An introductory ordinance before the Lafayette City-Parish Council Tuesday has been pulled from the batch of intro ordinances and will be discussed and voted on separately, setting up a likely debate on the merits of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s use of electronic traffic-law enforcement within the city of Lafayette. The movement on the agenda of Ordinance 67 — sponsored by Tea Party-backed Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot — was done at the behest of District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand who supports the SafeLight/SafeSpeed contract with RedFlex, the Arizona company that administers the program.
Ordinance 67 would allow the contract between LCG and RedFlex to expire this summer, thus ending electronic enforcement, which has been controversial since its inception five years ago. Bertrand tells The Ind he hopes to kill the ordinance in its cradle — intro ordinances that are pulled from the batch are voted on separately whereas ordinances that remain in a batch of introductory ordinances tend to pass as council members issue perfunctory “yea” votes knowing each ordinance will be considered on its own merits two weeks later during the vote to finalize and pass it.
“I don’t know what kind of support I’ve got to kill it,” Bertrand says. “I’ll make my arguments tomorrow night. I’ve got an idea there’s a couple of people who will support killing it because we’re going to be discussing the contract anyway coming up pretty soon and there’s going to be a briefing as well prior to going to the contract [renewal].”
“I haven’t heard anybody make any new arguments [for ending the program] — all the arguments are the same old arguments that in my opinion have been addressed,” the south side Republican adds.
In January, Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel, whose department oversees SafeLight/SafeSpeed, issued a status report on the program demonstrating its success in reducing collisions and changing driver behavior. Following is an excerpt from an INDreporter blog published Wednesday, Jan. 25:
According to Tramel’s report, the SafeLight (camera enforcement at intersections) and SafeSpeed (the speed vans) programs have generated $10.6 million in revenue through November of last year, which represents a four-year period. Of that total, LCG has gotten $5.7 million while the vendor, RedFlex, has received $4.9 million.
Also detailed in the report is an analysis of SafeLight intersections showing a marked reduction in collisions. Using the 14-month period before the cameras were installed and comparing it to the 14-month period after the cameras were installed, the analysis shows that total crashes at these intersections fell 63 percent after the introduction of the program: 343 before installation compared to 126 after. Rear-end collisions fell the most — 69 percent — while right-angle collisions fell 51 percent.
According to Tramel’s report, the “reduction of traffic crashes appears to reflect a significant positive improvement in reducing traffic crashes related to driver behavior, which was originally identified as the principal purpose of the SafeLight/SafeSpeed programs. This reduction in traffic crashes increases the efficiency of the traffic control and traffic flow efforts, and decreases the number of serious traffic crashes to which public safety agencies must respond at the expense of taxpayers, thereby contributing to the overall public safety of Lafayette and ultimately the citizens of Lafayette.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.