Opinion: “Tradition” Is The Refuge Of The Powerful

The decision by four Metro Council members to abstain from the vote to appoint an interim for the District 8 seat previously held by Mr. Buddy Amoroso was intended to bring balance to a body that has been historically out of balance.  It was intended to give greater voice to the concerns of the poor and the marginalized citizens of our community.  That other members of the Metro Council might oppose such a move is understandable.  But vilifying these Council members for taking this action is unwarranted, undignified and mean-spirited.

These four council members—not a gang—are no less committed to their constituents than Mr. Amoroso was to his.  They are no less concerned about the welfare of their parish than any other Council member.  So, when the LAW presented them with the opportunity to create a forum that would be more sensitive to the needs of their constituents, they decided to forego “tradition” and pursue that course.

Despite the exceptions and excuses others have tried to make, their actions are no different than what Mr. Amoroso attempted to do when Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle was elected to the State Legislature.  His motion was defeated in a proper vote conducted by the Council.  But his fellow council members were not “disgusted” by his attempt.  He sought to employ the rules in a way that best reflected his philosophy of city-parish governance.  These four council members have done no less.

It’s not villainous to pursue balance, for the good of all East Baton Rouge Parish residents.  Mr. Welch’s ugly depiction of, “spitting on graves” is truly “tasteless.”  Describing these council members as, uncouth, disrespectful and dishonorable,” is truly “tasteless.”

Too often, “tradition” is used as the excuse for maintaining a status quo that serves those who are in power, to the detriment of those who are locked out of real opportunity for advancement.  “Tradition” is the refuge of the powerful to continue to wield their power against the power-deficient.  In this case, these four councilmembers determined that the opportunity to bring balance to the Metro Council—even if only for nine months—utilizing provisions in the laws of City-Parish government, to best serve the needs of their constituents, was worth the effort.

Those Council members who disagree should express themselves with their vote, not with insults and character assasination.  And the media—print and broadcast—must do a better job of providing balance in their reporting.  It’s out there, if you look for it.

I support the intention of these Councilmembers, to make Baton Rouge a better, more equitable commUNITY!


Fred Jeff Smith


Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church