Hogan: I did not walk out of committee meeting

To the editor:
As a result of the public’s outcry asking for the Council to save them money if possible with regards to garbage collection, the St. Charles Parish Council has been conducting committee meetings to work out details regarding what should be included within the proposals we are seeking from solid waste collectors.

The Times-Picayune (T-P) published an article on October 13, 2010 which indicated that I walked out of the committee meeting after the passing of a motion which I opposed.  I want to set the record straight on this.  I did leave the meeting early but not for that reason.

After the vote, the meeting that had been going on for over 1-1/2 hours was now heading off subject (discussion of what taxes we will get from garbage collectors).  That had nothing to do the purpose of the meeting.  When I informed that to the chairman, he stated that I could leave and I did.

During a committee meeting, the council decided to allow the garbage collectors to be the primary contact point regarding complaints.  I opposed this in favor of having the contract monitor’s office be the primary contact for complaints as that office has done for years (notice the name of that office, CONTRACT MONITOR).

This allows the parish to monitor/track complaints and to determine penalty fees for failing to timely address complaints.

The procedure adopted by the committee will allow for the garbage collector to self police himself.  This puts the contractor in the driver’s seat instead of the parish.  That is why I and several other council members opposed this proposal.

The purpose for the council asking for proposals was to see if we can save the citizens a few dollars.  At the last committee meeting, the ouncil elected to adopt a ranking procedure in order to select the contractor with cost being given the most weight but not being the controlling factor. With this method, the council (if it wishes) will be able to select the most expensive garbage service if the ranking process ends up saying select the one with the highest cost.  I and several other council members opposed this method since the items to be considered in the ranking are either already contained in the proposal or can be added such that there is no need to rank.

I favored having the proposal cover all concerns so that cost will be the only remaining factor that we are to select from.  I related it to buying a truck.  I want a white, short bed, regular cab, F-150 completely loaded.  When I go shopping for the vehicle, I only consider those that meet the requirements.  I will then end up buying the one with the lowest mark-up over factory cost.  That is the way I felt it should be with the garbage proposals. Unfortunately, my concern and that of several other council members were in the minority.

A second T-P article was published on October 16, 2010 regarding the garbage issue and the relationship between council members.  I find that the T-P reporter is constantly trying to put more into a story than there is in an apparent effort to sell newspapers, I guess.

Yes, votes seem to go six to three in many cases but that’s the way it is.  We are all elected to do what is best for the parish and its citizens.  This just shows that there are two lines of thinking in what is best.

For example, three think emailing, texting, and being able to access the internet during meetings should not be allowed while six others think it better serves the public.  I am the one who authored the proposed council rule banning this activity and I think the public would have been better served if the ban had been adopted.  Six others disagree.

It’s for the public to decide during an election if votes like that one and many other comparable votes are in their or the parish’s best interest.  The T-P article ended with “Hogan won no friends when he attempted to pass a change to a council rule banning texting and e-mailing during a council meeting, claiming he was distracted by the action.”

I was not elected to win friends!  I was elected to represent my constituents and to look out for their and the parish’s best interest.  My solid voting record has consistently done that and it will continue for as long as I am in office.

Paul Hogan,
Councilman, District 4


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