The Lafayette Charter Commission will get a presentation Wednesday from demographer and former District 5 Lafayette Parish School Board member Mike Hefner on the likelihood of being able to redraw the parish’s nine districts to create city districts wholly within the and four non-city districts with no overlap while still maintaining two majority-black districts that would satisfy the federal Voting Rights Act.
The owner of Geographic Planning & Demographic Solutions, a company that is working with school boards and city and parish governments around the state as they prepare to redraw districts based on the upcoming 2010 census results, Hefner has provided pro bono demographic research and consulting to Lafayette Consolidated Government.
"One of the things that struck me was, the incentive for looking at the charter was stemming from the fact that there are some issues that come before the council that are either LUS issues or issues that really just pertain to the city of Lafayette,” Hefner says. “And we have parish representatives having a voice on some things that really are just the city of Lafayette or the utilities, and that it takes away from the city of Lafayette’s autonomy or self-determination.”
Hefner used the 2000 census results for a mock redistricting plan and says he was able to create five city districts and four parish districts with two of the city districts being majority-black. He acknowledges that the 2000 census numbers require the city districts to be slightly larger than the parish districts, but says he believes intervening growth outside the city over the last decade will help narrow that disparity.
“I think it would address about 95 percent of the issues that are underlying a lot of discontent with the charter right now,” Hefner adds. “I’m going to be real curious to see how it works out with the 2010 numbers. What I’m going to show them is what may be possible. I just want to show that, hey, it is possible.”
The charter commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the City-Parish Council auditorium. The meeting was moved from Monday due to the federal Martin Luther King holiday.
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.