Lafayette Republican Congressman Charles Boustany is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants ' both sets of his grandparents migrated to America for a better way of life. That's what makes his vote last month on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 so curious. The law calls for more than 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing along the U.S.'s southwestern border. In a prepared statement following the vote, Boustany argued the existing "porous borders continue to threaten the security of the American people."
When his office was contacted to explain how Boustany balances his proud immigrant roots with his tough stance on immigration, Boustany spokesman Paul Lindsay was quick to differentiate between the two. "Congressman Boustany is proud of his heritage, but he has a strong stance against illegal immigrants coming into this country," Lindsay says. "There's a difference between the two. Not securing our borders would be a disservice to legal immigration, meaning those we can absorb in a reasonable and orderly fashion." ' Jeremy Alford
TEAR GAS FUROR
Incensed after the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department used tear gas on a crowd after the Sugar Cane Festival, residents of New Iberia's largely African-American West End neighborhood met with an attorney to consider a class action suit against the sheriff's department. Approximately 40 citizens who suffered injuries from the tear gas gathered Monday morning at Gator's Barbeque, the epicenter of the incident at the intersection of Hopkins and Robertson streets, to meet with Opelousas attorney Jarvis J. Claiborne. "I was right there on the corner," complains Levi Westley Jr. "There were two cops ' a white lady and a white man. They got back there, on Robertson, and lobbed the tear gas canisters over Gator's building into the road." Westley says the tear gas caused him to miss two days of work. "If there's a lawsuit filed, I'm filing with them."
The incident occurred when a large crowd gathered for a block party following the final Sugar Cane Festival parade Sunday, Sept. 24. According to the sheriff's department, pedestrians and double-parked cars blocked traffic along the state highway. Sheriff Sid Hebert told The Daily Iberian that deputies first tried to keep what he characterized as an unruly crowd from blocking the street using a public address system. Hebert said the deputies only resorted to tear gas after authorities were unable to keep traffic flowing.
Many eyewitnesses to the scene dispute Hebert's account.
West End resident Elaine Butler says she was at the block party when she saw revelers start to run away. "They [deputies] threw tear gas at people who were laughing and dancing. They threw it into the back of a pick-up truck where there were kids. No one was blocking the street. There was no fighting; everyone was having a good time. And they didn't do no sign or no bullhorn. I feel it was wrong the way they took action. Just because you have a uniform on ' come on, you got to earn the people's respect. They claimed they had a fight, they claimed there was a guy walking down the street with a big gun. It wasn't true."
City Councilman Raymond "Shoe-do" Lewis, who represents part of the district, attended the event but left about 7:30 p.m. before the tear gas incident. "I was so proud, because all weekend, we hadn't had one incident of any violence on the West End, [and] that is deemed a troubled area," Lewis says. The councilman has a list of more than 100 people who signed on as witnesses to the altercation. "All the sheriff's people had to do was get out of their vehicles and direct traffic. There is no justification for what happened," he says. "This group of vigilante deputies are acting like in the civil rights days, like the sheriff acted in Selma, Ala., violating people's civil rights." Lewis says he has contacted U.S. Attorney Donald Washington's office, the governor's office and 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney. "The sheriff can't investigate himself," Lewis says. A community meeting to discuss the incident with city and parish officials is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Center in West End Park in New Iberia.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department did not return calls for comment. ' Mary Tutwiler
MICHOT EARNS HIGH MARKS FROM LABI
It's that time of year again. The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, one of the state's most influential lobbies and a group that regularly contributes money to pro-business politicos, has released its annual voting record. From 2004 to 2006, the House and Senate members with the worse voting records, according to LABI's tally, are both Democrats from New Orleans ' Sen. Diane Bajoie, with 28 percent, and Rep. Juan LaFonta, with 22 percent. The highest voting records in the upper chamber belong to Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, with 97 percent, and Lafayette Republican Sen. Mike Michot, with 91 percent. In the House, it's a tie between Reps. Carl Crane, R-Baton Rouge, and Mert Smiley, R-Port Vincent, who both chalked up a 99 percent score. LABI officials say "only key business votes" were included in the tallies, and those where the business lobby took a "clear, broad-based position." For more info, visit www.labi.org. ' JA
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
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 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.