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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OCT 31 The National Journal posts another story from its visit to NOLA, this one about the struggling Vietnamese shrimpers in the area. The publication has been looking at how the state is recovering from Katrina, nine years later.
OCT 31 The New York Times posts this look at Louisiana politics, and how national issues are forcing out the old-time local politicking. Of course they mention EWE, aptly described as an old-time politician known for "charming one half of the state and mortifying the other."
OCT 31 Here's an AP story on the ABC site about Louisiana's chicken little response to an international medical conference planned in NOLA this weekend. Organizers (who are actual physicians, as opposed to the hand-wringing state officials who issued the edicts) say the orders are "unfortunate" given that a main focus of the meeting was Ebola.
OCT 31 Given the things Bobby Jindal has said and done since he's been governor, it's a pretty safe bet he thinks we're a bunch of dummies. Apparently, he's sure President Obama is one, too. This story on Huff Post quotes Jindal as saying the president - a graduate of Harvard Law - should sue to get his money back. (What should a Brown biology grad who doesn't believe in evolution do?)
OCT 31 Us old folks are used to a two-party system, although most of us aren't sold on its success. But what if that system wasn't in place; what if politics reflected the true level of diversity among voters? That's what an LSU student is dreaming of in this editorial. He sees the two parties' control of our politics as limiting.
OCT 31 And you thought the Senate race was dirty. This post on the Forward Now blog tells the story of a Shreveport mayoral campaign worker who was paid to "infiltrate" and "sabotage" an opponent's campaign. Karma's a beeotch, though, because turns out the guy really liked the "enemy," and now he's supporting her. For real.
OCT 30 The National Journal offers this analysis of Bobby Jindal's willingness to stump in any Senate campaign that's not in Louisiana. Why is that? The Journal asks some GOPers and finds that the answer is one we already know: he's so unpopular here, because he's been so busy running for President, that his support might be "toxic."
OCT 30 Blogger Tom Aswell is still all over the OGB mess - and all by himself, apparently. In this post, he's revealing orders from the Jindal administration to destroy records from the state employee health insurance plan. Those orders (he's heard) have angered the Secretary of State and caused an administration lawyer to quit her job. Wow!
OCT 30 A NOLA lady has alleged she was drugged and raped at a Bywater club that had a clothing-optional policy until recently, and she's now become the victim of a smear campaign, columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes in this post. She chose to reveal her story and her name, and she's being punished for that now, he says.
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