Christiaan Mader

Christiaan Mader founded The Current in 2018, reviving the brand from a short-lived culture magazine he created for Lafayette publisher INDMedia. An award-winning investigative and culture journalist, Christiaan’s work as a writer and reporter has appeared in The New York Times, Vice, Offbeat, Gambit, and The Advocate.
Link to theadvocate.com Library board will support tax renewal

The library system’s board of control, stocked now with ideological conservatives appointed in the wake of a string of controversies, will support an upcoming renewal. Just three years ago, the Lafayette Parish Library system was flush, sitting on $26 million in reserves and working with three property taxes. That hefty balance became a target for conservative activists, and a political campaign to defeat one tax renewal succeeded. Now, the system is operating at a deficit and with a much smaller reserve.

Via The Advocate
Link to theadvertiser.com Gov. Edwards: Lafayette’s failed mask mandate a ‘failure of leadership’

Sounding off to The Washington Post, Gov. John Bel Edwards bemoaned Lafayette’s second failed attempt a local mask mandate a “failure of leadership.” Edwards called the decision “regrettable” and emphasized that the statewide mandate is in effect, despite an apparent lack of enforcement both by the state fire marshal and the open defiance of Mayor-President Josh Guillory.

“It’s unfortunate, because that region of our state, at numerous times throughout the pandemic, has actually had some of the highest positivity rates and case growth and hospitalizations,” Edwards said.

Via the Daily Advertiser

Link to theadvocate.com Louisiana expanding vaccine eligibility to K-12 teachers, people with health conditions

Beginning Monday, K-12 teachers and school staff and people aged 55-64 with certain health conditions will be eligible to receive Covid vaccines, Gov. Edwards announced Thursday, reported here by The Advocate. The massive ongoing winter event has disrupted already delayed vaccine logistics. Closed roads and offices forced delays in vaccine shipments and providers have had to reschedule both first- and second-dose appointments. LDH officials say that a few days delay on second doses shouldn’t be a problem. Just over a quarter-million people have been fully vaccinated in Louisiana. Hospitalizations have plummeted, however. As of Thursday, the Acadiana region posted fewer than 60 Covid in-patients for the first time since Nov. 2.

Link to lailluminator.com Freeze delays vaccine shipments and appointments

The winter storm disrupted already delayed vaccine logistics, too. Closed roads and offices forced delays in vaccine shipments and providers have had to reschedule both first- and second-dose appointments. LDH officials say that a few days delay on second doses shouldn’t be a problem. Just over a quarter-million people have been fully vaccinated in Louisiana.

Via Louisiana Illuminator

Link to theadvocate.com LUS: We’re not out of the woods till Saturday

LUS executed a pair of rolling outages, following orders from the regional grid network that supplies most of the energy that powers Lafayette. The temporary blackouts cut off electricity to about 25% of LUS customers for up to 30 minutes.

The polar vortex event has stressed the nation’s grid infrastructure, and the freezing temperatures will hold until the weekend.

“We won’t be fully out of the woods until Saturday,” LUS electric operations manager Greg Labbé told The Advocate.

Link to theadvocate.com As expected, Lafayette mask mandate fails

A second effort at passing a local mask mandate failed on a 3-2 vote during a Tuesday emergency meeting of the Lafayette City Council. Losing co-sponsor Nanette Cook ahead of the meeting, the bill was dead on arrival and would have needed four “yes” votes to succeed and overcome a likely veto from Mayor-President Josh Guillory.

More than 3,000 calls flooded the council office, with two-thirds recording opposition. Misinformation about masking and the ordinance itself circulated wildly in the weeks since the effort was announced, though a draft of the ordinance didn’t materialize publicly until Monday.

Councilman Glenn Lazard pressed on despite the foregone failure, emphasizing that the mandate was necessary to force the administration’s hand into enforcement. Late last year, Guillory stood down local efforts to support the state’s mask mandate, and the state’s enforcement is itself virtually nonexistent.

News + Notes

UPDATE: LCG passes $7 million rent assistance plan

December’s booster shot of federal stimulus will send $7 million in rent and utility assistance to Lafayette Parish, a figure that dwarfs previous local allocations but that advocates say still falls short of projected need. LCG is working through how to get the money out quickly.

Read More
Link to theadvocate.com Lafayette mask mandate likely dead on arrival 

Would be co-sponsor Nanette Cook formally withdrew her support for an ordinance imposing a local mask mandate Tuesday. Unable to see a practical means of enforcement, she also cited mixed messages from unidentified “medical professionals” among her reasons for backing out. 

Some 2,000 calls flooded the council office for and against the proposed ordinance, which The Current first reported last week. Misinformation about the what the local law would do has swarmed social media. 

Glenn Lazard, who is in and out of treatment for leukemia, is pressing forward. But with Cook’s support, the ordinance won’t have a veto-proof voting block to carry it. 

“I still have plans to go forward with it,” City Council member Glenn Lazard told the Advocate. “It’s the right thing to do and I’m still hopeful I will receive the necessary support to pass it

Link to lailluminator.com Is there equitable access to vaccines? We don’t know. 

The pandemic surfaced deep disparities in access to healthcare, with early data showing a disproportionate impact on the Black community. So far, Louisiana isn’t collecting sufficient data to know whether those disparities are playing out in who gets vaccinated. It’s not just about the logistics of where doses go, either. Health officials speculate that generational distrust of government health programs among Black Americans, seeded by medical experiments conducted by public health agencies, may ward them away. Health equity has become a point of emphasis in public policy — both Louisiana and Lafayette Consolidated Government, for instance, created health equity task forces.

But right now, we don’t have a clear picture of the issue with respect to the vaccine program.

Link to theadvertiser.com Lafayette deconsolidation committee a go

With virtually no discussion, Lafayette’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to create a committee to review what city taxpayers get out consolidated government. The resolution creates a seven-member group called the “Protect the City Committee,” which will convene for six months and report its findings.

This could be a first step toward putting measure to break up combined form of government before voters.

City voters can apply to join the committee by sending a resume to [email protected]

Link to theadvocate.com Lafayette City Council to consider committee to explore deconsolidation, separate city mayor — The Advocate

City Councilman Pat Lewis will propose a resolution creating a committee to weigh the benefit of consolidation for the city of Lafayette. Called the “Protect the City Committee,” the group would evaluate the costs and limitations of Lafayette’s current form of government, which combines city and parish services and departments.

A 2018 parishwide vote created separate city and parish councils, Lafayette Consolidated Government’s current configuration, but kept administration functions consolidated under the mayor-president.

Mayor-President Josh Guillory supported deconsolidation as a candidate but has recently acknowledged flipping his position on the issue. Guillory and the City Council have been at frequent odds.

Read more from The Advocate

Link to apnews.com Sec. of State proposes similar Covid-19 election plan for Spring 2021 ballots

Melinda Deslatte reporting for the Associated Press:

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin wants to use the same expansion of absentee-by-mail voting that was in place for the summer and fall elections, including the November presidential competition.

Lawmakers on House and Senate oversight committees Tuesday will consider the package of COVID-19 emergency rules proposed by the Republican elections chief. If approved there, they advance to the full Legislature for a vote. In addition, the provisions would need the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards to take effect.