Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Parish President John Richmond has vetoed an ordinance passed by the Parish Council, but Council Chairman John Salter says he will put an ordinance on the agenda for the next meeting to override it.
The controversy is over an ordinance passed at the Parish Council meeting April 18 that removed a section of the Natchitoches Parish Personnel Manual “…due to being unconstitutional.” It deals with whether an employee can record a meeting with a superior without their knowledge.
The section removed is as follows:
“…Accordingly, no employee shall record (or arrange for another to record), by any audio or visual means, any conversation or activity of another employee or Parish representative without the non-recording party’s full knowledge and consent. Exceptions will be allowed only with the express written consent of an employee’s supervisor. Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”
Salter, Pat Ward-Hoover, Jim Kilcoyne and Chris Paige voted yes to remove the section and Marty Cheatwood voted no. The ordinance was adopted although District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington and an Assistant Attorney General had previously sent opinions saying the original section was neither illegal nor unconstitutional.
Richmond vetoed the action April 20 writing that he agreed with those two opinions. “The Natchitoches Parish Council may adopt a personnel policy that prohibits parish employees from recording any conversation or activity of another employee without the consent of the non-recording party,” he stated in a letter to Salter.
Salter said in a telephone interview Monday that he didn’t think Richmond’s reasoning was valid that it is illegal to record in private when people (employees) were forced into a meeting and may face termination if they do so. ‘They should be able to record any meeting with a government entity,” Salter said.
Salter said he will introduce an ordinance to override the veto at the next May 16 meeting with a final vote to come June 20.