Dec. 1, 2014 08:43 AM
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JANUARY

Karma Nightclub & Lounge, capacity greater than the town of Arnaudville and long the bane of many in the Downtown community, closes its doors in early January.

With a capacity at about 1,200, the club actually generated fewer per-patron police calls than many other bars Downtown, but Karma had more violent crime complaints than the other clubs in the district, most of which have much smaller capacity.

The club was the subject of a special hearing in September 2013 in Lafayette by the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control at which several Downtown business owners and residents urged ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert to yank Karma’s liquor license. The club was also the defendant in a lawsuit filed in December 2013 seeking more than $186,000 in past-due and future rent payments for the term of the lease.

FEBRUARY 

The Green Army, a coalition of South Louisiana groups trying to stop the gross industrial abuse of our state’s fragile environment, launches under the leadership of retired U.S. Army Gen. Russel Honoré, who built a solid reputation leading the relief effort in New Orleans in the miserable weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

“There’s an expiration date on clean drinking water in Louisiana, and this is because of the acts of men, greed and a failed democracy — a democracy that put the flags of oil and gas companies over our state Capitol,” Honoré says during a panel discussion at the Clifton Chenier Center in Lafayette.

Under the leadership of City-Parish Council Chairman Kevin Naquin, a five-member volunteer group — the so-called Future Needs/Funding Sources Committee — is formed to take a look under the hood of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s very complex financial structure with an eye toward making recommendations on how to most effectively fund local government. Long overdue.

MARCH

Popular live-music venue Artmosphere finds itself in the crosshairs of the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control after an audit finds the bistro was not meeting the mandated level of 51 percent of food sales versus alcohol sales.

Artmosphere was fined $1,000 and given 90 days to get its food sales up to the required amount. Social media went crazy, and the community rallied around owner Berry Kemp and her popular hangout. Artmosphere, we’re happy to report, is still open and booking some of the best live music in South Louisiana.

The food kicks gastronomy, too.

The shady dealings of former Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority member and real estate developer Greg Gachassin finally come before a panel of administrative law judges thanks to charges filed by the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which is seeking to recover $1.5 million ($1 million in consulting fees plus 50 percent in punitive damages) along with possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Gachassin’s trouble with the Ethics Board — and with ethics in general — stems from his clear violations of state ethics law in the timing of his tenure on the LPTFA and development projects his Cartesian Group did under the aegis of the LPTFA.

APRIL

MoveOn.org, the liberal activist group, buys a billboard on Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge satirically chastising Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Louisiana, which would benefit more than 225,000 residents at the possible expense of Jindal’s nut-job bona fides. The billboard mimics a tourism campaign conducted by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s office. Dardenne fi les suit to have the billboard dismantled. A federal judge rules in MoveOn.org’s favor. The billboard stays up. Medicaid is not expanded. Jindal’s quixotic vision quest continues unabated.

State Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Self Righteous, scraps a proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official book after fellow lawmakers express concern that legislation proposing it would lead to costly legal challenges from groups who do not love God and should probably live in Iran or something.

Carmody insists his bill isn’t intended as a state endorsement of Christianity because Jesus.

Festival International de Louisiane, AKA The Best Damn Thing Ever, is informed by Progressive Waste Solutions days before the fi ve-day extravaganza that the company is withdrawing its donation of providing recycling services. The community freaks out.

“What the hell!” the community exclaims. “I can’t throw my micro-fi ltered natural spring water and designer baby sunscreen bottles in a trash can!” This newspaper reaches out to LCG Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley who basically says, “I got this.” Stanley makes a few calls. Recycling is restored.

MAY

After years of hand-wringing and legal limbo, Lafayette Consolidated Government fi les suit in small claims court against two individuals and a company over unpaid red-light camera citations.

JUNE

UL Lafayette’s School of Architecture & Design, in coordination with the university’s Department of Anthropology, embarks on an ambitious summer class/ project to document in detail the more than 600 homes and other structures in Lafayette’s oldest neighborhood, Freetown-Port Rico.

The goal of the project is to secure a federal Historic District status for the area, which would make home- and business owners eligible for tax credits up to 40 percent of the cost of restoration.

The City-Parish Council signs off on the Horse Farm Master Plan, putting into action months of public input under the guidance of the nonprofit Lafayette Central Park Inc. Likely by the fall of next year the ribbon will be cut on our 100-acre community asset that will include walking and biking paths, play areas for children, water features and wide-open green spaces for families and lovers to enjoy picnics and stoners to toss Frisbees.

JULY

Under the leadership of Jefferson Street Pub owner Gus Rezende, the Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association is announced. The goal of the DLRBA is simple: unite the eateries and watering holes for the good of Downtown.

AUGUST

The Downtown Development Authority, joined by restoration activists and regular folks who appreciate historic buildings, begins an all-hands-on-deck effort to save the 130-year-old Coburn Building at the edge of Downtown.

The state Department of Transportation purchased the building when Coburn’s Supply Co. moved out and put the structure on its demolition list to make way for an interchange to the Interstate-49 elevated freeway that (might eventually) roughly follow the course of Evangeline Thruway.

As of this writing it appears that public pressure and DDA’s deft touch prevailed.

SEPTEMBER

The administration of City-Parish President Joey Durel gets serious about blight, proposing a suite of deals that would lead to the demolition of the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners as well as the old federal courthouse and adjacent properties Downtown. The former would be replaced by a police substation; the latter by a mixed-use, commercial-residential development.

Concerns over financing the deals and the involvement of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority throw a bit of a wrench into the works, but at least the community discussion on transforming these liabilities into assets has begun.

OCTOBER

The Vermilion River Alliance, formed in July, begins public outreach to remind everyone that a 75-mile bayou/ river runs smack dab through the heart of Lafayette and we need to take better care of it. In concert with other nonprofits like the Bayou Vermilion District, the alliance aims to ensure the health of the Vermilion and our stewardship of it as a community get the attention they deserve.

DECEMBER

Despite a humbling loss to Appalachian State in the Cajun Field finale, the Ragin’ Cajuns football team under fourth-year head coach Mark Hudspeth, will play in a fourth straight bowl game.

POOYIE CONTINUED ON PG 18