Monthly meals to mark new era of cooperation

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE — An unprecedented effort by the top three governmental leaders of St. John Parish to work together is underway and showing great promise for residents here.

St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones, Parish President Bill Hubbard and newly-elected District Attorney Tom Daley recently held the first of what will be monthly meetings at different public restaurants in the parish, to not only work on projects together, but also to meet the public on a regular basis.

“In the past there was always tension and problems with these three positions working together,” Hubbard said, still in the first year of his initial term as parish president. “But we want the public to see, despite what is always a lot of rumors and gossip going on, that we are sincerely working together for the good of the parish.

“I don’t think there has ever been this kind of cooperation between these three positions,” Hubbard added.

Jones said that the three parish leaders want to make sure they are pooling resources to the best of their ability, and helping each other when problems come up that need cooperation.

Hubbard pointed to a recent situation where he was trying to clean up an abandoned building, since a local company wanted to build a $4 million facility on the site. But the lot was so trashed up from years of neglect, the potential owners were not ready to make a deal.

“I just called Wayne and said we needed some help cleaning up the lot. He has the inmate labor at his disposal and he immediately helped me out so we could try and get a business deal to go through that would be good for the parish,” he said.

Jones cited a recent senior citizen cleanup after the hurricanes that involved the help of his office, and Hubbard’s.

“We had the inmate labor and we wanted to go to any homes where our senior citizens needed help cleaning up after the storm. But we needed the trucks to pick up the stuff after we cleaned the yards. I asked Bill to send a truck, and he ended up sending four of them,” Jones said.

“Things are different now, compared to how they have ever been in the past,” Jones remarked. “We want the public to see that they have three parish leaders who are really interested in doing what will benefit the citizens the most.”

Hubbard said that there has always been plenty of tension between the departments in the past. But he, Jones and Daley want to see an end to it.

“People want to start problems and they do a lot of gossiping and starting rumors,” he said. “But what we are doing is showing we are working together, and also that we want to get out in the public so people see us, and they can talk to us about what concerns them.”

Daley, the newest elected official of the group, believes people will be glad to see the cooperation between the three.

“People will appreciate seeing their three elected officials working together, and to see us visiting different places in the parish, just to be available,” he said. “There is something about breaking bread together, and this will be a positive thing that will help move the parish forward.”

Hubbard said that the three had lunch together about a month ago to start the meetings, and will now do it every month at a different restaurant in St. John Parish. He promises that they will be going from the eastern side of the parish to the west, on both sides of the river.

“It was interesting that after we had our first meeting, I just felt like some pressure between the departments was released,” Hubbard said. “Now I just stop by and see Wayne two or three times a week and we have a cup of coffee. It will help a lot of things, all for the benefit of the public.”