Jim Brown on the

021209-1234-jimbrownons1.pngThursday, April 23rd, 2009
Shreveport, Louisiana


Just how many boards, commissions, water districts, sewer districts, parish auditors, law enforcement offices, and a whole list of other special districts are spread throughout Louisiana? No one really seems to know. Some estimates are as high as 7000. But can you believe no agency, public or private, can list all the public bodies that exist in Louisiana today? And if no one knows the number, than it goes without saying that no one knows the overlapping cost.

Start with the 64 parishes. In the rural farming economy of the early twentieth century, each parish served as the synergy of daily life in Louisiana. There was a need for local road and water districts to take care of rural needs. Government, by nature, was local. Police jurors and sheriffs ran their respective local districts like a fiefdom. When election time came around, rural voters were enmeshed in electing local candidates who directly touched their lives.

The sheriff was there to not just keep you safe, but to offer a ride to town for groceries or a doctor’s visit in many cases. The local police juror kept the ditches from overflowing and could see to it that a little gravel was spread on the dirt road leading to your farmhouse. Baton Rouge was often a two day ride on horseback or an all day trip by car over muddy dirt roads. What happened or did not happen at the local courthouse had a direct bearing on the daily lives of a majority of Louisianans. Continue reading “Jim Brown on the”