20101006-news-0103Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lafayette City-Parish Councilmen William Theriot and Jared Bellard inducted into the 2010 Couillon Hall of Fame — and they’ve done so little to earn it. Written by The Editors

If rural residents of Lafayette Parish can’t understand the big move by many city dwellers to deconsolidate, they need to look no farther than the behavior of our newest inductees into The Ind’s Couillon Hall of Fame, councilmen William Theriot (District 9) and Jared Bellard (District 5 ).

They join the club along with former Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier, no slacker or stranger to the world of goofy government until he was unceremoniously de-throned by state and federal investigators. (Not familiar with Mr. Caillier’s couillon qualifications? See “Couillon in Chief,” The Independent Weekly, Aug. 11, 2004).

What motivates us to place these two elected officials in the august company of Mr. Caillier when they’ve served only three years in office? Because they’re putting the stink in distinction of public service. Take Theriot, who seems to style himself as the tall silent Clint Eastwood type, the mysterious Spaghetti Western gunslinger in the big hat, who sits squinty-eyed in the barroom corner chewing on a tooth pick, watching everything, saying little, but thinking very, very big thoughts. Or Bellard, who also plays the quiet, silent type — very, very quietly — like in the silence of Harpo Marx, if his performances at council meetings are the measure.

Their latest dubious achievement? Supplying last week the opposing 2 in the 7-2 council vote against City-Parish President Joey Durel’s winning proposal that funded the $500,000 down payment on the 100-acre horse farm and also funded the new and much-needed NGO formula for local arts and cultural organizations. Fortunately a clear thinking majority of the council did recognize the value and wisdom of the funding mechanism Durel’s proposal created. And passed it.

But their “no” vote on the horse farm/NGO funding was hardly an isolated example of Theriot and Bellard’s pattern of voting behavior. As best we could determine from talking with regular council watchers, over the past three years Theriot has voted “no” on every city parish operations budget submitted while proposing nothing as an alternative or substitute. Nothing. Or that Theriot has never introduced a single piece of council legislation in the entire time he’s been there. For Theriot doing nothing is enough. Or that two weeks ago they voted against a “go-cup” ordinance designed to bring a little sanity to the rowdy downtown Lafayette weekend bar scene. Both have routinely voted against funding the annual $72,000 subsidy for our great Festival International, but Bellard’s got no problem showing up to collect his three VIP festival passes — and enjoying the perks that go with them. Bellard’s voted “no,” without explanation, against Lafayette receiving a no-strings-attached $493,778 Louisiana Highway Safety Commission grant for DWI enforcement vehicles. Why? Who knows? He later said he meant to vote “yes.”

Or how about Bellard’s deer-in-the-headlights reaction to the deconsolidation movement that he and his podna have done so much to foster. Stunned by the city dwellers’ efforts to return to separate forms of government, he asked, with Lafayette receiving so much national recognition and many “Best Of” and “Top 10” awards, why we would want to break up such a good thing by de-consolidating. Blissfully oblivious, Bellard doesn’t recognize the very large dots that connect those national accolades with the mainstays of Lafayette’s quality of life — the cultural events, festivals, museums, and arts programs that others see but he wants to de-fund.

Rural residents of Lafayette Parish who don’t understand the anger and frustration driving the move to de-consolidate need to tune in to regular City-Parish Council meetings on Cox or LUS and catch these guys in, er, action. Meanwhile, Theriot and Bellard need a serious civics lesson about elected representation. Showing up to vote “no” isn’t what your districts elected you to do. Voters expect leadership, not laziness. — The Editors

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