“Can you take off time from your day job to handle responsibilities of a council member that must be accomplished during the business work day?”
It’s a critical question that should be asked of all Shreveport council candidates.
Levette Fuller and Laura Mclemore are candidates for District B. Both have public sector jobs and their salaries are paid for with public dollars.
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 for a council meeting, she must leave work at 2:30 to allow for travel time. 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.
McLemore heads up the LSUS Archives in the LSUS library. She may be able to “flex’ her hours for the four regular Council meetings each month. She would need to leave the LSUS campus no later than 2:30 pm to arrive by 3 pm at Government Plaza. The library is open extended hours/days beyond the regular work days at LSUS.
But then there are committee meetings—this week Property Standards met at 1:30 p.m. And then there are other events that pop up with little notice.
McLemore and Chancellor Larry Clark are setting themselves up for criticism if McLemore effectively does her job as a council person. As the head of the library archives, she needs to be at her job on a regular basis. This will not happen if she is as diligent as most of the current council.
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 of 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.
In addition to the regular four council meetings, council members also have committee meetings. The standing committees are: 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, McLemore, and Hester should also be asked if they can effectively discharge their job duties or day job while taking time off for council responsibilities. And is it good government to have an employee of a public entity on the Shreveport City Council?