A Tribune Talk Editorial: Headed in the Wrong Direction . . . Already

The deceit has already begun, but it’s no less than what we expected. To be sure, this in no spilt milk cry. It is merely an observation—like the myriad of observations and statements of fact we made about former District B Councilwoman Stacy Head during her campaign for the at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council.

We made no apologies in sharing our opinion that Head, because of the disrespect and disregard she displayed toward segments of our community, was not the right choice for the city-wide position. Nonetheless, the voters have spoken, and by a margin of 281 votes, they decided they wanted Head.

And so far, she has not disappointed. That is to say, that in the first major decision she has had to make since being elected to fill an at-large seat on the council—choosing a successor for the district seat she is vacating—she has not ventured far from the dubious and devious behavior that marked her tenure as District B councilwoman.

If Councilwoman Head is really ready to turn a new corner in the manner in which she serves the people of this city, why would she pick Errol George—someone who didn’t even bother to register to vote in District B—to complete her unexpired term as the area’s representative on the New Orleans City Council?

Let’s set a few things straight before we venture into this discussion any further. The City’s charter requires that anyone seeking to hold a district seat on the council be domiciled in the district for a specified period of time. Legally, domiciled refers to the residence that is one’s permanent home; and in the legal sense, a person can have one and only one domicile at a time. You can go on an extended vacation, visit friends across town for weeks on end or hang out at your momma’s house for days; but when it’s time to go home you return to your domicile. And though not spelled out in the charter, it ought to be reasonable to expect that a person’s voter registration would coincide with his or her domicile. It at least out to be sound to expect that a person who is so civic minded that he or she would consider serving on the City Council, even on an interim basis, would have long ago ensured that he was registered to vote in the same district in which he was domiciled. And let’s not forget that the state’s voter registration form makes it clear that the line that asks for “residence address” refers to the address at which a person lives—not where he vacations, not where he used to live, not where other members of his family might live. In other words, when Errol George decided that he would live in River Garden, he should have changed his voter registration to reflect that decision. And for crying out loud, he has had five years to do it! But he didn’t do it until eight days ago, and that fact begs us to question not only his judgment, but that of Councilwoman Head in selecting him.

Head has a chance here to show some real leadership, to withdraw George as her nominee and to seek and vet additional nominees for the seat from the District B community. If she fails to do that, the New Orleans City Council, which must approve any interim member, has a chance to take a stand as well by letting their colleague and the people of this city know that the city charter, and in this case those bylaws and rules that outlines who is allowed to serve and represent the people of New Orleans, are not written in crayon and are not to be played with.

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