Written by Walter Pierce
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Lafayette Parish is not going to deconsolidate any time soon — voters will not be given an opportunity to make that decision in 2010 and likely won’t in 2011, the same year as city-parish council elections. Because of a state law that prevents an elected official’s term in office from being shortened due to a change in government, if the parish doesn’t vote on deconsolidation by spring of next year, the parish likely wouldn’t be able to deconsolidate, assuming a groundswell of support for returning to two governments emerges, until 2016.
But now that we’ve had a chance to catch our breath and look a little deeper into the implications of deconsolidation, the idea appears to be cooling. Proof was at the Building Communities Conference last month at Toledo Bend. Sponsored by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, the weekend event brought together government and private-sector people — the same folks who determine the temperature for most hot topics in our community — to discuss Lafayette’s future both in concrete and conceptual terms. After speaking with some who attended the conference, it’s clear that deconsolidation is falling on our civic thermometer.
That wasn’t the case a few days later on March 22 when City-Parish President Joey Durel hosted a town hall meeting at the Chenier Center. The mood there, cast mainly by black residents from more economically depressed quarters, was let’s deconsolidate now.
One of the underlying assumptions that buttressed the vote in favor of consolidation 18 years ago is that government would work better in Lafayette if the city and parish wed. Eliminate the waste and duplication, streamline the processes and we’ll get better results. But for many in Lafayette’s inner city, we haven’t gotten better results, reduced poverty and crime, separated the dys from the function.
Yet a week later at the deconsolidation meeting in Youngsville, the sentiment was the polar opposite. Overwhelmingly, voters there want consolidated government to remain. Their councilman, William Theriot, said he is “100 percent opposed” to repealing the charter.
The attitude of Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais, with whom I spoke for this week’s cover story, is that the city of Lafayette made its bed and now must lie in it. In 1992 when consolidation came up for a vote, it was a pro-consolidation sentiment in the city that carried the day; a majority in rural Lafayette Parish and the small towns didn’t want to consolidate. And yet here we are in 2010 — the city of Lafayette wants out, the parish wants the status quo. An old adage about being careful what you wish for comes to mind.
What remains universally true from the city’s perspective is that the city of Lafayette must find a way to ensure that in the foreseeable future it doesn’t lose its clout on the city-parish council. Right now the city enjoys a 5-4 majority. But if the demographic trend of residents setting up housekeeping outside the city continues — and demographics are like big ships: they turn slowly — Lafayette will not have a majority in 10 or 20 years.
That is what’s driving calls for deconsolidation, and it’s near the heart of all this anxiety over annexation detailed in this week’s cover story. If the city of Lafayette becomes hemmed in by the small towns and cannot grow its land mass, it can’t take in new residents and, in the view of some, runs the very real risk of becoming the parish’s inner city — a fate that befell New Orleans decades ago and is creeping quickly into Baton Rouge.
Durel had a map drawn up that envisions none of Lafayette Parish being unincorporated; all the municipalities would annex what’s left commensurate with their current size. The parish’s mayors will sit down this month to talk about the map. What happens at the meeting will go a long way in determining the rise or fall of deconsolidation on that civic thermometer.
If the demographic trend of residents setting up housekeeping outside the city continues — and demographics are like big ships: they turn slowly — Lafayette will not have a majority on the council in 10 or 20 years.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seenh on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Dogs get back-to-school blues; mother pleads for release of journalist; ice bucket challenge and more national and international news for Thursday, August 28, 2014.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage
Snuggle worthy wear
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Louisiana's Republican governor has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally using federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Newly established honor recognizes outstanding local attorneys; Neuner and McGoffin win President's Award; and Blanchard named Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Daily paper constructing new digs near production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near I-10.
Investigation finds Arnaud’s Furniture, Carroll Building Specialties and Crazy Charlie’s Shoes running misleading going-out-of-business sales.
Critics say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration's mismanagement of their program.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
"This is yet another example of the failed leadership and lack of focus that Hunter Beasley has exhibited. He’s shown zero regard for kids, teachers or even passing a budget for the school year that’s already started."