City-Parish President Joey Durel is adding “former” to his government title. In a stunning turn of events mid-day Friday, Durel announced that he is resigning his position as chief executive of Lafayette Consolidated Government effective immediately and has appointed himself executive director of the beleaguered Lafayette Housing Authority. The move evidently bears the imprimatur of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which assumed control of the LHA earlier this week. The switch in job titles carries with it a significant hike in pay for Durel, who will go from earning roughly $96,000 annually as city-parish president to the more substantial salary of $186,000 as head of the housing agency, with another $26,000 in perks that include use of an LHA van and a hair and clothing allowance.
“This is in the best interest of not only the LHA, but LCG as well,” Durel says in a brief press release announcing the move. “I plan to run the federally subsidized LHA just as I did consolidated government — like a business.”
Utilizing a little-known clause in the Lafayette Home Rule Charter, Durel convened an emergency meeting of the City-Parish Council Friday morning, which voted to appoint District 9 Councilman William Theriot as interim city-parish president. Theriot will have the option of seeking either his council seat or the city-parish president position this fall since both jobs are up for re-election. The council will consider nominations to fill Theriot’s council seat at its next meeting.
Reached via cell phone at Country Cuisine, where he was dining and playing bourrée wtih friends Friday afternoon, Durel defends what LCG’s Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley derides as “despotic.”
“This isn’t about the money,” Durel insists. “It’s about my most vulnerable constituents — constituents who have been underserved by an agency that’s supposed to be helping them. Yes, the money will be better, and I’ll finally be able to buy nice things and have a real River Ranch address, but this is about the children.”
In what will widely be viewed as the extension of an olive branch, Durel also announced that he is reappointing three LHA board members he ousted last year. Joe Dennis, John Freeman and Leon Simmons have each agreed to return to the board.
“With Mr. Durel’s fiscal finesse and his long-standing efforts to help the poorest in Lafayette Parish, I look forward to moving forward,” Dennis says.
It’s unclear whether Durel’s resignation and self-appointment are even legal. Reached late Friday morning, LCG’s chief counsel, Mike Hebert, confirms he’s researching the matter. However, HUD’s Dan Rodriguez, who had taken the post of acting LHA executive director, also defends Durel’s action, saying he believes it would stand up to a legal challenge. “We’re the feds,” Rodriguez says. “We can do what we want.”
Rodriguez also is quick to note that he never wanted to be in Lafayette anyway, away from his family and friends in Houston. Durel’s appointment clears the way for him to return home, as Durel is expected to begin running the agency immediately. HUD had expected to name a new executive director who would take six months to a year to train.
Durel adds that should the Lafayette Charter Commission recommend a deconsolidation proposition and voters approve it, he will consider a run in 2015 for Lafayette mayor. “I love the city of Lafayette — the parish not so much, but definitely the city,” he says. “But right now I got to do what’s in the best interests of LHA clients and Joey Durel.”
[Editor's Note (April 4, 2011): This story is an April Fool's joke. Joey Durel happily remains the city-parish president of Lafayette and intends on seeking re-election this fall.]
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.