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.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.