In the spring of 2003, we bought a monthly lifestyle publication in Lafayette and within 75 days moved its offices from the city’s south side to the heart of Downtown, hired a new edit staff and transformed the magazine into a weekly newspaper with a bit of attitude. We called it The Independent Weekly. We promised relentlessly local coverage of news, politics, culture and the arts, and committed early on to tackling the complicated issues facing our community. Our teaser campaign then was “The IND is near.” Now, after a run that for 14 years defied demographics, the disruption of traditional media models and a down cycle economy, the end is here. Some parting thoughts in my last Mais Oui:
The I-49 Connector. The Hwy. 90 overpass at Albertsons Parkway is up, and you can get a good idea of what the Connector’s impact would be in Downtown Lafayette. It could be 20 feet higher, have six feet of sunlight between spans and gussied-up pilings, but it will also cast a shadow over a mile and a half through the heart of town. I encourage you to drive to Broussard, take it all in and think about that. Hard.
Downtown Lafayette’s old federal courthouse. A long-awaited breakthrough is brewing that could free this project from the clutches of the courthouse crowd that has held Downtown development hostage for too long. Kudos to the administration and council members open to new options.
Consolidation — or not? It’s more evident now than ever that Lafayette needs a form of government that protects the city’s interests, whatever form that is.
Lafayette’s anti-tax ideologues. This group needs to feel the heat, going back to the refusal to approve the Durel sales tax for transportation and drainage in 2006. Think of these people fondly as you stew in traffic, sit in line for sandbags, wish companies moved here because of our public schools (including higher ed) and watch the parish cut basic services as it slides toward insolvency.
Our legislators. It’s real easy to blame the state’s fiscal woes on our previous governor, but the truth is that most of our delegation raced to the front of the parade over the fiscal cliff (though I do like them all personally). Maybe everyone can just agree to reboot the Stelly Plan and move on?
Economic diversification. No one I talk to is banking on a rebound in energy prices any time soon (if ever).
Meanwhile, energy companies are using technology to replace people as they find new ways to remain profitable. We need responsible leaders who understand the new economic reality, embrace the change, can craft a cohesive economic development strategy and articulate the case for it effectively to voters. It will require a combination of reprioritizing existing public dollars and approving new ones. And those of us who understand this have a responsibility to organize, engage, vote and recruit like-minded citizens to vote too.
IND Media has been a progressive voice in the ruby red heart of a crimson state. There are serious challenges ahead, and at times like these, we need more diversity of ideas than ever. We’re passing the torch to a new generation of immensely capable emerging leaders in our parish. They’ll need our support to build a community that can be as successful in this century as the last one.
Lafayette has what it needs to get there. Let’s see if we have what it takes.
Thanks for reading.