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
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.