What’s that rustling in the coop? Ah yes, it’s the chickens coming home to roost. The FBI and HUD wasted no time launching an investigation into allegations that materials from public housing developments were used to construct a private home at 101 Shady Ridge Lane, a residence that until March of this year was owned by one of developer Greg Gachassin’s companies. In March the home was sold to a Gachassin Law Firm profit sharing 401K plan for $250,000. The home is occupied by Riley Fielder, one of Gachassin’s business partners and the head superintendent for Bennett Builders, the contractor on the low-income housing developments funded by federal tax credits. Those allegations, made by subcontractors who worked on the public jobs, were published in the September issue of IND Monthly in the story, “The House that LPTFA Built?” The anonymous subs also claim the jobs were not properly managed. Six days after the story hit newsstands, the Lafayette Housing Authority got the ball rolling by calling for multiple investigations into one of the projects it sponsored.
A state-by-state examination of women’s issues released in late September by the Center for American Progress reveals what most Louisiana women already know: the not-so-great Bayou State ranks last in just about every measure. The worst state for women — by far — is Louisiana. In terms of economic security, health and leadership representation, the analysis rates Louisiana the lowest. Full-time working women in Louisiana earn only 67 percent of what men earn, on average (the average for the country is 77 percent), and more than one in five women and girls in Louisiana are currently living in poverty. The report also considered in its ratings the state’s minimum wage, family leave policies, percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K, the gender management gap and publicly funded contraceptive services. Other states that earned an “F” overall in these categories are Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana and Georgia.
The Iberia Parish Council is pulling out all the stops as it continues its foolhardy push to use already dedicated tax revenues for a questionable levee project after voters denied its funding in an election held not even six months ago. In fact, the attempt to high-jack funds for the levee project has been expanded; in addition to tapping into the property and sales taxes dedicated to the Iberia Parish Library System, the plan now calls for redirecting additional revenues from voter-approved millages for the parish’s buildings and maintenance, health unit and drainage funds. The proposal, spearheaded by parish councilmen David Ditch and Ricky Gonsoulin, originally targeted only the library, but that quickly sparked a public outcry from the Friends of the Library and a growing number of parish residents, and led to questions over the legality of taking revenue from dedicated funds. The motive of these elected officials is also being called into question, as the push to fund the levee is arguably just a sly side-stepping of the failed levee tax vote in April. On the bright side, any redirecting of dedicated millages will have to go before voters.