The Ouachita Parish Police Jury may reconsider reappointing West Monroe businessman Mike Mulhearn to the Hospital Service District No. 1’s board of commissioners after the board requested Mulhearn’s reappointment Tuesday.
At least that was the opinion of Police Juror Scotty Robinson, who recently led the charge on the Police Jury to thwart Mulhearn’s reappointment to the board.
As reported last week, commissioners and others recently expressed surprise and disappointment after Robinson recommended the Ouachita Parish Police Jury decline to renew Mulhearn’s term on the board of commissioners. At its meeting last month, the Police Jury approved Robinson’s recommendation.
The Hospital Service District’s board of commissioners oversees the Living Well Foundation as well as the West Monroe Wellness Center.
During the Police Jury’s meeting on Tuesday, Wade Bishop, who serves on the board of commissioners, asked the Police Jury to reconsider its decision.
“We understand the need for new people,” said Bishop, who was joined by three other commissioners. “We’re not sure why it was done the way it was done.”
“It took us quite by surprise,” he added.
Bishop said the group was neither prepared to replace Mulhearn as board chairman and did not have any names to recommend for his replacement.
“You’ve never had to address anything we’ve done that was incorrect,” Bishop said. “That should give you guys, as jurors, the confidence we’re doing everything by the book.”
According to Bishop, his term and Commissioner Jeri Beth Watson’s term expired this year.
“We stand to lose three commissioners,” said Bishop, referring to the possibility that the Police Jury might remove them without advance notice. “That is your charge, as jurors. We’re simply asking for the courtesy so we can make a smooth transition to replace our commissioners when that time comes.”
After Bishop’s remarks, Robinson met the group of commissioners and spoke with them in the hallway at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse for the remainder of the meeting.
After the meeting, Robinson told The Ouachita Citizen the commissioners appeared mostly upset they did not find out about the decision to decline Mulhearn’s term until the last minute.
“They thought I was mad or it was a political thing,” Robinson said.
As previously reported, Robinson had defended the initial decision to decline Mulhearn’s term as a principled stand in favor of term limits. Meanwhile, others wondered whether Robinson’s decision was motivated by Mulhearn’s financial support of the late Luke Letlow’s successful campaign in the 5th District congressional race last year. Robinson also was a candidate in that race.
“It snowballed well beyond what it should have been,” Robinson said on Tuesday. “We did not communicate, and there was a misunderstanding. I should have called them ahead of time. We’re good now. They’re happy. We’re going to sit down for lunch and talk. I told them, ‘If the four of you think enough of Mike to come up here and speak on a Tuesday night, I think enough of you all to sit down and talk.’”
Robinson said he took the commissioners’ presence on Tuesday as indication Mulhearn might still be interested in serving on the board.
“Assuming he still wants to serve, this could end up on the agenda at a future jury meeting,” Robinson said.
Meanwhile, the Police Jury recognized several parish employees for their years of service.
Those recognized included Rodney Harrison (15 years), Eddie Horton (15 years), and Brandon Mobley (5 years), each with the Ouachita Parish Fire Department, as well as Catherine McElroy for five years of service with Ouachita Parish Animal Control.
“On behalf of the jury, we thank these individuals for their service to the people of the parish,” said Police Jury President Shane Smiley.