Robin May, The Independent’s photo editor, and I went to photograph the Landry and Williams families for our story on an ordinance prohibiting horseback riding in Breaux Bridge. Robin got her first horse when she was 10 years old and has owned and ridden horses for the last 30 years. When we arrived at Joyce Landry’s house, we found two horses and a pony. The stable is a homemade affair. An abandoned car holds saddles and bridles.
“Initially, when we arrived, it was a real nice scene,” says Robin. “Horses saddled up, kids everywhere, summer in a neighborhood. But upon a closer look, there were things that alarmed me. The poor condition of the horses — skinny, bony, very thin. The stalls were filthy: horses were standing in water and piles of old manure. The hay was old and moldy. The stalls hadn’t been cleaned in a while.”
Robin scolded some of the kids, who said they cleaned out the stalls every day, but that was obviously not the case.
We were both disturbed, and I understood the emotional impetus for the proposed ordinance from Mayor Jack Dale Delhomme. He is concerned for the welfare of the animals.
Robin and I talked about this in the car on the way back to the paper and concluded that while there certainly needs to be more supervision and possibly some intervention to protect those horses, the proposed ordinance is not the way.
The town is considering a new ordinance to prohibit riding horses, even though the Breaux Bridge City Council passed a law to regulate riding on city streets just three months ago. Rather than regulate behavior, which is within the jurisdiction of city government, the mayor wants to shut down the whole activity, despite its positive side.
First of all, horses and kids are a great combination. Joyce Landry says in the story that the horses keep her grand kids and nephews out of trouble. Caring for horses or any animal should teach responsibility and compassion. But the knowledge of how to care for large animals is not innate; children need to be taught what to do.
Banning horses from city streets doesn’t do anything to help kids learn how to care for horses, and it flies in the face of a long-standing tradition of horse culture in the Creole community. That tradition is obvious. There are more than 200 horses kept in back yards in an area close to city hall that is approximately the size of Lafayette’s Freetown neighborhood.
We suggest the city partner with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Humane Society or a 4-H club and perhaps the local feed store to set up an educational program on how to properly care for a horse. It’s not unreasonable to require folks who keep horses in the city limits to take a course and earn a certificate on horse management and care. The existing ordinance regulating riding horses in town already takes care of how to behave on horseback while on city streets.
While we do agree that some of the horses we saw need assistance from the Humane Society, we think the problem is neglect through ignorance rather than willfulness. The boys and young men Robin and I met were clearly proud of their horses and their riding club. Horsemanship is a positive force in a community struggling with poverty, crime and a lack of adult male leadership. We suggest Mayor Delhomme take a serious look at whom his proposed ordinance targets. It will not affect those with property outside the city limits, ostensibly more prosperous horse owners, like the mayor himself. Leadership requires clear vision, good judgment and fairness. It’s important that Delhomme demonstrate the kind of compassion and understanding for his human constituency that he has for the town’s equine residents.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.