[Editor's Note: This in an update to a story posted Tuesday morning concerning the commission tasked with studying and recommending changes to or repeal of the Lafayette Home Rule Charter. The original story inaccurately forecast possible revelations about the council's intentions for the commission and where the commission's meetings may lead. In fact, the votes by the council and the appointments by City-Parish President Joey Durel revealed very little. The original story follows the update..]
Nine Lafayette residents — five from the city and four from the unincorporated parish, including a black resident from each of the geographic units — will be sworn in on Wednesday, July 21 to serve on the Lafayette Charter Commission following a series of votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council and appointments by City-Parish President Joey Durel. The commission includes a pair of former City-Parish Council members and a former state representative.
Comprising the commission are Aaron Walker, Steve Oats, Odon Bacque, Bruce Conque, George Lewis, Desmond Miller, Greg Manuel, Karen Carson and Randy Menard.
Durel appointed Lewis, a former city and parish auditor, and Menard, a former city-parish councilman, to the panel. Others with political experience on the commission will be Conque, a former councilman, Bacque, a former state representative, and Walker, former head of the Lafayette chapter of the NAACP. Oats, a Lafayette attorney, served previously on the state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The nine-member charter commission will be pressed into service Tuesday evening at a Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting that could revive debate about the future of consolidated government in the parish. The CPC will vote on seven of the nine members; City-Parish President Joey Durel will make the other two appointments.
Thirty-three applicants comprise the pool of candidates — 23 are city of Lafayette residents, including five minority-race members; of the 10 remaining residents of unincorporated Lafayette Parish, two are minorities. According to the ordinance establishing the commission, five of the nine members must be city residents, one of them a minority; the other four commission members must be unincorporated residents, one of them also a minority. Durel’s two appointments must meet each of the geographic requirements.
Several familiar names from Lafayette’s civic, political and business communities are among the candidates for the commission, including former District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque, former Republican state Rep. Ernie Alexander, Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee Secretary Mike Stagg, Aaron Walker, former president of Lafayette's NAACP chapter, and Cajundome Director Greg Davis, who is also seeking the District 2 seat on the Lafayette Parish School Board this fall.
With some members of the CPC having already openly expressed a preference for repealing the Lafayette Home Rule Charter and returning to dual city and parish forms of government — counterbalanced by as many CPC members voicing hostility to deconsolidation — Tuesday’s appointment process could reveal much about what the council hopes the commission recommends after nine months of meetings. As the ordinance reads, the commission has the option of “reviewing, studying and proposing either revisions, additions or amendments to the Home Rule Charter of Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government or to prepare and propose alternate charters for the City of Lafayette and or the Parish of Lafayette.”
Once the commission is sworn in and begins its work, the fate of Lafayette Parish’s constitution for governance will be out of the council’s hands; the commission’s recommendation(s) will go directly before voters, be it a minor tweak or two to the existing charter of what many in the community view as the nuclear option — deconsolidation. To get up to speed on who the candidates are, tune in all day Tuesday to AOC leading up to the 5:30 meeting; the community access cable channel is airing the interviews with the commission applicants that were held a few weeks ago.
To view the list of charter commission candidates, click 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.