Friday, September 28, 2007
And the first gubernatorial debate winner is ...
Random observations on each candidate last night:
No surprises on the Bobby Jindal front. He never strayed far from his central platform plank of ethics reform and talking point of directing voters to his Web site to see his policy plans. Still, after watching his performance, it hammered home why his campaign has avoided televised debates. Jindal cannot shed his overcaffeinated policy wonk speaking style, and crammed a gazillion statistics, studies and anecdotes into every breathless one-minute answer. That was never more apparent than in the lightning round of questioning, as Jindal was incapable of providing simple yes or no answers. He also might have created an opening for opponents with his qualified endorsement of teaching intelligent design in Louisiana classrooms.
Foster Campbell repeatedly talked up his oil and gas processing tax, inevitably circling back to its promised revenue as the baseline solution for coastal reform, education reform, etc. So there's no question where he stands, but that's a double-edged sword that also portrays him as a one-trick pony. Comedy is not his forte; his multiple attempts at humor fell flat.
Walter Boasso gave the night's most puzzling performance. With all his big-guy swagger and latest round of hard-hitting ads against Jindal, he was so subdued you wonder if he took a sedative prior to the debate. That effect was compounded by too many answers short on specifics. He uttered what should have been the strongest answer of the night when asked why he switched parties. "My party left me in the water for eight days after Hurricane Katrina. My party lied to me. President Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised to rebuild. I have 120,000 reasons to be a Democrat today," he said, referring to the residents of his hard-hit Senate district. But he said it somewhat flatly; where's the fire in his belly?
If forced to pick a winner for the debate, I'd give John Georges the nod. He was hoarse and looked a bit over-rehearsed at times, but he gave the most specific answers; drew a sharp contrast between himself and the other candidates on race relations by repeatedly noting that he was the only candidate to go to Jena; and used his business experience to note that he's traveled to every parish in the state and also jab Jindal. "Unlike the Congressman who hasn't created one job his entire life, I have created many jobs," he said.
Final note: Inexplicable that Boasso, Campbell and Georges would never refer to Jindal by name, only calling him "the congressman."
Council passes 2008 budget
New big ticket items in the budget include LUS' plans to spend the majority of its $110 million bond issue over the next five years for its fiber-to-the-home network. For the '08 fiscal year, $1.2 million is being allocated for new police vehicles and $178,475 for a new initiative to attract the entertainment industry to Lafayette. Earlier this year, city-parish president Joey Durel awarded that contract to Believe Entertainment, headed by local actor Marcus Brown. Also in its '08 fiscal year, Lafayette Consolidated Government is allocating $452,752 to continue to assist a slew of social service agencies including the Council on Aging, St. Joseph's Diner, the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana, the Acadiana Arts Council and the Lafayette Community Healthcare Clinic. In the past, Durel has indicated this is an expense he would like local government to move away from. The funds were approved this year with little discussion.
Full moon, Fall open house at Pack and Paddle
Tomorrow night an Open House at Pack and Paddle unveils a new venue for the outdoors shop. Second generation owners John and Becky Williams have created a theatre inside the store, where trail blazer Nate Olive will bring the audience, through images, music and narratives, on an 1,800 mile landmark hike that straddles the tides from Canada to Mexico. Doors open at 5:30 with live music, food, and a chance to look at the redesigned space created out of recycled materials. For more information call Pack and Paddle at 232-5854 or check out their website.
Boulevard trio hosts Shop for the Cure event Oct. 3
As part of Brother's ongoing effort to fight breast cancer in Acadiana, the store will be selling Brighton's new Power of Pink collection during the event and throughout the month of October. Brighton is donating to breast cancer charities $5 for each bracelet and necklace sold, and Brother's will also turn over a portion of its proceeds to the local Komen affiliate.
In the U.S. alone, it's estimated that 240,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year — 11,100 under the age of 40.
For more information on the event, contact Brother's at 984-7749.
ACA rocks out
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Boasso, Campbell, Georges and Jindal square off tonight
Two more debates between the four candidates are scheduled -- 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Louisiana State University-Shreveport and a WAFB/WWL televised debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in New Orleans – but those debates will be broadcast in those markets.
If you miss tonight's debate, it will be rebroadcast on LPB this Saturday, Sept. 29 at 4 p.m., and LPB also plans to archive the debate on its Web site.
Former UL business dean applies for Authement's job
Manuel served as a professor of economics at UL for 12 years before ascending to the top spot in the College of Business Administration. He left the university in 1990 for a position as dean and professor of international business at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. In 2000 he was promoted to vice president for academic affairs.
The deadline for applications is next Monday, Oct. 1, and the search committee is scheduled to review the applications on Wednesday, Oct. 3. At that meeting, which is open to the public, the search committee will decide whether it has enough qualified candidates to begin the interview process or should extend the deadline for applications. The meeting is at 2 p.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Claiborne building in downtown Baton Rouge, 1201 N. 3rd St.
Time asks readers to support New Orleans presidential debate
Brad Pitt commits to rebuilding in lower 9th ward
Bell's case to stay in juvenile court
Read Gov. Blanco's statement and accounts from The Town Talk, The Advocate, the Associated Press and The New York Times.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Nation's Report Card: La.'s mixed results
View Louisiana's profile here, and read accounts from the Associated Press and The Times-Picayune.
Hebert ponies up new image
Another conviction in LeBlanc brothers case
The guilty pleas don't get Lopez and Reynolds off the hook with the feds, which have joined the investigation. But as part of his agreement with Bexar County DA Susan Reed (read pdf file Reynolds.pdf), Reynolds is cooperating with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office about his relationship with both Lopez and Premier Management.
The LeBlancs have maintained their innocence but have had little to say about the case and similar allegations against them in other Texas counties. After the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's political forum last night, Pat LeBlanc (pictured above), a well-connected Republican running for state representative in District 43, declined comment on this latest development. "I've made all the statements in that regard that I care to make," he said.
Council passes amended sign ordinance
Last week, proponents of the ordinance agreed to drop a clause that would have required businesses to come into compliance with the new signage regulations within seven years. City-parish president Joey Durel threatened to veto any sign ordinance with an amortization period. At last night's meeting, further compromises were made, including: raising the height limit of signs in most commercially-zoned districts from 10 to 14 feet, raising the height limit on signs by the interstate from 50 to 75 feet, and an amendment which allows businesses to reface old signs, without building new ones. A substitute sign ordinance brought by councilman Lenwood Broussard and approved by the sign industry, failed. "We had to give a little bit more," says councilman Bruce Conque, one of the primary proponents of the new ordinance. "But overall we have a sign ordinance that's updated and it's an initial step toward addressing the sign clutter. I'm quite pleased."
Victim of the Streets
The preceding paragraph was part of The Independent Weekly's June 13 cover story, "Slipping Through the Cracks," which detailed the lives of Lafayette's homeless population. Independent contributor Dege Legg spent a week living on the streets and in a "tramp camp" he discovered off Evangeline Thruway. One of the women Legg interviewed and briefly wrote about was a young homeless woman named Shannon, a quiet, petite brunette who often made trips to the laundromat to wash the clothes of the tramp camp members. …
Last Friday, Shannon's body was discovered under a tree approximately 300 feet from the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission's welcome center at 1400 NW Evangeline Thruway.
