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
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.