Saturday, July 13, 2024

Bossier City Charter Review Commission at a Standstill

by BIZ Magazine

By Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune

After a meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, the Bossier City Charter Review Commission is at a standstill regarding an amendment to the Bossier City Charter on implementing term limits for elected positions on the Bossier City Council and for the office of Mayor of Bossier City.

At the beginning of the meeting, Preston Friedley, chair of the Bossier City Charter Commission, said, “To say that I think there’s been an effort by individuals who did not get the vote to go their way on term limits is an understatement. They have decided the best thing for them to do is to put forth an agenda that was prepared by Ms. Sandra Morehart, who is against term limits, without my approval and evidently with the approval of Mr. Ray. That’s the agenda that was presented to me this morning.”

“We cannot, this is like a work session, or be considered a public session, in which we cannot take any action. This would mean that all the actions that have currently been approved and handled would just stand. There are 17 additional items that the charter review commission would like to review and vote on. But we cannot do that unless we have five attending members,” Friedley added.

At the June 18 meeting, only three of the nine charter commission members were present, failing to meet the quorum. At least five members are needed to hold an official legal meeting.

At the conclusion of Friedley’s statement, right before going into the agenda, Bossier City Assistant City Attorney Richard Ray asked Friedley if he could address some of the comments Friedley made in his statement.

“Sir, if I may,” said Ray.

“What is it, Mr. Ray?” said Friedley.

“I would like to address some of the comments that you just made, some of the comments you made this morning on the radio, some of the comments you made,” said Ray.

“Mr. Ray, we’re not here to debate,” said Friedley.

Ray and Friedley went back and forth for a short time before a member of the audience, David Crockett, stood in front of the podium and proceeded to cut off Ray and Friedley from talking.

“I have a First Amendment question for you, Mr. City Attorney. I believe this is a public facility, and I think the people who came to this meeting should have the right to speak in an open forum,” said Crockett.

“I would like to call on Mr. Crockett as a citizen who has come forward to make a comment,” said Friedley.

Words continued between Ray, Friedley, and Crockett before Bossier City Charter Review Commissioner David Johnson interjected.

“Let us have order here, one at a time. Mr. Ray started. If you would finish, Mr. Ray, I would appreciate it,” said Johnson.

Ray then went on to explain that the duly elected secretary for the charter review commission, charter commission member Sandra Morehart, sends a draft of the upcoming meeting agenda weekly for comment. But the chairman, Friedley, has never approved or disapproved an agenda preceding prior commission meetings.

“On February 12, this body, in an open meeting, adopted Robert’s Rules of Order, 12th edition, as their general rules. I counseled them, I begged them early to adopt specific rules. They chose not to. So they adopted Robert’s Rules of Order, version 12, as their rules,” Ray said.

“Every meeting that we have had before, the secretary, your appointed secretary, that you nominated, has sent a draft agenda to all of the members. Some days she’s done it 12-13 days ahead of time. Sometimes she’s done it 4-5 days ahead of time. She’s always sent it ahead of time. She gives a comment for the deadline and for changes. You, sir, have never commented on any of it. You’ve never approved or disapproved one in all of the prior meetings,” Ray continued.

“Under Robert’s Rules, version 12, which you adopted, the secretary, rule 4733:10, the secretary and only the secretary is to prepare prior to each meeting an order of business to be used by the presiding officer,” Ray added.

“The secretary has the role of preparing the agenda. The secretary for this organization has prepared the draft agenda every single time. Then, when she sent the agenda out, she followed the same procedure that was done for the June 10 meeting. She put the items that were considered under old business, just as had been done for the prior meeting at your request,” Ray concluded.

Ray went on to say that a series of emails ensued.

“Ms. Morehart sent an email out that showed exactly when she sent the proposed agenda out for each meeting and how many days ahead of time it was. And when she sent the proposed agenda for today’s meeting, there was initially no comment. Then Friday morning, you came to my office, and I met with you. You wanted me to send out your revised agenda to the entire group. I told you I was uncomfortable doing that. That’s not my role. I told you I’m not your legal counsel, I’m not the legal counsel for this organization. I’m not even the city attorney. I’m filling in for the city attorney who is out on medical leave. But I was uncomfortable sending out an agenda that followed a procedure that had not been followed in any of the prior meetings and was not done by the secretary when the secretary is the person to do that and has done it every time,” said Ray.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Friedley stated that if there are not enough charter members at the next meeting to have a quorum, all that’s left to do is give the charter to the City Council as is.

The Bossier City Charter Review Commission will attempt to meet again on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 6 p.m. at the Bossier Civic Center.

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