The city-parish council has scheduled a July 15 election for Lafayette residents to decide on an additional $215 million in bond authority for the city. The bonds will be sold based on existing revenue streams and don't require any increase in tax rates. If approved, the money will be used to fund road, drainage and recreation projects, the majority of which have already been promised to voters. Many of the projects are on the north side of Lafayette, including I-10 frontage roads and the extension of West Willow Street. Last week, the council added seven new projects costing $46 million to the list. The added projects include widening North University Avenue and widening Ambassador Caffery Parkway to East Broussard Road.
Because of skyrocketing construction costs and a handful of new projects that cropped up, the city has run out of money to fund any new major public works projects. At last week's council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley stressed the election's critical role in allowing the city to continue to build roads. "If it fails, we are done," he said. "There is nothing else that can be done to construct these projects." Also on July 15, voters parish-wide will decide on three millage renewals dedicated to the library system, the parish health unit and drainage. ' Nathan Stubbs
LANGLINAIS ON THE DEFENSIVE IN IBERIA PARISH
What began two years ago as a request from the Iberia Parish Council to Iberia Parish President Will Langlinais for an accounting of all contracts executed by the administration has resulted in an opinion from 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney that Langlinais may have violated the parish's Home Rule Charter, an offense potentially punishable by removal from office.
The initial request for contracts arose during the council's lawsuit against Mosquito Control Contractors Inc. ("Foggy Contract Breakdown," June 1, 2005). Council members were angered by the discovery of an undisclosed one-page contract signed by Langlinais and MCCI owner Glenn Stokes, which extended the agreement between MCCI and Iberia Parish Government for up to 10 years. (The parish settled the lawsuit with MCCI in August 2005.) But Council Finance Chair Bernard Broussard says Langlinais ignored council requests for other professional and service contracts, retainer fees and any other administrative spending records.
On April 5, Broussard and fellow councilmen Ray Fremin, Glenn Romero and Larry Richard sent a letter to Haney asking his office to audit and investigate Langlinais' "questionable contractual arrangements." Haney discovered a $750 monthly retainer for legal services with attorney Shane Romero, son of New Iberia state Rep. "Romo" Romero, dating back to October 2001. There are no records of council agreement or approval of the contract. In the opinion of the DA's office, the contract was in violation of the parish's Home Rule Charter, and the payments made by Langlinais' office to Romero were illegal and subject to sanctions that include repayment of expenditures and removal from office.
Langlinais initially responded that Broussard's motive was political, suggesting the councilman was planning a 2008 run for parish president. In an April 19 letter to Haney, Langlinais characterizes charter violations as accidental, pointing out that the council had previously entered into five-year contracts with Mosquito Control, which also violated the Home Rule Charter. "I believe," Langlinais wrote, "those were honest mistakes, had no implication of any criminal intent, and were entered into with good intentions, just as mine was with retainer fees."
Broussard's request for an investigation and audit has been forwarded to Legislative Auditor Steven Theriot. ' Mary Tutwiler
When both chambers of the Legislature took a day off work earlier this month to attend the funeral of the wife of Democratic Westwego Rep. John Alario, The Lake Charles American Press editorialized that the attendance of the funeral spoke volumes about priorities in the state. "We don't begrudge the lawmakers' show of respect for the Alario family," the editorial states. "But nearly three weeks ago, when Gov. Kathleen Blanco organized a tour of the damage caused by Hurricane Rita in Southwest Louisiana, only about 20 percent of the 143-member body found it important enough to attend."
The low turnout was partly blamed on the tour being scheduled on a Thursday and Friday, but the editorial board in Lake Charles didn't buy that excuse. "That's a shame," they wrote. "And the low turnout for the tour was a sign of disrespect for all in southwest Louisiana that have been adversely affected by Rita. The lawmakers' decisions appear to indicate they believe the death of a legislator's wife is more important than hundreds of families and countless businesses that have been left destitute by Hurricane Rita." ' Jeremy Alford
ROSA PARKS HONORED
While contention over the city-parish council's refusal to rename a major Lafayette street after Martin Luther King Jr. simmers, the council voted unanimously last week to name its city bus station after Rosa Parks. Parks, who died last year, was dubbed by Congress the "mother of the modern day civil rights movement." In 1955, her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger ' and her resulting arrest and trial ' helped propel Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery bus boycott to the forefront of the civil rights movement. Once built, Lafayette's new city bus station adjacent to the Jefferson Street underpass will be christened as the Rosa Parks Transportation Center. The facility will also house Lafayette's Transportation Department and other government offices. ' NS
RECYCLING FOR DUMMIES
Recycling in Lafayette could get as easy as taking out the trash. City residents will soon be able to dump all their recyclables into a single 64-gallon bin on wheels to cart out with their trash each week. The new recycling cart replaces the three stackable plastic bins used by recyclers to sort out glass, paper and aluminum items. Through the months of May and June, the Recycling Foundation will be replacing the old bins during regular pickup times. For more information, call 291-8529. ' NS
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.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
First Superman comic sells for $3.2 million; Michael Brown's funeral; expert calls for nuke plant closure and more national and international news for Tuesday, August 26, 2014.
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.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.
The political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.