State needs to tighten up time gap

Published 12:52 am Sunday, June 8, 2008

Power and responsibility come packaged with most political offices. But in Louisiana a screwed up loophole in logic creates, for many municipal offices, a long period in which the responsibility is removed.

In recent elections in Vidalia and Ferriday, the best interests of the public have not been served by extremely long periods of time in which losing office holders still retain political power, despite having no responsibility.

Both the Ferriday mayor and the Vidalia police chief are prime examples of that.

Email newsletter signup

In the case of Vidalia, outgoing police chief Billy Hammers has been difficult to find since the election.

After a recent multi-car, fatal pileup on the Natchez-Vidalia Mississippi Bridge, for reporters trying to get facts about the wreck out to the community, Hammers couldn’t be found.

Even mayor Hyram Copeland couldn’t locate Hammers, either. That’s a problem and one that makes us question how effectively his job is getting done.

Further down the road in Ferriday, outgoing Mayor Gene Allen cajoled the Ferriday Town Council to fund a trip to Vegas, just days before he leaves office. This comes on the heels of a glaring drop in ticket writing by the Ferriday police immediately after Allen lost the election.

The facts in each instance seem to point to the same problem: ousted candidates and their appointments have no responsibility once their tickets have been punched.

Having a three- to four-month time lag between the election results and new regime taking office is a horrible idea and one that encourages awful behavior by ousted public officeholders.

Louisiana and its municipalities need to change its laws and tighten up the time gap immediately before more malfeasance takes place.