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 Monday, April 21, 2014:
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.