Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office is defending itself against criticism that it has been slow to respond to requests for opinions submitted by Lafayette Consolidated Government’s legal department concerning questions about the Lafayette Charter Commission.
Communications Director Sharon Kleinpeter contacted The Ind last week to question a headline we used on our website, “Caldwell sticking it to Lafayette.” The article expressed frustration with the apparent slow pace with which the AG is fielding questions from LCG, which requested opinions from Caldwell as long ago as February of 2010. LCG chief counsel Mike Hebert, who took over the post from longtime LCG attorney Pat Ottinger earlier this year, told The Daily Advertiser last week that his department has been unable “to get an answer of any kind” since Ottinger began requesting opinions more than a year ago. Some members of the commission have also privately expressed frustration with Caldwell’s office.
Most recently — in late February — Hebert requested an opinion about whether the charter commission can place a multiple-choice ballot before voters. In that request Hebert also directed Caldwell’s office to disregard previous requests for opinions.
In an email exchange this week with Kleinpeter, the communications director defended the AG’s office:
Attorney General Caldwell would like to set the record straight on the issue of a timely opinion on what the Lafayette Charter Commission can recommend in a parish wide referendum on consolidated government. Your headline could be misleading unless you understand the facts.
The current opinion request has been pending since March 2, 2011, a mere three weeks, not thirteen months. We have met with City-Parish officials in 2010 and 2011 to provide feedback on the City-Parish’s original proposal. After thorough research into the various issues presented by the City-Parish, we advised Lafayette representatives that they could not proceed to deconsolidate their present government in the manner proposed in their original request. As a result, the Lafayette attorneys withdrew their original requests and presented a revised request for opinion written on February 28, 2011 and received in our office on March 2, 2011. In fact the February 28, 2011 opinion request thanked the Attorney General’s office for assistance in reviewing the issues presented in previous requests.
As Attorney General Caldwell stated, “Issuing opinions is a responsibility we take very seriously. We will not provide legal opinions that do not meet legal parameters just to satisfy a requester’s wishes. However we do issue studied and accurate opinions based on the law.”
Deconsolidation has never been attempted in Louisiana and it is not a simple isolated process. Arriving at such a conclusion takes extensive legal research and consideration of the many entities involved in this scenario. As research was being conducted by our office, various ideas began emerging from the council and charter commission, and additional opinions were requested. Our office communicated with parish officials in 2010 and 2011 which resulted in the March 2, 2011 opinion request being submitted and withdrawing all previous requests.
Our office understands this unique situation and intends to provide the most accurate legal reasoning in its opinion, bearing in mind that this endeavor must also receive approval from the State Bond Commission and be precleared by the United States Department of Justice.
On Monday the City-Parish Council will vote on an introductory ordinance giving the commission an additional nine months to conduct its business and make a recommendation. If the intro ordinance fails the commission will have just two weeks to settle on what it puts before voters.
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DEC 8 - Maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all. This post on the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association's site says we're looking at oil prices that are tanking because there's so much oil coming out of the Gulf. Some are even predicting a glut. What's likely to be the result? Lower gas prices, higher refinery profits, and more pressure on the feds to loosen export restrictions.
DEC 8 Here's the latest from blogger Robert Mann, and it's on one of his favorite topics: Bobby Jindal. He's taking a look at Jindal's record and his current maneuvering, which of course is a ploy to position him for a run for the White House. "America Next," Jindal's current big idea, is just as vague about what it is proposing as Jindal usually is, Mann says. And it won't protect him from his "unimaginative record," as Mann describes it.
DEC 8 - Don't know what that is? Then run on over to LaPolitics and read this post by Jeremy Alford, which serves as a history lesson about the famed tonic and it's purveyor, Dudley LeBlanc. It's really a fascinating story and Alford's description of Dudley as an "icon of Louisiana politics and culture" is not an exaggeration.
DEC 8 In this editorial, the Picayune again urges Gov. Jindal to take the Medicaid money. But the piece's exhortation that Jindal "be sensible" is a little misplaced, isn't it? Because Jindal's not being stupid -- well, maybe he is -- but he's following orders from people he believes can get him into the White House. This editorial is engaging in the argument that Jindal is publicly making, without acknowledging what his true motivations are. Somebody send these guys a clue.
DEC 8 Columnist Mark Ballard is writing about the impact of Vance McAllister's defeat of Neil Riser in this post. He starts out talking about how McAllister's more reasonable approach was more attractive to voters than was Riser's hard-line (tea-party-ish) rants. Dan Claitor, a state lege from BR who is expected to run for Congress soon, expressed it best when he said voters aren't looking for candidates who are "throwing temper tantrums when they can't get their way."
DEC 8 It's always gratifying when a Louisiana son makes international headlines. And our son, David "former KKK grand poobah" Duke is back in the news, making us all proud. This (UK) Telegraph story, unearthed by the Dead Pelican, tells us that Duke has been expelled from Italy but is trying to return. The Italians say he is trying to "establish a pan-European, extremist neo-Nazi group in northern Italy." Huh. You don't say.
DEC 9 This is a kind of puzzling post from columnist Jim Beam, in which he discusses a recent appearance by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in Lake Charles. He said he's surprised by EWE's "grasp of current events." Did Jim never meet Slick Eddie? He's no dummy, and for Beam to assume he is -- well, given he covered the man for 50 years, that's the surprise.
DEC 9 A "suspicious package" shut down part of Zachary Sunday, WAFB tells us in this post. The package, which eventually was "rendered safe" (bomb squad lingo for blown up) was found in a storage unit that someone quit paying on. Other cop gear was found in the unit, so it is possible the thing was a training tool, police say. But they leave out the best part: who bought it? Barry, Jarrod or Darrell?
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