For more, read Independent Editor Scott Jordan's complete Leadoff column from this week's issue here.
Hail the Fat Man
There was one reason for legendary Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's extended Acadiana tour: Fats Domino. Plant and the Lafayette swamp pop supergroup Lil' Band O' Gold had just wrapped up recording a version of Domino's "It Keeps Raining" for Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, a two-CD homage that hits stores this week. Goin' Home features Domino tracks played by heavyweights such as Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Elton John, Neil Young and the cream of the crop of New Orleans music royalty — but "It Keeps Raining" has been chosen as the first single released from the album.
"It was certainly a career highlight for me," says LBOG's C.C. Adcock, who co-produced "It Keeps Raining" with Plant. "Culturally and musically, it was nice to have it come full circle. There have been lots of people who have always tried to define what swamp pop is, and [LBOG singer/drummer] Warren Storm always says, ‘It's Fats Domino music.'"
The Plant/LBOG partnership clicked in just one day of fruitful recording, with the 70-year-old Storm providing a first-generation link to Domino's unprecedented impact on contemporary American music. "Warren had literally been practicing his whole life for that afternoon, and it was a really perfect fit," says Adcock. "And then to realize besides our own little pocket, Fats helped create things like Led Zeppelin. To realize what a profound effect that man and his music had, maybe even unknowingly, on the future of modern music — Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were completely influenced by early rock and roll like Fats Domino, and then you think about all the modern bands influenced by Led Zeppelin, and the whole rock 'n' roll thing starts with Fats."
Lil' Band O' Gold's Warren Storm and David Egan join Irma Thomas, Ivan Neville, Jon Cleary, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and more to play a CD-release party for Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Tipitina's in New Orleans. Tickets are $25 for general admission or $150 for a VIP package that includes a reception with Domino, open bar, a copy of the CD and a commemorative poster. For tickets or more info, call (504) 895-8477 or visit www.tipitinas.com.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Saints nightmare continues: Deuce likely out for season
The loss of McAllister makes the Saints' uphill battle out of this 0-3 hole even more daunting; only five teams in the history of the NFL have started 0-3 and made the playoffs, as the Monday Night Football broadcast team noted about 4,000 times last night.
The Saints obviously have many, many problems to address, but I think this team misses Joe Horn's heart and production more than head coach Sean Payton would ever admit. Talk about a lose-lose scenario: Saints No. 1 draft pick Robert Meachem is persona non-grata, and Joe Horn's wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform and enduring career-twilight purgatory with Michael Vick and Joey Harrington.
"Louisiana Cottages" brainchild of Community Foundation of Acadiana
Barbara McKenna is just such a person. She had a house and catering business in Delcambre before Rita washed both of them away. McKenna was attempting to run her catering business out of her FEMA trailer. With no flood insurance, her Road Home total grant was $20,000, according to Dautreuil. "That's not enough money to do anything," Dautreuil says. The Diocese chose McKenna to receive the house built with Community Foundation funds, grants from the Office of Peace and Justice will pay to move the house to Delcambre. McKenna will use her Road Home money to pay for elevating the house to the 12 feet above sea level required in Delcambre. "There's a second house planned for the spring," Dautreuil says. Everybody from the governor and LRA board members to the mayors of New Iberia and Delcambre showed up for the photo op yesterday in New Iberia.
Photo: Governor Blanco and Barbara McKenna courtesy of Community Foundation of Acadiana
Lehman comes out swinging in clerk's race
Lehman then proceeds to take Perret, Guilliot's successor who is seeking a third term, to task on issues ranging from what he calls "small minded petty bureaucratic rules" to allegations the current clerk intimidates employees, is too involved in other political races and forces his employees to contribute to his favorite charities. Lehman, however, offers no support for these claims.
Lehman promises to immediately reduce fees and charges across the board, claiming Perret has overcharged for services and accumulated an $8 million "slush fund."
Perret could not be reached for comment this morning.
Chamber's candidate forums underway this week
Wednesday, September 26
Legislative Candidate Forum-House District 44
Clifton Chenier Center
220 W Willow St # C, Lafayette
Thursday, September 27
Legislative Forum-House District 39; Senate District 26; Senate District 24
Carencro Community Center
5115 N University Ave, Carencro
Esquire: Blue Moon's a "best bar"
Monday, September 24, 2007
Lafayette's Landry touting poll
Landry leads among both men and women, as well as Republicans, Democrats and Independents. She also leads in all age groups. The poll surveyed 302 likely voters and had a margin of error of 5.6 percent. – Jeremy Alford
Final vote on WRDA bill this afternoon
We have been waiting seven long years for a new WRDA bill, and this year, the House and Senate finally came together in agreement on a bill that will authorize $3.6 billion in crucial flood control, navigation and hurricane protection projects for Louisiana.
But a presidential veto threat still looms heavy over this accomplishment. I stand united with the Louisiana delegation in our effort to override a veto and ensure this bill is passed with or without administration approval.
Debate begins in the U.S. Senate at 3 p.m. with voting scheduled for 5:45 EST today for the conference report on WRDA. The bill passed the House with 394 votes in April, and cleared the Senate with 91 votes May. Should the president veto the bill as he as threatened, it will return to both Houses of Congress, where it needs a 2/3 vote--290 in the House, 67 in the Senate to promulgate the act.
FBI, state investigate anti-Jena 6 Web site
Reports on the site prompted outcry from several civil rights leaders who have focused national attention on the Jena 6 case, in which six African American teenagers are being charged with aggravated battery for beating up a white student. That incident ended a series of racially-charged confrontations that started after white students hung nooses from a tree near the school.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson is now calling on President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, to dispatch federal marshals to help ensure the safety of the families. "These people need more than an investigation," he said. "They need protection." Gov. Blanco also has been quick to respond. She issued the following statement on Saturday:
Harassing families involved in the legal issues in Jena can not and will not be tolerated. Public attacks on private citizens done out of ignorance and hatred is appalling, and anyone who stoops to such unspeakable persecution will be investigated and subject to the full penalty of law. I have asked law enforcement agencies to investigate this matter, and as Governor I will do everything in my power to put a stop to these cowardly threats to Louisiana citizens.
New life for south Lafayette's Southpark hospital
Attorney Louis M. Phillips of Gordon, Arata in Baton Rouge, who represented Southpark Community Hospital LLC in the bankruptcy, expects the case to be closed by the end of October. "We have a few technical matters to clear up," he says. In effect, however, the deal has already pulled the company out of bankruptcy, according to Phillips.
Phillips says the purchasing entity is Southpark Acquisition, which assumed the hospital's more than $4 million in debt, paid about $100,000 for the operations and assets (excluding the real estate) and signed a long-term lease with a reorganized Southpark group that includes local owners. A spokesman for Gregory's company says some local investors who founded Southpark in 2005 are part of Southpark Acquisition, but he was unable to determine the names of those investors before press time.
The hospital was originally backed by 41 investors, including 37 area doctors.
