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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OCT 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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