Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Steve Cropper & Francis Pavy
Horse Farm Court Filing Still A Mystery
"All I can tell you is the members of BRE-ARD requested I file it in the conveyance records to protect their interests," says Joe Bouligny Jr. BRE-ARD is the entity comprised of Jerry Brents and Dan Menard, who were to get 36 acres of the horse farm after they bought attorney Davidson's 4 acres and exchanged them with the university. (See Cover-Up.)
The front 36 acres of the Johnston Street horse farm and 4 acres of Davidson's land were originally valued at $3.25 million. After new appraisals on both the horse farm and Davidson property revealed the university would be squandering $4 million, Authement called off the swap in mid-June, though he remains dogged in his quest to buy the Davidson property.
The court filing had community members, especially those associated with Save the Horse Farm, scrambling for an explanation. The university was as blindsided as they were. "We don't know anything about it," UL spokeswoman Julie Dronet says. "Dr. Authement didn't even know anything about it."
It now seems a bit ironic that all of Authement's buddies (surely UL Foundation Board member Davidson is in on this) might be posturing to force him to uphold the tainted agreement by filing suit, especially after Menard told The Independent Weekly last year that he had only the university's best interests at heart. "Everything is ethical, moral and legal," he said about the proposed swap, "and to be perfectly honest, I'm trying to help the university if I can."
The Tax Man
The local Republican executive committee is not making an endorsement as a whole, because of divided support on the issue. But several Republicans, and the chamber of commerce, have come out for the tax proposal.
I think both the pro-sales tax Republicans and the Democrats against the proposal make solid arguments. More and more, it seems like this issue is shaping up to be a referendum on the Durel administration, which is aggressively promoting the tax as being essential for Lafayette's future. This vote could serve as a good barometer of how vulnerable Durel is going into his re-election campaign next year.
Al Berard and Richard LeBouef, you've got money waiting for you. Other local artists could be eligible, too ...
SOUNDEXCHANGE PUBLISHES LIST OF RECORDING ARTISTS AND RECORD LABELS OWED ROYALTIES
SoundExchange, the non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. and designated by the United States Copyright Office to collect and distribute royalties from webcasters, satellite radio services and other digital music providers to recording artists and record labels, is embarking on a major campaign to reach approximately 9,000 unregistered recording artists and approximately 2,000 unregistered independent record labels, as the deadline to sign up to receive digital performance royalties collected during between 1996 and 2000 fast approaches. Under federal law, royalties that are not claimed by recording artists and record labels within three years of SoundExchange's receipt of such royalties are forfeited and the royalties are applied to offset actual costs incurred in the collection, distribution, establishment and enforcement of statutory royalties. The SoundExchange Board of Directors, jointly controlled by representatives of recording artists and record labels, has extended that deadline on numerous occasions, but claims to royalties paid for the years 1996 through March 31, 2000 will not be accepted after December 15, 2006.
The link to the artist list is at the bottom of this Soundexchange Web page, and Berard and LeBouef are listed. Soundexchange also stresses that this is an incomplete list, AND there's a separate list for record labels. So if you're a local artist, it can't hurt to check out the Web site and see if you're eligible to collect some cash.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Project HEAL honored
In recognition for the excellence of the ACA's program, Project HEAL will be honored on November 8 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge with the "Louisiana Rebirth" award. This award was newly created by the Louisiana Division of the Arts following the 2005 hurricanes and has been added to the roster of the 2006 Governor's Arts Awards.
Another Acadiana recipient is George Rodrigue, who will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Meet Guyland Leday
Of all the contestants, there are some strange adults and cute kids, but only a few that actually play instruments in additon to singing. And only Leday - the great grandson of Delton Broussard of the Lawtell Playboys fame - sports a single-row diatonic accordion and plays it left-handed.
To view the finalists and to place your vote, visit www.singthejingle.com. Five grand prize winners will win the chance to appear on a nationally televised commercial and $5,000.
The New York Times wrote of Guyland:
Guyland Leday, a 7-year-old Louisianan, plays zydeco accordion like a boy possessed.