In his 30 years in health care, Gregory has developed and managed 13 medical facilities in the state, including his most recent, Southern Surgical Hospital of Slidell.
Southpark is a 24-bed acute care facility located at 314 Youngsville Highway. It specializes in general surgical procedures with emphasis on bariatric and spine procedures.
Longtime DNR official on the way out
Hanchey's exit, however, doesn't mean DNR is losing its edge. One of his final responsibilities has been to help the department draft its legislative agenda for the 2008 session – and it could be a doozy. Since Katrina made landfall, it's been an accepted fact that land (no one knows how much, still) will need to be seized by the state to carry forth with recovery. Monique Edwards, DNR's executive counsel, says land rights will be on tap for the new Legislature, but she provided no further details. "We'll keep pushing the envelope," she says. – Jeremy Alford
Friday, September 21, 2007
Another noose incident near Jena
Police say the 18-year-old driver of the truck was charged with driving while intoxicated and inciting to riot and also may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- the 16-year-old passenger. As police were questioning the driver, he said he had an unloaded rifle in the back, which police found. They also found a set of brass knuckles in the cup holder on the dashboard, according to the police report.
The passenger told police he and his family are in the Ku Klux Klan, the police report said. He also said he had tied the nooses and that the brass knuckles belonged to him, the report said. At least one of the nooses was made out of an extension cord, according to the police report.
Since that fateful day, the Road Home program has disbursed more than $240 million to 5,398 homeowners in parishes affected by Hurricane Rita. More than 11,500 housing units were damaged or destroyed in Rita's wake. The Road Home's small-rental program has disbursed $5.9 million to rebuild rental housing. As for construction dollars, the state has directed $312 million in federal money to Cameron, Calcasieu and Vermilion, the three hardest-hit parishes. Still, there's money left on the table. "More than $118 million remains to be invested," says Tom Henning, chair of LRA's Environmental Task Force.
If that much cash has taken two years to make it down the pipe to those in need, imagine the challenges in addressing the $592 million worth of damage to the region's fisheries and agriculture. The LRA is just getting around to drawing up guidelines for the Fisheries Infrastructure and Assistance Program. Public meetings are scheduled for later this month.
In a press release commemorating the storm and its challenges, Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany notes, "Many of these agencies, such as FEMA, were at first ill-equipped for the effort, but hard work and determination have led to accomplishments," he says.
Let's just hope there's more to cheer in 2008. -Jeremy Alford
Young leadership group the705 plans Sept. 25 launch
Led by local go-getters including Kaysha Alleman of Faith House, Ben Berthelot of Lafayette Consolidated Government and attorney Blake David, the group says it will engage in interactive meetings, forums and discussions; work on community projects that have a real impact on people's lives; and host hip social events.
"I know what kind of energy young professionals bring to an idea or an issue," says Alleman, "Most of the people I know my age have a willingness to give back to the community, but they often don't know how. In fact, people of this generation have benefited so much from so many programs, we should all have a hunger to give back."
The705's goals are similar to those of Lafayette Linked, a group of young professionals formed in November 2006 to promote civic activity and charitable giving. Lafayette Linked has already held its first social event and fund-raiser, which resulted in a $2,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Acadiana. The group is preparing its paperwork to officially become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, says Cindy Gunawan, a Lafayette Linked member. Gunawan works as a financial adviser for Northwestern Mutual Network and has already met with Berthelot to discuss ways the two groups can network and complement each other.
Taking its name from the first three digits of Louisiana's ZIP code, the705 will begin accepting members Oct. 17, and will hold its first meeting Nov. 1. For more information on the organization, call Jeremy Broussard at 257-1929 or Stephanie Mire at 706-1230.
(Judy Johnson contributed to this story.)
BeauSoleil scorches Austin
Impressive win for Lafayette filmmakers
Thursday, September 20, 2007
New report: Feds shortchanging Louisiana recovery
· The amount of federal aid provided to Mississippi and Louisiana is not proportional to the amount of damage each state suffered.
· The sluggishness of aid distribution continues to be the primary concern of state and local officials in both states.
· The reimbursement nature of the FEMA PA program generally means that local governments must pay for work out of their own pockets first. For those local governments left with little to no tax base or revenue sources, that means much of the recovery process is stalled because they do not have the money to start the federal aid flow. While both states now offer mechanisms for local officials to obtain advance payments to get work started, the effort required further slows the recovery process.
· The federal disaster aid programs now in place were never designed to handle the scale of catastrophic damage left behind by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. While the federal government has tried to adapt existing programs to get the money flowing to the affected areas, it is evident from the continuing slow pace of the recovery more than two years after the storms that other avenues need to be explored.
· The two phases of the aftermath of a disaster — response and recovery — involve different logistics and politics. Response and recovery needs differ throughout the Gulf region, and federal aid programs and policies need to be cognizant of these differences.
Barbour, meanwhile, is under fresh scrutiny after respected business-news outlet Bloomberg has uncovered questionable Mississippi hurricane recovery contracts awarded to Barbour family members. And even Mississippi press outlets, which have consistently praised Barbour's efforts on behalf of their state, aren't buying Barbour's dismissal of the revelations as "election-year politics" from the "liberal New York media."
Embattled airport commission has two slots to fill
Another opening was created earlier this month by commissioner Don Bacque, who made only two meetings before resigning due to a potential conflict of interest. Bacque handles insurance for Acadian Ambulance, an airport tenant. "Our lawyer researched it, and he told [Bacque] it was a conflict of interest, a possible ethics violation, so he resigned," Robichaux says. Bacque was appointed by City-Parish President Joey Durel after State Farm agent Don Higginbotham resigned saying the past year of controversy had begun to affect his business. The commission and airport Aviation Director Greg Roberts have been under intense scrutiny over their spending practices.
Volunteer commissioners serve four-year terms. They must live in the parish and be registered voters. Resumes should be forwarded to Council Clerk Norma Dugas, P.O. Box 4017-C, Lafayette, La., 70502, no later than noon on Monday, Oct. 15. The appointment is scheduled to be made Oct. 16.
The airport commission convenes next Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 5:30 p.m. in a special meeting to debate whether to conduct a national search for the aviation director's post currently held by Roberts. Another main purpose of the meeting is to discuss the 2008 budget, which will be adopted on Thursday, Oct. 4, Robichaux says.
Routes to Roots cooking workshop this weekend
Democrats host weekly roundtable at Dwyer's
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Blueprint Louisiana's next move
One house, one client, one neighborhood, one town. Now imagine that you're a new organization trying to institute massive government and legislative reforms for an entire state, and you get a sense of the obstacles and challenges facing Blueprint Louisiana.
With statewide elections only 31 days away, Independent Weekly editor Scott Jordan's Leadoff column in this week's issue looks at Blueprint's strategy as the organization prepares for its second significant media advertising campaign. Read the column here.
State Farm mum on closure of Wally Romero's office
Annette Hayes, a State Farm field executive who is handling media and customer calls since the closure, would not comment. "We are not making a public comment," she says, maintaining the Bloomington, Ill.-based company has made a corporate decision not to discuss the matter.
