Motorists who rack up substantial fines for speeding and red-light running via citations issued through the SafeLight/SafeSpeed program could face a tougher, more determined-to-collect Lafayette Consolidated Government in the near future. The City-Parish Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance that amends and clarifies the city code for collections of outstanding fines. The ordinance would also move oversight of the program from the Traffic & Transportation Department to the chief of police.
More than $6 million in outstanding fines is owed to LCG, The Advocate reports, citing a presentation this spring by the Traffic Department. LCG has always had the authority to bring people to court to collect fines as well as to refer them to collection agencies. The ordinance before the council delineates a clear protocol. It also removes booting vehicles as recourse, although consolidated government has never exercised that option.
According to the ordinance up for final adoption Tuesday, delinquent fines of $125 or more that have been due for four months or more will first be referred to a collection agency. If the collection agency is unable to collect the fine within an additional 120 days, LCG can exercise the option of pressing for collection in court. (It’s unlikely consolidated government would exercise the court option for people with outstanding fines at the lower end of the threshold as the cost of city-parish attorney fees would exceed the amount collected. Some repeat offenders of the SafeLight/SafeSpeed program, however, owe hundreds and even thousands of dollars.)
There are currently 12 signalled intersections, all within the city limits of Lafayette, equipped with the Redflex cameras. The Durel administration beat back a push to end LCG’s contract with the company — a move that would have shuttered the red-light cameras and speed vans — last spring.
The ordinance was passed unanimously as an introductory item on July 3. To read the ordinance and its associated documentation — all 127 pages — click 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.