Troy Hebert, commissioner of the state Alcohol & Tobacco Control agency, presided over a three-plus hour hearing Monday morning in the City-Parish Council auditorium at City Hall concerning downtown nightclub Karma, the subject of numerous complaints and much attention from law enforcement over the last few years. The club was the center point of a shooting investigation this past July.
Lafayette Consolidated Government revoked the mega club’s liquor permit in 2010, and while the revocation was upheld by the City-Parish Council, the club obtained an injunction from a federal judge at the same time it, along with a handful of other downtown clubs, filed a federal lawsuit against LCG challenging local government’s levying of a fee against downtown bars to help defray the cost of paying police overtime for security details downtown on weekends. The council suspended the bar levy in response to the lawsuit, and Karma has managed to stay in business with its liquor license in limbo.
Several police officers and Chief Jim Craft testified against the club. LCG’s Tim Melancon, manager of Alcohol and Noise Control, also testified against Karma.
While Hebert characterized Monday’s hearing as “more of an open forum” and a “fact-finding mission,” the mood in the hearing was clearly one of divorcing Karma from its permit to sell booze, which would effectively put the club out of business.
“Any clubs that are a hip hop venue we generally have more problems with than other clubs that don’t have that type of venue,” Craft said. “Some of the problems we’ve had are fights, batteries, we had a shooting, we had some stabbings ... They’ve openly smoked marijuana in there.”
Downtown business owners and residents also spoke against the club, arguing it has negatively impacted their business since the club moved to a hip hop format around 2010. One resident said she doesn’t feel safe walking near the club late on weekend nights.
ATC is conducting an independent investigation into allegations against Karma. Hebert said it will be roughly 30 days before that probe is complete, at which time both sides in the dispute will be summoned to Baton Rouge for a hearing during which a prosecutor for the state and a defense attorney hired by Karma will present their cases. Hebert will serve as judge and could rule to temporarily suspend Karma’s liquor license and/or fine the club’s owners or revoke the permit entirely.
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OCT 1 Bobby Jindal is sure doing his best to court the far right; this post on TIME magazine says he'll be over in Oklahoma today to stand beside the billionaires who own Hobby Lobby while they announce a Bible "museum." In Washington D.C. (Wonder if there will be an exhibit on Matthew 19:24?)
OCT 1 Blogger Ian McGibboney is taking a look at the penalty call that is causing a stir. During a Monday NFL game, a player for the Chiefs executed a Muslim prayer gesture following a touchdown. The NFL has announced that the call was wrong, but Ian's not so sure.
OCT 1 Looks like hoards of whining college students and (extremely unflattering) satire can make a difference: The Advocate reports here that lease talks have reopened for Highland Coffees, a coffee shop near the north gates of LSU. Earlier this week, dismay was unleashed when the paper reported that the shop would be closing because its landlord had other plans for the space.
OCT 1 Blogger Mike Deshotels is outlining the flaws he sees in the so-called "Value Added Model" of teacher evaluation. It basically seeks to pay teachers according to how their students do on tests. (Sure hope they don't start using that model for doctors!) He's got a lot of information here, not just about the plan but about the people involved - and their history.
OCT 1 Columnist Jim Beam breaks down the difference between ISIS and ISIL, along with origins of each group and what has been reported about them over the years. It's a good clear primer if you're one of those continually confused by the names being thrown around.
OCT 1 Blogger Tom Aswell brings us up to date on the latest mess surrounding the Office of Group Benefits, which handles health insurance for state employees. It ain't pretty, and it has left Tom pleading for anyone who might be remotely competent in the Division of Administration to get in touch with him.
OCT 1 Look out! Some enterprising individual, who knows how to register a domain, has pulled off a stunning bit of hilarity here. Not long ago, blogger Lamar White Jr. gave us a post on Louisiana Family Forum, and how it is not a charity but is instead a tax shelter for a lobby. If you go to the interwebs and type in "louisianafamilyforum.com" you will find Lamar's story. Heh.
SEP 30 Here's another story that makes Louisiana look backward; blogger Manny Schewitz writes about a church that won't allow AA to use its facilities because those boozers might track in some gay. Every time he sees one of these, as he calls them "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" type of stories, he always starts wishing: "Please don't let it be Louisiana... Please don't let it be Louisiana..."
SEP 30 This post on PoliticusUSA, an extremely liberal blog, takes aim at Bobby Jindal's disingenuous attempts to play both sides against the middle on the evolution/creationism issue. Jindal is "dutifully serving his Koch masters" on the climate change issue as well, blogger Rmuse writes.
SEP 30 Ever wonder what goes on in a football locker room following a game like Sunday's embarrassment? Here's a post on ESPN about the "reality check" the Saints had. Among the comments: "Right now we're not a very good football team."
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