"I don't know who they conferred with that [said] this would be a good thing," Williams says. "I'm going through my mail, and I get it like everybody else."
Williams has been active in his own efforts to consolidate north side interest groups and sees the meeting ' organized by Planning Commissioner Fred Prejean ' as a politically motivated attempt to usurp his endeavors.
"Fred is running for state representative," Williams says. "So I guess he's trying to make a name for himself." Williams also claims politics played a part in Prejean's recent move to organize a group of ministers to appeal to the council to rename Willow Street after Martin Luther King Jr.
Prejean has already announced his intentions to run for state office in 2007, when north Lafayette state Rep. Wilfred Pierre is term-limited out of the office.
Another name frequently mentioned as a likely candidate in that race? Chris Williams. He is term-limited out of his city-parish council seat in 2007 and is expected to run to replace either Pierre or state Sen. Don Cravins in the state Legislature. Williams says he will announce a decision on his political future next month.
Let the maneuvering begin.
Prejean, a Lafayette native and veteran planning commissioner for more than a decade, says he came up with the idea of developing an official North Lafayette Plan after noticing the fragmentation of the north side community. "As planning commissioners," he says, "we knew of specific progressive things that were happening, but these projects in north Lafayette were all autonomously run. This effort is to pull all these groups under one umbrella and establish a committee of volunteers who want to work on addressing development of north Lafayette."
But Williams says that's exactly what he's already been working on for the past two months. He has been trying to resurrect the Committee to Rebuild Lafayette North under a new name and refocused mission and wants other established north side groups to join and set the agenda for the region's future. "[We're] trying to consolidate and move forward toward one voice so that our city and parish can work together," Williams says.
The Committee to Rebuild Lafayette North, first organized in 1997 by former City-Parish President Walter Comeaux, has been on hiatus since October after the city-parish council voted to pull $36,500 in funding for its consultant and manager, Phil Lank ("Had Their Phil," Oct. 19). Councilman Bruce Conque led the move to place Lank's salary in council reserves, questioning whether that money could be put to better use for north Lafayette.
Williams says Prejean and the Planning Commission scheduled their meeting five days earlier to preempt and undermine his appeal to the council. Williams' motion to restore Lank's contract was denied at the council's Dec. 20 meeting.
"I don't believe [the timing was] a coincidence," Williams says. He also suspects that Conque had a hand in planning the Dec. 15 meeting, but Conque denies the charge. "It was strategically timed to be right before the Rebuild Lafayette North vote to allow some council members an excuse not to fund Rebuild Lafayette North," Williams claims. "I think it's Fred Prejean's plan to make brownie points from an electoral standpoint since he's running for office."
Williams also contends that having a government-run committee taking charge of the north side's future will strip away the ground-level intensity that community organizations bring to the table. "It becomes a vanilla, governmental, non-passionate type of thing," he says.
Prejean, an accountant by trade, responds to Williams' accusations in a calm, calculated manner. He says Williams' charges are unfounded and insists he's not working against Rebuild Lafayette North, but rather hopes to help a variety of groups realize their goals.
"No one group is ever going to succeed in changing north Lafayette," he says, adding that it makes sense to utilize city-parish government resources. Down the road, the committee developing the Lafayette North Plan may request funding from the city-parish council for economic or planning studies. Lank's contract money could be up for grabs for Prejean's new initiative.
State law requires each parish to develop a comprehensive plan through its planning commission. Lafayette's plan, called Lafayette In A Century, maps out everything from commercial districts to parish school plans and street projects.
Prejean says his Lafayette North Plan will be folded into LINC. That could be the plan's only accomplishment, as LCG is not required by law to implement LINC or planning commission recommendations. "So that's the politics that are involved," Prejean says.
He adds that the planning commission has already begun work on plans for eight different neighborhood groups that came to the commission this year and asked how their subdivisions will grow in the area.
The reason Prejean is pushing the Lafayette North Plan is because he wanted to pull together people focused on their neighborhoods or pet issues such as the I-49 interchange, the development of I-10 frontage roads and the renaming of a major Lafayette street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He watched Williams and others lead a charge for I-10 frontage roads at city-parish council meetings this past summer.
"The frontage road issue ended up to many people's dissatisfaction," he says. "I was not part of that, and I sat back and I watched it. I saw the frontage roads as a project that should be part of something bigger. There was no vision of, 'What is this whole area going to look like when these projects and others that are now on the drawing board are completed?'"
Williams isn't warming to Prejean's questions or increased profile. He takes it as a personal affront and another assault on north side progress.
"How many things can you throw at us in one year?" he asks. "We've gone through frontage roads; we've gone through the Martin Luther King name change; now we have the attack on Rebuild Lafayette North. I think that this council has just lost its mind."
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.