6 Caddo Commissioners Walk Out of Meeting
Caddo Commissioner Mike Middleton has proposed a resolution to suspect the NGO program for a year. But this move upset many of his fellow commissioners.
This is a program that provides money to Non-Governmental Organizations. The money comes from riverboat gambling revenues. Middleton claims the "auditor made findings that need to be addressed." He says the Commission should take some time to see if this is the wisest use of parish money. His resolution would: "suspend the Parish’s NGO and Economic Development Grant Programs for 2020".
This is one of the findings in the report that is listed as having "moderate risk":
While it was explained that Appropriations Committee Members base their NGO funding recommendations on various factors such as personal research or experience, recommendations from other Committee members/Commissioners, and through discussion at the Appropriations Committee meeting, there was no standardized and documented process, such as a scoring system, to evaluate the NGO funding requests based on a set of predetermined criteria.
Middleton explains his thoughts on this resolution:
But the African American members of the Commission, Stormy Gage Watts, Steven Jackson, Jerald Bowman, Lynn Cawthorne, Louis Johnson and Lyndon B. Johnson all walked out of the meeting before the panel could get to Middleton's resolution. This left the panel without a quorum and the ability to take any action.
KEEL News caught up with Stormy Gage Watts to ask her about the walkout.
The audit makes the following recommendation:
The Appropriations Committee should consider creating a set of standardized criteria to evaluate each NGO applying for funding. The standardized criteria should be documented, approved by the Commission, and evaluated on at least a biennial basis to determine if updates to the evaluation criteria are warranted.
Middleton could bring the measure back up at a later meeting, but he has not made that decision yet.