Check out these two clips of Guyland from HBO's The Music in Me: Children's Recitals from Classical to Latin, Jazz to Zydeco:
(Guyland photo couresty of David Simpson, LSUE)
Friday, October 27, 2006
The Independent Weekly won second place for General Excellence in this year's competition. Other winners and finalists for this year's awards include other alternative newsweeklies like LA Weekly, SF Weekly, Phoenix New Times, Philadelphia Weekly , and Houston Press, as well as daily newspapers like The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's Boozoo, that's who
And if you've forgotten who Boozoo was, here's a reminder.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Judges are supposed to exercise good judgment, and in this case just about anyone pushing the courthouse tax measure, with the obvious exception of DA Mike Harson, could have made the trip to Williams' office along with Clerk of Court Louis Perret and Joe Oelkers of Acadiana Legal Services. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss why Williams voted against putting the measure on the ballot when he had already promised his support to Oelkers and Mike Skinner (who was out of town for the Aug. 23 meeting with Chris). Williams told Castle et al he was mad about the MLK Drive issue but called the council clerk during the meeting and asked that it be brought up for reconsideration Sept. 5, at which time he voted for putting it on the ballot. Despite that by the Sept. 5 council meeting Chris' case was indeed before her, Castle attended the meeting and asked the council to reconsider putting the measure on the ballot, another lapse in judgment.
It seems to me, however, Chris is the guilty party who tried to do a "tit for tat" on the courthouse tax, which didn't work out too well for him — and Castle was not keen enough to steer clear of his plan.
More sensitivity from the Times of Acadiana
An honest debate regarding the pros and cons of capital punishment must acknowledge its effectiveness as a deterrent to murder. Furthermore, the more gruesome the method of execution, the greater its deterrent effect. So what'll it be, regular or extra crispy?
The Times, with all its sensitivity and wisdom, of course used "Regular or extra crispy; the death penalty as a deterrent" for its headline on the story.
The Times aside, if this is the kind of "humor" Ressler uses in his classroom, I feel sorry for his UL students.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America give Lafayette Rep. Charles Boustany a 'D' grade
Lafayette Rep. Charles Boustany received a ‘D.' Here are the complete results of Louisiana's delegation, in descending order:
William Jefferson, Democrat: A-
Mary Landrieu, Democrat: B+
Charlie Melancon, Democrat: B+
Rodney Alexander, Republican: B-
Jim McCrery, Republican: C
Richard Baker, Republican: C
Charles Boustany, Republican: D
Bobby Jindal, Republican: D
And coming in last, and the only legislator to receive a failing grade:
David Vitter, Republican: F
To view the complete state-by-state list and legislator grades, go here.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Making the Grade
In Lafayette, the good news is N.P. Moss Middle School has lifted itself out of its designation as an "academically unacceptable" school. The bad news is Northside High School now finds itself listed as "academically unacceptable" and must implement the requirements of "School Improvement 2"
Basically, NHS, like Moss last year, will now be under strict state supervision and is required to use a certain percentage of its Title I dollars for programs geared toward improving the school performance score. The biggest sanction is that NHS, as a Title I school, must now offer all its students "choice", just as N.P. Moss had to do last year. In other words, the school board must decide, by December, on two alternative, and "academically acceptable" public high schools in the parish to allow NHS students the choice of attending, along with the option of staying at NHS. This may be very difficult for the board, given that NHS has almost 1,000 students, and practically all of the other public high schools in the parish are already overcrowded.
Grand's last stand
Ashworth informed Grand on Oct. 19 that her lease is up Oct. 31. Grand says she can't imagine any other reason for Ashworth terminating the agreement 2 months early except "retaliation for the article."
Grand is continuing her search for a new location downtown. Meanwhile, she says she will continue to do business out of her Breaux Bridge location. As for the remaining art at the Grand Contemporary, this is the time to snatch up something you've had your eye on. "All reasonable offers considered," Grand says, "especially on large pieces."
