Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot

There’s not getting it, and then there’s really not getting it. Councilmen Jared Bellard, William Theriot and Andy Naquin really don’t get it. Or they’re just pandering to their base.

Exhibit A: “I don’t think government services give me more quality of life. Quality of life is what I can give my family and friends.” That’s Bellard quoted in today’s Advertiser from a Monday meeting with local conservative groups.

Paved roads and functional traffic signals, street lights, police and fire protection, drainage, garbage pick-up, public parks, recreation centers and safe drinking water — services provided through Lafayette Consolidated Government — do not enhance Councilman Bellard’s quality of life. He is a family man. He probably doesn’t live next to a hog farm or chemical factory thanks to (somewhat) sensible zoning regulations enforced by his local government. But the swine stench or vexing vapors are of no never mind: Councilman Bellard is indoors. With his family and friends.

Exhibit B: “We’re not anti-progress. We believe in progress, but we believe in wise progress. I’m a numbers guy — I look at what we’re taking in and what we’re spending. If we can’t afford it, we can’t afford it,” Theriot, our wise progressive, says in the same article, ignoring the inconvenient little truth that “consolidated” government in Lafayette Parish is way out of whack. Government revenues haven’t kept pace with inflation, and the city of Lafayette underwrites the prosperity of this entire parish by siphoning its general fund to buttress a variety of public-service functions, the costs of which should be more evenly shared by the parish and smaller towns. That’s why a “blue ribbon” commission is about to start studying how taxes are levied across the parish.

Four million bucks is sucked from the city’s general fund every year to subsidize the Parks & Recreation Department, which everyone in the parish benefits from but which is otherwise funded by a paltry property tax paid by city of Lafayette property owners that was approved in the early 1960s when Lafayette could count the number of parks on its fingers. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Gov. Bobby Jindal regurgitated an iteration of this wrong-headed simile Monday when he was not in Louisiana: “Every family has to balance their budget, isn’t allowed to spend more than they need ...”

If you bought your house and your car with cash, congratulations, you’re exceptional. But most of us, just like government, borrow. We have mortgages and car notes. We are loaned money by a lender who is confident in our ability to repay the loan — with interest. We buy houses and cars and refrigerators and a lot of big-ticket crap we don’t need with those loans. Likewise, government sells bonds. Investors buy the bonds confident that when the bonds mature they will cash in those bonds with interest. And they line up to buy those bonds because Lafayette has a stellar bond rating, which is tantamount to a great credit rating. If you have a good credit rating banks are eager to lend you money. They know you’ll pay them back with interest, which is how they make money. Bonds are the same damn thing.

And businesses do it, too: they borrow money from banks to invest in themselves, to expand and grow. It happens every day, everywhere. We all — individuals, business, governments — spend money we don’t have.

Exhibit C: “You can’t tell me the administration didn’t know about that waste transfer station ahead of time and didn’t know what was going on,” Naquin is quoted as saying. This is during the part of the meeting where the three amigos are bitching about LCG using surplus property tax funds from mosquito control to pay a settlement to the company that obtained — legally — the proper permits to build the waste transfer station in unincorporated Lafayette, only to be blocked from completing construction when the council voted unanimously to put the kibosh on the project, which led to the lawsuit (another federal lawsuit in the matter is pending) in the first place. Does Naquin not understand that it doesn’t even matter who knew what and when?

The cost of that vote: $3.4 million.  

Think about that: A company legally obtains construction and environmental permits, begins construction — it’s all above board — the council votes unanimously to block completion of the project, the company understandably files suit against LCG to recoup its expenses, LCG settles the lawsuit and these guys are griping about how LCG paid the settlement? It was their fault LCG got sued. It’s just a wonder the settlement wasn’t paid out of the city’s general fund. Is that the preference of the three amigos? Or do they think LCG should have shut down a road project to pay for this lawsuit?

This is also the height of hypocrisy for these tea party darlings: Isn’t the tea party much about getting government out of the private sector’s way? They are government, and they got in the private sector's way!



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