Lafayette Parish voters will not decide in 2010 whether to repeal the City-Parish Home Rule Charter and revert back to dual city and parish forms of government — the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted Tuesday to defer the issue for three months. But during the interim, a series of public meetings as well as the appointment of a committee to devise a time line and figure out exactly what issues might be on the ballot are likely, according to District 7 Councilman Don Bertrand, who offered the motion to defer the deconsolidation ordinance Tuesday.
“I think there’s going to be a number of things probably happening simultaneously,” Bertrand says. “One, there’ll be town hall meetings; there’ll be ongoing meetings with probably civic groups, a lot of discussion about what needs to be done — we’ll give people the opportunity to talk — but at the same time I want somebody to let [the council] know, so that at the end of 90 days we know exactly what the process is, what the time line is, what it takes to get something on the ballot, and what will go on a ballot.”
What will go on a ballot is critical. While many council watchers saw Tuesday’s deferral as an acknowledgement of the fact that there weren’t the six votes necessary to advance the ordinance to a November vote, some on the council including Bertrand were uncomfortable with the ordinance as written; it would have asked Lafayette Parish voters whether to repeal the city-parish charter and revert to the separate city and parish charters that were in effect pre-consolidation. Bertrand says those charters — the old city charter particularly — need to be updated.
Several scenarios could emerge in the next 90 days insofar as what parish voters may encounter in the ballot box related to deconsolidation, and that’s assuming supporters of deconsolidation are able to convince some likely opponents on the council to change their minds and advance the issue to an election. A parishwide referendum on consolidated government isn’t likely until spring 2011 at the earliest — about six months before the City-Parish Council elections.
Voters might be asked whether to repeal the city-parish charter and to appoint commissions to update the old parish and city charters; voters may even be asked to approve extending the terms of the current council by one year; Louisiana law prohibits cutting an elected official’s term short due to a repeal or amendment to a charter. Voters might simply be asked to approve further amendments to the current city-parish charter and to keep consolidated government in place.
As it stands, there are more questions than answers. “All of this is gelling right now,” Bertrand says. “I would imagine by the middle of next week you’ll start seeing some meetings get scheduled.”
Council Chair Jay Castille, who will be the catalyst for much of what transpires over the coming weeks, was unavaible for comment Thursday morning.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.