LCG: Deconsolidation Charter Fix Still in Question
Feb 25, 2019 01:04PM
● By Press Release
Lafayette, La. -- On Feb. 25, 2019, the Louisiana Secretary of State hosted a meeting with Lafayette Parish officials to discuss errors in a recent amendment to the Lafayette City-Parish Charter. Last week, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin questioned the constitutionality of the Dec. 8 vote to establish a new form of government with separate City and Parish Councils. Referencing four major errors and multiple technical errors in the Charter amendment language, Ardoin initially suggested a re-vote would be necessary and called for a meeting.
At the gathering, Mayor-President Joel Robideaux questioned if a vote of the people is required and asked Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott to present his legal interpretation. With regard to reapportionment, Escott stated that the Charter may be amended via ordinance. Ardoin reminded everyone that any changes made to the Charter is the responsibility of the local governing authority – the City-Parish Council. Ardoin said it is not his role to provide the legal mechanism to make the corrections and suggested a Louisiana Attorney General’s opinion should be considered.
“As questions and concerns began to arise about the errors in the amendment, I think it was important for us all to come together and determine how to best move forward,” stated Robideaux. “I appreciate the Secretary of State keeping an open mind on how this can be resolved. The process moving forward needs to be managed in a way that helps regain the public’s trust.”
According to Louisiana Commissioner of Elections Sherri Wharton Hadskey, her office needs corrective action finalized by July 1 in order to move forward with the October elections. Robideaux cautions against rushing through the fix stating, “It is imperative to get it right this time. The Commissioner has given the Council ample time for a thorough and public process.”
In a Press Release from District 5 City-Parish Council Chairman Jared Bellard, "Secretary Ardoin provided the attached, which includes the issues at hand and the points to be made. Issues at hand relate to a number of precinct/map corrections, with a major error being that the plan excluded a segment of voters in the City of Lafayette. Another issue was that the Clerk of Court would be unable to hold qualifying based on the current written descriptions voted on under the new Charter ordinance.
Ardoin stated his recommendations in that, it should go back to citizens for a revote or a special election could be called by the legislature to provide for an election date in June. However, he would leave it in the hands of Lafayette officials to determine the direction on moving forward. If it is determined by LCG officials that the way to move forward is to adopt an ordinance to correct the errors, Ardoin’s office would review the final ordinance. At that point, the SOS could then determine the validity of the ordinance.
Another option is to request an Attorney General Opinion. That could be done by resolution. A majority vote of the Lafayette City-Parish Council would be required. Any one Council Member may author the resolution for placement on the agenda. The Mayor-President may also have the option to request an AG opinion.
Further, the LCG Legal Department would advise the Council on options on how to move forward. No matter the final solution, it was determined that the corrections/fix should be completed by July 1st. Please note that a final decision on how we move forward to correct these errors was NOT determined. Our Legal team (Paul Escott), will issue us a formal written report... we await your response."
We will continue to update this story as it develops.
In attendance at this mornings meeting was a representative from the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret, Lafayette Parish Registrar of Voters Charlene Meaux Menard, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Jared Bellard, Lafayette City-Parish Clerk of Council Veronica Williams, City-Parish President Joel Robideaux, and demographer Mike Hefner.
Related story 2/22/2019: Re-Vote Possible For Lafayette Parish On City-Parish Deconsolidation