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 22 This entertaining short (15 minutes) film on Munchies is all about Boudin. Thank goodness it's just a documentary-style piece filled with the voices and faces of south Louisiana, as opposed to outsiders waxing poetic about our regional specialties. But be warned, there is some pretty graphic pig butchery going on here, so if you're squeamish it may not be for you.
OCT 22 A state judge threw out the lawsuit of a former employee of the LSU Alumni Association, the Advocate reports here. The employee had claimed the former director of the group gave her a job so she'd have sex with him, and after she left agreed to continue to pay her -- so she'd have sex with him. Apparently you get no points for hutzpah.
OCT 22 Education blogger Mike Deshotels writes about the retraction of the Cowen report in this post. However you slice it, the Recovery School District is still failing, he says. (But Mike, doesn't that depend on what the intention was? If no one ever meant the RSD to fix public education, it's working perfectly, isn't it?)
OCT 22 A major Jindal donor was allowed to avoid the competitive bid process in the purchase of a state office building in Monroe, blogger Tom Aswell reports in this post on Louisiana Voice. The circumstances he lays out here are pretty stinky.
OCT 22 While Govs. Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry attempt to fan the flames of Fox Newsian hysteria into viable presidential hopes with talk of building walls to keep out the Ebola, LA Times columnist Mike Hiltzik gives them some national press they probably don't want: if you want to save lives, he says, try accepting Medicaid expansion. Wups!
OCT 22 It's hard to pick out the most interesting part of this post on Mother Jones about Texas lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick (His claim that migrant workers will bring leprosy to Texas? That Connie Chung's show should be called "Slanted Eye to Eye"?) But of course we must go with the comments about our very own Duck people, and how they are the spokesmen for God.
OCT 22 Advocate owner (and rich guy) John Georges must be doing a little happy dance today. As his paper reports here, the Times Picayune is further reducing its footprint in NOLA, by laying off 100 people and moving their printing operations to Mobile. (Yes, Alabama.) Does this mean the Advocate won?
OCT 22 Baton Rouge's downtown is now starting to show significant growth, this post on DIG Baton Rouge reports. With new construction, new restaurants and new housing units popping up, the downtown area is finally starting to look like a capital city, the story says.
OCT 21 Two St. John Parish employees were indicted in connection with the amoeba found in the parish water supply, WVUE reports in this post. They are accused of lying about testing the water for proper chlorine levels, the story says, claims that were contradicted by their government vehicles' GPS records.
OCT 21 The McClatchy DC blog posts this fascinating view of Louisiana's political landscape. It's a little heavy on the cliches, and also a little heavy on the quaint Cajun/Creole shtick, but it's still good reading -- if only for the outside view of our insides.
OCT 21 Here's an interesting story from the National Journal about New Orleans almost 10 years post-Katrina. There are demographic information and charts, as well as some commentary about the corresponding changes in the way the city looks and works.
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