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City officials debate over who should help select next MPC Direc - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

City officials debate over who should help select next MPC Director

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2013 was filled with Shreveport debates over the dog park, the city's financial advisor and water and sewer woes. 2014 opens with a new  debate over who should have a say in the next director of the city's metropolitan planning commission. The MPC is the body of officials to guide orderly development  throughout Shreveport. Now that the current MPC Director is retiring, city council and parish commission members want a seat at the table when it's time to pick a new director, but that request has met some challenges.

"It's only 2 customers are the city and the parish," said Jeff Everson. Everson is the city councilman who proposed the legislation appointing 2 city council members to help the planning commission find a new executive director.  Their current director, Charles Kirkland is retiring. Everson says they don't want to take over the process however, the council, which funds the MPC and has final say in a lot of MPC decisions, does want a voice. Everson said, "I can't speak for the commission but I believe we all really just want to have a seat at the table to make sure they're comfortable with the way a new director is selected."

Because the MPC oversees planning five-miles beyond the Shreveport city limits, the Caddo Parish Commission has also asked to assist in the search for the new director. Commissioner John Escude made his case to the city council and mayor at the council's last meeting of the year in December. Escude said, "We have a big dog in the hunt because we have skin in the game. The directors position for this organization is very responsible for the economic development and growth and a myriad of things in this parish. It's just a simple request, they could refuse it but I truly don't think that they will. Like I said, we are the source of funding and the body that appoints those members."

Mayor Cedric Glover said adding elected commissioners to the search would have a negative chain reaction. "That sounds as if, What I just heard is give us 4 folks to be on your selection committee or we will cut your funding off. To me that sounds as if we are politicizing a body which ought to be as far removed from politics as it can be. Sounds to me as if you're creating a set of circumstances where essentially the next step is to appoint some members of the council and the commission to the MPC itself so you guys can help make the decision yourself before it gets appealed to the council."

As it stands now, the city and parish bodies must confirm appointees to the planning commission. Mayor Glover also added that if everyone had a seat on the search panel, then so should his administration.  City council members unanimously passed Everson's  measure and so did parish commissioners, adding 2 council representatives and 2 commissioners to the search committee of already 4 MPC members to find a new director. Now the decision is up to MPC members for a vote. Regardless of the selection process, it's important that the next director update what he believes is an outdated bureaucracy. Matthew Linn, a Caddo Parish Commissioner says some procedures have been around since the 1950's. "These types of codes and forms for filling out to do business in our community should be updated once every 5 years or once every 10 years, something like that. Since the MPC is the business concierge for our city they need to act like a concierge and they need to give the type of service that people would expect of a community that desires new business."

Requests for applicants for MPC director have been posted and officials say we hope to fill the position by late spring.

 

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