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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MAR 12 Here we go! The former vice president of Louisiana College has filed suit against the private Baptist school and its embattled president, Joe Aguillard, the Town Talk reports here. He says he was fired because he blew the whistle on Aguillard. But really -- who cares? This means interrogatories, depositions, and other evidence-gathering activities. That alone will be worth the price of admission.
MAR 12 Blogger Dayne Sherman writes about Gov. Jindal's refusal to expand Medicaid in this post. He asks: if Bobby's so pro-life, how come he doesn't care about the life already here? Dayne, who hasn't posted in quite a while, apparently has been saving up. He's got a lot to say about what Jindal's been up to, including some recent events which saw Jindal as "Pee-Wee Herman acting all John Wayne." Now that's a visual.
MAR 12 This post on NOLA Defender's politics blog covers Gen. Russel Honore's new command, that of a self-named "Green Army" of environmental activists. The Army got together for the first time (in real life; they've been networking online for a while now) this past weekend on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. The first aim: protect Louisiana's aquifers from industry that would drain and contaminate them. The army may be small, but already has attracted attention, the blog tells us.
MAR 12 Here's an interesting post on the politics blog of The Lens about the proposed increase in minimum wage. As a business owner, you might expect Chase to come down against it, but in true Chase Family fashion he does not. He argues that paying a "just" wage encourages productivity, adding that discussions about what people are paid should not be limited to economics, but include that concept of justice.
MAR 12 Here's a post by Becky Banks on Salon about True Detective and Louisiana. She's talking here about what she feels to be the elements of a classic southern gothic horror story, as well as the trend in Louisiana "reality" shows to downplay the intelligence of the cast and portray the state as "another country." It's an interesting read but don't go there if you haven't watched the end of TD; the killer's identity is discussed here.
MAR 12 Here's DIG Baton Rouge taking a look at some of the bills prefiled before the session that started Monday. Among them, a bill to make a (very, very old) Bible the state's official book, another that would close our primary system, and one that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Now that's a GREAT idea.
MAR 12 Here's an example of how well the death penalty works in Louisiana. This NBC33 story tells us about a man who spent 30 years on death row at Angola -- before being freed this week after it was determined he was innocent of the crime we were going to kill him for.
MAR 12 Blogger Jeff Crouere writes about the governor in this post on Bayou Buzz, and it's not a clipping that will end up on Bobby's refrigerator. He starts out saying that Jindal is weak at home and "irrelevant nationally." And that might be the nicest thing he says in the whole post. The only place Bobby Jindal will ever be President is "in his fantasies," Jeff writes. Yikes.
MAR 11 Two (allegedly) newsworthy things happened on Monday: Bobby Jindal laid out his plan for the legislative session, and Lil Boosie gave his first interview after being sprung from the joint. (Who's Lil Boosie, you say? Click here.) To celebrate these equally fascinating monologues, the Picayune posts this story asking you to determine which luminary uttered which pearl of wisdom.
MAR 11 Columnist John Maginnis writes here of Gov. Bobby Jindal's recent streak of meanness toward the President. Since it is having no effect on his national profile, and Bobby's not delusional (oh, OK - thanks for the update on that) Maginnis opines that Jindal is possibly auditioning to be someone's (anyone's?) vice president. Impressing higher-ups is one of Jindal's abilities, Maginnis reminds us.
MAR 11 Blogger Jason Berry gives us an update on the continuing activity connected to BP oil spill claims. For some time on the American Zombie blog, he's been keeping up with the "shenanigans" at a level not even contemplated by Louisiana's media. (You know, kind of like he did with Ray Nagin. So probably the Picayune will be taking credit for this in a couple years, too.) There are links to his previous posts, as well, so if you're curious this is a good place to start.
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