"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."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
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.