Published as submitted by Colonel Bobby Miller (Letter 1)
President of the now disbanded Christmas in the Park commission, Colonel Bobby Miller, has responded to the news article ran in the Bogalusa Daily News on Wednesday, 16 August 2023 headlined “Mayor disbands Christmas in the Park commission due to violations”.
The action was reported in a letter authored by City Parks and Recreation Director Christopher L. Dudzienski on 11 August 2023 written on Department of Parks and Recreation letterhead.
He stated that he was writing to inform all Christmas in the Park commission members that effective Tuesday, August 8, 2023, all members have been relieved of their duties. The City of Bogalusa held an opening meeting at 8 a.m. on the aforementioned date to discuss the matter.
This meeting, if held, was in violation of the City of Bogalusa charter for open meetings.
No member of the city council, the secretary to the city council or any member of the Christmas in the Park commission were properly notified or advised of the open meeting and did not attend.
Inquiry by Colonel Miller, President of the Christmas in the Park Commission, was twice made by telephone to Parks and Recreations Dudzienski for a copy of the minutes of this meeting, who stated he would call back. He never did!
Matters discussed in the meeting of August 8, 2023 included concerns on the following points:
1. That members of the Christmas in the Park commission had served well past their term limits as outlined by the Bogalusa Code of Ordinances Sec.2-184. The mayor of the City of Bogalusa, with approval of the City Council, is responsible for such appointments. No record of such term limits has been known to be enforced by any mayor and city council, apparently due to the difficulty in obtaining volunteers for Christmas in the Park. The fact that volunteers have remained on the commission has apparently been appreciated by past mayors.
2. That members of the commission were requested to provide financial and attendee information to corroborate the financial standing of the commission including ticket sales and could not produce such records after multiple requests from administration.
No such request has been received. However, this was explained to the mayor and city attorney by Colonel Miller and commission member Eugene Rester in a meeting in the mayor’s office on 9 February 2023 with both indicating satisfaction with the answer given by the two commission members.
3. The Department of Parks and Recreation cited that commission equipment and property to include sheds, Christmas lights, extension cords, speakers and other objects were left in various parts of the park including in green spaces as well as inside city buildings. It is believed that these were items left under lock and key by commission members in the Pioneer Museum which had relocated to downtown with approval of former Mayor Wendy Perrette. Locks placed by commission members on this building had been breached by Parks and Recreation members with contents moved to an unknown location. A police report was made by a commission member. The other building was apparently the ticket booth that has remained in its location for the past two years, based on the recommendation of its builder, under lock and key, which had also been breached by Parks and Recreations.
The electrical lines to the buildings had been disconnected at the end of the 2022 season and did not pose a threat to the health and safety of the citizens of Bogalusa.
It should be noted that the mayor has seized the bank account of the Christmas in the Park commission deposited in the First Bank. These funds, along with personal property or real estate were donated for enhancing all holiday lighting and holiday activities in the interest of creating the Christmas holiday spirit with holiday lights, displays, to help tourist development for the City of Bogalusa and these cannot be used for any other purpose. The cooperation and support of all businesses, individuals, civic organizations, churches, schools and other public and private agencies interested therein has been appreciated by Christmas in the Park commission members for the last twenty-nine years. THANK YOU!!
The mayor, with approval of the city council, must now appoint a new Christmas in the Park or Christmas in Cassidy (??) commission as all of the disbanded Christmas in the Park commission members do not desire to be reappointed.
President of Disbanded Christmas in the Park Commission Further Disputes Reporting by Daily News Reporter on Issue
Published as submitted by Colonel Bobby Miller (Letter 2)
Colonel Bobby Miller, President of the now disbanded Christmas in the Park commission responded to address the issue of disbanding the commission by Bogalusa City Mayor Tyrin Truong. It was a two-page article for the Daily News.
The publisher of the Bogalusa Daily News, Kevin Warren, told Colonel Miller he would publish his response.
However, the response in the Daily News was greatly watered down by reporter Alexander Moraski in the latest weekly edition, leaving out key information that the public should be aware.
By rewriting the Colonel’s response by reporter Alexander Moraski, it is apparent that the Daily News is not capable or willing to accurately report correct news of great concern to citizens of Bogalusa. The preceding actions by the Daily News appear to be contrary to what the Daily News should stand for – timely, accurate and impartial reporting.