LIVINGSTON - There's still some fine print to sort, but the proposal from the district 3 councilman overcame it's first hurdle.
Two no votes - one from councilman John Wascom and the other from Jeff Averette - confirmed that an ordinance applying a punishment for improperly acquiring commercial permits would go up for public hearing on August 22.
On a night that was dominated by the 5-4 vote to pass a resolution that the council demand Parish President Layton Ricks send Premier Concrete back through the commercial permitting process, it was easy to connect Keen's proposal to require anyone who fraudulently acquired a commercial permit to go back through the permitting process and be hit with a fine or jail time to the current issue dominating the Watson headlines.
But it's more than that, Keen said.
"This is about Livingston Parish politics," Keen said, "it's about people asking for forgiveness, not permission, and people saying 'Oh that's just good ole' Livingston Parish.'
"And I'm sick of it."
Keen gave further examples of individuals, outside of Premier Concrete, who push the permitting process to its boundaries. Individuals who apply to build a shed, and then build a second home in their back yard. Property owners who get a permit to build a store house for their boat, and end up constructing an entire workshop.
According to Keen, his ordinance would stop those instances by not only requiring those projects to return to the beginning of the permitting process, but the assessment of a fine or jail time would hurt.
That is the fine print still to be worked out, as Keen said during the meeting after being asked what the punishment should be. According to Keen, he wasn't sure yet, but the ordinance was originally written with a $500 fine and up to 30 days of jail time.
"It could say $0-$1,000, and be under the parish president's discretion for all I care," Keen said during comments, "but there has to be a punishment or else (people considering breaking the rules) won't care."
Keen said his reasoning for the ordinance was to stop any improperly permitted project from going forward while being fair and equitable. He went on to say it protects the permitting department, the council, and the parish president by applying a base punishment for any infraction, with no alternatives.
"The days of the old Livingston Parish way are numbered," Keen said, referring to 'asking for forgiveness, not permission.'