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 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.