The City-ParishCouncil on Tuesday will discuss the possibility of reconvening a commission to examine the constitution that governs Lafayette Consolidated Government — the Home Rule Charter. Because it is a discussion item no action will be taken, although for many who worry about the city of Lafayette’s lack of autonomy, it’s a good start.
The discussion item was placed on the agenda by District 8 Councilman Keith Patin, who says a pair of his constituents asked that the council address the matter. Patin is unwilling to disclose who those constituents are although a source tells The Ind it came from at least one member of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce administration.
A charter commission was convened last year and after months of deliberations recommended that a parishwide proposition be put on the October 2011 ballot asking voters whether to scrap consolidated government and return to the separate city and parish governments that existed before 1996. Deconsolidation, as it was widely called, was shot down on a 63 to 37 percent vote.
But even many opponents of scrapping the charter and deconsolidating have acknowledged that the charter needs to be amended to give the city of Lafayette more autonomy. Recently, former charter commissioner Don Bacque, who opposed deconsolidation, argued in a letter to this newspaper that the issue needs to be addressed. Patin says he’s simply getting the discussion going.
“It’s water under the bridge,” he says of the results of last year’s deconsolidation vote. “The voters voted to keep [consolidation] and I’m not proposing to try to split it again; I’m proposing at this point that, OK, we’re keeping what we have but we have real issues and let’s see what we can do to modify these things now.”
The chief issue among proponents of amending the charter is Lafayette Utilities System, the city-owned public utility. Although technically LUS is governed by the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority — the five members of the council whose districts are majority city — the full council has also long voted along with the LPUA on matters pertaining to LUS, giving non-stakeholders a voice via council members who represent few city residents.
“I’m not here to make the list [of changes to the charter],” Patin adds. “I’m just opening up the venue for people to start talking about it again because it’s not Keith Patin’s list — it’s a list that the constituents want. I got two people that called, and if they don’t show and nobody else wants to talk, then I kind of sit there with egg on my face.”
Click here to read Bacque’s full statement on the need for a new charter commission.
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.