Some day in the not-too-distant future, votes by the Lafayette City-Parish Council on matters pertaining to Lafayette Utilities System and other city-only issues could be weighted based on representation; that is, council members with more LUS customers or city residents would have more say — their vote would be heavier — than council members representing fewer of those constituencies.
CPC Chair Jay Castille, who awaits a draft ordinance from LCG’s legal department that would clear the way toward creating an official charter commission, is looking toward a weighted vote as a means of solving some of the issues in the existing City-Parish Home Rule Charter — chief among them the mechanism by which issues concerning LUS, a city-owned public utility, are decided.
The charter grants governance of LUS to the Lafayette Public Utility Authority, which comprises council members whose districts are at least 60 percent city and therefore 60 percent LUS customers. The LPUA currently stands at five council members. But some LUS customers live outside those five districts, and if the LPUA were the sole decision maker, they would have no voice as LUS stakeholders. Consequently, the full nine-member council also votes on LUS matters, and so far the two bodies — the LPUA and the full council — have not disagreed on an LUS vote, although the potential for that occurring exists. The current situation also means that non-LUS customers have been getting equal say as LUS customers on issues concerning the public utility. This is one of the primary reasons Castille appointed a charter committee in January — to solve the LPUA/full council conundrum. A weighted vote, he believes, address it. “We discussed it,” Castille acknowledges, “and that’s some of the discussion that I hope takes place during these next few months with the charter commission, if we can get one appointed.”
A weighted voting system would also mean the LPUA could be abolished. Under such a system, the vote of Councilman Sam Doré would carry the most weight — 19 percent — because he represents 19 percent of all LUS customers. Doré is followed by Keith Patin (18 percent), Don Bertrand (16), Kenneth Boudreaux (15), Brandon Shelvin (13), Castille (7), Jared Bellard (5), William Theriot (4) and Purvis Morrison (3). Not coincidentally, the five councilmen with the heaviest votes comprise the LPUA.
The Feb. 2 vote approving an LUS rate increase passed the full council by a 5-4 vote: Dore, Patin, Bertrand, Castille and Morrison in favor; Boudreaux, Shelvin, Bellard and Theriot opposed. If that vote were weighted, the rate increase would have passed by a 63-37 percent margin. Castille believes such a system adequately addresses the LPUA problem. “We just need to figure out how to approach that and make it work easy for staff, the council staff, and make sure that everything’s in order,” Castille adds. “I believe it can be worked out.”
An electronic voting system is the likely remedy for making a weighted vote efficient. The Lafayette Parish School Board uses electronic voting. However, the home rule charter does not allow electronic voting. Both a weighted vote and an electronic voting system are subjects Castille hopes a charter commission will address. In fact, the council chairman is already doing his homework on electronic voting: “I met ... with IT and we discussed that also — to do the electronic voting.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.