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.
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.