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
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seenh on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Dogs get back-to-school blues; mother pleads for release of journalist; ice bucket challenge and more national and international news for Thursday, August 28, 2014.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.