Voters to decide whether JP will get inspector general

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on October 12, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 12 at 11:03 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Orleans Parish already has one, and now voters in Jefferson Parish will decide if they want one.

On the Oct. 22 ballot, voters will find two measures to create an Inspector General's Office.

"I like the idea of keeping our elected officials accountable, especially in light of everything that's happened here in Jefferson Parish," said voter Susan Loehr, who showed up to the election polls on Wednesday afternoon to cast her ballot.

"Kinda politics as usual, but I thought the parish has less of that going on then Orleans and [I] was surprised at the extensiveness of the corruption," said Loehr, remembering the federal criminal investigations of former parish president Aaron Broussard and his top aide, Tim Whitmer. Neither men were charged with crimes but changes in the Jefferson Parish did follow.

Jefferson Parish voters are getting a chance to vote for or against the creation of an Inspector General's Office, which would help weed out fraud, corruption, waste and inefficiency.

"I hope that we have checks and balances in place to block corruption. Whether or not we need a constitutional amendment to do so, is a little sad," said Jefferson Parish voter Bill Luster.

"We've done a lot of work on the Inspector General's Office in Orleans Parish its been very beneficial for Orleans and I'd expect the same kind of benefits to Jefferson Parish," said Janet Howard with the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Howard said a parish the size of Jefferson needs a government watchdog, and the inspector general would also be held accountable for its work.

"It breaks the ties of reporting to a political person, on the other hand the inspector general will have to give annual reports to the ethics commission & could be removed by them for cause," said Howard.

For the office to become a reality, two measures need to pass on the Jefferson Parish ballot. The first is a parish-wide proposition for inspector general. The second is an Inspector General Special Services Funding District Proposition to help pay for the office.

"Although it may look initially like a new tax, it's not because we're taking whatever that 0.5 millage is and reducing the road lighting tax. So it's a net wash to all of our citizens," said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

"To me it's not just good government, which is a good goal in and of itself, but it promotes economic development. If you have a perception of having an equal and fair playing field in your parish, you'll attract more business and industry," added Young.

With election day just 10 days away, its now up to Jefferson Parish voters to decide how they would like their tax dollars spent.

"If you have honest people they shouldn't mind someone looking over their shoulder," said Loehr, who favors more government accountability.

If the measures does pass, the inspector general's term would last five years. Local universities would help select members of that ethics commission, which would help oversee the Inspector General's Office.

For more details on this measure and other election issues, click here.

 

Print
Email
|