Romero's State Farm phone number was answered this morning by Hayes; it apparently is rolling over to her 2014 W. Pinhook Road office.
State Farm has about 22 insurance agents in town, including Romero's sister, Terry Romero Wofford, but the affable Romero was perhaps the city's best-known agent who undoubtedly amassed a large book of insurance business in the two decades he operated in Lafayette (his father, Walter, was the first State Farm agent in south Louisiana). He's also an antiques dealer, operating that business out of the same State Farm building on South College Road.
"Two tenors" kick off Louisiana Crossroads tonight at ACA
Countdown to Jena rally
In Atlanta yesterday, college students prepared to travel to Jena, and on Monday, the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution in support of the Jena Six. In Houston, 300 students from Texas Southern University and community activists, had signed up to ride five buses headed to Jena. Entertainers are also scheduled to perform at the rally, including Lafayette's Cupid. Nationally syndicated radio host Michael Baisden will host a rally today in Alexandria, as well as another event tonight at Alexandria Riverfront Center to raise defense funds for the Jena Six. At both events, Baisden will broadcast his show live.
In an editorial yesterday, The Town Talk wrote of the impending protest within the context of a local funeral. "Everything is all right in Jena, at least it was for a few quiet moments over the weekend when a longtime local homemaker was laid to rest." The editorial concludes:
Justice will be done not because someone rode into town and demanded it, but because there are enough good people in this community to make sure it happens.
The funeral for a friend to many proved that the spirit is alive and well.
The paper has also set up a web page archiving all of its coverage of the Jena Six, including a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the case.
The New York Times covered the story again today, and the Associated Press reports that David Bowie has donated $10,000 to the Jena Six's legal defense fund. "There is clearly a separate and unequal judicial process going on in the town of Jena," Bowie said. "A donation to the Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund is my small gesture indicating my belief that a wrongful charge and sentence should be prevented."
Voter registration ends today
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Katrina Through the Eyes of Children at NOMA
At first we thought it was a fluke, but we saw it repeatedly in children of all ages. Then we realized the internal schema of these children had changed. They weren't drawing the house as a place of safety, they were drawing the roof.
Fifty of the childrens's drawings as well as three-dimensional works are on display at the New Orleans Museum of Art in a show called Katrina Through the Eyes of Children: Art by Displaced Children at Renaissance Village. Dr. Irwin Redlener, the co-founder of the Children's Health Fund, which has provided mobile mental health clinics to some families along the Gulf Coast told the NYT the trauma is compounded by the continuing limbo of life in the trailer parks.
The real prescription for these families is to get them back into a normal community. We're treading water doing these things, when I'd like to take my prescription pad and write, ‘Home.'
The NOMA show is designed to call attention to the ongoing evacuee status of people whose lives are still on hold and the museum has partnered with the Community Initiatives Foundation. The foundation's mission is to address mental health and trauma issues of children affected by the hurricanes of 2005. The show will be up through Oct. 7.
Davidson's Girard Park rezoning request denied
"I'm a proponent of infill and mixed use, but there are limits to what things you're going to mix together," says Commissioner Fred Prejean, one of three commissioners voting against the rezoning. "The park is meant for people to gather, and if you're going to build something that's obviously going to create a traffic situation, it's not a good mix. I don't think the request was compatible with what's there."
The issue isn't dead yet; the commission's vote is only a recommendation to the City-Parish Council, which is slated for a hearing on the rezoning request on Oct. 23.
Jena braces for Thursday's rally
Thousands are expected to travel to Jena on Thursday to rally at the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in support of the Jena Six. Protesters from across the nation, including Lafayette and Baton Rouge, are traveling to the small central Louisiana town by the busloads. In an editorial today published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Rev. Jesse Jackson writes: "As we march for the Jena Six, we will protest a racially biased U.S. criminal justice system that is creating explosive conditions across this country."
Some Jena business owners will close their operations on Thursday, while other residents have expressed concern over the number of people expected to rally, with estimates of 5,000 to 40,000 people in attendance. Gov. Kathleen Blanco issued a statement yesterday which reads in part, "State Police will have a sizeable presence in Jena to ensure a peaceful and therefore meaningful event. I support citizens exercising their right to free speech, and I encourage all involved in Thursday's march to respect one another and that right."
Today, columnist DeWayne Hickman writes in an USA Today editorial:
... the Jena Six case has given rise to a new movement of black activism. It is the talk of black barbershops and beauty parlors; it's being raised in black churches and, most important, has captured the attention of young blacks, many of them college students.
That's a good thing.
Back in 1903, W.E.B. DuBois said the black race would be saved by "its exceptional men." His gender slight notwithstanding, I agree. The Jena Six case has produced the kind of awakening among young blacks that gave birth to the 1960s freedom rides and sit-in demonstrations. If it can move this generation of young blacks to undertake similar acts of courage, America will be a better place for them and their children.
For another overview of the Jena Six case, read "The March on Jena" from today's web edition of The Nation.
Web site launched for Humberto victims
Monday, September 17, 2007
The world's watching Jena
A rally in support of the Jena Six, spearheaded by Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, had been set for Thursday, the day Bell was scheduled to be sentenced. Black American Web reports that despite the recent development the rally is still scheduled to take place on Thursday in Jena.
With thousands of protesters from across the nation expected to rally in the small town of 3,500, The Town Talk reports that the Louisiana State Police is coordinating efforts with law enforcement agencies across the state, including U.S. Marshals, to help with "traffic and people control." The Alexandria newspaper also reports that hotels in the area are "booked solid."
The story of the Jena Six - which was no more than a blip on the national and international radar a few months ago - is now being scrutinized by the world. Just since Friday, when Bell's conviction was overturned, there have been dozens of articles written about the Jena Six. Here's just a handful of them: from The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN, The Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, ABC's Good Morning America, The Louisiana Weekly, USA Today, Associated Press, and The Fayetteville Observer.
K-Ville premieres tonight
Girard Park residents fighting Davidson rezoning request
The zoning commission meeting is today at 5 p.m. at the Clifton Chenier Auditorium on West Willow Avenue. Led by Douglas English, a local group calling itself the Girard Park Neighborhood Association has formed in recent weeks to fight what it calls "commercial intrusion" into the popular residential area. The group has signatures from property owners (representing 54 properties), including Edmund and Doris Reggie, Buzz and Jane Joy, Mickey and Melinda Mangham, Warren Butcher, Mark Van Eaton, Jim McGehee, Mrs. Denbo Montgomery, Robbie Mahtook and Jim Diaz.
Davidson hopes to rezone 2.67 acres of the back portion of the property for commercial use, potentially office space, according to Hammy Davis of Coldwell Banker Pelican Real Estate. Davis says he was contacted by Davidson to assist on development of the property but has not been officially hired. Davis believes the back portion of the property's highest and best use is as offices that would be no more than two stories high. The rezoning request is for B-1-L, a limited business classification that would allow a variety of developments ranging from apartments to neighborhood service oriented businesses and office space. Davis says the two existing homes on the property would likely be converted to office space but he unsure what would happen to the pool and tennis court. Should he become the developer, Davis says he will seek input from local residents. "I will not duck the neighbors," he says.
