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?
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.