In 2007, despite a lengthy list of worthy candidates, we felt they were all overshadowed by an unexpected event: UL Lafayette Ray Authement's retirement announcement. For that reason, we've chosen Authement as The Independent Weekly's Newsmaker of the Year. It's impossible to overestimate the ripple effect of Authement stepping down at UL. He has been the leader and public face of the university since 1974. For more than three decades, he's built a formidable legacy that's covered in Independent Staff Writer Nathan Stubbs' cover-story profile of Authement in this week's issue.
It's no secret that we've been Authement's biggest critic in the last two years. We were dismayed at the secrecy and short-sighted vision he showed in the failed UL horse farm land-swap deal — so much so that we successfully sued him for his refusal to turn over public records. Authement has also been frequently lampooned by our Snake Oil cartoonist, Greg Peters. And since Authement announced his retirement, we've also questioned the process used in the search for his successor. We believe, as many community leaders and UL faculty members did, that Authement's retirement was sparked primarily by his desire — and Gov. Kathleen Blanco's — to influence the choice of his successor before Blanco left office. There was widespread speculation that he had no intention of leaving any time soon, though there was an equal amount of sentiment that he already stayed too long.
Still, even if the last two years have been the most controversial of his tenure, his influence on the university — and by extension, Acadiana — has been enormously positive for the bulk of his tenure. As 2007 winds to a close and Authement prepares to step down in spring 2008, there's no better time to look at his legacy. I only wish that Authement himself would have agreed to discuss his historic presidency with The Independent; he refused multiple requests for an interview.
It's tempting to believe that Authement will be gently riding off into the sunset in the coming final months of his tenure as incoming President E. Joseph "T-Joe" Savoie prepares to take the reins at UL. But if Authement's legendary work ethic and drive to push the university forward hold to form, he's working on a grand finale that will enable him to go out in a blaze of glory — and rehabilitate a bit of the hit his reputation has taken in recent years.
In recent weeks, the city council rezoned a portion of local attorney Jimmy Davidson's Girard Park property from residential to commercial, despite the fact that Davidson was unwilling to submit a detailed plan for development of the property. Davidson's acreage was included in the failed horse farm land-swap deal and was said to be worth $3.25 million; it was ultimately shown to be worth only $1.5 million because of its residential classification. The rezoning, however, has increased the value and may pave the way for some form of the swap to be put back into play.
In today's era of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately and instant gratification, Authement is well aware that his name is now synonymous with the battle over the horse farm. Between now and mid-2008, he has a chance to make a once-in-a-lifetime decision that could immensely benefit both Acadiana and UL Lafayette: he can help orchestrate giving the horse farm to the city for use as a central green space, and he can secure more land for his much talked-about campus expansion. As we approach the height of the holiday season, there is perhaps no greater gift he could leave for all of Lafayette.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.