David Thibodaux surprised many supporters and critics last week when he stepped down as Lafayette Parish School Board president. Thibodaux has frequently disagreed with Judge Richard Haik over the school board's desegregation case and hopes his resignation will now clear the way for an expedited hearing. Other board members are less convinced of the impact it will have on the case.
"I wish he would have just finished out his term, rather than create any more controversy," says board member Mike Hefner. "I don't think [stepping down as president] is going to make any difference."
Haik ruled earlier this year to delay a ruling in the deseg case until the board gets further into its five-year plan focusing on schools of choice. (The school system is now in its third year of the plan.) Against Thibodaux's recommendation, the board voted earlier this year not to appeal Haik's decision and is expected to re-apply for unitary status sometime this year.
Thibodaux says he often felt restrained from speaking out on issues while he was the representative leader of the board. "That yoke has been lifted from me now," he says. "It's a major mistake for anyone to think that this means I'm going away. I'm going be even more vocal on issues that are important to me, including the deseg case." Board member John Earl Guidry is now stepping in as president. ' NS
KENNEDY'S I-49 PLAN
State Treasurer John Kennedy may not be the most popular politician in the state right now ' a vocal opponent of the proposed sugar syrup mill in Bunkie, he's soured his relationship with some folks in central Louisiana ' but Lafayette leaders are real sweet on him.
At the May 19 Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Eggs & Issues event at the Petroleum Club, Kennedy outlined his plan for overcoming I-49's financial obstacles without raising taxes. He's proposing the state use $15 million in annual excess unclaimed property collections to service the bond debt on its 20 percent of the project to complete I-49 from New Orleans to Arkansas (a plan that will ultimately stretch the interstate from New Orleans to Canada). The strategy calls for the feds to match 80 percent of the $750 million project.
Kennedy, who also serves as chairman of the state's Bond Commission, says the plan doesn't take anyone's property or change the state's commitment to return it. Each year the state collects $30 million to $40 million in unclaimed property, only half of which is spoken for. The excess goes into the general fund until owners step forward. The state has been aggressively collecting unclaimed property in recent years, which should lessen the impact on the general fund if this plan, House Bill 654, makes it through the state Legislature this session.
Completion of the northern end of the interstate is estimated to create 17,000 jobs for the state, and the southern extension would create more than 61,000, Kennedy says. ' LT
BRUUUUCE & THE BLUERUNNERS
Bruce Springsteen is warming up fans for his current sold-out national tour for his new CD, Devils and Dust, with a solid helping of Acadiana music. Prior to his shows, Springsteen is playing a number of handmade compilation CDs spotlighting his own favorites over the PA systems, and Lafayette Cajun rock ensemble The Bluerunners has three songs in the rotation. "Voodoo Mens and Voodoo Dolls," "Ghost of a Girl" and "Big Head" from the Bluerunners' new album, Honey Slides, got the nod from The Boss. BeauSoleil and the late Beau Jocque also have one song each in Springsteen's CD changer. (Springsteen's tour, unfortunately, doesn't currently have any Louisiana shows booked.) For the full list of Springsteen's choices, visit www.brucespringsteen.net/live/walkinmusic.html. ' SJ
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.