Lots of ideas look great on paper, and certainly flaws in a system are exposed when it comes to implementation because most often the system is run by people.
But should an idea that could be beneficial be thrown out because of the people who are in power now?
As anticipated, the New Iberia City Council this week officially opposed the Iberia Parish Council’s proposal to discuss consolidation. It is a subject that has come up many times, whether full consolidation or an attempt to combine common departments in an effort to increase efficiency and improve services to more people, and the result has been the same.
In 2009, the parish reached out in an attempt to combine the permit departments. The city then said no thanks. There has been talk of the possibility of combining recreation. But it has been just that, talk. Neither parish nor city has made a serious move to begin discussions about how it could be done.
Though there are strong proponents for consolidation on the Iberia Parish Council, there has been no proposal to consolidate, just an invitation to talk about the possibilities, but the city has no interest in conversation about consolidating anything.
The latest reasoning from New Iberia Mayor Pro Tem Freddie DeCourt was that he didn’t “think parish government is functioning at full capacity, for whatever reason ...” It seems a polite way of saying parish government is dysfunctional.
The parish administration and Parish Council are at odds. From the start of the new administration, Parish President Romo Romero and the Iberia Parish Council just don’t seem to want to get along. The result has been a council that has blocked almost as many department head appointees as it has approved and a parish president who has seen the departure of four department heads — including one that quit before he was fired and another who was fired, curiously, only hours after a story hit the streets that wasn’t critical of the administration but corroborated allegations made by some Parish Council members.
Laid out plainly, we have a parish administration with no head of the planning and zoning department to assure permits are done according to law. There is no CAO to manage the day-to-day operations of the fourth floor of the courthouse. And there is no financial officer closely watching the parish spending, especially at a time the parish is taking on more responsibility to maintain the parish jail facility.
Trying times, indeed, but the city has had its own issues. It wasn’t long ago when a previous administration was on the hot seat for disbanding its police department, which is still the talk of many people as to the wisdom of the decision. Also, over the past couple of years, we have seen overspending for part-time workers in the city’s recreation department.
It might not be a fair comparison to pit parish politicians with city politicos, but neither is it fair to determine that discussions about consolidation shouldn’t happen because of the characters in office now. The idea to be discussed is whether consolidation might help local government work better in the future.