It’s no secret that Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn has no love lost for Caddo Administrator Dr. Woody Wilson.
Linn was Commission president for the 2106 calendar year. One of first acts in that position was to attempt to remove Wilson from the NLCOG Committee. His efforts ultimately failed.
He had previously accused Wilson of not actually being a resident of Caddo Parish as required by Commission action.
This year Linn has pushed to have more authority for the Commission, and less for Wilson. Linn is the chairperson of the Commission Clerk & Administrator’s Evaluation Committee.
Other members are Lynn Cawthorne and Doug Dominick. Steven Jackson, Commission president, is Ex-officio member.
Linn scheduled a committee meeting for Wednesday September 27. The business listed on the published agenda was to meet with KPMG guest to "discuss the benefits that objective assessments can provide to local governments and citizens."
Those at the meeting included Linn, Cawthorne, Middleton, Wilson , Commission finance director Erica Bryant, Commission attorney Donna Frazier, Commission Clerk Todd Hopkiins, and assistant Caddo administrator Randy Lucky.
The "discussion" was a sales pitch by 2 KPMG professionals to conduct department reviews to determine operational efficiency. This study would cost $50 to $100 thousand dollars per department. The short meeting (30 minutes) seemingly did not justify the flight from Atlanta Georgia for the meeting.
Later it was discovered that the KPMG pair had met with Linn and several Commissioner that morning at the office of Commissioner Mario Chavez. Those known to have attended included Linn, Chavez, Middleton and John Atkins. Commission president Steven Jackson was invited but could not attend due to a work conflict. Commission vice president Doug Dominick was invited, but he declined.
Whether or not all that attending the morning meeting were together as a group or met in smaller groups is unknown. Nor is the topic of discussion, although it is presumed work evaluations of Wilson and Hopkins were on the front burner.
The names of other Commissioners who may have been invited , whether they attended or not, is unknown. Only one Dominick replied to an email inquiring about attendance; he refused to attend.
Evidently cell phone texts were utilized to set up the clandestine meeting.
The Louisiana Open Meetings law mandates that meetings of a quorum of a public body shall be open to the public exception for executive sessions approved by two-thirds of the members present.
There are 12 Commissioners. Thus a gathering of 7 or more together must be noticed and held open to the public unless an executive session is approved.
The Open Meetings law also applies to committee meetings. If a majority of a committee meets together, the meeting must be open to the public.
How the private meeting by the Commissioners with KMPG was handled is not really an issue. The overriding concern is transparency to the public. If Linn wanted to discuss Wilson and/or Hopkins at a meeting of Commissioners, a vote could have resulted in an Executive Session.
For an elected body that has struggled with its public image, these actions constitute another black eye. And shame on Linn, who orchestrated this scheme, as well as Chavez, Middleton, and Atkins who participated in a process that obviously was intended to violate the Public Meetings law.
And this goes for Jackson as well, who defended the meeting as Ok. Hopefully other Commissioners who were a part of this back room closed door sham will be identified. Additionally, Commissioners should be questioned publicly at the next Commission meeting, either on Monday (October 2, 2017) or Thursday (October 5, 2017).
So much for the good government principles that Linn continually espouses when making requests to Commission staff, suggesting more power be vested in the Commission versus the Parish Administrator and promotion of this self serving agenda. As they say, when the lights are turned on, the cockroaches run.