Lafayette Consolidated Government appears ready to follow through with City-Parish President Joey Durel’s desire to sever relationships with the city of Broussard.
According to the smaller Lafayette Parish municipality, LCG is declining to renew a $40,000 contract with Broussard to provide fire protection to unincorporated parts of Broussard. The southeast parish city learned the news this week when Broussard Fire Chief Bryan Champagne contacted his counterpart in Lafayette, Chief Robert Benoit. Champagne is assuring residents in unincorporated Lafayette Parish that Broussard will respond to calls in their area.
Amy Jones, a Lafayette-based publicist who is representing Broussard in its ongoing public-relations battle with Durel and LCG, accuses Durel and consolidated government of risking public safety to grind an ax: ““We cannot continue to play games with public safety and put citizens in the unincorporated areas at risk,” Jones says. “The city of Broussard will continue responding as long as it can, but the city of Lafayette’s refusal to sign this contract will eventually lead to less fire protection in the unincorporated areas. The State Fire Marshall has included language that should satisfy the risk management requirements for Lafayette Consolidated Government. That contract should be signed and the funds released for the protection of Lafayette Parish citizens.”
Durel announced earlier this month that he has instructed department heads in LCG to research how consolidated government can go about severing ties with Broussard, starting with Lafayette Utility System’s wholesale water contract with Broussard, a contract LUS accuses Broussard of breaching by bypassing meters and essentially stealing extra water from Lafayette to meet the needs of its growing community.
We spoke to Durel late Friday evening by phone. He confirmed the report about the fire contract and said that while Lafayette has similar arrangements for rural fire protection with the four other smaller municipalities in the parish, those towns "have not sued the hand that feeds them," a reference to lawsuits Broussard has filed against the city of Lafayette challenging annexations in south Lafayette Parish.
But Durel added, "We care a lot about the people of Broussard, as we do everyone in the parish."
Read more on the tension between Durel and Langlinais here.
MAY 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
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.