C’est Bon

Cover7January

(Self-aggrandizement alert) The IberiaBank/Independent Lecture Series brings Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman to Lafayette for free public screenings, helping spark a community conversation about reform in public education in Lafayette.

Precious, pudgy Jacee Badeaux, a sophomore in Lafayette High’s Performing Arts Academy, makes an amazing run on American Idol, impressing even creepy rocker-judge Steven Tyler with his angelic voice.

February

Former Acadiana High standout pitcher Gil Meche retires from Major League Baseball at age 32, forfeiting $12 million. Meche cites an inability to contribute to his team, the Kansas City Royals, due to nagging injuries, striking a blow against the me-first selfishness of professional athletic culture.

Youngsville resident Ginger Rabalais generously donates a portion of her property for a temporary bypass so the south Lafayette Parish town can save its majestic Heritage Oak slated for destruction during a road project.

The Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team rips off an 11-game win streak as power forward J.J. Thomas’ facial hair inspires a “Fear the Beard” fan craze in the Cajundome.

April

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announces it is finally taking over the troubled Lafayette Housing Authority, evaporating a pall hanging over our fair city. Little does HUD know that three persistent board members will remain thorns in the agency’s side heading into 2012.

Louisiana riverboats, racetracks and casinos announce they’ll join forces with the state Department of Children & Family Services to bust deadbeat parents by comparing gambling winners’ names to the agency’s list of delinquent child supporters and diverting those winnings to the right place: the children.

May

In an exercise known as “old hat,” UL’s Lady Cajun softball team wins another Sun Belt Conference title, ousting the nation’s No. 5 five squad, Texas, in the first round of the regional.

June

State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, takes another stab at making Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “gold standard” for ethics applicable to the governor himself, offering legislation that would make records from Jindal’s office open to public scrutiny. Adley’s bill would ultimately fail.

August

As Acadiana Outreach goes through death throes brought on by financial mismanagement at its Abbeville treatment center, we learn that several board members have been keeping the nonprofit afloat by dipping into their own wallets to make payroll, some ponying up as much as $10,000 each.

The Lafayette Little League All-Stars baseball team bulls its way through regional play to reach the coveted diamonds in Williamsport, Penn., and the Little League World Series. Not outdone, Lafayette’s Little League Challenger team, comprising special-needs athletes, is one of only two teams nationwide invited to play an exhibition game in Williamsport.

With a parishwide vote on whether to scrap consolidated government looming and a lot of hard feelings bubbling to the surface, former Charter Commission members Don Bacqué and Bruce Conque — Bacqué favors consolidation, Conque favors deconsolidation — demonstrate how opposing views and strong feelings can be civilly discussed during a series of presentations before area civic groups.

Cover8September

The Ragin’ Cajuns, LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints each win a game on the same weekend, a rare occurrence. The three football teams will go on to win games on four consecutive weekends — amid a remarkable six-game Cajun win streak — something that had never happened before.

November

Former congressman and Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer fine tunes his message that money is rotting the American electoral process and cozies up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Roemer, however, gets no traction in mainstream Republican circles as he tries to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

The Ragin’ Cajuns football team is invited to play in the Dec. 17 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, only the third bowl appearance in UL history and first as a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I) team. The squad will go on to a stirring 32-30 victory over San Diego State in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Pas Bon

 Cover9
Henry Mouton


January
Bath salts? Now we’re snorting bath salts? Louisiana isn’t shy about getting its buzz on.

The much-anticipated audit of the Lafayette Housing Authority goes public, confirming many of our suspicions about an out-of-control agency that opened the cookie jar to far too many hands.

The Lafayette Parish School System’s Schools of Choice program is unquestionably neat-o, but how successful has it been for students? That’s a good, unanswerable question, since an investigation by The Daily Advertiser reveals that LPSS apparently doesn’t track the program’s progress.
 
March
Lafayette resident Henry Mouton, a former commissioner with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is indicted on — and later pleads guilty to — charges of accepting almost a half a million dollars in bribes from a landfill company looking to cash in on New Orleans’ post-Katrina wasteland.
 
Faced with a potential state takeover, the Lafayette Parish School System chooses to close N.P. Moss Middle School and reopen it as Thibodaux Career and Technical High School, only to hear months later that there may have been a way to save Moss from state control.

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry releases a report on “disease clusters” in the U.S., including a clump of breast cancer cases near a former Superfund site in New Orleans, a brain cancer outbreak in St. Mary Parish, and — closest to home — a cluster of childhood leukemia in Iberia Parish.

May
That sinking feeling again. With the opening of the Morganza Spillway and the ensuing waters making their way down the Atchafalaya Basin, hundreds of homes, camps and businesses are threatened by floodwaters. Most, however, escape the doomsday flood predictions made by a frantic national media.
 
Cover11June
For the second time in about four years, an employee of the UL Lafayette Parking and Transit Office is arrested, this time for pocketing roughly $85,000 in cash over 20 months.

A bill that would have banned smoking in bars in Louisiana is up in smoke following a 22-15 vote in the Senate. Acadiana Sens. Elbert Guillory and Fred Mills join the pro-carcinogen contingent. (Lafayette Sen. Mike Michot is absent for the vote.)

The Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee subpoenas a financial analysis on the Office of Group Benefits, the agency with a $500 million surplus in charge of the health insurance plans for roughly 60,000 state workers — a plan Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to privatize.

July
Jindal vetoes a bill that would have required him to make public and to preserve for a decade all his office’s documents pertaining to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and aftermath, allowing his administration to keep a big, honking umbrella over his office.

August
AGL Resources is still trying to build two more natural gas storage caverns under scenic Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish, running headlong once again into the Save Lake Peigneur folks. If approved, the project would siphon unprecedented amounts of groundwater from the Chicot Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 15 parishes. 

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser all but take the gloves off, roll up the sleeves and step into the alley amid their contentious, mud-slinging battle for lieutenant governor. Dardenne later prevails over Nungesser.

 Cover10
Rae Trahan

November
The City-Parish Council adopts a controversial ordinance to block construction of a waste facility already permitted and under way on Sunbeam Lane, heralding a showdown in court and what could result in LCG paying millions in damages.

Lafayette Parish School Board member Rae Trahan fails to attend a single interview for the top 10 candidates who applied for the LPSS superintendent’s position. Her status quo counterpart on the board, Tommy Angelle, attends 1.5.

With eight resignations, five layoffs, one known termination and two position eliminations, Chief Operating Officer Monica Lavergne’s departure from LITE marks even more dysfunction for the place that does technology stuff — or something like that, we think.

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