Some day in the not-too-distant future, votes by the Lafayette City-Parish Council on matters pertaining to Lafayette Utilities System and other city-only issues could be weighted based on representation; that is, council members with more LUS customers or city residents would have more say — their vote would be heavier — than council members representing fewer of those constituencies.
CPC Chair Jay Castille, who awaits a draft ordinance from LCG’s legal department that would clear the way toward creating an official charter commission, is looking toward a weighted vote as a means of solving some of the issues in the existing City-Parish Home Rule Charter — chief among them the mechanism by which issues concerning LUS, a city-owned public utility, are decided.
The charter grants governance of LUS to the Lafayette Public Utility Authority, which comprises council members whose districts are at least 60 percent city and therefore 60 percent LUS customers. The LPUA currently stands at five council members. But some LUS customers live outside those five districts, and if the LPUA were the sole decision maker, they would have no voice as LUS stakeholders. Consequently, the full nine-member council also votes on LUS matters, and so far the two bodies — the LPUA and the full council — have not disagreed on an LUS vote, although the potential for that occurring exists. The current situation also means that non-LUS customers have been getting equal say as LUS customers on issues concerning the public utility. This is one of the primary reasons Castille appointed a charter committee in January — to solve the LPUA/full council conundrum. A weighted vote, he believes, address it. “We discussed it,” Castille acknowledges, “and that’s some of the discussion that I hope takes place during these next few months with the charter commission, if we can get one appointed.”
A weighted voting system would also mean the LPUA could be abolished. Under such a system, the vote of Councilman Sam Doré would carry the most weight — 19 percent — because he represents 19 percent of all LUS customers. Doré is followed by Keith Patin (18 percent), Don Bertrand (16), Kenneth Boudreaux (15), Brandon Shelvin (13), Castille (7), Jared Bellard (5), William Theriot (4) and Purvis Morrison (3). Not coincidentally, the five councilmen with the heaviest votes comprise the LPUA.
The Feb. 2 vote approving an LUS rate increase passed the full council by a 5-4 vote: Dore, Patin, Bertrand, Castille and Morrison in favor; Boudreaux, Shelvin, Bellard and Theriot opposed. If that vote were weighted, the rate increase would have passed by a 63-37 percent margin. Castille believes such a system adequately addresses the LPUA problem. “We just need to figure out how to approach that and make it work easy for staff, the council staff, and make sure that everything’s in order,” Castille adds. “I believe it can be worked out.”
An electronic voting system is the likely remedy for making a weighted vote efficient. The Lafayette Parish School Board uses electronic voting. However, the home rule charter does not allow electronic voting. Both a weighted vote and an electronic voting system are subjects Castille hopes a charter commission will address. In fact, the council chairman is already doing his homework on electronic voting: “I met ... with IT and we discussed that also — to do the electronic voting.”
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.
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.