We won’t be climbing out of a fiscal hole like many communities — thankfully the Great Recession hasn’t sunk its teeth too deeply into our hide, and the administration and council have done a fair job of making sure we live within our means. The price of oil and natural gas will, however, figure greatly into our fortunes, as it does every year.
In the meantime:
Will the Lafayette Parish School System and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce make nice after years of strained relations? Some current and former members of the chamber remain miffed over a 2001 agreement with the LPSS. In it, the chamber agreed to support a sales tax for the school system in exchange for the central office signing off on a massive, detailed plan to raise scores in public schools in the parish. The sales tax passed. The agreement was signed by both sides. Nine years later the scores in Lafayette Parish, one of the most affluent in the state, remain middle of the pack. They’ve climbed some, and the LPSS has shown an admirable knack for innovation in the interim, but today’s scores fall far short of the 2001 document. There’s been some behind-the-scenes bickering between the two lately over the agreement, which the chamber failed to periodically monitor (one source says chamber leadership can’t even locate the original document) and which the school system says no longer applies because the method by which the state gauges performance has changed.
But the LPSS will once again need the chamber, if not this year then probably the next. It wasn’t for naught that the LPSS hired a Baton Rouge planning firm to assess the physical condition of our public schools. Among the firm’s conclusions: More than a dozen schools are in such poor shape that the cost of repairing them — plugging the leaks, replacing the ducts, repairing the roofs — is at least 65 percent the cost of building new schools to replace them. These are public buildings maintained by public funds. Can we not expect the LPSS to approach taxpayers in the foreseeable future asking for a funding source (read, sales tax)? And can the LPSS do it without the endorsement of the chamber, which, its reputation as a vanilla booster club notwithstanding, comprises some heavy hitters in Lafayette’s civic life?
And what of the fizzled-in-the-frying-pan story of 2009, the “horse farm” — those 98 acres of serene, rolling hills in the heart of Lafayette that are supposed to become our own little Central Park? UL, the city and the Community Foundation of Acadiana, the players in this drama, say a benevolent Daddy Warbucks who prefers to remain anonymous is ready to gift $5.7 million to the CFA to buy the horse farm from the university, provided the Community Foundation can raise that same amount to develop and care for the park. As of last check there was no new news to report on the biggest story of last spring. It’s just kind of sitting there, like the horse farm.
Will the City-Parish Council come up with a solution to maintaining order in downtown Lafayette on weekend nights — a solution that satisfies both the bar owners, who take the brunt of the blame and who, given their druthers, would prefer status quo, and some of the downtown’s non-bar merchants who are calling for Draconian measures like curfews and banning 18 to 20-year-olds from the nightclubs?
And speaking of the CPC, will it resolve that nagging, annual cough we call NGO funding? Or will the same old battle over tossing a pittance to a handful of non-profit agencies return come budget time this summer? The CFA, which has offered to maintain an endowment for non-profit funding, could figure into this story line. Many, however, would prefer the CFA keep the blinders on and rein in the horse farm deal.
Red from head to toe
Joshua Dore of Breaux Bridge was sentenced Tuesday to 1.5 years in prison for counterfeiting, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office on Wednesday.
Last month, 19,629 passengers boarded planes at the airport, and another 19,627 passengers deplaned, also the highest number on record for the month, according to the airport’s figures released Wednesday.
School super Pat Cooper alleges Lafayette Parish School Board member Mark Allen Babineaux, an attorney, publicly disclosed the details of a closed-door executive session.
The Silverbacks Improv Theatre presents their annual “holiday” show tonight at Theatre 810.
A legal tug-of-war continues in a state levee board's lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies over the erosion of wetlands.
A former BP drilling engineer was convicted Wednesday of deleting text messages from his cellphone to obstruct a federal investigation of the company's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sun Belt commissioner presents title and practice gets under way in preparation for Saturday
In Louisiana's latest tax amnesty period, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration added a new twist, letting companies settle their back-owed taxes with unused tax credits, instead of paying cash.
Kerry Bertrand’s charge was upgraded Tuesday by an Acadia Parish grand jury from manslaughter to second-degree murder for his alleged role in the drowning death of his stepdaughter, Skylar Credeur.
Sean Payton announced Wednesday that veteran Shayne Graham was New Orleans' new kicker, and that rookie Terron Armstead would get his first start at left tackle.
It’s the season for saving by helping Lafayette Animal Aid
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 18, 2013
NOLA Bowl outfits with flowy pieces
The lawsuit filed in New Orleans alleges that more than half the Social Security numbers on Mikal Watts’ client list were fake — either dummy numbers or numbers belonging to someone else, living or dead.
Industry veteran named GM and CEO of Cypress Bayou's casino and hotel operations.
The IND's directory, the most comprehensive in the market, includes health clubs, gyms, health and sports drinks, medical fitness facilities, and studios and classes to keep you healthy and fit in the new year.
More local companies expected to take advantage of economic boom.
Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates $800 million of sales tax revenue annually in Louisiana is not collected and remitted by internet vendors.