Friday, March 1, 2013 Written by IND Monthly Staff
C’EST BON The economy in Lafayette Parish continues to outperform the state and nation. More than $596 million in December sales bumped Lafayette Parish’s 2012 total retail sales to $5.71 billion, a 6.5 percent increase over 2011 and easily the highest year on record. December 2012 sales were the highest recorded for any December since the Lafayette Economic Development Authority began tracking retail sales in 1997, the organization confirmed in a late February press release. This year’s total beat the previous retail sales record set in 2008, $5.4 billion, by 5.7 percent. In fact, in 2012 monthly sales topped $500 million in four months, a level that had previously been exclusive to the month of December. As with retail sales, 2012 hotel/motel receipts outperformed 2011 totals, LEDA notes. December hotel/motel receipts totaled $4.85 million, bringing the yearly total to $76.3 million, 13.6 percent more than $67.2 million collected in 2011.
PAS BON Xenophobia is alive and well in Lafayette, and at the end of February it crashed headlong into NIMBY. A handful of residents in unincorporated south Lafayette Parish showed up at a City-Parish Council meeting to lobby against construction of a private park in their neighborhood. MECA Park, according to the site plan, will feature a soccer field, picnic/playground areas and basketball courts. MECA is an acronym for Muslim Education Center of Acadiana. Said one resident to the council: “I think it’s a cover up of what they plan on doing in the future. That’s my opinion, personally. I have grandkids, and you have all these strange people in the neighborhood that you don’t know who they are. And the people that have been there previously, they’re all foreigners.” In fact, MECA is a nonprofit that has operated the Islamic Center of Lafayette for years, and the group plans to eventually build a community center and classroom to serve the needs of a growing population of Islamic youth in the parish. The neighbors were chagrined to learn that the “others” can build their park and, pending future approval by the parish, construct buildings on the site. (The council was merely voting on, and ultimately approved, a request by the site’s owner that he be allowed to have a chain-link fence rather than the required wooden fence — a request the neighbors approved of so they can “see what’s going on” in that Muslim park.)
COUILLON Being an elected official in Lafayette is typically a part-time job and, often, a thankless one. But does that mean we should expect our elected officials to leave their manners and professionalism at the door when they’re not on the clock? Evidently Lafayette Parish School Board member Tehmi Chassion does. Chassion’s immature, boorish behavior while serving as coach during a recent girls’ basketball game (9 and 10-year-olds) should have him in foul trouble with his constituents. Based on emails between the opposing coach and consolidated government’s supervisor of league sports, Chassion received two technical fouls for arguing calls and then refused to leave the gym when the referee and gym supervisor ordered him to do so, leading to a reprimand from the league. The emails also indicate that Chassion’s unsportsmanlike conduct rubbed off on his young players, who resorted to taunting the opposing team’s player as she shot free throws resulting from the technical fouls.
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JUL 23 This post on Mashable says Louisiana is poised to be the next (and better) Hollywood. Sure, blogger Travis Andrews is talking Louisiana in general, but the focus really is on New Orleans. And that's fine, because if NOLA and Hollywood get into a ambiance/food/style/crazy contest, we like NOLA's chances.
JUL 23 Here's New York Magazine's profile of Edwin Edwards, a well-written, thoughtful (and still unvarnished) look at Louisiana's most famous felon. There's a lot of history, but author Mark Jacobson doesn't get bogged down in pedantic rehashes here. It's a really good read.
JUL 23 Tom Aswell turns over his blog to Fred Aldrich for this post, in which Aldrich offers his critique of State Police Commander Mike Edmonson's recent radio appearance. During that visit, Edmonson commented upon the 11th-hour bill that added $30K to his annual retirement income. Spoiler alert: Aldrich was not impressed.
JUL 23 Blogger CB Forgotston has more on the Edmonson retirement issue in this post. This time, he's trying to ascertain exactly who offered the 11th-hour amendment that added $30K to the State Police chief's annual retirement check. Six legislators are claiming that a Senate staffer stuck it in, CB says.
JUL 23 Choice Foundation, which owns and operates charter schools, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Bobby Jindal of overstepping his bounds in cancelling Common Core, the Washington Post reports here. The lawsuit (there's a link to it here) alleges that Jindal does not have the authority to remove the curriculum from Louisiana.
JUL 23 Here's an interesting perspective on the 2015 governor's race from Picayune reporter Julia O'Donoghue. She's looking at David Vitter, John Bel Edwards and Jay Dardenne. But instead of looking at their differences, she's examining their similarities.
JUL 23 Here are the first jewels unearthed from the Vault, a new database of public records that The Lens is making available. In this post, The Lens is taking a look at what municipal employees are paid over in NOLA. There's some pretty interesting stuff here.
JUL 23 Blogger Stephen Sabludowsky is attempting to clear away some of the smoke that Bobby Jindal's been blowing about our economy. The press releases and "presidential campaign claims" of Jindal notwithstanding, the outlook is not that rosy, Sabludowsky says. He's got some comment here from the head of GNO Inc. as well.
JUL 22 This is a fascinating piece in the Picayune about the murder of a doctor in her St. Charles Avenue home 50 years ago. It's fascinating because of the mysteries and myths that have swirled around the incident for those decades, and because of the possible connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There are a lot of interesting names in here, including Ochsner and Marcello, and as usual the comments below the story are nearly as entertaining as the story itself.
JUL 22 The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is "a lock" to win the Sun Belt Conference in football, Fox Sports opines in this post. There's a rundown of the other teams in the conference, but ULL is predicted to win the conference, thanks in large part to an "explosive" offense. Is it football season yet?
JUL 22 Columnist Stephanie Grace says Gov. Bobby Jindal may be meeting with state education officials (hey - you mean HIS education officials, don't you, Steph?) but it is clear he's not looking for a solution in the Common Core fracas. Bobby wants an issue he can take on the road, and this one seems to be it, she says.
JUL 22 Here's a love letter from New York Daily News' Alex Palmer to Louisiana. In some ways it is the typical tourism article (with pronunciation guides and food definitions) but in another way it goes beyond that to list lesser-known spots to visit for food or tours.
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