Horse farm, NGOs big winners in budget finalization
It was a victory for supporters of the horse farm and the Acadiana Center for the Arts Tuesday as the City-Parish Council approved funding for Lafayette Consolidated Government to purchase the pastoral, inner-city paradise from UL as well as to significantly increase LCG’s support for the newly expanded AcA.
External agencies that provide social services were also winners Tuesday as the council voted to accept a plan submitted by the Durel administration that consolidates funding for those agencies – heretofore social service and arts/culture agencies were separate line item budget expenditures – within the Community Development Department, which will enlist a five-person committee to review social service agency applications and award $256,000 in grants annually on a competitive basis.
A council majority beat back a series of amendments by serial “fiscal hawks” Jared Bellard (District 5) and William Theriot (District 9) that would have eliminated or significantly slashed funding for both arts/culture and social service agencies that are external to LCG.
But in a case of two steps forward, one step back, the council approved an amendment offered by Councilmen Kenneth Boudreaux (District 4) and Brandon Shelvin (3) that will give the council the authority to review how external agency grants are allocated through the AcA (for arts organizations) and Community Development (for social services); the overarching aim of City-Parish President Joey Durel’s new model for funding those agencies was to free the funding process from council politics. At first glance, the Boudreaux/Shelvin amendment does the opposite, giving the council veto power over funding priorities set by the grant-awarding panels of the AcA and Community Development.
As it stands, the council approved a $500,000 downpayment on LCG’s purchase of the 100-acre horse farm property on Johnston Street, which also includes a land swap in which UL gets the Youth Park property adjacent to campus behind the Johnston Street fire station. (The land has been appraised at roughly $5 million; LCG will enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with UL and Community Foundation of Acadiana to purchase the land over 10 years and to develop it into a passive public park.) Additionally, the AcA will receive $285,000 in funding for its operating expenses, plus an additional $59,000, which will be awarded in grants to arts/culture providers in Lafayette Parish. The external grants awarded by the AcA will also be distributed by a grants panel through a competive process.
The votes on funding of the horse farm purchse and arts/social service agencies was part of the finalization of Durel’s $611 million LCG budget for fiscal year 2010-2011, which commences Nov. 1.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.
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.