Council approves a new innovation trust, a possible ‘crypteaux’ vehicle

▸ The gist: On Tuesday, the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to approve the creation of a new public trust, called the Lafayette Public Innovation Alliance, and seat its first trustees. They were approved to serve five-year terms by the City-Parish Council. Future trustees will be nominated by the mayor-president and approved either by the city-parish council or, if the proposed charter amendments pass, by the parish council. Robideaux named Lafayette Parish the beneficiary of the trust.

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▸ The trustees are:

  • Chris Meaux - CEO of Waitr
  • Bruce Greenstein -  EVP, chief innovation and technology officer at LHC Group
  • Mandi Mitchell - assistant secretary of Louisiana Economic Development
  • Ramesh Kolluru - VP for research, innovation and economic development at UL Lafayette
  • Joel Robideaux

▸ Uh, what do they do, exactly? The primary goal of this trust is to produce and attract more technology and software development talent in Lafayette. There are no local public dollars being invested into the trust at this time — although Robideaux did offer to throw in the first $100 if that was required to make it kosher. The intent is to leverage the trustees’ contacts nationwide to find grants and get the trust funded and off the ground.

“Certainly any effort regarding a Lafayette-based cryptocurrency would naturally fit within the goals of the trust as I see them,” Robideaux wrote in an email. “More specific, if Lafayette develops a digital token and that token can generate seed money for the trust, then I would be elated.”

▸ What to watch for: Innovation districts. Robideaux indicated the fund could finance innovation districts that would help the region attract new talent. “We need to produce more talent locally, or implement a strategy to attract talent from other places…specifically technology talent,” he said at the meeting. While there was nothing specific about what that might entail, the idea resembles similar efforts underway in Chattanooga, which claims to be the first mid-sized city to establish an innovation district.

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The case against separate city and parish councils

Not every argument against separate councils holds water, but some are compelling and worth exploring

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The case for separate city and parish councils

Over the course of five town halls, we’ve talked through just about everything but the merits of creating separate city and parish councils. Here’s the case for the split.

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In retirement announcement, Huval questions move to privatize LUS

Terry Huval, director of LUS for 23 years, has hurried his retirement amid revelations that the Robideaux administration is in talks to privatize the system’s electrical division.

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How cashing in on LUS reveals the unfairness of consolidated government

While there are more questions than answers about selling LUS, one thing we know for sure is that it’s a perfect example of the unfairness baked into the structure of Lafayette’s consolidated government.

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Leaving council members in the dark jeopardizes Robideaux’s LUS play

Much of the City-Parish Council, already disillusioned that it was left in the dark during negotiations, appears unified in opposition to LUS’s electrical division changing hands.

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Coming up roses

Lauren Bercier of Something Borrowed Blossoms says Lafayette is a great place to launch tech-based businesses that can reach a national market.

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Robideaux administration considering sale of LUS’s electric division

Talks between the Robideaux administration and Bernhard Capital Partners over the potential purchase of Lafayette Utilities System have been ongoing since at least the beginning of the year.

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Complicated Cocktails: Hibiscus Lemonade Cooler

This light-tasting spiked tea is a perfect mate for taking it slow. Sip on it in the afternoon haze and let the glass sweat through golden hour.

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Complicated Cocktails: Kiwi Martini

The kiwi is an oddball perfect for buttoning down a classic martini into something you can sip leisurely at a pool party without coming across a pretentious Pete or Patty.

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A redistricting compromise is in the works to court Pat Lewis to support the council split

▸ The gist: Lewis reportedly flipped to a “no” on an amendment to create separate city and parish councils when he saw the way his district was redrawn in preliminary maps. As late as minutes before Tuesday’s council meeting, Lewis was shown a map that would give him a safely black voting district, potentially allaying concerns about gerrymandering and disenfranchisement.
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▸ Some background: Lewis currently represents a consolidated district that’s 63 percent black and includes Downtown. A map published last Thursday removed Downtown from Lewis’ new district, placing it in Bruce Conque’s new district, and included a close to even racial split between white and black voters. Lewis indicated at Tuesday's council meeting that he was left out of the process of redrawing the maps, a complaint shared by fellow councilmen William Theriot and Jared Bellard. Lewis asked that the council to wait for the 2020 census to consider substantial changes to the charter. 
Several revisions have been made to appease Lewis’ concerns, a process reportedly hemmed in by Lewis’ residence in the north reaches of city limits. The latest reported revision, shown to Lewis before the council meeting, would create two majority black districts instead of one. Districts currently represented by Lewis and Kenneth Boudreaux would represent populations that are more than 60 percent black, arguably “safer” districts for either councilman to run in. Lewis has yet to indicate if the change would satisfy his concerns. It may be that his bigger concern is losing Downtown. I was unable to reach him for comment before press time. 

▸ Yes, redistricting is ugly: 
And no, this doesn’t really look like gerrymandering. Something to keep in mind is that Lafayette is roughly 64 percent white and 31 percent black. By ratio, that would legally entitle black voters to 1.55 seats on the council. The last minute revision would provide, ostensibly, two black councilmen on the city council and one on the parish council. Downtown would also move to Kenneth Boudreaux’s district in that proposal. It would thus be hard for Lewis to oppose that revision on the grounds that it disenfranchises black voters. But there is another ugly truth at play here: Redistricting takes into account the interests of the politicians themselves. Lines are drawn to accommodate the ambitions and desired constituencies of the sitting council members. That’s as much true for Pat Lewis’ district as it is for anyone else’s. It’s not pretty. It’s politics.
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How A. Hays Town continues to shape Lafayette’s vision of home

This ideal of a family home is at the core of Town’s designs, whether it was a vision he gave us or something he tapped into that was there all along.

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