Wednesday, March 21, 2012
With little surprise but with much fanfare Lafayette proudly accepted the sobriquet “South’s Tastiest Town” last week during a reception at the Acadiana Center of the Arts. The distinction came complements of Lafayette garnering nearly 200,000 votes in the eponymous contest sponsored by Southern Living magazine. We beat Louisville, Ky., by about 35,000. Louisville is best known for the dish ... well, they have the Kentucky Derby. That’s something. In all more than half a million people voted in the competition among 10 cities, most of them metropoli with far larger populations than ours. Competing city Houston probably wasn’t helped much when one of its own food writers raved in January about Lafayette’s food scene, noting especially the success of locally owned restaurants: “What I really adored about Lafayette, though, is how — by the nature of the strong Cajun culture there — the town is light-years ahead of other cities in its emphasis on supporting local businesses.”
Political payback has a long, bipartisan history in state politics, so it came as little surprise last week when Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, was canned from his post as vice chairman of the House Committee on Insurance by Speaker Chuck Kleckley. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s choice for the top leadership post in the House was coy about the ouster, reserving public comment to praise for Ritchie’s effectiveness as a lawmaker. Mmm-hmm. Ritchie’s transgression against Team Jindal had nothing to do with insurance issues; instead it was for voting against an education tax rebate plan pushed by Jindal, and it amounted to another signal from the governor that differences of opinion on the centerpiece of his 2012 legislative agenda will not be tolerated. To paraphrase Sen. Mary Landrieu, if Jindal really wants education reform to be an open process with input from all sides of the issue, Ritchie’s firing sends the wrong signal. If Jindal really wanted that.
Amazingly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone is still getting his federal prosecutor paycheck — he’s on annual paid leave as of this writing — even though his boss in New Orleans, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, revealed last week that Perricone had confessed to being the anonymous reader who posted hundreds of comments on The Times-Picayune’s website, most of them snarky attacks on Fred Heebe, the River Birch Landfill owner facing a federal corruption probe. Evidently Perricone couldn’t wait for a trail and decided to try Heebe in the court of public opinion. The prosecutor was suspected after the deep-pocketed Heebe hired a former FBI linguist to review nearly 600 comments posted under Perricone’s nom de plume, Henry L Mencken1951. Heebe has filed a defamation suit against Perricone, who has been yanked from the River Birch case and whose anonymous sliming of federal defendants might jeopardize other cases handled by Letten’s office.
in case you missed it