It’s not certain if Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) Chairman T.J. Doss is simply LSPC’s equivalent to Donald Trump or if he’s not seeking or getting sound legal advice from commission legal counsel Lenore Feeney.
Either way, the commission, already reprising author Jimmy Breslin’s Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, just can’t seem to conduct a simple investigation into State Trooper political activity. Nor can Doss seem to get it right when seeking nominations to fill vacancies on the commission.
Article X, Part IV, Sec. 43 (c) of the 1974 Louisiana State Constitution says of nominations for appointment to LSPC:
The presidents of Centenary College at Shreveport, Dillard University at New Orleans, Louisiana College at Pineville, Loyola University at New Orleans, Tulane University of Louisiana at New Orleans, and Xavier University at New Orleans, after giving consideration to representation of all groups, each shall nominate three persons. The governor shall appoint one member of the commission from the three persons nominated by each president.
That should be plain enough. The presidents of the private universities are required to submit three names from the congressional district within which a vacancy occurs.
With four of the six schools located in New Orleans, that can become something of a problem if the vacancy is from, say the Third Congressional District which comprises much of Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana.
But if a vacancy occurs from the Fourth District, common sense says contact the President of Centenary in Shreveport for names of nominees. In the Fifth District, it would be the President of Louisiana College in Pineville.
So, when Lloyd Grafton of Ruston resigned earlier this month, why did Doss contact Gov. Edwards on Feb. 10 to say he was soliciting names from the President of Loyola University in New Orleans? And why did he, on that same day, fire off a letter to Loyola President Rev. Kevin Wildes saying that the Louisiana Constitution requires that Grafton’s vacancy be filled by gubernatorial appointment “from one of three persons nominated by the President of Loyola University”?
Doss was correct in saying the vacancy had to be filled by someone from the Fifth Congressional District, but there is no such requirement that the names of nominees come from Loyola. Louisiana College is in the Fifth Congressional District and that institution’s president should have been the one contacted for names.
Perhaps Doss has access to alternative facts when complying with the Louisiana Constitution.
Of course, if Feeney dared try to correct him, there is legal precedent for firing the messenger: There’s Trump and his dismissal of interim Attorney General Sally Yates. And there’s the LSPC itself with the manner it forced out former Executive Director Cathy Derbonne in January because she insisted on complying with the law.