Today, the Office of the Governor released the following statement on Attorney General Jeff Landry’s press conference regarding Red River Waterway Commission:
“Everyone should see this for what it is – another cheap political stunt from the attorney general. The simple fact of the matter is that Caddo Parish is not lacking any representation on the commission. Caddo Parish continues to have the same representation on this commission today as it has for more than a decade. The governor made a commitment in November 2017 to restore racial and geographic balance to this commission when a vacancy occurred, and that’s what he has done. We stand by the appointment, and would encourage the attorney general to focus on the matters that fall under his jurisdiction and stop meddling into matters that are reserved for the Chief Executive Officer of the state, the governor.”
In his press conference, the attorney general indicates that Ronald Lattiere, a Caddo Parish resident, was not nominated for his position. That is incorrect. Mr. Lattiere was nominated by the Caddo Parish Commission. His nomination letter and resolution are available here.
A full factsheet is available below:
- Gov. Edwards has already appointed Carolyn Prator to the Caddo Levee District Board on April 22, 2016. In that capacity, she serves at the discretion of the governor. Therefore, if the governor were seeking some sort of political retribution, he could remove Mrs. Prator from that board, but he has not and will not.
- The Red River Waterway Commission is made up of 11 members (7 district seats and 4 at-large-seats). Statutorily, each of the seven parishes within the district served by the commission gets one seat, to be chosen by the governor from nominees from the appropriate local governing authorities. The governor can fill the four remaining at-large seats with someone from any of the seven parishes.
- Governor Edwards made a commitment in 2017 to return a seat long-held by Rapides Parish and restore balance to the commission once a vacancy became available. That would not only restore balance to the commission, but it would ensure both racial and geographical diversity. Politics was never a factor in the governor’s decision.
- For a brief period, four months to be exact, Caddo had three representatives. After the passing of Mr. Mickey Prestridge on February 5, 2018, his seat became vacant. The governor filled his seat with Ronald Lattier from Caddo Parish, who had in fact been nominated by the Caddo Parish Commission. Mr. Lattier was confirmed by the Louisiana State Senate in the 2018 Regular Session. When the at-large-seat became available the governor kept his commitment and appointed a veteran from Rapides Parish.
- For nearly 14 years Caddo Parish has held a total of 2 seats – 1 parish and 1 at-large on the commission and with Gov. Edwards’ appointment that remains the case for Caddo. Caddo Parish is receiving the same representation on the commission today as it has for more than a decade.
- While it is true that Carolyn Prator was nominated to fill the vacant seat, it is also true that her letters were received after the deadline as stipulated by state law, which is 30 days after a vacancy occurs. In this case, that was immediately upon the death of Mr. Prestridge. Thus, Mrs. Prator was not timely nominated. However, the timing of the letters was not a factor in the governor’s decision, as the reason for his selection was his commitment to appoint someone from Rapides Parish to the at-large position.
- The applicable statute is Louisiana Revised Statutes 34:2303(D) which provides the pertinent part:
[W]ithin thirty days after occurrence of a vacancy prior to the expiration of the term of office of any member, the aforesaid respective nominating bodies so entitled shall, in the parish where appropriate, designate a nominee for the new term or to fill the vacancy.
- The nominating organizations include: Caddo Parish commission, the Red River Valley Association, and the Caddo Levee District
- Outrageous and false statements have been made accusing the governor of not appointing Carolyn Prator because her husband, Sheriff Steve Prator, has been vocal in his opposition to the bipartisan criminal justice reform passed by the Louisiana Legislature. The governor’s appointment, Col. Ret. Michael Deville, served honorably in the Louisiana National Guard for nearly 30 years and has years of experience as a military engineer and logistics officer working on issues related to waterways, flooding, building levees and hurricane recovery and relief efforts.
- As outlined in the statute, the governor can select anyone to fill the at-large-seats as long as the person is from one of the seven parishes that fall under the commission. The law is also clear that the governor can receive nominations but is not obligated to select from them. In this case, the governor had made a prior commitment to Rapides Parish and no matter who was recommended the governor was going to keep his word.