The Lafayette Charter Commission will get the 101 on operations of Lafayette Utilities System from Director Terry Huval during its Monday meeting.
LUS is probably the biggest bone of contention regarding the Lafayette Home Rule Charter. The charter designates the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority — the five city-majority council members — as the governing body for the public utility. But while the LPUA votes on matters related to LUS, the full, nine-member council has routinely voted as well, setting up a scenario in which non city-majority council members’ votes override the will of the LPUA. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a very real possibility.
Some city-majority council members have questioned why their votes should carry the same weight as the votes of council members who represent very few city residents. (Each of the four “parish” council members represent some city residents served by LUS; preventing them from voting on LUS issues would effectively disenfranchise the city residents they represent, hence the dual votes by the LPUA and the full council.)
Next spring, when the parish gets the results from this year’s census and redraws district boundaries, there’s a possibility that representation on the council could shift from five city-four parish reps to four city-five parish reps, in which case the LPUA, as delineated in the charter, would by law become a four-person panel. That in turn poses the risk that the LPUA could become deadlocked by 2-2 ties.
The charter commission will likely look at ways to rectify these issues by considering, among other things, removing LUS authority from the council and giving it to an appointed board comprising city residents. A weighted vote — that is, each council member’s vote is in direct proportion to the number of city residents he represents — may also come under consideration.
Commissioners will receive briefings on the various boards and commissions under the Lafayette Consolidated Government umbrella, as well as hear from the mayors of the other municipalities, in the coming weeks. The commission is scheduled to begin deliberations on Nov. 1.
The charter commission meets at 5:30 p.m. in the City-Parish Council auditorium. The meeting is open to the public.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.