Last Thursday afternoon, Lafayette police told 85-year-old Vic Kilchrist that his mobile peanut roaster on the corner of Vermilion and Jefferson streets was in violation of a new city-parish ordinance governing pushcarts. Kilchrist packed up his operation and didn't sell his peanuts downtown during Festival International, as he has for the last 16 years.
Next door at Antler's, owner Johnny Walters received a letter the day before the festival from Lafayette Consolidated Government's Alcohol and Noise Control Manager Tim Melancon, informing him he would need a special events permit to sell alcohol on the private property in front of the restaurant. Walters contacted Melancon's office to get the required permit, but was informed that none were being issued for the weekend of Festival International.
"If they would have gotten with all the business owners, instead of throwing that on us, we could have worked something out, or I could have at least been prepared for it," says Walters, whose restaurant has set up a beer booth on its sidewalk during Festival International for the past 20 years. "We had already bought all of this product. Evidently they knew they didn't want us to do that at the end of last year's festival. Why didn't they tell us then?"
Zeus owner Nidal Balbeisi and T-Coon's owner Terry Majors had similar experiences with their Jefferson Street restaurants.
"A majority of the money that's collected at the [official Festival International] beer booths helps to generate the funds necessary to bring the event into town," says LCG's Melancon. "And many of the patrons that come into the city may not be able to distinguish what beer booths are festival-controlled and which ones are privately controlled by businesses downtown. Our office made the decision that we were going to assist in this event and not issue special event permits to sell outside the normal realm of a business that's already been permitted. So places like Antler's, and all the other places that have licenses downtown, can continue to sell alcohol like they normally do; they just couldn't erect a booth outside to sell their goods."
Walters also had an official festival booth for Antler's at the food court and operated two daiquiri booths on festival grounds, of which the festival received a percentage of his sales. "We're not here to undercut the festival," he says. "We need the festival. I just thought the way they went about doing it was shocking."
There is no plan to issue any special events permits next year during Festival International weekend. "That's the intention," Melancon says. "Now unless [downtown business owners] can persuade my office, the administration and the festival to do otherwise, then yes, it will continue that way." ' R. Reese Fuller
WHAT A GAS
The Independent Weekly reported in March that Attorney General Charles Foti's multi-month investigation into alleged gas gouging following Katrina and Rita yielded nothing, after Foti told reporters last autumn that his office was deluged with gouging complaints and that he would personally track down the offenders. The news was surprising, considering states like Georgia and New York have chalked up prosecutions even though they were leagues away from Katrina and Rita.
On the heels of the latest spike in gas prices, Foti seems to have changed his tune. Foti now says he will be "expanding" the investigation and "sending letters of inquiry to all major oil companies, distributors and retailers asking for information that may explain why there have been large spikes in gas prices recently as well as in the weeks and months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita." ' Jeremy Alford
LAWSUIT AGAINST LUS DROPPED, BUT ANOTHER AWAITS
When BellSouth and the Louisiana Cable and Telecommunications Association recently filed another last-minute lawsuit challenging Lafayette Utilities System's bond sale for its fiber-to-the-home project, it once again appeared there was no end in sight to the two sides' ongoing feud.
But last week, City-Parish President Joey Durel announced the city had reached an accord with its adversaries, saying BellSouth and LCTCA have agreed to drop the suit. In exchange, Lafayette state legislators Joel Robideaux and Mike Michot will withdraw a series of bills from the current session that challenge many of the rules and restrictions to LUS' entry into the telecommunications business.
LUS still isn't in the clear; the public utility faces another lawsuit holding up its bond sale, filed by Lafayette residents Elizabeth Naquin and Matthew Eastin. ' Nathan Stubbs
TOP TEN TAXER
According to a report by the nonprofit policy research group Tax Foundation, Louisiana ranks among the top 10 states in the category of tax burdens on personal income. That phrase represents what local and state governments collect in taxes from citizens as a percentage of their per capita income. In Maine, 13.4 percent of a resident's income is collected through taxes. In New York, it's 12.9 percent. In Louisiana, where two devastating hurricanes displaced residents and left many companies without a market, state and local government gobbled up 11 percent of residents' income, ranking 10th on the Tax Foundation list. ' JA
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.