Are you keeping your New Year's resolutions?|
Story Archives: Why the people must get involved
|Why the people must get involved|
For years we've been bemoaning the fact that the American people have developed a terrible habit of not bothering to exercise their constitutional rights to vote.
Some pundits have opined that we Americans are too busy to embrace the political process. Others say the people are turned off by negative campaigning, which candidates for public office often employ to one up their opponents in a heated election.
Could it be, though, that the American people simply are sick and tired of the shenanigans public officials容lected or appointed容ngage in once they've assumed their roles in an official capacity?
The answer to that question is a resounding "yes."
And behavior recently exhibited by some elected officials and the like at Monroe City Schools and the city of Monroe served as prime examples of why the people葉o some degree預re disgusted with government様ocal, state and national.
Several months ago, the Monroe City School Board葉he governing board that's elected by the people of Monroe to oversee the city's public school system要oted not to offer a new contract to Superintendent James Dupree. Dupree's current contract expires in September.
There were rumblings that Dupree fell out of favor with the board over his failure to communicate with board members. Teachers griped about him, too. That would lead us to believe Dupree was holding some folks' feet to the fire, or he was calling on teachers to work in earnest for a change. Take your pick.
In the spirit of convincing the people熔r presenting a good front葉hat the Monroe City School Board was serious about hiring a top-notch man or woman to succeed Dupree, a committee comprised of concerned citizens from Monroe was appointed by the school board. The committee was charged with interviewing applicants for the superintendent post. At some point, the committee was expected to make a recommendation, or recommendations, to the school board on which candidate, or candidates, for the superintendent job should be interviewed by the school board. Presumably, the school board would accept the committee's recommendation, or recommendations, and offer one of the candidates the job Dupree would give up at the end of September.
The committee did its job; it presented four candidates to the school board who the committee felt were qualified to oversee Monroe City Schools, a public school system whose performance on the academic front could be described as less than stellar.
Along the way, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo got involved in the mix. The mayor and Dupree are friends. Anyone who knows Mayo knows well that the mayor sticks by his friends through thick and thin. That's a commendable trait Mayo possesses, but it didn't serve him well on this issue.
Apparently bowing to Mayo's influence and other factors as well, the city school board ignored the recommendations the citizen committee forwarded to members of the board. Instead, the school board voted to rehire Dupree effective Oct. 1, or about one second after Dupree's current contract expires.
Needless to say, there exist some upset people in Monroe. They feel the mayor should have kept his nose out of the school board's business, while others feel a deal or two was struck with members of the school board to rehire the controversial superintendent. Again, take your pick. And keep your eyes focused on which family member of a member of the school board lands a plum job with the city or at some other governing body in Ouachita Parish, including the city school system.
While the mayor was busying involving himself in academic matters, we learned the city of Monroe has a problem with city employees collecting money for "comp time" they accrued for working overtime at events such as the city's annual DeltaFest.
As it stands today, city policy prohibits salaried city employees from collecting overtime pay. Instead, the city awards them "comp time," or paid time off from work. Often, city employees are not in a position to utilize their accrued "comp time." When that occurs, the city buys "comp time" from employees who've accrued it.
Some time ago, the Monroe City Council questioned why the city was spending a good bit of money on buying "comp time." An internal audit was conducted. The audit revealed the city was not keeping adequate records to justify "comp time" city employees said they had accrued. In fact, the audit showed at least one city employee falsified records in an effort to provide documentation to support, or justify, payments to city employees who were owed, or claimed, "comp time."
That, my friends, would appear to be against the law.
And the mayor would be well served to put his foot down on the mess in question, or he should get out of the way so the district attorney and/or the U.S. attorney can sort it out.
Yet, while it certainly is understandable why the people become frustrated, or disgusted, with government and their elected officials, too, the tales discussed in this space represent why the people must engage the political process.
Otherwise, it will never change.