‘Hard feelings’ find soft landing at convivial COG meeting
A Thursday meeting at Duson City Hall of the Lafayette Council of Governments provided an opportunity for some of Lafayette’s municipalities to delineate what they believe is the timeline of grievances that has led to the current angst in the parish, particularly south Lafayette Parish, over annexations. The gathering, which included a barbecue dinner, was a mostly jovial affair. However, the key players in Lafayette’s current tussle over acquisitions of unincorporated areas — Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais, Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator and Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel — were not in attendance.
Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux, a political veteran in the north Lafayette Parish city, attributed the land grab mentality that currently characterizes intergovernmental politics in the parish to late Lafayette Mayor Kenny Bowen. Irascible and combative according to some, the three-term mayor (1972-1980, 1992-1996) was the last chief executive of the city of Lafayette before consolidation.
“The only thing I can say,” Brasseaux told the roughly 20 people assembled, “is this goes back a number of years. It all started with Kenny Bowen, who wanted to conquer Lafayette Parish.” There were no objections to Brasseaux’s recollection of the genesis of the parish’s annexation fights, and Scott Mayor Hazel Myers later echoed it.
Also emerging at the meeting was a sense that the small towns are framed as “the bad people,” as Brasseaux put it, thwarting the city of Lafayette’s growth. “They blame the small towns for keeping the city of Lafayette from growing,” he said of a conventional wisdom among many in Lafayette. “That just tears me up.” [Editor’s Admission: The subhead of The Independent Weekly’sApril 7, 2010 cover story, “Land Grab” reads, “The parish’s small towns are hemming in the city of Lafayette, threatening to diminish our influence and hamper our growth.”]
Another common thread that ran through the annexation discussion was identity — that residents living in rural, unincorporated Lafayette Parish, while they would prefer to remain independent of any municipality, will nonetheless identify with the closest small town and not with the more urban city of Lafayette. Besides, Brasseaux asserted, forced to choose between Lafayette and a small town, rural residents will almost always opt for a small-town government to provide their services. “The main reason they want to come into the smaller towns is they know they can call [Scott Mayor] Hazel [Myers] at 2 a.m. Try to call Joey Durel at two in the morning,” Brasseaux said. “Try to get a pothole fixed under Lafayette Consolidated Government. …The smaller the government, the more efficient you are.”
City-Parish Council Chairman Jay Castille, who also serves as COG chair, agreed with Brasseaux’s observation that much of the current suspicion among Lafayette Parish’s municipalities is the result of “hard feelings from the past.” But Castille struck a conciliatory tone throughout the meeting. “I think we know where everybody stands as far as annexation,” he said. “We have a lot of more work to do. …I’m trying to diffuse many of the issue out there — they’re hot-button issues — but they’re going to take care of themselves.”
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.