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
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 22, 2014:
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.