Pushing for drilling royalties
The entire editorial is essential reading, but here are two money quotes:
Since the deluge of Hurricane Katrina anniversary coverage in August, there has been very little talk about the safety of New Orleans and the surrounding region. In fact, the city and the region are more vulnerable than ever. …
The House should instead see [the bill] as a way to restore the health of a battered ecosystem, as future protection for the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, and as a way to deliver on unfulfilled promises.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
No room in Gretna for the poor
If that show of callous disregard for those in dire straits weren't disgusting enough, today's headlines in the Times Picayune should solidify the nation's view of Gretna's leadership. West Bank councilman Chris Roberts sponsored a resolution, backed by the Jefferson Parish Council, objecting to building low-income housing in Gretna and Terrytown.
The Picayune reported that Roberts says he sees a direct correlation between low-income tenants and criminal complaints in his district. Roberts wants no new developments if they invite poor New Orleanians.
"Crime is already at a pace that residents are reconsidering living here," Roberts said. "You would be having folks in Orleans Parish who lived in public housing complexes into Jefferson Parish. That's just not something I'm interested in."
Robert's deliberate criminalization of poverty (and reading between the lines, race) sets him off as the worst of leaders, fearmongering and causing division when he should be working toward healing the deep wounds New Orleans has suffered. It is leadership like his that reinforces the politics of hatred and lends ammunition to those in the nation who believe that Louisiana has gotten what it deserves.
Don't worry about that pesky environmental permit process or possible wetland damage; we're just trying to speed up the recovery rate
Advertiser publisher: No time "to think about the news"
In an episode of LPB's program Louisiana Public Square, that's how The Daily Advertiser's publisher, Ted Power, responded to a roundtable participant who expressed concern over the control of local media by national corporations. The topic of the episode was "Consuming Media," focusing on media and media literacy.
At one point, when host and moderator Craig Freeman attempted to bring the discussion back to "profits trumping the news" for corporations, Power interrupted with this comment:
"Profits aren't trumping news values. Profits are shaping what we cover, in a newspaper's point of view, as far as geography. The values are the same."
Power also had this to say:
"Most newspapers, most television stations are going to have to concentrate on local, local news."
Read more about "local, local news."
Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander and the Foley page scandal
After testifying for three hours before the closed-door House Ethics Committee, a frustrated Alexander emerged saying he didn't understand why e-mails sent to pages by former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., were not reported earlier, before Foley had solicited a page sponsored by Alexander.
"There were many people who knew about these e-mails and (instant messages) in the past," Alexander said. "I want to know, who were their (congressional) sponsors?"
Note how Alexander says there were "many people" who knew about Foley's emails and instant messages to pages. I don't gamble, but I'd wager that there's going to be a few more major revelations in this case in the coming weeks.
The fiber battle gets major airtime on national television
City-Parish President Joey Durel, LUS director Terry Huval and a number of principals of the Lafayette Coming Together pro-fiber community activist group (Don Bertrand, Stephen Handwerk, Gob Williams, Layne St. Julien) all got airtime and made reasoned, strong arguments for LUS' fiber-to-the-home program. Huval was particularly compelling and detailed the all-out efforts of Cox Communications and BellSouth to derail the project. The most telling moment came in one sentence: when the reporter on the piece said, "Cox Communications and BellSouth declined to speak with us." Why didn't two nationally known companies defend their actions in Lafayette and promote their alternative plans on a national television forum? It doesn't take much reading between the lines to answer that question.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Rebuilding our heritage
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Stagg wins highly coveted Esquire endorsement
I'm sure Congressman Charles Boustany is irate at how this guy is beating him out with the editors at such an esteemed style magazine. What are all his rural Acadia and Vermilion Parish constituents going to think when they see this?
Stagg is trying to get some mileage out of this. He's already issued a press release and posted the news at the top of his Web site along with a creepy accompanying video of Boustany's head morphing into President Bush's dog.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Here's your fresh cup of afternoon outrage
There's only one problem: hours after he signed the bill, Bush issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. It's hard to fathom the blatant dishonesty of putting on a dog-and-pony show for a bill signing and then quietly, immediately neutering the very heart of the legislation. Read all the disturbing details in this expertly reported Boston Globe story.
