Giddy-up! Plans to turn the nearly 90 acres of rolling pasture in the heart of Lafayette known as the horse farm into a public park entered the first furlong last week in the state House of Representatives. The House Natural Resources Committee voted 11 to 2 in favor of authorizing UL Lafayette to sell the land to the Community Foundation of Acadiana. Acadiana reps on the committee — Nancy Landry (Lafayette), Bobby Badon (Carencro), Jack Montoucet (Crowley) — voted for Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux’s bill. This is a first, important step in turning a long-neglected piece of land into a community asset.
Whoa, Nellie! We’re pretty sure his heart’s in the right place, but Lafayette businessman Harold Schoeffler’s appearance before the Natural Resources Committee to lobby against approving the horse farm land sale isn’t cantering well with many supporters of the plan. The Sierra Club member, environmentalist and champion of the Atchafalaya Basin managed to sway two members of the committee (Jerry “Truck” Gisclair of Larose and Sam “Chicken Plant” Little of Bastrop, who have no vested interest in Lafayette’s quality of life). Schoeffler questions the appraised value of the land ($5.7 million) and has little faith that the Community Foundation of Acadiana and Lafayette Consolidated Government have the wherewithal to maintain the land. But surely there are better ways of addressing one’s concerns than derailing the plan before it even exits the gate, especially when the parties involved have repeatedly maintained they will be all ears when it comes to finalizing the plan to turn this raw acreage into a jewel we’ll all enjoy for generations.
Just shut up! Between a potty-mouthed deputy superintendent and a former super with Victorian sensibilities, the Lafayette Parish School System has looked pretty lame of late. It’s bad enough that Deputy Super Lawrence Lilly greeted former Super James Easton with a sailorly “f*%# you” when the two crossed paths at the state Capitol after Easton testified on behalf of a school board reform bill. An intrepid Independent staff writer witnessed the incident and had consigned it to the “unreported ugly politics file” until Easton fired off a boodaying letter to current Super Burnell Lemoine. The story went out as an INDsider blog, the Daily Advertiser got a hold of it, and next thing you know, the LPSS’ dirty laundry is flapping in the wind. Co-couillons this week: Lilly, Easton, the local press!
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.