Town Hall employees sent home with pay for tardiness? Doesn’t make sense

Published 4:49 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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Just when we thought we’ve seen it all in Ferriday, Louisiana, the next thing happens.

The little town with its declining population of around 3,000 people turned heads across the state during a full government shutdown last year because it was seven months late passing an operating budget for the current fiscal year.

Thankfully, the shutdown only lasted five days before the town council, some reluctantly, voted on the operating budget.

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On Tuesday, eyes were apparently turned to Town Hall again when all of its employees, except the mayor, were sent home last week.

The reason, Mayor Rydell Turner said, was because of frequent tardiness.

“I ran city hall. It was not shut down,” the mayor had to clarify during the Tuesday night town council meeting.

Because employees were late to work a lot, Turner thought the best solution was to order them to go on administrative leave with pay. In other words, employees who missed hours of work or wasted hours on the clock went home and still got paid while not working for two days.

“I told them to go home and think about things,” the mayor said. That should teach them a lesson.

Something about this form of punishment is reminiscent of being in a grade school classroom when the teacher assigned the entire class to miss recess or write lines because a group of seven or eight students kept interrupting class. Long story short, no one learned their lesson that day, but everyone missed recess.

Whether or not frequent tardiness was the real reason for sending all of Ferriday Town Hall on an unscheduled paid vacation, this logic doesn’t make sense. And if it doesn’t make sense, then there is a good reason for eyes to turn to Town Hall and question what is going on.

It comes as no one’s surprise that, in the same meeting, town officials discussed their concerns about an astronomical budget deficit. It was revealed that the fund balances show the town’s general checking account is more than $400,000 in the red.

If those who don’t work are going to get paid anyway, how would that stop the guilty party from showing up to work late? Why not put those who missed the appropriate punch time on their time card on probation? Then, if the issue continues, only those few would be sent home without pay — perhaps permanently.

Keep in mind these are public dollars that pay for the salaries at Town Hall, and the work ethic is something that should concern us all. If it’s true that things are not being run properly, citizens of the town hold the power to vote.