The Lafayette City-Parish Council has scheduled public discussion over the SafeLight/SafeSpeed programs during Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Also expected during the discussion is a presentation by Tony Tramel, Lafayette Consolidated Government’s director of traffic/transportation, on the effectiveness of the program in reducing collisions and changing driver behavior — a goal of the program when a previous council debated and ultimately agreed to a contract between LCG and RedFlex, the company that administers the traffic-signal cameras and vans that have generated more than $10.5 million in revenue — $5.7 million for LCG, $4.9 million for RedFlex as of November of last year — through the issuances of speeding and red-light violations.
The programs, however, have not been without their detractors, and other communities and states have had second thoughts on electronic enforcement of traffic laws, moving to dismantle the cameras and return traffic enforcement to police departments.
An ordinance that would have allowed LCG’s contract with RedFlex to expire this summer, effectively ending SafeLight/SafeSpeed, was on last week’s council agenda as an introductory item. However, after District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand, who supports the programs, had the ordinance pulled for discussion and a separate vote, the ordinances sponsors — Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot — removed the ordinance from the agenda and instead scheduled tonight’s public discussion.
Bertrand says he believes there is enough support on the council to renew the contract, adding that he’s received nearly a dozen calls from constituents, all in support of SafeLight/SafeSpeed. “They want to make sure we keep the program,” the south Lafayette Republican says. “I haven’t had any negative comments.” Bertrand adds he believes the SafeLight/SafeSpeed “controversy is being contrived.”
Worth noting: SafeLight/SafeSpeed is administered only at intersections and on streets within the city limits of Lafayette, not in the unincorporated parts of the parish or Lafayette Parish’s smaller municipalities. However, two of the three councilmen sponsoring the ordinance to end essentially end the programs represent only a handful of city residents and live outside the city limits of Lafayette.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
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.