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.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
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.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.