We lost one of our finest this week.
Josh McDaniel Sr., a lifetime peace officer, died at age 86. He was the first black patrol officer in Franklin, the first black sheriffís deputy in St. Mary Parish, the first black elected marshal in the state of Louisiana.
But more than that, McDaniel was a great guy that Iím greatly honored to have known. Never without a cheery hello and a kind word, he was among the finest this city has ever known.
If Iím bold and brash enough to make a stand, Iím humble enough to take it back.
Last week, I kinda came down hard on the notion of a "Keep St. Mary Parish Beautiful" chapter of the Louisiana and subsequently national Keep America Beautiful anti-litter organization.
While I do still feel like $60,000 in administrative and office costs alone would pay a lot of people to pick up a lot of litter in St. Mary Parish, Iíll concede this much: Give it a year to see how it works.
Franklin signed on Tuesday night, and Morgan City was already on board. Kudos to both, letís make this work.
If indeed the cities and parish fund the money, a director is hired and that person applies for and received grants to clean up this parish, then Iíll stand corrected. I think thatís a fair chance to give what might be a great Ė though top-heavy Ė program. This needs to be more than education and information.
By the same token, Iím taking a wait-and-see stance over the St. Mary Parish Industrial Park Board.
Tuesday, the city council drug out that ordinance again. You know the one. We should all know it by heart, itís been dragged up to the floor so many times, itís papers must be dog-eared and stained. Up it goes, back it goes, postponed, delayed, tabled and put to beddy-bye.
Finally, it was "postponed indefinitely."
The council wants to revive the industrial park board and feels now that money is in place to get at least some infrastructure work completed, the park board should have as good a chance getting funding, tenants and development as the Port of West St. Mary, to whom they have been contemplating transferring or selling the park to every time that poor bedraggled ordinance has been hauled up.
It was, if memory serves, the park board that made the suggestion to turn the facility over to the port in the first place. But Iíll go along with this, weíll wait-and-see. Some of us believe four years is entirely too long for not a spade of dirt to be turned out there. Some of us really feel like while we have been inactive and indecisive on this facility and its status, opportunities have passed us by.
Regardless of what took place Tuesday, somebody somewhere needs a fire lit under somebodyís behinds. It is up to the city council to find out who and strike the match.
Just because they took a vote and approved an action, the pearly gates wonít necessarily suddenly open to the sound of a heavenly host of angels playing trumpets and chariots will thunder down to develop that park.
Franklin has the most at stake. The city holds the deed to that property, though an intergovernmental agreement was set up to administrate it. Baldwin also has a high stake as well, since the park is within their municipal limits.
That industrial park board, long-since virtually dissolved, isnít likely to pick up the newspaper and say, "Wow! Weíre back, jack!" Somebodyís going to have to push for this thing to happen, and push hard.
It remains unclear how that board can be expected to develop and populate that park since it has no office facility, no phone and no budget.
Another thing, while Iím on my high-horse.
When the notion to transfer or otherwise sell the facility to the Port of West St. Mary came up, I covered a meeting of the port commission where a city official approached them on the idea.
What was said, and was reported in the media, was that the port commission would glady entertain any offer or request the city cared to make.
Since then the commission has waited. Look at it this way: It would be in really bad taste if I said I was thinking about giving you my extra car, and you badgered me about it incessantly every chance you got.
The port opened itself to consider what the city had to propose. Thatís not to say they were jumping for joy and dancing a jig, nor that they were rolling their eyes and wishing the offer would just go away. It means just what they said: "Weíll listen to whatever youíve got to say and take it from there."
Water under the bridge, but just to set the record straight.
Bottom line is, we had better see results. Sometimes we canít see the forest for the trees in this parish, but we dang well better get our eyes examined quick. Opportunity after opportunity after opportunity passes us by, and our respective Neros are fiddling away while Rome burns.
Hate to harp on, butÖ
I think a businessman who went to the council Tuesday seeking relief from electrical service problems was not given a fair shake.
Tony Scelfo complained about incessant problems with power fluctuations, outages and the like at his downtown business. While a Cleco representative urged all problems be called in to the company so they can find, isolate and repair them, there was no real answer given to Scelfo about the nature of the problem other than accurate but limited effects regarding weather. The council in turn patted Cleco on the back and that was that.
As an employee of a downtown business, I can vouch for Mr. Scelfoís claims when I say the power service in this area of downtown is pitiful. Our power experiences consistent drops down to 74 and even down to 20 volts sometimes. We mysteriously lost a bunch of computer equipment a few months ago over a span of a few weeks. Some weeks, nothing happens at all, maybe two weeks or three weeks in a row. Other weeks Ė in perfect weather Ė the backup power supplies on our computers beep and alarms go off all over the building, over and over again, signaling low voltage or spikes.
Scelfo said since heís fitted with an "on demand" meter at his business, he should be able to demand an explanation. I donít think he got one. The problems in this part of town have been going on for as long as Iíve been back here at the Banner, nearly a decade now. Mr. Scelfo said as much, and no explanation he received accounts for that cumulative timeframe of problems.
Mr. Scelfo got a non-answer. Government is obligated to be responsive to the needs and complaints of its citizens, not look for the easy way out. Utility companies operating within the municipal limits operate under an agreement with the city, and the city needs to hold their feet to the fire to make sure service is optimum.