Support Lafayette’s only nonprofit news outlet. Donate today and your gift is quadrupled.

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.

Continue 5 min read
0 Comment(s)

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.

Continue 5 min read
0 Comment(s)

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.

Continue 6 min read
0 Comment(s)

Robideaux administration considering sale of LUS’s electric division Mayor in ongoing discussions with private equity firm to purchase or manage the 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.

Continue 5 min read
0 Comment(s)

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.

Continue 1 min read
0 Comment(s)

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.

Continue 1 min read
0 Comment(s)

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.
Continue 3 min read
▸ 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.
0 Comment(s)

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.

Continue 5 min read
1 Comment(s)

The high cost of political uncertainty

Lafayette needs less uncertainty from local government not more. But that’s not the direction we’re going.

Continue 5 min read
0 Comment(s)

Third guilty plea secured in Knight Oil Tools case

The gist: It’s now clear that Mark Knight is the big fish prosecutors want in the Knight Oil Tools racketeering case. As our May reporting indicated was likely to happen, court records now reveal that former Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Kinch pleaded guilty in late June to one count of public bribery and one count of corrupt influencing in […]

Continue 2 min read
0 Comment(s)

Complicated Cocktails: Cantaloupe Calypso

A spin on the drive-thru favorite that you can blend up in the comfort of your own kitchen, without the chemical junk. Grab a summer cantaloupe and let your Vitamix fly.

Continue 1 min read
0 Comment(s)

How the politics of the council split is shaping up

The gist: After weeks of speculation and backroom conversation, the effort to create separate city and parish councils has come online. 

Continue 4 min read

Conventional wisdom holds that the justification for the measure — equal representation for city of Lafayette residents — is obvious enough to make the six votes at final vote on July 24 necessary to put it before voters on Dec. 8 an easy win. But the effort is hardly a lock. The proposed ordinance also includes changes to the zoning commission and to procedures for civil service board nominations and, fittingly, amending the charter. 

▸ Where there was one, there would be two. The nine-member consolidated council would split into two new bodies handling the city’s and parish’s respective legislative business. Each council would have five members, growing total area representation by one seat. Otherwise, “consolidated” government remains more or less the same. The city and parish will continue to share public services. The mayor-president would remain an at-large position with parish-wide authority. This is not, by any stretch, deconsolidation. The logic of the move is to create more equal representation for the city of Lafayette and clear up budgetary processes. Councilman Jay Castille, largely viewed as a parish councilman, says the amendment would free up parish-oriented councilmen to focus on that side of the consolidated ledger and bring to fore the parish’s financial trouble, which is arguably papered over by the city’s largesse. 

“It’s a brand new game” for sitting council members, says Councilman Bruce Conque, one of the amendment’s architects. Creating two new councils would effectively reset term limits for the council members currently serving. That’s a thread of criticism already picked up by Lafayette Citizens Against Taxes. A potential opposition would be that this entire plan is a scheme cooked up to entrench incumbent politicos. The amendment also updates the charter minimum pay (originally $18,000) for the council members’ salaries to the current council pay of $30,356 a year. 

“It’s changed significantly, I can tell you that,” says Councilman Pat Lewis of his district, which is altered heavily as proposed. Lewis declined to comment further until council discussion on Tuesday, telling me he had only seen the updated maps today. The maps are not yet finalized, but as it stands, Lewis would lose center city neighborhoods and would run his next campaign in a racially split council district. He currently represents one of two majority-black districts on the consolidated council. How the district maps are drawn could be the hill the effort dies on. 

▸ What to watch for: Who’s for it and who’s against it. That’s obvious, I know. But the latter half of that equation has yet to be settled. Councilman William Theriot has stated emphatically that he’ll oppose the move. He says it doesn’t fix the underlying parish budget problems. He’s floated the concept of divvying up the unincorporated parts of the parish and assigning them to each municipality. The council vote count favors passage of the amendment but isn’t yet a lock. But even if it passes the council — final vote would occur on July 24 — the amendment would require a general election. Kevin Blanchard, a proponent of deconsolidation, plans to organize a campaign supportive of the amendment. Still, stark battle lines have not yet been drawn.

▸ A wild card: This election season is going to be nuts. Between a potentially electric congressional race and several tax propositions, your mailbox is gonna get positively stuffed. How that impacts this charter amendment vote is a big unknown. The idea doesn’t fall neatly along ideological lines. Those dynamics are difficult to predict.

0 Comment(s)