What a long, strange trip it’s been. The Lafayette Charter Commission did another one-80 Monday evening, voting to place a multiple-choice ballot before voters next fall that could give the city of Lafayette its greatest possible autonomy short of deconsolidation. The shift comes just a few weeks after the commission abandoned talk of creating separate charters for the city and parish — and separate councils and chief executives to go along with those charters — and instead adopted a course toward redistricting Lafayette Parish so that five districts are entirely within the city and those council members could have sole decision-making power for the city-owned Lafayette Utilities System, the so-called “Hefner plan” named for demographer Mike Hefner.
The shift toward merely amending the consolidated charter to give the city control over LUS hasn’t sat well with four of the five commissioners who are city residents. Because Lafayette Consolidated Government isn’t truly consolidated — the city and parish keep separate books — a majority of the city commissioners have felt the city should have control over all matters, financial and otherwise, pertaining only to the city of Lafayette.
At Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Bruce Conque, who has been the most vocal proponent of city autonomy, offered an amendment to the Hefner plan that would shift control over all city issues to the “city council” within the City-Parish Council. That motion failed on a 5-4 vote. But a second motion to place a second proposition on the ballot creating full city autonomy was approved 6-3.
Oddly, depending on one’s reading of the vote, Conque’s fellow city-centric commissioners — George Lewis, Steve Oats and Aaron Walker — voted against the motion. Strange bedfellows indeed.
As it stands, voters will be faced with two options this fall: tweak the charter to give the five-member “city” council within the City-Parish Council control over LUS, or amend the charter more heavily to give that five-member panel control over all city-related matters.
One caveat hangs over this latest development: It’s unclear whether a multiple-choice ballot is even sanctioned by state law. The commission sought an opinion from state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office weeks ago and have yet to hear back.
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.