Household Chemical Day!
On Oct. 28, Lafayette Consolidated Government's Environmental Quality Divsion will host Household Chemical Day. Take your household items to be recycled to 400 Dorset Ave., just off of Pinhook Road around the railroad tracks, between Evangeline and General Mouton.
Consult the list of approved items or call (337) 291-8529 for more information.
Friday, October 13, 2006
"Moyers on America" sneak peek
Another "guest columnist"
Sure, there is still racism. So what? There are people who discriminate against fat people, ugly people, short people. There are even some who discriminate against snooty, rich people. And, yes, there will always be people who discriminate against blacks.
First of all, to equate racism with discrimination against the fat, the ugly, and the short is just flat out ignorant. And with the comment "so what," Prejean acknowledges racism and his own lack of concern for those who are victims of it. As an afterthought, he notes that even "snooty, rich people" get discriminated against. What? Is that the silver bullet of the argument? What does that even mean?
But all of that foolishness aside, Prejean's comments don't advance the dialogue on race-related issues in this city, and for the second week in a row, the daily paper has published essentially the same "guest column" of the "shut up about MLK Drive" variety, with just a different author.
Where's the common ground on all of this? Is anyone even willing to look for the middle ground, or are we all going to hang out on the extreme fringes and yell at one another? If you haven't read Scott's cover story this week, "Where's the Leadership?" I encourage you to do so. It addresses the MLK Drive issue, the problems with both sides of this debate, and our leaders' lack of leadership.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Pic of the day
But does anybody else find this photo perplexing? That lady on the left is probably a violin or a viola, and the second guy is probably a drum. But what about those other two people? Is that third guy a baritone, a sousaphone, or a mushroom?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Independent gets $20,500 in legal fees
Rubin ordered the university to pay the newspaper $20,491.50 for fees and costs; the university has not indicated whether it will appeal Rubin's award.
On Sept. 11 Rubin ruled that the appraisal of attorney Jimmy Davidson's Girard Park property was a public record, and the university turned it over a week later. The university tried to keep the document under wraps because the new appraisal was $1.75 million less than UL planned to pay for the property in the now defunct horse farm land swap deal.
To date, the university has paid $10,450 to appraise Davidson's property. Even before trying to negotiate a lower price for the land, UL President Ray Authement moved to order yet another appraisal — one that ostensibly would bring the value more in line with the seller's asking price.
Davidson is a member of the UL Foundation's Board of Trustees.
Vote for Deuce
Visit this site and vote.
(And you can vote for Manning too.)
DRU: the next Usher?
Starting to be a lonely election season
Last night, I read about state Sen. Francis Heitmeier bowing out of the secretary of state's race. Heitmeier would only say that after looking at the numbers, his New Orleans base just ain't what it used to be.
Seems to me like the real losers here may be the voters, who may no longer have a choice in either of these races (and the reporters, who won't have as much politics to write about). As a reporter and a follower of politics, I had been looking forward to the Pierre-Cravins Jr. race. The short timespan set for the election (sheduled for Dec. 9) tended to favor Cravins Jr., who has the St. Landry Parish base and his father's name to draw on. Still, I'm a little surprised to see Pierre back down.
And Surely, Heitmeier was the underdog going into the run-off in the secretary of state's race. A lot of people were surprised to see how low New Orleans' turnout was in the Sept. 30 election (Baton Rouge, where Heitmeier's opponent Jay Dardenne hails from, turned out about twice the votes). It seems like the politicians are starting to feel it's better to back out than to risk losing.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Moyers on Lafayette
Monday, October 09, 2006
Roux the day
When the temperature drops, the butane burners heat up for the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff. In its 17th year now, the battle for best gumbo is ladled over two days. Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Cajun and Creole Food Fest fills Bouligny Plaza in the heart of downtown New Iberia. Dance to Thomas Big Hat Fields and TK Hulin on the banks of Bayou Teche, or shop the specialty stores along Main Street. At 5 p.m., every art gallery, restaurant, book store and bar will open with the fall Art Walk. Over 25 local artists have work on display throughout the downtown Historic District.