Davidson, however, has yet to submit a plan to the zoning commission spelling out what he wants to do with his property. He is also attempting to rezone a little more than an acre of property along Girard Park Drive to R-4, which would allow for condominiums, townhomes and patio homes (both attached and detached).
Davidson requested a rezoning of the property for commercial use in the late 1990s but withdrew the request amid overwhelming opposition. Nothing has happened since that time to change residents' position. English says the park's covenant is very clear: single family residential only. "That is our line in the sand," he says, "and we're not going to back down from that."
Adds resident Kolleen Verlander: "The city requires a plan [for rezoning]. We, as property owners, have not seen a plan. We are not unreasonable, but we cannot go along with something we have not seen."
NRSC steps up attacks on Landrieu
Blanco takes economic development pitch to Spain
Blanco, who made economic development a top priority in her campaign for governor, has made several similar economic development trips, including to London, Canada, Kuwait, Cuba, and a tour of east Asia. Recent trips have focused largely on detailing hurricane recovery efforts and outlining investment opportunities available through the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act passed by Congress in 2005. The Go Zone Act provides several tax incentives to help businesses rebuild throughout coastal Louisiana.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Boustany, Alexander endorse LeBlanc
Jena prepares for rally
Rev. Jesse Jackson has stated that more 40,000 people will rally behind Bell in the small central Louisiana. Nationally syndicated radio host Michael Baisden says on his web site that more than a million participants are expected to attend the rally. The site reads in part:
This is clearly a case of racism, but Michael Baisden reminds us the protest in Jena, LA, the US and around the world is not an attack on white people but against a system that has failed us all. It is not about black and white but about what is wrong and what is right!
Two new shows open at UAM tonight
Marsden Hartley, (1877-1943) a Maine artist, was at the center of the avant-garde and early American Modernism of the early 20th century. Hartley's work reflects the tumultuous changes in society and the world as his artistic vision developed from late impressionism and the ideals of transcendentalism through abstraction and the effects of two world wars.
Paul R. Jones assembled one of the most comprehensive collections of twentieth century African-American art in the world. Works by 64 artists including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Ossawa Tanner, James VanDerZee, Carrie Mae Weems and Hale Woodruff are all included in the exhibition. The collection spans genres from portraiture and representational to narrative and abstraction.
A Survey of Newcomb Pottery continues as well. The reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., free to the public, at the museum on the UL campus. Regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 482-1368 or 482-2278 for more information.
Image: "Western Flame" by Marsden Hartley
The Advertiser on Vitter: silence
But you wouldn't know about the latest turns in the Vitter saga if you only read The Daily Advertiser. Serious allegations that a Louisiana senator solicited prostitutes while in office apparently isn't news to The Advertiser, as the paper hasn't written one word about the Vitter affair in its print edition this week. Not a single word: no news brief, wire story, or editorial -- zip, nada, nothing.
Of all the statewide coverage that's appeared in outlets like The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, longtime T-P political columnist James Gill had the most blistering assessment:
If U.S. Sen. David Vitter had been discovered telling the truth about his lewd escapades, that would have been a shocker. He has always been so strident in demanding the highest ethical standards from other public officials that he was bound to be exposed as a faker eventually.
It appeared that the fuss over the "sin" to which Vitter confessed in dealings with the alleged "D.C. Madam" had pretty much died down. He apologized at a press conference in July, pooh-poohing newspaper stories that alleged he had similarly strayed in his home town. But, far from killing the story, Vitter's denials gave it fresh legs. He must have known he was taking a big risk and that Larry Flynt, having fingered him as a john in Washington, would still be on the prowl.
When Flynt flew Wendy Yow Ellis to California and had her hooked up to a polygraph machine, she was adjudged truthful in asserting that Vitter used to pay $300 an hour to jump her bones in the French Quarter when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. … Flynt, declaring Ellis quite a looker for an ex-hooker of 34, now plans to have her pose for his Hustler magazine and tell all that anyone could wish to know on the subject of Vitter in the sack. As reading material this will probably rank alongside, say, the Water Resources Bill. Ellis has already said Vitter's tastes are conventional, so the pictures will have to carry it. If form is any guide, they will be pretty raunchy. …
There has been no word from Vitter since Ellis and Flynt called him a liar, so he is apparently not inclined to contest the point.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Paddy Keenan at the Blue Moon
Boustany stands behind LeBlanc amid Texas prison scandal
LeBlanc, who is running for the District 43 seat being vacated next year by state Rep. Ernie Alexander, is involved in a Texas prison system scandal in Bexar County. LeBlanc and his brother Michael and their business, Premier Management, have been implicated in questionable dealings with Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez and one of his close associates. In recent weeks, Lopez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges, including accepting an illegal gift, as part of a plea deal with the district attorney. The charges stem from a trip he took to Costa Rica with the LeBlanc brothers at a time when Premier was being considered for a lucrative commissary contract for a Bexar County jail annex. The LeBlancs, who also contributed to a shell charity organization controlled by one of the sheriff's close associates, have maintained their innocence, but Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed told the San Antonio Express-News that she has not yet determined the extent of Premier's involvement in the corruption case. That publication is also looking into the LeBlancs dealings with other Texas prisons.
Boustany joins a long-list of prominent names hosting the fund-raiser, including Alexander. Also listed as hosts are Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Randy Menard, Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux, Ron Gomez and Carol Ross, attorney Bob Wright, oilman Paul Hilliard, Glenn and Dana Armentor, Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins and Mike and Marcia Francis. About 70 $500 contributors (many couples) appear on the host list. Others attending will pay $250 per couple.
LeBlanc faces Page Cortez in the Oct. 20 election.
Coastal cleanup efforts murky for Saturday event
Two years after Katrina and Rita, marine debris remains a major problem in Louisiana. As The Times-Picayune noted in a recent editorial, lingering questions remain over whether FEMA or the Coast Guard should oversee coordinated cleanup efforts, while hurricane-ravaged cars, boats and trash still sit untouched in some coastal areas, bayous and marshes.
AFTERNOON UPDATE: The following site locations were submitted by JoAnn Burke of the
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's 2007 Beach Sweep will be from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, September 15th, 2007. Other sites that will be covered:
LFT endorses Campbell and notes Jindal snub
Each of the major candidates, with the notable exception of Republican Bobby Jindal, met at least twice with Federation leaders and submitted written answers to questions posed by the LFT. Congressman Jindal did not respond to invitations to meet with LFT leadership and he failed to respond to the Federation's candidate's questionnaire, and therefore removed himself from consideration for the Federation's endorsement.
The state's other major teacher's union, the Louisiana Association of Educators, has endorsed both Campbell and Democratic rival Walter Boasso. Jindal also declined to participate in the LAE's interview process.
Megan Barra's silk compositions
Barra's work has appeared in such publications as The Art Directors Club of New York, Graphis Book Design, Graphis Poster, The Society of Illustrators Annual, Communication Arts and the American Association of Museum's Museum News. In 2001, her design for Sonny Landreth's CD Levee Town was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best Recording Package" category. The show will be at the library, 445 E. Main St. New Iberia, though Oct. 11. For more info call 364-7024.
