Loaded and Coded
Beware those who would bestow ‘fiscal responsibility’ on local government.
At first blush it sounds like the simplest of concepts. Ensure expenses don’t exceed income.
But fiscal responsibility has become the most loaded and coded term in our political parlance since a black man laid his head on a pillow in the White House, and it has migratory powers that would make a monarch butterfly blush. To be sure, there’s been something south of a paucity of fiscal responsibility by the federal government dating back decades. But the term has fluttered from where it’s applicable — Washington, D.C. — to Lafayette Consolidated Government, where it’s become code for something else entirely. Now it means “spending priorities,” and I’m calling bull.
This is a community conversation we need to have in Lafayette, and one this newspaper hopes to cultivate as we move through the master planning process that nears.
During the campaign last fall, at least one Tea Party-backed candidate for the City-Parish Council made “fiscal responsibility” a refrain during what turned out to be a successful bid for office. And just a couple of weeks ago, after he and the other eight members of the CPC were sworn in for four-year terms, a representative of the Tea Party of Lafayette told a reporter in a story that framed the inauguration as a successful insurgency by the political far right: “We want to work with the administration still, but we’re just looking for more fiscal responsibility in government on all levels.”
The implications of the story’s ground-floor architecture and the Tea Party comment are two-fold: One, the far right in Lafayette politics is now a force that must be reckoned with, which I don’t buy, and two, the fiscal supervision of Lafayette Consolidated Government has been irresponsible. That, my friends, is a load.
LCG is in the black. It has a budget surplus. Its bond rating, which is arguably the best thermometer for a city’s fiscal health, is good.
The Fitch Group, which along with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s comprises the “Big Three” credit rating agencies, said this about Lafayette last spring: “The city’s general fund has consistently maintained a healthy reserve level, with unreserved balance ranging between 25% and 35% of expenditures. Fiscal 2010 consolidated government (city and parish combined) unreserved general fund balance totaled $25.4 million, or approximately 26% of total spending.”
Fitch summarized its estimation of Lafayette, in part, by concluding: “The city maintains a sound financial profile which is characterized by sizeable operating reserves.”
We’re living well within our means with a little disposable income in the bank.
Moody’s recently rated LCG’s ability to meet its various bond obligations in a range from Aa2 to A1 — near the top for long-term bonds. If LCG were a person, she would have a killer credit rating and a sky-high credit line on the plastic in her pocketbook. And she would wear a tiara with a fleur de lis motif of cubic zirconium, because that’s the way I like my anthropomorphized governments.
All this talk about fiscal responsibility is really just code for fiscal priorities, specifically spending taxpayer money to support the arts and culture, and to help keep up the stitching in our very porous social safety net.
There are those among us, including the newly elected chair and vice chair of the council, for whom roads, drainage and public safety are the sole purview of government. Anything beyond that is unnecessary extravagance — fiscally irresponsible frivolity.
And then there’s the rest of us. Fortunately the rest of us remains a majority recognizing that quality of life is much more than a smooth transit on a freshly paved road from a zombie exurb to the office and back again.
newsy bits for the fam
Festival International de Louisiane is right around the corner — April 23-27 — and IND Monthly’s second annual Fest fIND contest is along for the ride.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
Georgia-based fried chicken chain would go up against Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and others (like the Popeyes near its proposed location).
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The perfect color for Easter Sunday
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
Egg-citing ideas for sharing at family gatherings
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Court-appointed examiner says Lafayette businessman was “effectively on both sides” of transactions, opens door for legal action against him.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lafayette-based insurance broker/risk management group bought by Florida firm for undisclosed sum; principals Landry and Harris continue to run local operations.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
The life and legacy of Dave Perkins will be commemorated with a special INDesign Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2014 event on April 24.
Easy crafts in time for Easter
The Cane Fire Film Series presents “The Great Flood” on Monday, April 14, at the AcA.