Amount Lafayette Consolidated Government paid in October 2005 to tech vendor Mark St. Pierre for four wireless routers that had been donated to the city of New Orleans by a California firm in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That LCG bought donated equipment was revealed for the first time publicly May 16 in federal court in New Orleans in the bribery trial of St. Pierre; LCG officials learned last year, through their cooperation with the federal investigation, that the equipment had been given to New Orleans. An official with California-based Tropos Networks testified that his company donated 50 of the nodes in October 2005 to the city of New Orleans and said they were worth $2,000-$3,000 each. But when St. Pierre’s NetMethods sold them to Lafayette in March 2006, he charged about $5,500 for each of the four routers, Lafayette Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley testified May 16. According to a copy of the purchase order obtained by ABiz, LCG paid a price that had been set by the state; the price was neither set nor negotiated by LCG. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten claims St. Pierre paid kickbacks to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette — the latter allegation leading to the firing of LCG Chief Information Officer Keith Thibodeaux last year.
Thibodeaux has not been charged.
However, in court testimony May 14, former New Orleans Chief Technology Officer Greg Meffert testified that St. Pierre struck a quid pro quo with Thibodeaux, under which LCG would hire one of St. Pierre’s companies, NetMethods, if Meffert would hire Thibodeaux’s wife to work on another contract St. Pierre had with New Orleans. Because Celeste Thibodeaux had no technology experience, Meffert testified that he came up with a position called “grant administrator” and paid her more than $90 an hour to work on the city’s contract with St. Pierre-owned Imagine, The Times-Picayune reported. He said that because she lived in Lafayette, Celeste hardly ever went to New Orleans, except once every few weeks “just to show her face,” the paper quoted him saying, noting Celeste made $236,000 in 14 months (she actually lives in the New Iberia area). About the time Celeste was brought on board, Keith orchestrated a $45,000 contract between LCG and Meffert’s company for technology consulting and got him paid quickly, documents show (Keith even processed the invoice before the contract was signed). City-parish records also reveal that Stanley and others questioned Thibodeaux several times about the pre-payment for services and what LCG was getting for its money — at one point prompting the following April 5, 2007, email response from a frustrated Thibodeaux: “Double check it, triple check it, put on memo form, stamp and send. This is the third time I have been chastised for this. Maybe it will be the last.” In court, Stanley said after being contacted by the feds last year that he personally investigated how much work NetMethods did on the $45,000 contract. The result of his findings: “zero.”— Leslie Turk97-0
House vote on state Rep. Rickey Hardy’s bill to shine a public light on affiliates of housing authorities. Should the state Senate see the House’s wisdom, affiliates would lose their exemption to the state’s public records law. Affiliates of housing authorities are defined as any corporation, entity, partnership, venture, syndicate or arrangement in which a local housing authority has an ownership or governance interest of less than a majority. Hardy wants the public to be able to review the deals designed to bring much-needed low-income housing developments to Lafayette. In one such venture — St. Antoine Gardens — an independent auditor found that the Lafayette Housing Authority improperly used as much as $1 million of Section 8 and other funds for repairs, upkeep and an employee’s salary.
Mary Landrieu is ripping into this Democrat effort to end subsidies for Big Oil — and, of course, there aren’t subsidies for Big Oil. Big Oil is not subsidized the way standard subsidies work. All that happens is that they have a lower tax rate for certain aspects of their business, but there’s no real subsidy that takes place.
Mary Landrieu understands exactly what’s going on. Mary Landrieu says to fellow Democrats and to Obama ‘Look, if you do this, you’re not gonna be hurting Big Oil; you’re gonna be hurting employment in my state,’ and then she lashes out at people who live in non-energy-producing states. Mary Landrieu said, ‘You people in Michigan, yeah, go ahead. You complain all you want about the gasoline price. What are you doing to contribute to our energy in this country? Your state doesn’t do anything for energy. But we here in Louisiana, we contribute. We have all kind of things.’
— Conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh, who last year called Landrieu a “prostitute” for her position on health care reform Source: nola.com33%
Increase in hotel/motel receipts March 2011 vs. March 2010. Lafayette Parish’s hoteliers took a hit from the oil spill last year, but by the second half of the year their numbers were rebounding nicely. Hotel/motel receipts ended the year down only 2.8 percent. In March of this year, hotel/motel tax receipts totaled $6.7 million, compared with $4.8 million a month earlier and $5 million in March 2010. Year-to-date receipts are now 16.2 percent higher than 2010.