The office of state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is short-changing Lafayette through its failure to render a timely opinion on what the Lafayette Charter Commission may recommend in a parishwide referendum on consolidated government. The commission, which began meeting last summer, must make a recommendation by April 20 — just over a month away — and has been waiting for weeks for Caldwell to opine whether a multiple-choice referendum can go on the ballot.
In the meantime, commissioners have abandoned what for many in the city of Lafayette was a preferred end point — autonomy. Gone from the commission agenda is any mention of separate charters for the city of Lafayette and the parish. The commission two weeks ago abandoned that talk in favor of what may be called “the Hefner plan” — a redrawing of the nine council and school board districts so that five are entirely within the city of Lafayette corporate limits and four are outside of that — named after demographer and former school board member Mike Hefner, who has said he believes it’s possible to redraw districts in this way.
Commissioners spent a few months on a trajectory toward creating a separate council and mayor for the city to complement a parish council and parish president — or to at least put the idea before voters. But that also had the commission headed toward recommending a multiple choice ballot to go before a parishwide vote this fall asking voters whether they want, A) separate charters for the city and parish, with councils and chief executives for each, or, B) modifications to the existing consolidated charter.
The commission meets Monday evening and the major item of business is, “Discussion of Consolidated Charter with five (5) City districts and four (4) Parish districts.”
A multiple-choice referendum remains an option if Caldwell gives his blessing, but as of Monday morning, commissioner Bruce Conque says they’ve heard nothing from Caldwell’s office on the issue.