Seventy percent of Americans continue to trust their local government, a level that has held relatively steady for over four decades and across party lines.
Nearly two weeks since The Current broke the news, Mayor Joel Robideaux presented a detailed timeline of his talks to privatize the electrical division of LUS through a management agreement with a private equity firm based in Baton Rouge. Robideaux had come under fire for leaving council members out of the conversation, most of whom only learned about the deal in media reports.
▸ 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.
▸ 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.
Not every argument against separate councils holds water, but some are compelling and worth exploring
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
▸ 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.
Lafayette needs less uncertainty from local government not more. But that’s not the direction we’re going.
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 […]