Questions about the questionnaire for the 2010 census are settled; the Senate last week blocked Sen. David Vitter’s bid to include a citizenship question. It could mean the loss of a U.S. House seat for Louisiana and a bizarre redrawing of the remaining six districts in the state. Much closer to home, next year’s census poses some serious questions about how Lafayette Parish will be reflected in the composition of the City-Parish Council, and it could have a profound effect on the balance of power in our parish.
The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce has begun studying the distribution of souls in the parish and how that might affect the redrawing of district lines. Bruce Conque, now a vice president at the chamber and a former city-parish councilman, has been assigned the task of crunching these numbers. Bruce and I have met for coffee a couple of times recently, and while he and the chamber haven’t taken a position on what the parish numbers may mean for our consolidated government, I’ve been drawing some unsettling conclusions. Chief among them: The city of Lafayette, which comprises a majority of the parish population, could have minority representation on the council within a few years.
Based on a 2008 estimate by LCG’s Planning Department, which used information from utility providers, Lafayette will have a population of approximately 215,000 when the U.S. Census Bureau hits the streets next year for its decennial head count — 56 percent in the city, 28 percent in unincorporated areas and 16 percent in the smaller municipalities like Broussard, Carencro and Youngsville. But since the 2000 census, as anyone who drives around Lafayette knows, growth in the parish has overwhelmingly been toward the south and the southeast — in the areas of Broussard, Youngsville and Milton.
The city-parish charter requires that all nine districts, which are the same for the parish council and the school board, have roughly equal numbers. Consequently, working with a total parish population of 215,000, each district should contain about 24,000 people. Right now districts 7,8 and 9 — the southern “growth” districts — have more than 24,000. District 7’s population is 3,000+ higher, District 8 is 1,500+ and District 9 is a whopping 7,000+. At the same time, the inner city Districts 3, 4 and 6 are a combined 14,000+ below what they will need to be when districts are reapportioned following the census.
The trend is clear: People are moving out of the heart of the city and into the suburbs and smaller towns. The conclusion is virtually inescapable, too: The number of districts in south Lafayette Parish outside the city limits will have to increase — at the same time they’ll shrink geographically to account for population density — while the inner city districts will expand geographically to pull in more people to get to that magic number of 24,000. How we maintain two majority black districts at the same time will no doubt impress the most limber contortionist.
Ultimately, the possibility that the current council make-up of five city districts and four rural districts becoming four city districts and five rural districts takes on the shape of certainty. And if you subscribe to the view that council members outside the city tend to be less favorable if not downright hostile to the idea of government funding for the arts, and generally anything that benefits the city of Lafayette, what becomes of Festival International de Louisiane or Festivals Acadiens et Creoles or a comprehensive master plan?
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.