District 2 City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille is staring down a tough year. A week ago Castille was elected council chairman for 2010, the same year college students and the marginally employed will forgo door-to-door magazine and water purifier sales and instead count heads for the U.S. Census Bureau. The tally will have far-reaching effects on Lafayette Parish. While some parishes like St. Tammany and Bossier have gorged themselves on the fair-skinned jettisoned by fear and fortune from nearby urban areas, we’re the only parish in the state since 2000 to have grown solely by the steam of our economic engine.
The census results — probably somewhere around 215,000 for the parish, although officials have challenged a preliminary estimate, arguing it’s closer to 230,000 — will likely mean Lafayette will get an additional senator, and more clout, in Baton Rouge. It will also force the parish to reconfigure its city-parish council districts, which are also the districts for the Lafayette Parish School Board.
And that’s where things get complicated.
In 1990, six years before voters approved consolidation, a nine-member appointed commission created a city-parish charter. On balance, it is a serviceable constitution. But over the last two decades Lafayette’s growth has been anything but uniform. Population-wise, our parish is now bottom heavy — demographically pear-shaped. A gluteus that is undeniably maximus. Consequently, the southern districts — 7, 8 and 9 — have a disproportionate amount of residents while the inner-city districts — 3, 4 and 6 — are underpopulated. Our own version of white flight.
To remedy that, the southern districts will have to shrink, the underpopulated districts expand, and, some have suggested, all of them rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. The tricky part will be to maintain two majority black districts — 3 and 4 — without them meandering through the parish like a coulee. And the U.S. Department of Justice must sign off on a redistricting plan that satisfies the terms of the federal Voting Rights Act.
But here’s the rub: While the charter requires that districts have roughly the same number of residents, it also requires that any reapportionment be done at least six months before a council or school board election. School board elections will be held this fall, so no problem for them.
But council elections are set for October 2011, and Lafayette probably won’t get its census count back until March 2011 — six months before the election. That leaves no time — and it will take time, weeks probably — to reapportion the districts. “There’s no way,” Castille says. “Impossible. Just with the federal government trying to accept it, and that’s not even us working on it. It’s going to take us a while how to redistrict this thing.”
Castille appointed a new charter commission to remove the wording about reapportionment being at least six months before the election. But any changes to the charter will have to be approved by parish voters. Castille hopes to get that on a ballot Nov. 2 of this year. But in the meantime, any reapportionment plan will also have to satisfy the Lafayette Parish School Board, whose members will also be subject to the new districts and who will have their own prerogatives about how the districts are redrawn. LCG’s legal department, meanwhile, is researching whether any of this will get us in trouble with the DOJ.
A tough year indeed.
Bon chance, Jay.
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.