Last week's city-parish council meeting convened at 4:30 p.m. for its Lafayette Public Utilities Authority meeting, went straight through to its regular 5:30 p.m. meeting and finally adjourned sometime around 1 a.m. That's a total of almost nine hours with only a short 5-minute break at 5:30 p.m. and a 10-minute recess around 9 p.m. Councilman Marc Mouton believes it was the longest meeting since the council moved into its current offices on University Ave in 2000.
"I saw people in the audience that fell asleep," Mouton says. "That's grueling. I spent more time last night next to [Councilman] Randy Menard than I did to my wife. And, you know, Randy's my friend, but I'd much rather be at home next to my wife."
There was considerable discussion on multiple issues, including council travel expenses, LUS rate adjustments, and placing cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners. The late meetings are especially taxing on departments heads and council staff, who are required to stay through the meetings and then be back at work early the next morning. (While neither receive overtime pay, council staff does get comp time for its work at the meetings.)
Mouton says many other municipalities use consent agendas, which are more flexible and can prevent against late-night marathons, but he doesn't think there's enough need or support for that here yet.
"It is what it is," Mouton adds. "But I can tell you something, some people may be saying we earned our money, but the majority of the citizens don't want decisions being made at midnight." ' Nathan Stubbs
REPORT OF DAVE PETITJEAN'S DEATH GREATLY EXAGGERATED
Our Snake Oil cartoon last week focused on Sen. Craig Romero of New Iberia. At one point, cartoonist Greg Peters remarks: "The new clean-shaven Craig now has the same gravitas and deeply serious demeanor as his current doppelganger, the late Dave Petitjean."
Petitjean is a Cajun humorist originally from Rayne ' and was surprised to learn of his demise when we reached him by phone at his Crowley home last Wednesday. Here's what he had to say about the exaggeration of his passing: "Tell 'em: he's late, but he's back. Don't worry about it. It happens. You know, they say there's 10 signs of old age ' when you start forgetting things, and I can't remember the other nine."
As a parting shot, Petitjean had this to offer: "I'll share this with you because it's very important. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving ain't for you." ' R. Reese Fuller
WILLIAMS: ONE-YEAR PROBATION AND MORE
Councilman Chris Williams pled no contest last Friday to the three misdemeanor charges brought against him for destruction of public property. Williams notoriously scrawled "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive!" in permanent marker underneath his nameplate on the custom-made council auditorium desk back in July. It also was discovered that he had carved his initials into the desk and done some scribbling on the Formica. Councilman Randy Menard handed the matter over to police.
Judge Marilyn Castle handed down the maximum sentence for the three charges: $1,500 in fines, 1 year of probation, 60 hours of community service and an anger management course. Castle was stern with Williams. "A great deal of public trust is placed in us when we hold public office, and we have a duty to uphold that trust," she said. "It's important that we conduct ourselves in a way that shows respect for our office."
Williams was also ordered to pay restitution for the damages, which totaled a mere $60. This was surprising given that the original estimate for repairs to the council dais came in at more than $500, making the damages a felony charge, until District Attorney Mike Harson decided to break them down into three separate misdemeanor acts.
Harson said the bulk of the damages had been "miraculously cured"; the council staff came in one morning last week and discovered the Formica at Williams' desk was immaculately clean. Williams' attorney, Harold Register, who wore a Martin Luther King, Jr. tie to the hearing, said the Formica was probably innocently polished by a janitor with some Windex. Harson said later that he didn't know how the Formica had been cleaned but that he didn't think that a janitor that had fixed it.
The 10-minute hearing got major media treatment. As Williams and his attorney exited the courthouse, they were hounded by two TV cameramen and reporters with microphones. Neither Williams nor his attorney gave any comment, but the TV cameras and reporters stayed glued to them nonetheless, walking with them all the way to their car, peppering them with questions. Williams walked with his head hung down a bit, and Register only smiled and shook his head at all the attention.
Register said in the courtroom that his client felt the sentence was excessive and would likely appeal it. However, Harson noted that an appeal in this case is unlikely. There appears to be little grounds for challenging the judge's decision, and it would be hard to imagine that anyone, especially Williams, would want this episode dragged out any longer. ' NS
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.