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
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Artificial sweeteners eyed; Scottish independence vote begins; Ford has cancer and more national and international news for Thursday, September 18, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’