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
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.