Petition language confusing, police jury president says

Posted: Aug 22, 2018, 4:06 PM

A petition drive currently underway in a portion of Bossier Parish has one member of the parish police jury more than a little concerned. It’s not the subject of the petition but the language used in the official filing that Glenn Benton would like to see clarified.

“I don’t object to what they’re trying to do, but I think some people are confused when they see on the petition that this is a local option for Police Juror District 2,” Benton said.

Benton, who is the current president of the police jury, said neither he nor the government body is taking a position on the effort to expand alcohol sales within the boundaries of District 2. He is bothered by the use of the word “juror” that he believes infers he is behind the effort.

Hatch Consulting Group, an out-of-state firm that specializes in getting alcohol propositions on ballots in areas that are currently dry, is responsible for the petition and its wording. Hatch reportedly has been hired by Walmart and Brookshires to promote the effort here and in other areas. Petitioners have set up shop at the Brookshires in Red Chute.

“The first thing my wife saw when she went to the store was the table set up for the petition. The wording said passing the proposition would mean more tax dollars for Police Juror District 2, and that sounded to her like it was me asking for the vote,” Benton said.

Now, Brookshires and a few convenience stores plus restaurants in District 2 may sell packaged alcoholic beverages as long as the content is less than 6 percent by volume. The argument promoted by the petitioners: the area is losing tax revenue when persons buy higher content outside the area.

Petitioners hope to gain the signatures of 25 percent of the registered voters in the district in order to get the proposition on a December ballot. To do so, they must obtain the nearly 1,500 necessary signatures within 60 days of August 16, the first day the petition was signed by a certified voter.

After that, Registrar of Voters Stephanie Agee has 30 days to certify that each signature is a valid registered voter in District 2. That time frame, Agee said, is pushing the deadline to make it on a December ballot.

“It’s not the petition that bothers me. I have no problem with letting the people in District 2 determine what they want to do at the ballot box, but I want to clarify that this is for Police Jury District 2, not Juror, District 2. It’s confusing and a little misleading, I think,” Benton said.