Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Politics making strange bedfellows is an abused cliche, but truth can often be divined in its bruises. The 5-4 vote hanging over the fate of the traffic camera program in Lafayette is proof. Last week the margins on the council — the three most conservative members and the two most liberal members — folded together into a simple majority and voted in favor of the introductory ordinance that would let consolidated government’s contract with Redflex, the SafeLight/SafeSpeed vendor, expire next month, effectively closing the shutters on the red-light cameras and speed vans. The council’s political middle — two moderate Republicans and a pair of moderate Dems — joined together to vote against the ordinance, in other words in favor of SafeLight/SafeSpeed.
There’s no reason to believe this vote will stand when the ordinance is up for final adoption next week, which is really beside the point of this column. But let’s say it does and roll out some scenarios.
No. 1: Last week’s May Day vote stands and the program is quashed by a 5-4 margin. City-Parish President Joey Durel, a camera proponent, vetoes the ordinance, setting up a veto override. The four councilmen who voted against the ordinance — in favor of the cameras — are not swayed. Durel’s veto stands. The contract is renegotiated. SafeLight/SafeSpeed survives.
No. 2: One of the four councilmen changes his mind and joins the anti-Redflex simple majority, bulking it up to a veto-quashing super majority. The Redflex contract expires. The cameras are removed from the intersections.
Regardless of our personal positions on the cameras, the millions of dollars in revenue they generate for consolidated government or the public safety aspect, arguable though it may be for some, I have a real problem with scenario No. 2, and not because I’m in favor of the cameras.
My unease with No. 2 is because this is a city of Lafayette program operated entirely within the city of Lafayette. But a pair of “parish” councilmen — the chairman and vice chairman, who don’t live in the city of Lafayette, pay no city of Lafayette property taxes, represent barely 10,000 Lafayette city residents combined and, most galling, have no camera-equipped traffic signals within their districts — are the galvanizing force behind this initiative to do away with the cameras. This, to me, is a kind of political carpetbagging — outsiders meddling in city affairs.
The elegantly simple solution I proposed a couple of years ago — a weighted vote — was greeted with much fanfare. By chirping crickets.
There are nine seats on the City-Parish Council representing a parish population of about 221,000 residents, according to the 2010 census. But consolidated government isn’t truly consolidated, as we all know: City finances/affairs are separate from parish affairs, and the council routinely votes on ordinances that pertain to one or the other but not both. Yet on city-only matters the votes of council members who represent few city constituents are equal to the votes of those councilmen who represent many city folk. That’s unfair, from my admittedly biased city perspective.
Here’s the remedy: District 6, for example, which has the most city residents — more than 22,000 — represents about 19 percent of the city’s 120,000 souls. District 9, the most populous district overall with roughly 30,000 residents but with the fewest city residents — 4,000 and change — represents roughly 3 percent of the city.
So on a vote that pertains only to the city of Lafayette, District 6’s vote would count for 19 percent whereas District 9’s would amount to only 3 percent. The percentages of the council districts’ city representation add up to 100, but the districts with the most city residents would have the greatest power in city matters, to the point that a three-district minority in a 6-3 vote on a city matter — if that minority comprises city-centric Districts 6, 7 and 8, which represent about 52 percent of all city residents — would carry the day. But it wouldn’t, to put it differently, be a three-seat minority winning the vote; it would be a 52 percent majority winning the vote.
This is the most democratic means of protecting everyone’s interests, and one I’m confident our council leadership will enthusiastically embrace.
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
A Vegan and Gluten-Free bakery tasty enough for any skeptic
In the Pelican State, Benjamin Franklin buy you about $109 worth of stuff.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
Four bedroom colonial or three bedroom traditional home
Brittan Bush joins Liskow & Lewis, Blake David installed as the Third District Member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s board of governors, and Simien & Miniex announces 2014 scholarship winners.
“In some cases, we’ve found that these parts are nothing more than used junk yard parts. In others, we’ve found them to be foreign knock-off parts of questionable quality.”
The relaxed fan
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
IberiaBank and LHC Group are presenting co-sponsors of the popular luncheon.
Hub City Cycles hits the ground running through small-business center opportunity.
Leaders from the local tech community ponder the question: What's missing from Acadiana's tech ecosystem?
AT&T’s U-verse heads our way. Here’s what it means for you.
LITE’s virtual environments are changing the way local employees learn how to do their jobs.
Local tech gurus will go the distance to call Lafayette home.
A look at recent hires, promotions and other news from Acadiana's business community.
New Johnston Street eatery catapults to No. 1 spot in nearly 200-location chain.
By identifying companies that match the output of its post-secondary educational institutions, Lafayette is creating opportunities that keep highly trained graduates in the area.
Gideon’s Promise lauds G. Paul Marx’s work to improve the quality of indigent defense and helps train five new public defenders.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
AG says 50-year-old Terry Francis Savoy sold fraudulent Workers Compensation and Employers Liability insurance policies throughout the state.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
The state's jobless rate rose to 5.4 percent in July from 5 percent in June. Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in July 2013.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.