Backtracking on the path toward separate governments for the city and the parish, the Lafayette Charter Commission Monday night voted to keep Lafayette Consolidated Government intact, but to shift control of city-owned Lafayette Utilities System to council members who only represent city residents, according to The Advocate.
The development, although not final, is a blow to city residents who hoped an autonomous government separate from the parish — effectively a deconsolidation of LCG and a return to pre-1996 governance — would be a result of the commission’s work. Commissioners must conclude their meetings by mid April and make recommendations that will go to a parishwide vote. Just two weeks ago the commission voted to create separate charters for the city and the parish with each having its own council and mayor/president.
The vote to scrap consolidation cut along city-parish lines, with one exception: Commissioner Don Bacque, a city of Lafayette resident, joined the four parish residents to form a simple majority and approve the motion keeping LCG intact; the four remaining city of Lafayette commissioners voted against the motion. But Bacque’s defection to the parish was not unexpected: He has consistently opposed the idea of repealing the home rule charter and returning to separate forms of government in Lafayette Parish.
Reached Tuesday morning, former city-parish councilman and city of Lafayette commissioner Bruce Conque expressed dismay at Monday’s one-80: “It really was a major setback in seeking autonomy for the city of Lafayette,” Conque said. “While last night’s commission action addresses the issue of LUS governance, it does nothing for the city of Lafayette as an entity. The city budget process would continue to be determined by the City-Parish Council including how revenues are expensed; the city’s general fund, its five-year capital improvement program, LUS Fiber and the Lafayette Public Power Authority.”
The motion maintaining consolidated government in the parish is an apparent bow to what’s become known as “the Hefner plan.” Demographer Mike Hefner, who has addressed and advised the commission on a few occasions, has said he’s confident that when the overlapping council and school board districts are redrawn this spring, five city districts wholly within the city can be configured. This, Hefner maintains, would allow for the creation of a city council within the City-Parish Council and would solve the prickly issue of both the Lafayette Public Utility Authority and the full council, which includes councilmen who are not LUS stakeholders, voting on matters pertaining to LUS.
The commission will not meet Monday due to Lundi Gras, but Conque says he will be scrambling to find a way for the city to gain as much self-governance as possible within what appears to be a newly limited scope of the commission.
“It is my intent to do what is possible to make the best of what is a bad situation,” Conque sayss. “I hope to have some suggestions by the March 14 meeting.”
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.