Friends of the Library book sale
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Local group says Million Air pulled bait-and-switch
On August 16th, 2007, Million Air of Cincinnati drastically shrunk the capital improvements they will be making at the Lafayette airport. This is Million Air's fourth, and most egregious, renege on the original proposal to spend $6 million at our airport. This is the same $6 million that was pivotal in awarding Million Air the sole Fixed Base Operator's lease … for the next 30 years.
In 2005 the airport commission chose to enter into exclusive negotiations with Million Air, rather than a local group in large part because Million Air said it would build a $6 million FBO.
At this point, it's unclear just how much the company will be investing in the new FBO — the permit with local government has it valued at only $1.58 million, but additional improvements will be made. And clearly Million Air's plans for what the facility will look like have changed. Different renderings have been circulating, and it seems the airport is getting a single story building rather than the significantly more attractive rendering that showed a two-story atrium. FBOs are used by the general aviation population, offering hangars, conference rooms, fuel and training and maintenance facilities.
Citing potential drainage problems, Million Air said it had to drop the roof line. "The only thing is I think they had to drop the roof height 6 feet, because it's closer to the (former Lafayette Aero) hangar," says Airport Commission Chairman Carroll Robichaux, who voted against negotiating with Million Air on the contract. "This was an engineering problem." Robichaux says it's his understanding the FBO's roof line would have conflicted with the hangar next to it.
Marilynn Adams, whose brother is Richard Fournet of Fournet Air Service, says the image on her group's Web site, which she notes is Million Air's final plan, is the one presented at the Aug. 2 commission meeting. It's dated June 4, 2007, she says, and is from Bascon Inc. of Cincinnati, the architectural, engineering and development firm hired by Million Air. "We did not alter the scale," she says.
This morning, after reviewing the local group's "bait and switch" Web site, Robichaux, too, was confused. "That's not the drawing we had at the groundbreaking," he says. A different version of what the FBO will look like, the one presented at the Aug. 16 groundbreaking, is the one on Million Air's Web site. The chairman says he'll get more details later today when he meets with Million Air.
Blueprint begins listing its candidates
According to Blueprint spokesman Brad Lambert, Blueprint will be updating the site daily as additional candidates sign on. Lambert says Blueprint plans to spend $400,000 on an advertising campaign promoting its list of candidate supporters, starting Sept. 24 and running through the Oct. 20 primary. Blueprint has already spent $415,000 in the first phase of its media campaign, which promoted its agenda. Founded in September of last year by Lafayette principals Matt Stuller, Clay Allen and Bill Fenstermaker, Blueprint is a statewide initiative of several of the state's top business leaders seeking to initiate sweeping reforms in state policy over the next two years.
Charges reduced for Jena Six
Rita recovery planning brings $41 million to parishes
2007 Women Who Mean Business
The 2007 Women Who Mean Business are Shirley Fisher (Trailblazer Award), Jeanette Alcon, Phyllis Dupuis, Dr. Paula Carson, Elise Bouchner and Christina Harper, Vergie Banks, Rebecca Doherty, Karen Hail and Dr. Angela Mayeux-Hebert. Meet the 2007 honorees in this week's cover story.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Vitter prostitution scandal returns to the headlines
Much has been made over the GOP's apparent double standard in its forgiving treatment of Vitter as opposed to toe-tapping Idaho U.S. Rep. Larry Craig, who was immediately shoved aside after the discovery of his guilty plea for allegedly soliciting anonymous gay sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. But the GOP has the luxury of a sitting Republican governor in Idaho, who immediately replaced Craig with another Republican – a scenario that the Louisiana GOP could never count on as long as Gov. Kathleen Blanco remains in office.
And once again, Vitter's foibles will be an unwelcome nuisance for U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, who undoubtedly doesn't want to answer a whole new round of questions about fellow Republican Vitter just as the gubernatorial campaign kicks into high gear. Vitter was one of Jindal's biggest supporters – and vice-versa – before the scandal broke, but Jindal has since distanced himself as far from Vitter as possible, even scrubbing every reference about Vitter off his campaign Web site.
Flynt and Ellis' joint press conference is scheduled for later today, and Flynt will reportedly challenge Vitter to take a polygraph test.
Native plants workshop to be held Saturday
Public hearing on UL prez search tomorrow at LITE
Fourteen candidates have applied thus far, none of them local. The priority date for applications is Oct. 1, and more candidates are expected to apply for the job.
The hearings are an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members to voice their opinions about the kind of leader the university needs. A diverse group of community and university representatives addressed the committee in June.
Authement, the longest serving public university president in the country, announced his retirement in April. When he leaves the university next year, he will have served for 34 years.
Charlie Buckels running for BESE
Buckels, a longtime official with both the parish and state Republican parties, insisted that politics played no part in the decision. In District 31, Buckels would have been challenging incumbent Don Trahan, a fellow Republican. (Independent candidate Nancy Landry is also running for District 31.) Trahan won the seat by edging out Buckels by 13 votes in a runoff election four years ago. "The politics of it was no issue at all," Buckels says, while acknowledging that he did have his sights set on District 31 for quite some time. "It kind of breaks my heart that I didn't qualify for 31," he says. "The day I went to qualify, it was still in my mind: where can I do the best job? I really think BESE is where I can offer the greatest help with the reform in the state. After I started looking at it, I had a peace about it."
Monday, September 10, 2007
San Antonio paper investigates Leblanc prison business
In an investigative story published yesterday titled, "Premier's Benefits didn't' stop in Bexar," The Express raises questions about other public contracts obtained by Premier, as well as LCS' growing presence in the state. The two companies operate in five south Texas counties, as well as Louisiana and Alabama. (LCS is the fourth-largest private prison system in the U.S.) The Express-News reports that sheriffs and their associates in two other Texas counties also received benefits from Premier after helping award jail contracts to the company. Ex-Kleberg County Sheriff Tony Gonzalez admits being paid for consulting work for the company, though he wouldn't disclose the amount. He awarded a jail commissary contract to Premier in 2004. In Nueces County, an associate to former Sheriff Larry Olivarez earned a commission from a sale of 56 acres to LCS after he helped Premier win a commissary contract in 2005. The Express-News also cites sources claiming that both former sheriffs took hunting and fishing trips with the Leblancs, including to Costa Rica. Michael and Pat LeBlanc turned down interview requests from The Express-News, claiming the paper libeled them in previous 2005 articles. (The Leblancs have a pending lawsuit against The Express-News over those stories.) Both previously told The Independent Weekly that they are cooperating with Bexar County investigators and want to see officials there prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Following the Lopez's plea last week, Pat LeBlanc told The Advocate, "We haven't done anything wrong. We're caught up in something that's a lot bigger than us. I would never, ever risk my integrity over selling candy bars and potato chips."
Pat LeBlanc, a well-known Republican insider who has hosted fundraisers for Congressman Charles Boustany and presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, recently qualified to run for state representative in District 43. He has made ethics reform a major platform of his campaign. His candidacy has won the high-profile support of Congressman Boustany and former District 43 state Rep. Ernie Alexander, among others, who are hosting a fundraiser for him this week at the City Club at River Ranch.
