Last week UL Lafayette officials confirmed to The Daily Advertiser that the deal to trade 36 acres of the university's Johnston Street horse farm for 4 acres of attorney Jimmy Davidson's family property has been called off, but they maintain that the university is still interested in buying Davidson's Girard Park Drive property. In a lawsuit filed June 30, The Independent Weekly is seeking access to the most recent appraisal of Davidson's property, contending it is a matter of public record ' like the others before it that were willingly released by the university in connection with the proposed land exchange ("The Independent Weekly Sues Ray Authement's Office," July 5). Local developers Jerry Brents and Dan Menard of BRE-ARD LLC had hoped to buy the Davidson land and swap it for the university's Johnston Street property, where they planned to develop a retail center if the university could successfully rezone the acreage. Both properties were valued at $3.25 million, according to initial appraisals, but a subsequent appraisal of the horse farm as commercial land revealed a $2 million increase in value, prompting the Board of Supervisors for the UL System in December to demand independent appraisals of both tracts.
Only the Davidson land has been reappraised.
In denying The Independent's public record request, UL President Ray Authement's office claims the latest Davidson appraisal was conducted in anticipation of litigation ' none of which exists or is expected by the university.
As of press time Monday, The Independent Weekly had not heard from Authement regarding the lawsuit; his office has until July 25 to respond. ' Leslie Turk
LOUISIANA SPEAKS, PLANNERS LISTEN
Last week the federal government approved a $4.2 billion infusion of HUD funding for the state's "Road Home" program, designed to help Louisiana victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The funding will provide up to $150,000 to cover residents' uninsured losses to either repair or sell their houses. In order to help homeowners decide how and where to rebuild, Louisiana Speaks, a long-term planning initiative of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, just released Louisiana Speaks: Pattern Book. The free publication was created to provide guidance and tools for homeowners and builders.
The pattern book is a result of the series of planning meetings with Louisiana residents affected by the storms. From November through March, the architecture and urban planning firm of Duany Plater-Zyberk conducted a series of charrettes in Lake Charles, Abbeville, Erath, Delcambre, and St. Bernard Parish to determine long-range planning tools for three distinctly different urban environments.
The pattern book begins with an overview of the southern part of the state, outlining regional location by taking into consideration climate, soil type, building code and flood plain elevation. A second tier examines community and neighbourhood patterns. The third step zooms in on appropriate building types for sites, with detailed discussion of architectural style.
The pattern book is distributed in Acadiana at local Lowe's and Stine Lumber stores. It is also available online at http://louisianaspeaks.org/ as a PDF download. For more information, call Louisiana Speaks at (877) 387-6126. ' Mary Tutwiler
AND WE'RE OFFâ?¦
With the legislative session adjourned and the great veto saga behind us, the election season can start to stretch its legs and poke at voters. The mudslinging and spinning started last week in the two statewide races up for grabs this fall. In the secretary of state contest, Democratic state Sen. Francis Heitmeier of New Orleans jumped into the fray with a $800,000 war chest to challenge well-funded Republicans Mike Francis and state Sen. Jay Dardenne from Baton Rouge. Francis, a former state GOP chairman from Crowley, picked up an endorsement from U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is considered a front-runner for the 2008 presidential election. It's an indication that the race could have some national interest ' or that McCain did a serious favor for a party loyalist. In the insurance commissioner's race, state Sen. James David Cain, a Dry Creek Republican, revealed he's willing to attack early and often against incumbent and fellow Republican Jim Donelon. During a speech in New Orleans, Cain said his opponent had a "remarkable lack of common sense" and questioned several of his decisions from the regular session.
' Jeremy Alford
When Gov. Kathleen Blanco vetoed legislation last week that would have amended cable franchise guidelines to allow more competition for consumers, opponents pounced by circulated an old opinion by the state Ethics Board from November. The opinion allowed Cox Communications to hire the governor's daughter, Karmen Blanco, to work in the Lafayette outreach office as long as she didn't conduct business with her mother. Blanco says she vetoed the legislation because it could have had a negative impact on local governments, which would have been prohibited from negotiating prices with the provider. ' JA
CROUCHING PIG, HIDDEN PORK
The public outrage over the so-called pork projects in this year's state budget was largely prompted by a detailed ' and widely circulated ' list of how much each line item would cost and who would get it. It was picked up by newspapers and broadcasting affiliates, and slammed by radio talk show hosts and statewide elected officials. But some of the budget's pork wasn't so easy to find. Senators say they were each given roughly $100,000 to $150,000 in "discretionary money" to use how they pleased in the budget. And many times, the money inserted didn't look like a pork project, because it was built into an existing part of the budget through an amendment that only listed an amount change. For instance, Democratic Sens. Reggie Dupre and Butch Gautreaux say they used their money to bolster nursing classrooms at the L.E. Fletcher Technical Community College. That line item addition was simply listed in that institution's portion of the budget, rather than alone in the pork section or elsewhere for the world to see. Now lawmakers just need to find an appropriate home for the specialty lights they buy each year for the Christmas parade in Natchitoches. ' JA
ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE
The same company that designs guitars for Neil Young and Merle Haggard has put its designers to work on a special piece commemorating Katrina and Rita. Until the end of September, Taylor Guitars is offering most of its guitars with a peghead bearing the fleur-de-lis inlaid in mother-of-pearl. The "Taylor Guitars for the Gulf" program is prepared to send up to $25,000 from proceeds to the Tipitina's Foundation, which is dedicated both to helping artists recover and preserving cultural traditions. For more, go to www.taylorguitars.com. ' JA
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.