed home rule charter amendment that would remove the District Attorney’s Office as the legal representative of parish government.

With that amendment and eight others about to go before voters Saturday, Montgomery is renewing his objections to the proposed change. He issued a news release saying that defeat of the amendment will mean lower cost for taxpayers, more independence and greater accountability.

Montgomery has said he doesn’t oppose letting the parish administration have its own legal department, but the charter amendment also would remove the District Attorney’s Office as the legal adviser to the Parish Council and other boards and agencies created by parish ordinance.

“The creation of a new legal department for the parish likely would require additional staff and unnecessary expenses,’’ Montgomery said, calling his office the “largest legal firm’’ in the parish. It can provide basic legal services to parish entities at a lower cost, he said.

He also repeated his concern that the Parish Council has 14 members, each with different ideas. “My administration has pushed to keep politics out of the legal system,’’ he said. “The District Attorney’s Office can offer independent advice based on what is more sound legally, not politically.’’

The same charter amendment has drawn support from other quarters, however. The nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research took positions on three of the nine proposed amendments, including this one, which it favors.

BGR said the amendment would eliminate potential conflicts that could arise from the current requirement that the parish president and council use the district attorney as their legal adviser. Among other points, BGR notes that the district attorney is an elected official with his own constituency and that the office represents two parishes.

But Montgomery is touting his office as more accountable to voters. “The district attorney works for the people,’’ his release said, with the phrase “for the people’’ underlined.

“The district attorney is hired and fired by the people,” it said. “The District Attorney’s Office offers impartial legal advice in the best interests of the people of St. Tammany Parish.’’

Nov 15, 2015

Source: The Advocate

Filed under: Governance, On the Ballot, St. Tammany Parish

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