Sheldon Forest on the gubernatorial trail
He says what solidified his resolve to run was the political attack adds running on TV. "Look how these guys are treating each other. That's how they are going to treat us," he says. "They need somebody like me in there, who's going to keep all the state employees in place so we don't have a year of turmoil while new people learn their jobs, and who will take care of the people. I don't owe political favors to anybody."
Forest plans to raise money for hurricane recovery by taxing water usage. "There are so many people on a water meter that a little small tax, you won't even feel it, it will be like a mosquito bite, will add up to billions in no time--forcing water to pay for the damage water caused. I'm an expert on water. It's a new tax base, nobody's ever thought of it." To help out the rice farmers of southwest Louisiana, he says he will institute a state program to promote ethanol made of rice. Ethics, a hot-button issue this year calls for special investigators to check out complaints, one by one. "People have been calling me. I've already got a list started," Forest says. Defending Louisiana's coastline from attack is another point on Forest's agenda. "I plan to put lookout towers and forts along the coast, like it used to be in the old days. Actually, it should be pretty fun to do this." Forest says his heritage and work ethic has given him a natural ability to lead. "Being governor will be easier than digging water wells, that's for sure."
LGMC board deciding Thaw's future today
Sources close to the board say Thaw is likely to be terminated for reasons not yet disclosed, and a search for his replacement will begin shortly thereafter. It is unclear if interim administrator Patrick Gandy, who was named COO in January, will be considered for the position. Thaw has held the top job since 1998.
The INDsider tried to reach Thaw, pictured, at his Lafayette home last week, but he did not return the phone call. Board chair Fenstermaker could not be reached for comment this morning. LGMC's board also includes Dr. Mike Alexander, Clay Allen, J. Wayne Andrepont, Ph.D., Ray Authement, Ph.D., Mercer Britain Busch, David T. Calhoun, Dr. Daniel J. Carroll, Irvin David, Bob Giles, Dr. Gary Guidry, Dr. Rose Kennedy, Ed Krampe, Ed McGlasson Jr., Flo Meadows, Dr. Donald J. Reed, Dr. Bob Rivet, Rae Robinson, Bill Rucks III, and Greg Voorhies.
Jesse Jackson visits Jena
He said he expects the protest to draw as many as 40,000 - more than 10 times the population of the rural Central Louisiana town. ...
The protest is scheduled to take place the same day that 17-year-old Mychal Bell, one of six black Jena High School students charged in the Dec. 4 beating of white student Justin Barker, is to be sentenced for aggravated second-degree battery.
Read also The Associated Press' account and a recent overview of the Jena Six case from USA Today.
Former film head pleads guilty
Candidates too scripted for comfort
Next up, CABL is getting ready to survey the state's many legislative candidates and plans to post those responses online as well. The good government group is hoping citizens and the media will help pressure the potential lawmakers into spelling out their priorities through the questionnaires.
As for this trend of many candidates saying a lot of while saying nothing at all, the Public Affairs Research Council, another Baton Rouge-based policy advocate, has issued a report that instructs voters on how to question candidates and get real answers instead of fluff. PAR hopes the outline (dubbed "Questioning Candidates Beyond the Platitudes") will encourage voters to scrutinize politicians and determine who truly has plans of action to back up the slogans and sound bites. "This report can help voters to make that distinction," says Jim Brandt, the group's president. "It challenges both candidates and voters to push for more meaningful debate." -- Jeremy Alford
Friday, September 07, 2007
State releases lackluster school report cards
In Lafayette Parish, results were mixed but Superintendent Burnel Lemoine has indicated he will be presenting a plan to the school board in order to address areas of concern. Almost half of the district's schools achieved Minimal Academic Growth and two schools, Northside High School and Alice Boucher Elementary, are labeled Academically Unacceptable. Through the district's Schools of Choice program, students at these two schools can opt to transfer out to other schools. The district had six schools labeled as "in decline", down from nine the previous year. Four schools achieved Exceptional Academic Growth for meeting growth targets, including Lafayette High, which remains the district's only three-star high school. Click here for a complete list of results.
Georges leaves GOP
Georges made his decision to leave his life-long party after the Republicans threw all their weight behind U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, who ran a tight race last round with Democrat Kathleen Blanco.
"I am the same man and the same candidate I was yesterday, Georges says in a statement released after he switched parties. "I simply choose not to participate in a system that puts party labels over good public policy. Partisan politics have become too divisive in Louisiana. I'm not running to be governor of a political party."
Georges is joined by 12 other candidates, frontrunner Jindal-Kenner who is the only Republican running, Democrats Foster Campbell-Elm Grove, Walter Boasso-Arabi, M.V. "Vinny" Mendoza-Kenner, Hardy Parkerson-Lake Charles, and Mary Volentine Smith-Winnsboro, Libertarian T. Lee Horne III-Bunkie, and Anthony "Tony G" Gentile-Mandeville and B. Alexandrenko-Baton Rouge who registered as "Other." "No party" candidates include Vincent Mark Castillo-St. Rose, Arthur D. "Jim" Nichols-Donaldsonville and Sheldon Forest-Maurice.
Oil dumper gets federal fine
The civil penalty, however meager, is just a starter. Meridian has also been ordered to enhance its pipeline monitoring and oil spill prevention program at its Weeks Island facility in an effort to resolve its violations of the Clean Water Act. The corporation has also replaced most of the 6" diameter pipeline that was the source of the spills.
"This settlement holds Meridian accountable for its spills and requires Meridian to take affirmative measures to prevent and respond more quickly to any future unauthorized discharges at this facility," says Richard Greene, EPA regional administrator. "The result is more protection for the coastal Louisiana environment."
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the Western District of Louisiana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review. The penalties paid for the spills will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. - Jeremy Alford
Cox pledges $2 million to UL athletics
In return for the sponsorship, the largest in Ragin' Cajuns athletics history, the university has agreed to name the athletic department building on Reinhardt Drive the Cox Communications Athletic Center and give the company first right of refusal on additional naming opportunities. Cox will have a prominent presence on both the athletic department Web site and the football stadium scoreboard and exclusive rights to telecast replays of coaches programs, sporting events and university athletic programs on any of its cable systems, affiliated regional sports channel or programming network.
As part of the agreement, Cox is also fiber connecting some regional and on-campus locations to its national fiber network, including the primate facility at the New Iberia Research Park, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum and the foundation and alumni offices.
Cox will be celebrating the partnership with a tailgating party from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow at Gate A at Cajun Field.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wal-Mart pulls La. cypress mulch
LGMC's Thaw may not be returning
Since breaking the story of Thaw's leave yesterday, the INDsider has learned that his departure comes amid a swirl of controversy about potential mismanagement at the hospital. Fenstermaker, however, would not comment on the speculation, except to surmise that a general IRS audit of the hospital conducted several weeks ago seems to have sparked some of the innuendo. "They somehow have linked the two events," he says, noting that the audit and Thaw's leave are not related. "We have not received any findings from anybody at the IRS." The board chairman says these types of general audits are routinely conducted by the IRS.
