Wednesday, February 23, 2011

By The Independent Staff

We were reminded Saturday night in the Cajundome why UL basketball fans had such high hopes for the Bob Marlin era entering the 2010-2011 season, and why college basketball can be so addictive. Following a head-scratching 3-14 start — including 1-5 in Sun Belt Conference play — and dwindling attendance at the ’dome, the Cajuns have been on fire, winning nine in a row including eight straight conference games, and filling the arena with raving, vermilion-clad fans. And with the success has come a slogan: “Fear the Beard” — a homage to the beards sported by several Cajun players. Fans have taken to wearing fake — and real — beards to games, and the university has rewarded them with discounted tickets for their faux (and real) facial fur. UL hosts Denver Thursday and closes the regular season at UL Monroe Saturday. Wins in both assure the Cajuns a first-round bye in the SBC tournament beginning March 5 in Hot Springs, Ark.

Leadership at the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce no doubt breathed a sigh of relief Saturday night after state Rep. Jonathan Perry edged businessman Nathan Granger in the special election for the state Senate District 26 seat. Last week the chamber blundered into the political arena (again) by endorsing Perry in the race over Granger, who built a small business — what’s a chamber of commerce’s mission again? — into one of Acadiana’s top 50 privately held companies. The GLCC’s star chamber got an earful from outraged membership who wondered how a chamber of commerce could endorse an attorney/Cajun comic over one of the region’s most successful businessmen. We seriously doubt the chamber endorsement helped Perry pull out the victory. In fact, based on the reaction in Lafayette, which Granger won — Senate 26 includes about a quarter of our parish — Perry may have cringed when the “coveted” endorsement was announced.

When the owners of a chicken-finger franchise blamed the federal drilling moratorium — or “permatorium,” as the criers of economic calamity have taken to calling it — for their Lafayette and Breaux Bridge restaurants going under, they were laughed out of town. But on Feb. 11, when Houston-based Seahawk Energy announced it was filing for bankruptcy and cited White House energy policies for its demise, the industry narrative — Obama is bad! — got a shot in the arm. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu maxed her blowout preventer first, observing that “the worst-case predictions are now true, and we are still living this economic nightmare.” Gov. Bobby Jindal predictably chimed in, too, saying in a press release that “bad federal policy from the Obama administration has had bad effects on businesses and jobs.” But as Advocate columnist Mark Ballard pointed out over the weekend, Seahawk’s financial woes are much more nuanced, and its bankruptcy can probably be attributed more to legal fights with other companies, a future tax liability with the Mexican government — Calderón is bad, too! — and a persistent inability to fill key management positions. Folks, unemployment has fallen in Louisiana as tax collections, oil prices and consumer spending have risen. We’re handling this permatorium with aplomb, thank you very much.

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