[Update: Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, the ordinance's sponsor, pulled the item from the council agenda Tuesday. It will be reconsidered on Feb. 7.]
Aside from the appeals by six downtown bars of one-year liquor license suspensions — appeals that are likely to be denied by the council, leading to legal action in state district court — another point of interest at Tuesday’s City-Parish Council meeting will be whether the council votes in favor of Ordinance 009.
Up for final adoption after being unanimously approved in a batch of introductory ordinances two weeks ago, 009 would lead to the execution of a public service agreement between Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Inc., the major black Mardi Gras association in Lafayette that each year crowns King Toussaint L’Ouverture and Queen Suzanne Simonné — along with other dignitaries — holds a ball/pageant and hosts a Mardi Gras parade. The ordinance, if approved, will allow LCG to give $7,500 to LMGF. Although the ordinance and associated documents don’t spell it out, a source close to the council says the money would be used to pay bands that march in the parade, which rolls on Fat Tuesday between the King’s Parade and the Independent Parade. The ordinance is sponsored by District 4 Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, many of whose constituents comprise the LMGF.
More important, the ordinance will test the continuing willingness by the council, now sporting two new members, to underwrite non-governmental organizations. The issue has been a source of controversy over the last four years, with far right council members representing non-city districts consistently voting against funding NGOs such as social service agencies and arts/cultural organizations like Festival International and the Acadiana Center for the Arts. That consistent opposition during the previous council’s term came from Councilman Jared Bellard of District 5 and District 9’s William Theriot, who two weeks ago were voted chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the council. The pair was backed by the Tea Party of Lafayette during successful re-election bids last fall, and they’ve been joined on the council by fellow TPL-endorsed Andy Naquin of District 6.
Naquin is a wild card in this respect. Although he didn’t shy away from Tea Party backing, he has told this newspaper he supports LCG funding of the horse farm and Festival International. If he does vote against 009, as Theriot and Bellard are expected to do if their voting trends remain consistent, then District 8 Councilman Keith Patin’s vote will be one to watch. While Patin has voted in favor of the horse farm and other NGO funding, he’s been pretty consistent in opposing LCG funding for social service NGOs. LMGF is classified as a social welfare organization.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.