Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Written by Walter Pierce
A critical step toward addressing Lafayette’s political issues is about to commence.
We’ll have a pretty good idea before the next issue of The Independent Weekly drops who will comprise the charter commission. Tuesday, May 18, is the deadline to submit résumés. Nine registered voters in Lafayette Parish — five from the city and four from the unincorporated parish (but none from the five small towns) — will be selected from that pool of candidates, their appointments divvied up among the city-majority and parish-majority council members and City-Parish Prez Joey Durel.
The commission will have nine months to dig through our 58-page constitution, figure out what works, what doesn’t, or if the whole thing should be scrapped and Lafayette should return to a city government and a parish government.
The huge “if” dangling over the charter commission’s work — and it would be the most dramatic modifier of our means of governance — is total consolidation, that is, abolishing the small town governments and having one truly consolidated government for the parish. Language in the ordinance creating the commission is vague on whether that’s an option. But even if the commission recommends it, it’s not likely to happen. In the 14 years since LCG’s creation, the smaller municipalities in the parish have grown toward the money — Carencro has grabbed hold of Interstate 49, Scott and Duson have developed around I-10, Broussard has turned U.S. Highway 90 into a cash conduit.
The only municipality in the parish that stands to benefit in any way by blending into LCG is Youngsville. The town is overwhelmingly residential, and its sales tax base has long strained to generate enough revenue to provide services to its suburban sprawl. But with Youngsville’s recent annexation on the Ambassador Caffery extension, along with the opening of Chemin Metairie Road, the town is looking ahead to a considerable expansion of commercial development.
And there’s also the question of identity. Lafayette Parish’s small towns have their separate characters, and the residents in the unincorporated parts of the parish are more likely to identify with the closest small town than they are with urban Lafayette. I would suggest that as these towns attach their siphons to the corporate sources of revenue along interstates they risk losing that identity, but at the same time, those revenues increasingly make the small towns financially independent.
The legalities of total consolidation remain shifty, but unquestionably each town must make the decision, should it come to that, internally. As with the consolidation vote in 1992 in which the city of Lafayette had to vote in favor in order for consolidation to be approved — we’ve chewed long enough now on the irony that not only did the city of Lafayette approve consolidation, but it was also on the basis of that majority vote within the city that consolidation won parishwide — so it is with the towns. If the parish as a whole were to vote for total consolidation, that approval would have to be reflected within the towns. We can’t make Broussard or Carencro give up their mayor and council unless the residents there vote to do so. They are sovereign municipalities.
Total consolidation appears to be the least likely recommendation that could come from the commission. It’s probably safe to assume that improving the existing charter will be the preferred course, with deconsolidation a distant second.
Unlike virtually every other appointed commission in the state of Louisiana, Lafayette’s charter commission members will not be required to disclose their finances. There’s little doubt this will make serving on the commission more attractive and should widen the field of candidates. But it should also raise concerns. For example, what if a city resident appointed to the commission also owns land in the unincorporated parish? Would such competing interests affect the votes of that commission member?
At just beyond the halfway point in collecting candidate résumés, let’s cross our collective fingers and hope they’re engaged, conscientious, knowledgeable candidates, and that the council and parish president apply those same adjectives to the selection process.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
Jefferson Street restaurant and pub debuts during Festival with limited menu.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
See which events are taking place during INNOV8 Lafayette this Thursday.
It’s on, y’all. Fest fIND, our annual Festival International de Louisiana reader contest, is now accepting photo submissions.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
Fashion and music make great bedfellows
Producers, manufacturers, restaurants and chefs host roundtable and tasting
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
The easy one-piece way to style
Comfy feet for long days
Newsy bits for the whole fam
Don't forget: our annual Festival International contest begins Thursday! Win. Cool. Stuff.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
State bar foundation bestows honor on founder and managing partner of NeunerPate
This Wednesday, April 23, marks the first full day of INNOV8 Lafayette.
National awards recognize outstanding achievement in leadership development and leadership programs
A federal court magistrate has issued a seven-page schedule of hearings, conferences and deadlines leading up to January’s trial aimed at determining how much money BP will owe in Clean Water Act fines as a result of its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”