In addition to U.S. senator, lieutenant governor and 10 constitutional amendments, voters in Lafayette Parish will decide Tuesday on a proposition that, if approved, would amend the Lafayette Home Rule Charter to give officials more time to redraw council and school board districts ahead of the October 2011 council election. As it stands, the charter requires the districts, which are the same for both the council and the school board, to be redrawn six months before an election for either body. However, parish officials don’t anticipate receiving results from this year’s census until March, meaning those districts would have to be redrawn, codified in an ordinance and put to a vote of the council within about a month’s time; city-parish attorney Pat Ottinger has warned that will be an impossibly small window to pull it off.
The proposition, although complicated in its wording — especially in its references to separate city and parish councils — effectively erases the six-month requirement in the charter. If the parishwide proposition is voted down and officials are unable to meet the six-month requirement for redrawing the districts, there is a possibility that federal officials could postpone the October 2011 council election.
Lafayette Parish is subject to the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires, among other things, that the parish have two majority-black districts. But since the 2000 census, the parish’s population has migrated south and out of the inner city where those majority-black districts — 3 and 4 — are located, creating an imbalance, with the southern districts overpopulated and the inner city districts underpopulated. A 2009 population estimate of roughly 215,000 parish residents shows districts 3 and 4 with about 17,000 residents apiece; District 9 in south Lafayette Parish is tipping the scale at more than 31,000. The redistricting process is meant to balance the populations in the nine districts, giving each approximately 24,000 residents.
Meanwhile, the Lafayette Charter Commission, which meets Monday evening, is on a trajectory toward recommending the creation — through a parishwide referendum — of a separate council and mayor for the city of Lafayette. The charter commission will wrap up its work at about the same time as the council and school board districts are being redrawn, so any recommendation made by the commission that goes to a parishwide vote couldn’t go into effect, assuming voters approve it, until 2016, or after the council and city-parish president elected in October 2011 finishes their four-year terms.
The proposition on the ballot Tuesday in Lafayette reads as follows:
Parishwide Proposition (Home Rule Charter Amendment) Summary: Amend Section 2-02 of the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government Home Rule Charter to require redistricting to be accomplished in the manner, and within the time period, specified or prescribed by applicable law, and to require that the redistricting pertain and apply to districts for the election of members of the City Council of the City of Lafayette and of the Parish Council of the Parish of Lafayette if the next succeeding election after publication of federal census data is for such officials.
Shall the Parish of Lafayette, State of Louisiana, amend Section 2-02 of the Home Rule Charter and its title so as to read, as follows: “Section 2-02. Redistricting. Following official publication of the federal census by the United States Bureau of the Census, the council by ordinance shall, if necessary, alter, change or rearrange council district boundaries so as to provide for population equality among the districts as near as reasonably practicable. To the extent possible council districts shall be compact and be composed of contiguous territory. The redistricting shall be accomplished in the manner, and within the time period, specified or prescribed by applicable law. If, at any time, the next succeeding election for members of a governing authority following the official publication of the federal census by the United States Bureau of the Census shall pertain to the election of members of the City Council of the City of Lafayette and/or of the Parish Council of the Parish of Lafayette, the procedure described above shall pertain and apply to the district boundaries for the City Council of the City of Lafayette and/or the Parish Council of the Parish of Lafayette, respectively.”?
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.