The administration of City-Parish President Joey Durel will put the City-Parish Council on the spot Tuesday with a vote on a resolution that would authorize Durel to begin renegotiating consolidated government’s contract with RedFlex, the company that operates the red-light cameras and speed vans on city streets in Lafayette. The vote will be a barometer for the council’s willingness to scrap electronic enforcement of city traffic laws; three Tea Party-backed council members — Chairman Jared Bellard (District 5), Vice Chair William Theriot (9) and Andy Naquin (5) — sponsored but later pulled an ordinance that would let the RedFlex contract expire in June. A source tells The Ind the trio didn’t have the votes to pass the ordinance. The council in late March got an ad-naseum presentation on the benefits of the SafeLight/SafeSpeed program, a PowerPoint extravaganza that went until nearly midnight.
Durel tells The Advocate he simply wants some direction from the council; if the panel votes down the resolution — a signal that an ordinance letting the contract expire will be approved — then there’s little value in beginning negotiations with RedFlex. In this respect, the resolution serves as a referendum on the program, which some council members have signaled they’d like to tweak by, among other things, only ticketing motorists for running red lights, not issuing citations for speeding. The council will conduct a vote on May 15 on an ordinance for final adoption that would let the contract expire.
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. Among the data in the report was evidence that the program sharply reduced collisions at intersections where speed cameras are located. Tramel wrote at the time that “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.”
The SafeLight/SafeSpeed program generated just over $2 million in revenue last through citations for speeding and running red lights. LCG and RedFlex roughly split the revenue. Some opponents of the program argue it is less about promoting traffic safety and more about generating revenue, a dubious claim in light of the fact that less than one tenth of one percent of the more than 60 million vehicles that have passed through the camera-equipped intersections has received a citation.
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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
NOV 21 With the passage of two amendments to Louisiana's much-amended constitution (it has been amended almost 200 times now) higher education has an even bigger target on its collective back, columnist Jim Beam opines in this post. Higher ed used to share the spotlight with health care, but that has changed, he says.
NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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