Although a Shreveport City Council seat is a “part time” position, almost everyone who has served on the Council will tell you that it is virtually a “full time” part time job.
For beginners, the council meets on the second and fourth weeks of each month. The administrative conference, commonly referred to as the work session, is on Mondays. The regular meeting is on Tuesdays.
The meeting starts at 3:30 pm and they end when the agenda is finished, which rarely is before 5 p.m. The meetings generally last until 5:30 p.m. or later.
Then there are committee meetings: Audit and Finance, Master Plan, Multicultural, Planning & Infrastructure, Property Standards, Public Safety, Risk Management, and Riverfront committees. These meet on a periodic basis, and usually at 1 pm before a meeting of the Council. Most of the committees have 4 council members.
Council members are also assigned to other boards and task forces. These include Architect and Engineering Committee, Government Plaza Standing Committee, Inter-Governmental Committee, Shreveport Convention Center Hotel Authority, and Small and Emerging Business Task Force. These groups almost always meet during the business day.
And there are meetings with the mayor, department heads, major press conferences and constituents that must be attended during the business day. Yes, phone calls, texts and emails from constituents can be handled “after hours”. But much like the business operations of the city, many of the council duties can only be accomplished during the workday.
It’s safe to say that a diligent council member can count on 16 to 20 hours a month, minimum, of time expended during the business day carrying out their job responsibilities.
Fuller is employed by the Shreve Memorial Library system and she works at the North Market branch. Her hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour unpaid lunch. Thus a council meeting she must leave work at 2:30 to allow for travel time and she will rarely if ever, get back to work before 6 pm.
Fuller gets 96 vacation hours a year. That equates to 8 hours a month. Attendance at the 4 council meetings a month will easily exceed these hours.
Hester is employed as a police officer by the Town of Blanchard. If elected this could represent a conflict of interest since he is being paid by one municipality and will also be paid as a city council representative.
His work schedule varies. It is possible that he can attend council meetings without taking time off from work. How Hester will handle the other meetings listed above is an open question.
Currently, Blanchard does not have a policy dealing with employees serving on political bodies. And it does not have a policy on whether or not an employee can attend activities as a council representative while “on the clock”. Seemingly Hester will have challenges on both of these matters if elected to the Shreveport council.
Surely voters in District B and District D should inquire as to the availability of any candidate to do their job as an elected official. Seemingly both Fuller and Hester will have major limitations in their current employment in effectively representing their respective districts if elected. And that should be a major decision-making factor for voters.
(This article was/will be published in The Shreveport Times of Sunday, August 26, 2018)