Parish Seat Move FailsOct 27th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
One of the most highly debated, contested and emotionally charged races in Plaquemines Parish came to an end with the October 22 election, and the Parish Seat will remain in Pointe-a-la-Hache. Along with that vote, the residents of Plaquemines voted not to implement the amended Parish Charter and all of its changes.
The nearly two-thirds slant in the early voting, with over 2,000 of the 3,058 early voters weighing in favor of the move, seemed to indicate that the move from Point a-la-Hache to Belle Chasse may garner the necessary number of votes to make the move happen.
However, when all precincts reported in, only 55-percent of the voting public were in favor of the move, falling short of that two-thirds requirement.
Previous attempts to move the seat to West Point-a-la-Hache in 2001, Port Sulphur in 2003, and Myrtle Grove in 2004 also failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to move the seat (though 63 percent voted to move the seat to West Point-a-la-Hache, 62 percent voted for the move to Myrtle Grove, and only 46 percent favored the move to Port Sulphur).
This latest vote had been brought forth by Councilman Jeff Edgecombe, who introduced a resolution passed at the April 28 Council meeting. That vote put the issue of moving the Parish seat onto the ballot once again.
At that time, Edgecombe said it was his understanding that most residents were in favor of a move from the Eastbank. The voting numbers seem to concur, in that a simple majority were in favor of that move.
The Parish Seat traditionally houses the Parish Courthouse. The Eastbank Courthouse was destroyed by an arsonists fire in 2002. In the years following Hurricane Katrina, a temporary courthouse in Belle Chasse has served as an alternative to the damaged Pointe-a-la-Hache building. The Pointe-a-la-Hache building has been under renovation, and is now entering the second phase of its reconstruction efforts.
The proposed updates for the Plaquemines Parish Charter for Local Self-Government, as amended by the Charter Commission, failed to pass as well, with only 37 percent of the Parish in favor of the proposed changes.
The Charter changes were placed on the ballot by a narrow vote of 5-4 earlier this year, at the June 23 Council meeting. This coming after the Commission had submitted a proposed charter and the Council attempted to nullify that Commission and replace it with a Charter Committee.
However, the 4th Circuit Court of Louisiana upheld the document submitted by the Charter Commission as the new document to go to vote.
Through the carefully calculated and refined language, the Charter guides and grants the responsibilities of the Parish President, the Parish Council, and dictates governance over Parish property and entities, such as the Port.
The proposed changes to the existing Charter would have altered the way the Charter read, to further clarify the powers as originally intended when the Charter was crafted when the Parish first switched over from the Commission Council system in 1986.