Congressional elections are right around the corner, and state Sen. Craig Romero, a Republican from New Iberia, continues his quest to claim a title that he lost about two years ago ' after being pushed out of the runoff by less than 1 percent. Since being defeated by current Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon, Romero has never ceased his fundraising operations. He has about $284,000 in cash on hand, according to the latest finance reports, which is meager compared to the incumbent's $700,000-plus total. But Romero seems to be positioning himself with major GOP players. Shortly after the storm, he was criticized for circulating a flyer in Washington, D.C., detailing how the storms forced out several Democratic bases in the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses a large portion of south central and eastern Louisiana. And just last week, Romero made an aggressive media appeal for coverage of a hurricane wreckage tour he conducted with Congressman Bobby Jindal, the Metairie Republican who has become a power broker of sorts in D.C. ' Jeremy Alford
Last week the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal handed down a ruling that ' again ' has sidetracked Lafayette Utilities System's plan to bring high-speed fiber optics into Lafayette homes. The new ruling favors BellSouth, but LUS can appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the case. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, then Lafayette Consolidated Government would have to rewrite an ordinance for the bonds that were approved by residents to be brought into accordance with the Local Government Fair Competition Act. Gary McGoffin, local attorney and former chairman of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, says there's a good chance the Supreme Court will hear the case. "It's a public policy issue," he says, "and it's a significant issue." LUS has 30 days to appeal the ruling. ' R. Reese Fuller
BLANCO STEPS IT UP
Gov. Kathleen Blanco's been assaulted with non-stop criticism in the last four months for her lack of leadership, but maybe she's turned a corner. Blanco headed to New Orleans last week to try and stop the political idiocy in the Crescent City that's been holding up FEMA trailer deliveries. Crescent City Mayor Ray Nagin and New Orleans city council members have been squabbling for weeks over who has the final authority to approve trailer sites ' while thousands of residents who need trailers remain homeless. "This disagreement over housing cannot continue," Blanco told the council. "It must end, and it must end now." Blanco offered her services as a liaison to break the logjam and promised to listen to all parties, but also said she would take action, promising to "solve it myself" if the fighting continues. ' Scott Jordan
REMEMBERING A HERO
It only took the United States 30 years to acknowledge Hugh Thompson's heroism. In 1998, he received the Soldier's Medal from the U.S. Army for putting an end to the My Lai massacre in 1968, in which U.S. soldiers killed 504 Vietnamese civilians. Helicopter pilot Thompson and his gunner managed to save nine civilians.
The Georgia native called Lafayette home for the last 22 years. Funeral services will be held today for Thompson at the Delhomme Funeral Home Chapel. Over the holidays, Thompson was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter on Friday, Jan. 6, at the V.A. Medical Center in Pineville. He was 62 years old.
Trent Angers, the author of The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story, has published his thoughts on the lessons learned from Thompson's life at www.acadianhouse.com. ' RRF
PEEBLES LEAVING LOURDES
After only 2.5 years as president and chief executive officer at Our Lady of Lourdes, Bob Peebles is returning to Michigan. He previously worked for St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers in New York, where he commuted weekly from Michigan.
In a memo to the hospital staff and board, Peebles says he will leave the hospital by March 1. "This has been a difficult personal decision, but one that I need to make," he writes. "This involves family. I leave knowing that the foundation of the organization remains strong and the mission is clearly intact."
Within two months of joining Lourdes, Peebles began preparing the not-for-profit hospital for impending competition from Heart Hospital of Lafayette and Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital in part by eliminating 11 middle management positions; similar cuts followed. Since that time, he has continued to guide it through tough economic times.
Lourdes spokesman Berch Stelly says Peebles is declining media interviews. ' Leslie Turk
BEADS AND BARRICADES
This Mardi Gras season expect a couple weeks of barricades lining Lafayette streets along the parade route. With The Krewe of Carnivale en Rio scheduled to roll earlier than parades in previous years, Lafayette Consolidated Government Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley says residents will also see barriers along the parade route as early as Feb. 16. "The barricades will be pushed out of the way as they are in between Sunday and Tuesday," Stanley says, "so we're asking motorists to be very patient and very cautious for the extra days that the barricades will be out there." With the recent surge in traffic congestion and the added barricades in the right of way, Lafayette rush hour commutes should be more challenging than ever during Mardi Gras. ' RRF