Sunday, Oct. 15, 70 teams will square off in Bouligny Plaza with entries in three categories. Seafood could contain the usual suspects--shrimp, crab and oyster. The second category is Non-Seafood. Game gumbos have been known to bubble with emu, specklebelly and nutria along with the regular chicken and sausage entries. There is a third category which is a catch-all for those who can't decide whether to cook fish or fowl. Called Melange, all those critters up for debate, like alligator, frog and turtle can simmer alongside mallard and coot or even the tiny shrimp called sea-bob.
Cups of gumbo go on sale at 11 a.m., $2 for non-seafood, $2.50 for seafood gumbo. Jr. Flores and the Bayou Boys begin the music at 9:30 a.m., followed by Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie, from 1-4 p.m. Just cruise down Highway 182, when you get to New Iberia, open your window and follow your nose.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
An empty place at the table
That I could be so honored. The weasel I imagined was no other than R.W. Apple, one of the country's most respected war correspondents, political analysts, the New York Times' bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London and Washington and of late, the erudite, globe-trotting food and travel writer whose insatiable appetite and expense account became newsroom legend.
I came to love and admire Apple's huge cravings for food and esoterica. Every week I'd scan the New York Times in the hopes that the centerpiece of the Travel Section would be his, and came to be able to spot his headlines before I ever opened up a story online. He brought a hungry curiosity to everything he wrote, whether it was about making traditional cured salami and ham or distilling the complexities of Tennessee sourmash. And he had a particular love affair with the food of Louisiana. From the temples of gastronomy in New Orleans to the backwater boudin and sausage kitchens of Cajun country, Apple ate everything and kept coming back for more.
The veteran journalist died this morning at the age of 71, of thoracic cancer. The loss of his larger-than-life presence diminishes the writing world. He was both wise and outrageous and lived in a way most of us couldn't even hope to emulate. I'll miss not only his stories, but the thought of Johnny Apple circumnavigating the globe, tasting all it had to offer, keenly anticipating his next adventure, his next meal.
The politics of hate and division
To Louis Benjamin: drop the Martin Luther King thing. Everyone is just Kinged out in this town. We have a national holiday; it is celebrated widely with parades, speeches and other types of tributes. The schools participate like it is the notation of the Second Coming and the media spends several days touting its coming, its doings, and its going. Drop it!
"Everyone" is Kinged out? Sorry, Ms. Greco, but you don't speak for the people of Lafayette. And I find your oh-so-subtle denigration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day – "The schools participate like it is the notation of the Second Coming …" – offensive and revolting.
I'd really love to know the Advertiser's "policy" on guest editorials. What if someone wants to say they're tired of hearing about Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa for 800 words? Is that OK?
And on the other side of the demagogue fence, Councilman Chris Williams introduced his latest ally at his press conference last Friday. It's the Reverend Raymond Brown of the National Action Network and the new Black Panther Party. Brown was in New Iberia yesterday addressing the tear-gas incident in an African-American neighborhood that happened after the Sugarcane Festival – a serious situation that deserves a full investigation into the New Iberia Sheriff's department's actions. But here are the comments made by Brown yesterday to The Advocate:
"Gov. Blanco, as you know, she was slow to respond to (Hurricane) Katrina. The governor, excuse the expression, is a no-good bitch. That's not a curse word, we say that in church. She's no good."
The article continues:
Brown also ripped the local clergy who have worked with the city and Sheriff's Department in the west end, calling them "Uncle Toms, bootlicking and tap-dancing, scratch-where-it-don't-itch preachers."
I have never been more disgusted with our local leaders and the Daily Advertiser than I am right now. If there is one pro-active, reasonable voice that's trying to address this situation with a positive solution that would benefit the whole community, I can't find it.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Apathy in action
What's the big deal? It wasn't like there was anything important to vote for - like constitutional amendments or school board members or secretary of state or insurance commissioner or …