Wednesday, October 5, 2011

C'est Bon
Opelousas resident Hubert Vidrine’s 15-year battle with the feds over false criminal environmental charges and malicious prosecution ended Friday when Vidrine was awarded $1.67 million in damages from the federal government. Vidrine sued the government in 2007 on behalf of himself and his wife, seven years after he was accused by the feds of illegally storing hazardous waste at the Canal Refinery in Church Point, which he managed at the time. The indictment against Vidrine was dropped in 2003, and the EPA agent heading up the investigation was fired last summer amid revelations that he was having an illicit sexual affair with an FBI agent who was jointly investigating Vidrine — good reason to devote a lot of attention and travel from Texas to Louisiana for the case. Like the Giglios in this week’s cover story, the initial charges against Vidrine, although they would ultimately unravel, tainted his standing in the community. In awarding Vidrine $1.67 million in the case, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty noted that were punitive damages against Uncle Sam legal they would certainly be warranted in this case.

Pas Bon
If you believe the candidates vying for Louisiana lieutenant governor, both are jerks and double dealers who aren’t fit for public office. Something’s gotta give. Incumbent Jay Dardenne and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, both Republicans, have all but taken off the gloves, rolled up the sleeves and stepped into the alley to settle their long-distance accusations, bringing their mud-slinging campaigns to television and radio as the election draws near. The Dardenne-Nungesser tilt is also revealing fissures in conservative politics in Louisiana, with various right-leaning websites and groups lining up behind one or the other. Can the Louisiana GOP weather such extreme intra-party warfare? Of course it can — there are no Democrats left to pick up the scraps.

When it comes to representative democracy, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce seems more empty suited than suited to politics. Less remarkable than the endorsements the GLCC’s political action committee issued last week are the races in which the chamber declined to take a position, especially the District 3 seat on the City-Parish Council. Incumbent Councilman Brandon Shelvin’s personal and legal problems have been well chronicled in this newspaper and numerous other media outlets going on two years now. Shelvin’s opponent, Lloyd Rochon, is, to the best of our knowledge, squeaky clean. So why sit this one out? There’s probably more to the story than is readily apparent, but the chamber’s ham-handed history — remember the endorsements of competing candidates in the school board races last year? — make it hard to take the GLCC seriously. And on second thought, a chamber endorsement in District 3 could be more of an albatross than an asset. Congratulations, Lloyd, you were NOT endorsed by the GLCC!

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