Cajuns and Creoles stand up: State has golden opportunity with census
Louisiana stands to pull in millions of dollars in previously unavailable federal funding for such things as educational programs like French immersion, hospitals, museums and other community-service projects thanks to a new question on census forms that will be distributed later this year. “Historically, we’ve not been able to tap into a lot of the funding that exists in the United States under the federal government because the United States doesn’t have a firm grasp on how many people in the United States, how many Americans culturally identify with Louisiana Creole and Cajun cultures,” says Christophe Landry of the World Studies Institute, a Lafayette non-profit that seeks to connect French speakers in Louisiana with the wider Francophone world.
But it will take a concerted effort by Louisiana’s Creole and Cajun communities to snag the money. A new question, No. 8 on the short form, covers cultural origins. The WSI is urging the state’s Creole and Cajun communities to check the last box in No. 8 — “Yes. Another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” — and then to write beneath it either “Lousiana Creole” or “Cajun.” For the first time, this will allow Uncle Sam to get a head count of the state’s Cajun and Creole populations, provided those groups don’t skip over question No. 8. “We’re pushing this particular census because it’s a window of opportunity,” Landry adds. “Up until 2010, there has never been a question related to culture, it’s only been race/ethnicity.”
The hitch is that many of Creole and Cajun descent may be inclined to skip over No. 8 on the census form because it appears to apply only to Hispanics. Kat Smith, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Dallas field office, says Congress decides what’s on the forms, the bureau simply counts heads. But, Smith adds, Creoles and Cajuns who hand-write their cultural identification on No. 8 will be counted. “As long as they as a group or ethnicity or race decide that they want to make sure that their numbers are where they need to be — we do the same thing for tribes, American Indian tribes and things of that nature — they can make sure their numbers are counted as such by identifying themselves consistently by writing it a certain way,” says Smith.
For Louisiana Creoles, that means being specific. If a Creole in Louisiana writes “French Creole” or simply “Creole,” which can include Haitians and other groups, that person’s cultural identification will not be tied to Louisiana. According to WSI, the U.S. Department of Management and Budget has identified some $400 billion in federal funding annually, which is disseminated in part through census figures. If Louisiana Cajuns and Creoles make a loud noise through the census, more of that money should flow our way. “With the these numbers,” says Landry, “the federal government’s going to be forced to address these issues and to send some funding down here.”
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.