Though he was initially hesitant in answering, Fenstermaker says the board did not ask Thaw to take the leave. "Any matter dealing with the CEO has some involvement with the board," he says. "He chose to take personal leave, and I granted it.
"It's not my style not to be 100 percent candid," Fenstermaker adds, explaining that personnel issues are private matters protected by employment laws. "When somebody's on personal leave, it limits me as to what I can say."
Thaw, pictured above, has been LGMC's president and CEO since 1998.
LGMC is a community-owned not-for-profit hospital, but word of Thaw's leave was not released to the public; only the staff was informed. At the time, Fenstermaker says he did not think public disclosure was necessary. "My obligation is to make sure it has good leadership," he says. "[Interim CEO] Patrick Gandy is a great leader. He is very capable of running day-to-day operations at Lafayette General." Gandy is the hospital's chief operating officer.
Saints kickoff NFL season tonight
Planning Commission approves LINC plans
The recommendations adopted by the commission Wednesday are the same set made years ago by the steering committee of Lafayette In a Century, or LINC — which was charged in the late '90s with coming up with a comprehensive plan.
Most of the recommendations never made it further in the process, ultimately bogging down in a committee made up in large part by city-parish administrators, the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee, or CPIC.
Commissioners and City-Parish councilmen have charged that the administration at the time intentionally dragged its feet on implementing the ideas.
The commission recently asked the LINC Steering Committee to reconvene. The committee did so, then promptly forwarded the same recommendations.
Bombs over Barksdale
The Air Force continued handing out disciplinary actions in response to the six nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30. The squadron commander in charge of Minot's munitions crews was relieved of all duties pending the investigation.
It was originally reported that five nuclear warheads were transported, but officers who tipped Military Times to the incident who have asked to remain anonymous since they are not authorized to discuss the incident, have since updated that number to six. ...
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The Advocate: 'Jindal does disservice'
In August, Independent Editor Scott Jordan made this same point in his Leadoff column:
Instead of participating in the health care forum, Jindal spent Monday campaigning from Slidell to Hammond on his "Fresh Start" bus tour. ...
Louisiana voters deserve more. The race for governor so far has consisted largely of platform soundbites and predictable partisan sniping between the candidates and state party leaders. As the Oct. 20 election approaches, the inevitable onslaught of carefully scripted 30-second attack ads will only serve to further muddy the waters.
Today, The Advocate concludes:
Avoiding forums is something campaign front-runners often do, hoping to avoid making mental and verbal blunders, and to keep from elevating opponents in the public eye.
If that is smart politics, it also is political cowardice.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will have at least seven new faces after fall elections, only incumbents Dale Bourgeois, District 2, and Bruce Conque, District 6 are running to return to their seats. In District 1, Purvis Morrison has qualified. Challengers to Bourgeois in District 2 are Jay Castille, Jr., and Pat Lewis. District 3 contenders are Amos Batiste Jr., Shelton Cobb, Lloyd Rochon and Brandon Shelvin. Kenneth Boudreaux, Dale Dennis and Jan Swift have thrown in for District 4. Currently, Jared Bellard is the sole candidate for District 5. In District 6, Sam Dore and Travis Farrar are challenging Conque. Tom Sekhani has qualified in District 7. Stanley "Tee" Brosky faces Keith Patin in District 8. And Huey Romero and William Theriot have jumped in in District 9.
Qualifying continues until 5 p.m. Thursday evening.
LGMC's top administrator on leave
Mark Attales, the LGMC's director of community relations, confirms only that the leave is for personal reasons and was effective Aug. 29. "How long he will be on leave is not yet determined," Attales says.
LGMC's more than 1,700 employees were given no additional information, except that Patrick Gandy, the hospital's chief operating officer, will serve as interim administrator. Formerly the administrator for Lafayette General Surgical Hospital, Gandy has served as COO since January, when Donna Landry left after almost two decades to join The Schumacher Group. Gandy has been with LGMC more than 13 years.
Council eases restrictions for downtown restaurants
The ordinance will allow for at least two more restaurants to locate downtown in the near future. Kimberly Florsheim was on hand at last night's meeting as a representative of the Juliet Hotel partners. The group has hoped to lease out space from their building on the corner of Jefferson and Lee Streets for a restaurant. Florsheim thanked the council for passing the ordinance. Also expressing appreciation was Victor Bernard, whose family owns the building at the corner of Jefferson and Johnston Street, which formerly operated as the Jefferson Street Café. Bernard, who now plans to open a new restaurant, has struggled for years to obtain a liquor license for the property. Both his building and the Juliet Hotel are in the proximity of First Baptist Church and Ascension Day School. The council also heard from downtown business owner Julie Calzone, who opposed the ordinance. Calzone said she believed the law should be kept consistent and the council was establishing a dangerous precedent with any exceptions.
One Jena Six conviction tossed out
Also, as in Bell's case, charges against two more of the Jena Six - Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw - were reduced from "attempted murder to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same. Both will be tried in the adult court system. A jury trial for Jones was set for 9 a.m. on Jan. 28, while no trial date was set for Shaw."
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Qualifying opens today
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, is being challenged by Thomas D. Kates (no party listed). John Kennedy, newly switched to the Republican Party, has qualified for reelection as state treasurer, and M. V. "Vinny" Mendoza, a Democrat, is currently the only candidate for Commissioner of Insurance.
In local races, Sydnie Mae Durand-D, Troy Hebert-D and "Jeff" Landry-R have all qualified for Senate District 22. In District 39, Tommy Angelle-D is squaring off against former state Rep. Raymond "LaLa" LaLonde-R for state rep. For state rep District 43, Page Cortez-R has signed up. Derriel McCorvey-D, Fred Prejean-D and Chris Williams-D square off for state rep in District 44. Incumbent Joel Robideaux, an independent, has qualified in District 45, and Fred H. Mills, Jr.-D in District 46. In New Iberia, Democrats David N. Broussard, Raymond "Shoe-Do" Lewis and Shane Romero have all jumped in the race for state rep in District 48, and Simone Champagne-D is the lone contender for state rep in District 49. To keep track of candidates as they qualify, go to the Secretary of State's website. Qualifying ends at 5 p.m. Thursday.
CNN on the Jena Six
If that fails, Bell is scheduled for a September 20 sentencing hearing where he faces up to 22 years in prison. The other five await their days in court.
Boustany gives positive assessment of Iraq
LHC Group buying Tennessee home health agency
A provider of post-acute health care services mainly in rural markets, LHC Group also announced today that it has formed a partnership with Columbus Regional Medical Center in Columbus, Ga., whereby LHC Group will sell a 33 percent interest in its existing agency in Pine Mountain, Ga., to Columbus Regional. Additionally, the local company is converting a license lease agreement with Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson into a joint venture. LHC Group has operated Mississippi Baptist's home health agency since October 2003.
LHC Group's common stock is traded on the NASDAQ market. Founded in Palmetto in 1994, the company went public in mid-2005.
Punks in Lafayette