The gist: This meeting presents several items at the root of recent confrontation between members of the City Council and mayor-president. Items addressing the council’s bid for independent legal representation, the ongoing LUS investigation and finding permanent leadership for it, LUS Fiber, parks and recreation and the police department are all on that agenda. Plus, the Parish Council is moving forward with a plan to offload parks.
Council Preview 10/6: Answers on LUS investigation, what to do with LCG’s CARES Act money, polling locations, final adoption on parish tax increases
The gist: Some City Council members want more answers about the ongoing investigation into LUS and LUS Fiber, which the mayor-president escalated into criminal allegations. The Parish Council is likely to approve increases — without a public vote — for some property taxes to make up for lost revenue. Meanwhile, more money is pouring in from the federal government. Full agendas here.
Lafayette’s city and parish councils passed a compromise budget that doesn’t address any of the city’s or parish’s major budgetary problems.
The gist: City-parish attorneys kicked the findings of a forensic auditor’s report into suspect transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber to the FBI, according to email correspondence with council members. Based on the same evidence in that forensic audit report, and other documents previously handed over, the district attorney declined to prosecute crimes alleged by the Guillory administration.
No evidence of malfeasance, records destruction or other crimes by former LUS director, district attorney finds
The gist: Despite persistent efforts, the Guillory administration failed to mount a compelling ad hoc criminal case against longtime LUS and LUS Fiber Director Terry Huval, the district attorney concludes in a pair of letters to LCG’s legal department and the mayor-president obtained by The Current through a public records request. Further, District Attorney Keith Stutes insists what LCG alleged was a criminal scheme to cover up “illegal” subsidies of LUS Fiber is exclusively a matter for the Louisiana Public Service Commission, which has limited oversight of Fiber.
The gist: Late last night, City Council members questioned a representative of Metairie-based CPA firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram about his forensic analysis of transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber, pressing him on the decision to forgo an interview with the man the firm’s report repeatedly accuses of illegal conduct. The council also decided to send the findings to the […]
Council Preview 8/18: A report on the LUS report, go-cups (again), early voting in North Lafayette, splitting up city and parish parks
Here are the highlights for Tuesday night’s city, parish, and joint council meetings. To view the full agendas click here, select 8/18/2020 from the dropdown menu, and then click on the agenda or agenda item you want to dive into.
The gist: Reaching conclusions already voiced by the Guillory administration and its predecessor, a long-awaited forensic investigative report on suspect transactions between LUS and Fiber accuses former Director Terry Huval of flouting state law to inflate Fiber’s revenue by millions of dollars. Published Thursday — along with years of communications among Huval and other officials, as well as commercially sensitive information — the report singles out Huval but implicates current and former employees of LCG, LUS and Fiber.
Council Preview 8/4: Another special meeting on parks, LUS investigations, flood modeling, new early voting sites and scooters
The gist: Other than filling 40 appointments to boards and commissions, these should be relatively light council meetings, though everyone could probably use a break after the 10-hour marathon meetings two weeks ago. The main hot-button topics are a report on the ongoing LUS investigation, the addition of early voting sites, and the potential establishment of new rules that could welcome shared services back to our streets. And in late-breaking news, the City Council is calling an emergency meeting to consider an ordinance splitting up city and parish funding for the parks department.
The City Council has scheduled an Aug. 4 emergency meeting, immediately after tomorrow’s regular meeting, to split up funding of the parks department. An ordinance authored by City Councilwomen Liz Hebert and Nanette Cook would keep city and parish funding separate in the parks department. That means the City Council would have control over how city dollars are spent on city parks and the Parish Council would control how parish dollars are spent on parish parks. This would address a host of issues, like the one that occurred last week when the Parish Council failed to second the opening of discussion over an emergency ordinance to continue funding the rec centers the mayor-president wants to shut down. Both councils, however, would still have to approve the overall budget.
Lots to report on at LUS. While there are no votes happening with LUS, there will be two reports to the City Council, one giving update on the LUS investigations and the other on the status of LUS’s IRP. At the last council meeting, the administration dropped a bit of a bombshell that the missing emails aren’t actually missing, so there’s a possibility of more fireworks to come.
There will also be a report on AOC’s services. Acadiana Open Channel streams all council meetings as well as most LCG special meetings and events so the public can stay connected to the democratic process. It’s a service that has taken on extra importance in the midst of a pandemic when many can’t risk attending in person. AOC’s services are paid for by franchise fees paid by local cable TV and Internet providers.
Disclosure: AOC Community Media serves as The Current’s fiscal agent.
So many appointments. Between the City and Parish Councils there will be 40 board/committee seats filled with appointments, including a number of seats on entities like the Heymann Center, the Lafayette Science Museum, and the Cajundome, all of which are facing reductions in their subsidies from the city general fund.
New early voting sites moving forward. The Parish Council will vote on final adoption of an ordinance to partner with the cities of Broussard and Youngsville to have them cover the costs of setting up an early voting site at the East Regional Library. The City Council will vote to introduce an ordinance to partner with the parish to cover the costs of setting up an early voting side at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center. Setting up this second early voting site is projected to cost the city $66,000.
Scooters may be returning, but there will be rules, lots of rules. Up for final adoption by the joint councils is an extensive set of rules that could allow for the return of shared electric scooter services like Bird. These scooters were originally quite controversial; while some loved them, others hated how the scooters ended up littered everywhere. With these new rules in place, at least some of those bad behaviors should be curtailed. That’s because all shared scooter operators will have to pay application fees and a registration fee for each scooter and face penalties if they’re not maintained and operated properly.
LCG may hire UL to study flooding and channel capacity in Lafayette Parish. UL researchers have already developed a model of how water flows through our parish. The joint councils will vote to introduce an ordinance authorizing the Mayor-President to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement to pay those researchers $52,000 to study potential changes to Lafayette Parish’s drainage system.
The parish has a final vote on handing the keys to Arceneaux Park to the city of Broussard. The parish already set up a similar arrangement for Foster Park with the city of Youngsville. If this passes, the city of Broussard will become responsible for maintaining and improving Arceneaux Park. Deals like this are being pursued because other cities in the parish want to see these parks become quality of life assets and avoid disinvestment. And the parish simply doesn’t have the money to keep them up.
The gist: Walking back an allegation central to the lingering scandal around LUS, Lafayette’s city-parish attorney admitted in the wee hours of Tuesday night’s council meeting that thousands of former LUS Director Terry Huval’s emails were never missing. The purportedly missing emails were a key factor in the Guillory administration’s request for a criminal investigation into LUS.
In the next couple of years, LUS has to make a series of huge decisions. But the issues that matter are getting drowned out by the political theater that’s been drummed up around potentially illegal payments from LUS to LUS Fiber. Lafayette can’t afford to get distracted.
The gist: NewGen Strategies & Solutions, LUS’s consulting engineer, fired back at Mayor-President Josh Guillory, saying in a July 2 letter obtained by The Current that his decision to publicly lay out a case for firing the longtime consultant was malicious and politically motivated.