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
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."
For the sixth consecutive year, Andy Nyman, LSU associate professor of wetland wildlife management, and his service-learning students plan to spend spring break differently from those students flooding the beaches of Florida.
When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The legislation — House Bill 503 by state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport — passed by an 8-5 vote and advances next to the full House.
The Republican Party of Louisiana has had enough with the philandering hypocrite Vance McAllister. David Vitter? Eh...
A top aide to a Louisiana congressman videotaped kissing a married woman who is not his wife was one of the few people with access to the leaked security footage that exposed the dalliance.
Louisiana would repeal an unconstitutional state law prohibiting intercourse between two people of the same sex, if lawmakers agree to a bill that narrowly received the backing of a House committee Wednesday.