Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Next year is shaping up to be a divine one for politiphiles.
By Walter Pierce
It begins with qualifying Jan. 12 for the open state Senate District 26 seat formerly occupied by Nick Gautreaux, who left the Legislature in late December to serve as commissioner of the Office of Motor Vehicles. The district spans all of Vermilion Parish, plus parts of St. Landry and Acadia parishes and the western third of Lafayette. First-term GOP Rep. Jonathan Perry of Abbeville has already announced his intention to run; we’ll have to wait and see if any aspirants from Lafayette Parish emerge.
Spring is when things really warm up, first with state lawmakers convening March 20 to redraw Louisiana’s U.S. House districts. The federal redistricting — Louisiana will lose one of its current seven U.S. House districts — is likely to lead to the creation of a district that combines in some fashion Districts 7 and 3 to create a coastal district. That would pit, should both choose to seek the position, Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, the three-term Republican in 7, against newly elected Republican (and tea party-embracing) Rep. Jeff Landry of New Iberia, who won former Congressman Charlie Melancon’s District 3 seat this fall.
If this comes to pass — that Boustany and Landry square off in two years for a new, combined district — at least one thing bodes well for Boustany: the end of Louisiana’s closed party primary system, adopted in 2006 and abandoned this year, and the return to open or so-called “jungle” primaries.
As we witnessed across the nation in 2010, closed GOP primaries favor the more conservative candidate (think Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller and Ken Buck, tea party candidates who defeated moderate, “establishment” opponents but who later lost in their general elections). An open primary in which Democrats and Republicans (and everyone else) are all vying to make a run-off will favor a midstreamer like Boustany.
On the heels of federal redistricting, sometime in late March or early April, parishes will also begin the redistricting process. Here in Lafayette, we’ll redraw the nine districts that comprise the school board and city-parish council seats. This promises to be a pain in the asterisk: Federal law requires the parish to maintain two majority-black districts, and redrawing those districts — Lafayette’s black population isn’t as concentrated in the central and north parts of the city as it was a decade ago — without gerrymandering them will be tricky.
There’s also the possibility that because our parish has become so bottom-heavy, that is, more densely populated in the south, the council could flip in favor of council members who represent non-city residents, giving them five seats to four for the city reps. Try funding an arts center or buying a horse farm if that happens, which brings us to the charter commission.
The nine-member panel must complete its work and make a recommendation by April 21. It will likely recommend what is essentially partial deconsolidation — create a separate charter for the city of Lafayette, with its own council and mayor, maintain a parish council but keep services like public works consolidated. That is the best possible solution for those of us who worry the city is headed toward a capitulation of its sovereignty and self-determination.
In the fall there will be elections for city-parish council, city-parish president and some legislative seats, including Senate District 23 (incumbent Mike Michot is term-limited) and House District 44 (Rep. Rickey Hardy, our fount of colorful quotes, will seek reelection). The likely suitor for Michot’s seat is state Rep. Page Cortez of Lafayette, who will be winding down his first term in the House. Our sources say a more conservative, tea party-approved candidate — like Michot, Cortez is a centrist Republican — may emerge to vie for Michot’s seat. Regardless, the outcome of the legislative contests could have far-reaching consequences for the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the Acadiana delegation in Baton Rouge. It’s all about clout.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
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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 seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
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