Time for change, but not forgetting

For taxpayers in Terrebonne Parish Recreation District 2-3 better times are coming.

A new, nine-member board is in place.

Certainly, the shenanigans that have plagued this district for longer than anyone ever realized will come to an end.

We might recommend a strong house-cleaning in regard to money-handling and stock handling for concessions.

Enough people with experience in these things have stood up and offered their servies to the new board members, so our advice is not necessarily needed.

But a few things need to be acknowledged.

Hank Babin and the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce worked long and hard to encourage dialogue in our community about what public recreation can and should be, last year. While the Chamber’s efforts did not relate specifically to some of the issues now being investigated concerning Rec District 2-3, they made the explorations possible and feasible. This newspaper, concerned parents and others — up to and including parish government officials all played a role. But the Chamber put the matter at the center of public consciousness.

For this the Chamber and Hank deserve sincere congratulations from our community.

Councilman Darrin Guidry is another individual worthy of kudos.

Darrin had been looking at rec district problems for some time, as well he might. A huge portion of Rec District 2-3 is in his own district.

It was Darrin, building on an earlier effort by Councilman John Navy, who crafted the ordinance that affirmed the Terrebonne Parish Council’s control of recreation districts. Like the Tinman’s heart, the scarecrow’s brain and the lion’s courage, it was there all along. But the ordinance made it clear, beyond quibbling.

On this basis the former board of Rec District 2-3 was disbanded, allowed, in essence, to retreat, so that the new 9-member board could be seated.

We wish them luck as they navigate the future, as they use their diverse talents, interests and abilities to provide the best they can for residents of the district.

That having been said, it is difficult to ignore the hard work over many years that the out-going board members performed. While much of how they have gone about their business is problematic, we don’t doubt that their hearts were in the right place. They were great at building parks. But they did not acquaint themselves with other things any 21st Century administrator of multi-million dollar public budget must know.

Like television husbands in television sit-com days of yore — the guys who said “my secretary will do that” — they left all details to others, and went on their way.

In the long run this chosen path of ignorance has proved expensive, and may prove more expensive yet.

This brings us to our final topic, which is that of accountability.

We live in a parish full of benign people who don’t wish to see their fellow humans wallow in discomfort or otherwise be suffering. It is therefore an easy thing to say that irregularities in District 2-3, once all determined and forensically audited and properly identified, are in the past and now we have a new board and let’s move on.

This cannot happen.

We know that at least one Louisiana Ethics Board investigation is underway and that there may be more. We cannot stress enough how important we believe it is that the ethics board pull no punches. Where people have done wrong they should be told they have done wrong, as well as why such a determination was made.

Parish President Gordon Dove’s accountants need to do a thorough job, and when they are done, whatever recommendations they have should be paid attention to, up to and including the potential for criminal investigation if it comes to that.

The appointment of the new Rec 2-3 Board is not and should not be a Kumbaya moment.

And if there is a lesson we can bring with us from all of this, it is the importance of knowing who one is.

Some of us are blessed with abilities such as coaching and team-building. Others are born with the ability to write. Others are born with the ability to manage public works progress We must all focus our energies on the tasks involving those abilities we know we have.