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.
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.
Many people found not guilty by reason of insanity are being held in Louisiana jails, where they cannot get the treatment they need, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
In a just-released audio recording, City Prosecutor Gary Haynes claims Mike Harson had direct dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme in the DA’s office.
C-P councilmen sponsor a resolution in support of the notion that one should subscribe to Tea Party ideas about civics before being allowed to seek public office.
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
More than three dozen restaurants, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets in Lafayette Parish are facing fines in connection with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 “Summer Crackdown.”
The grim news, delivered to the joint legislative budget committee, barely raised eyebrows at the committee hearing, after more than six years of such disappointing financial forecasts.