On Monday, July 23, the St. Charles Parish Council passed ordinance 12-7-9 which required parish workers not to disclose the names of our good citizens who report violations to the parish.
This ordinance was presented to the council in response to citizen complaints with regards to parish workers providing this information to the violators. This would in turn cause unnecessary bad blood and tension between these individuals. This ordinance does not prevent a citizen from obtaining that information, it simply requires that it be obtained through a public information request.
What happens most of the time when addressing violations is that the parish employee is looked at as being the bad person. In these cases, the easiest thing to do to take the heat off them is to pass the heat on to the individual who reported the violation. In some cases, it is after being asked by the violator on who complained and in other cases it is offered outright.
Citizens who file complaints to make our parish and neighborhoods a better place to live should not have to be subjected to this. If a violator wants to know, then they should have to obtain the information through other means.
On July 27, Parish President V.J. St. Pierre vetoed the ordinance. In his veto letter, he stated that this ordinance was over burdensome on the employees and unnecessary. That statement does not say much good about our employees by claiming that it is too hard for them to say "Per St. Charles Parish regulations, I am not at liberty to discuss anything more than the violation with you. As with all public records, all information relating to this violation is available through a public information request" as the ordinance required.
Speaking those 37 simple words is the extent of what was required of our employees with this ordinance. How is that over burdensome?
He then went on to say that requiring a citizen to have to make a public information request in order to obtain the name of the person who complained is contrary to the transparency your administration has promoted. Surely he does not believe that this is the type of information that you, our citizens want, desire, or deserve to have transparency with. At least I would hope he does not truly believe that.
In closing, I found his veto to be completely unwarranted as I would expect most citizens of our parish. It is unfortunate that he vetoed this simple ordinance to help our citizens but he failed to veto other ordinances that have come before him from time to time that truly deserve a veto. I do not understand it!
The council will have the chance to override his veto at the next council meeting. I hope that the council will review this ordinance once again and will concur that it is not burdensome and is in the best interest of our citizens.
Paul J. Hogan
District IV Councilman,