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Councilwoman blames parish attorney after ordinance which would help convicted criminals get hired was deferred

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BATON ROUGE- After two hours of debate and confusion over the Fair Chance Ordinance, the Metro Council decided to defer it and Councilwoman Chauna Banks blames the Parish Attorney's Office.

The ordinance would keep city contractors from asking potential hires about their criminal record until after proper assessment of their skills.

Councilwoman Banks says she has been working on this for about a year. Banks, as well as Kaitlyn Joshua with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, thought the ordinance would pass.

"We did our homework to make sure the councilpersons had their questions answered ahead of time, so it is disheartening," Joshua said.

Many council members were confused about the details of this ordinance. Banks says that it was the job of the Parish Attorney's Office to answer those questions. She says that did not happen.

"It is a certain degree of either incompetency or passivity that I have never experienced in the past 11 years," Banks said. 

However some concerns were brought up during the debate. Councilman Aaron Moak says he was worried that business owners might be accused of discrimination if they chose not to hire someone with a conviction. 

"When they go to hire somebody, it is their responsibility to make sure they do what is best for their business, and I don't want anything taken away from them," Moak told WBRZ. 

But after hours of discussion, the ordinance was deferred in part because of the confusion surrounding it.

Banks called the decision disheartening, and disappointing. She also blamed confusion council members felt on the Parish Attorney's Office.

"The disappointment has to do with the Parish Attorney and the administration we have been working with for all this time to get right here at the end, to have all of these difficulties," Banks said.

WBRZ reached out to the Parish Attorney's Office about Banks' accusations. We have not heard back. Meanwhile, those who support the ordinance, are optimistic it will be passed in two weeks.

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