At its regular meeting on October 19 the Caddo Commission is expected to vote on a resolution to remove the Confederate Memorial from the Caddo courthouse grounds.
Most observers believe the vote will be 7 to 5 in favor of the resolution. Commissioner Matthew Linn is expected to vote along with the 6 African American Commissioners for removal. A simple majority of the 12 Commissioners will approve this resolution.
Linn also has on the agenda two proposed amendments to the Caddo Commission Charter. The first provides that the Commission shall establish a system of internal audits, with a minimum of three department audits per years. The second proposal eliminates the internal audits from the responsibility of the parish administrator.
A super majority of 8 votes is required to place these on the ballot for a parish wide election. These amendments must be approved by Caddo voters.
Word on the street has it that Linn has brokered a deal to get support for his amendments from the six African American commissioners in exchange for his vote to remove the memorial. Whether or not he can set an additional vote from one of the white commissioners is an open question.
A vote to remove will move the hotly contested debate over the memorial from government plaza to the Caddo Courthouse.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) own the memorial. Who owns the dirt under the memorial is a question to be resolved.
The UDC claims ownership as does the Parish. Legally, the issue of “eviction” of the memorial is dependent on this issue. In other words the Parish can not require removal of the memorial if the Parish does not own the land upon which it sits.
The UDC is prepared to seek an injunction to prevent the Parish from taking the monument down. The test for such an order is “irreparable harm” that is not readily compensable in dollars.
There is little doubt that an injunction will be signed until the ownership issue if finally resolved.
Once the case is litigated before Caddo Judge Ramon Lafitte, it is expected that the “losing party” will appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. And similarly that court’s decision will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Time wise, this case will easily take 2 years, and probably much longer to be finally decided . In the meantime, the memorial can be expected to stay at 500 Texas Street.
The UDC has retained an attorney and is raising funds for legal fees. Hopefully for Caddo taxpayers, the Parish litigation will be handled internally by its two person legal staff.
The first hearing is set for December 11 on a declaratory judgement action that names both the Parish and the UDC as defendant. The purpose of this action is to force these parties to litigate among themselves the issue of who owns the dirt under the memorial. The Parish is objecting to this hearing.
How this all shakes out will not be known for quite sometime.
Looking at the year to date, the 2017 Commission will be remembered for the continuing debacle at the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter and how the Confederate Memorial fuss was handled.
So much for the Commission’s 2017 legacy.
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