[lg policy] Louisiana: City discusses racial-language policy.

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 28 21:20:40 UTC 2010

City discusses racial-language policy.

Beauregard Daily News
Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 01:57 PM

DeRidder, La. — Councilman Hayward Steele recommended the council
adopt a measure that would outline repercussions for the use of racial
slurs or derogatory remarks in the city council meeting on Monday. “We
need to be proactive,” Steele said. “We should assure our citizens
[derogatory remarks] will not be tolerated.” Steele suggested the
council conduct a workshop with the City Attorney David Lestage to see
what action the council could take to make sure a city employee or
elected official never use offensive language. “A city employee cannot
expect to escape the consequences for the use of racial remarks,” said

He added that the city has to be careful when they decide to restrain
speech that is constitutionally protected.“In the workplace, if
someone uses that language they can be removed,” Lestage said. He
added that an elected official could be recalled if the voters decide
the representative should be removed. Steele commented that the city
should have some code of conduct to reaffirm the consequences of the
use of offensive language, whether it be racial, sexist, or against
any creed. He added that in the employee handbook sexual abuse and
alcohol abuse is adequately covered, and believes offensive language
should be included. The council agreed to have a workshop to discuss
the options the city could take.

“I think the racial relationship in the city is good,” Steele said.
“We definitely don’t want an incident to take us back 20 or 30 years,
we want to move forward.”

During the visitor’s docket, Ryan Graves, a 17-year-old DeRidder High
School Senior, expressed is frustrations with the lack of activities
available to city residents his age.

“There is nothing to do here,” Graves said.

He told the council that park facilities cater more toward younger
children and are lack in the areas for a slightly older population.

“We cannot go to the movies unless we go to Leesville or Lake
Charles,” Graves said.

He then presented council members who grew up in DeRidder with the
question, what did you do when you were younger?

Councilwoman Faith Thomas said that was not much to do when she was
younger and councilman Robert “Bo” Rice said there was a theater in
town when he was younger.

Mayor Ron Roberts later addressed the comments by saying that the city
has pursued certain venues of entertainment, but have been told some
things are just not possible.

A consultant told his office that unless a community had 100,000 or
more residents a movie theater would not consider building there. The
latest population numbers put Beauregard Parish at just over 30,000

“We are looking to investors to bring in the big business,” Roberts said.

He told the council he met with businessmen on Friday to discuss
putting an arcade in the city for an outlet to socialize. Roberts also
mentioned that the expansion of East Park in currently underway and
will be completed in phases. The council gave approval to the public
works director to advertise for bids on the basketball pavilion to be
built in the park. The next phase will be a splash park and then a
recreational building that will include an indoor swimming pool.

The council members thanked Graves for his concerns and his
willingness to make them known.

“Your concerns will not fall on deaf ears,” said councilman Siciliano.
He reassured Graves that the council is working to provide young
adults in DeRidder with adequate recreational opportunities.

In other council news, an ordinance was introduced for a variance for
signage to be installed on the walls of the Burke’s Outlet store. Part
of the signage has prematurely been installed and City code
enforcement officer Marvin Simmons told the council he asked
construction of the signs are to stop until the ordinance is passed.

There is another ordinance that was introduced to enter into a
contract for the undertaking of a street improvement project in the
amount of $316,730.

All introduced ordinances will be open for public hearing at the next
City Council meeting on August 9, in city hall starting

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