Gentlemanly fireworks flew at Tuesday’s Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting as some members of the body representing majority city districts took aim at an introductory ordinance by council Chairman Jay Castille that would create an official charter commission to review and possibly amend the current Lafayette Home Rule Charter. The backdrop for the discussion is talk of repealing the charter and returning the parish to dual city and parish forms of government. And while the intro ordinance passed by a 5-3 vote (District 8 Councilman Keith Patin was absent), it did not advance without more than an hour of sometimes heated discussion. Typically introductory ordinances are passed without discussion as a matter of deference to the ordinance sponsor. Not Tuesday. Castille’s charter commission ordinance was pulled from the batch and pulled apart by the city men.
“I really do believe that creating a commission at this time would circumvent the purpose of the town hall meetings,” said District 4 Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux in an opening salvo, “and that is hearing from the people and truly finding out what they desire in the creation of a government and whether they want to remain in the current form of government or consider any alternative forms of government.”
Councilmen Don Bertrand (District 7) and Brandon Shelvin (District 3) also joined the fray, arguing against the formation of a charter commission until — at the very least — City-Parish President Joey Durel has completed his town hall meetings throughout the parish. Councilmen William Theriot (District 9) and Purvis Morrison (District 1), who represent Youngsville and Scott, respectively, reiterated their opposition to repealing the charter.
Morrison reminded the panel that there are not enough votes on the council to advance a deconsolidation ordinance to a parish-wide vote, precipitating a terse exchange with Bertrand, who recounted a recent experience at a town hall meeting outside the city of Lafayette: “There is one municipality in the parish of Lafayette that does not have autonomy, and that is the city of Lafayette,” Bertrand said.
“How many of you are in favor of keeping consolidation? All the hands go up,” he observed, referring to a question raised by Durel at that rural town hall. “Then you ask, ‘How many of you in the municipalities are willing to go whole hog on consolidation and join true consolidation and drop your local governments?’ And all the hands go down.”
“Is that not a clear message?” Morrison responded.
“It is a clear message,” Bertrand replied. “And that’s exactly what I’m trying to say that you’re not paying attention to. What you’re not paying attention to is there’s one municipality in the parish of Lafayette that does not have that autonomy, and that is the city of Lafayette, and that is what I’m also hearing at the town hall meetings.”
While maintaining his composure, Castille was clearly put off by the discussion. “I did make the comment when I became chair,” he said, “that this would be an exciting year. It’s right on track.”
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.