November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

If there were still any doubts that Bobby Jindal will run for governor ...

... I'd say this invitation sent out today by the Louisiana Republican Party - and the event's master of ceremonies - puts those doubts to rest.

The Republican Party of Louisiana cordially invites you to a historic evening
as we salute Louisiana's Republican Governors

The Honorable Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.
The Honorable Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III
The Honorable David C. Treen


The Republican Governors Gala

With Special Guests

United States Representative Bobby Jindal
Master of Ceremonies

St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis
Host Committee Chairman

Beau Chene Country Club
602 North Beau Chene Drive
Mandeville, Louisiana

Saturday, January 27, 2007
at seven o'clock in the evening

Gold Sponsor - $5,000
Silver Sponsor - $2,500
Bronze Sponsor - $1,000
Individual Tickets - $100 each
Complimentary admission for Republican Trust & Foundation members

by: Scott Jordan 4:40 PM

Smelling the Roses

LSU is heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time in history, according to several news reports over the past couple of days. Stories that Rose Bowl officials were committed to taking LSU, regardless of what happens in the final games of the regular season this Saturday began yesterday when the Boston Globe cited anonymous sources with the Rose Bowl confirming that LSU was in and would be matched up against either Michigan or USC (if USC suffers a shocking defeat to UCLA this Saturday). Baton Rouge TV station WAFB also cited an unnamed Rose Bowl source in a story about LSU playing in Pasadena on New Year's Day. Sports Illustrated, the L.A. Times, MSNBC and Fox Sports have all been echoing the news today. With the word out, LSU fans have already requested 32, 000 tickets to the game, 4,000 more commitments than the Rose Bowl hopes to get from each school. I think it's safe to say that, at this point, if LSU by chance doesn't make it into the Rose Bowl, there may be a few upset Tiger fans.

by: Nathan Stubbs 3:57 PM

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Maestro's new CD

Mariusz Smolij, musical director and maestro of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, has released his first CD — Panufnik: Homage to Polish Music. The Polish native recorded the CD with the Polish Chamber Orchestra in 2005. The classical music selections originate from Polish musical libraries — originally written between the 14th and 18th centuries — that were rescued and rearranged by the Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik after World War II.

Panufnik wrote of these works:

My compulsion to restore some of the early Polish music was engendered as I witnessed the superb reconstruction of beautiful 16th and 17th century houses in the old part of Warsaw. … My intention was to bring alive the spirit of Poland at that time, and to make use of these precious fragments which otherwise would have remained lifeless on the bookshelves of libraries.

Mariusz Smolij breathes new life into the ancient songs in Panufnik: Homage to Polish Music. Smolij will conduct the ASO in the American premiere of "Old Polish Suite," the first selection on the CD, in March and will soon record with the PoznaÅ Philharmonic Orchestra.

Copies of Panufnik: Homage to Polish Music can be purchased locally at Barnes & Noble. Autographed copies can be purchased on ASO's Web site, and $5 per copy will be donated to the symphony.

by: R. Reese Fuller 2:05 PM

Encouraging signs for LUS' fiber-to-the-home initiative?

Advocate reporter Kevin Blanchard has some insightful coverage of yesterday's Louisiana Supreme Court hearing in New Orleans on whether LUS will get the green light to fund its fiber-to-the-home plan. Lafayette resident Elizabeth Naquin sued LUS to stop the fiber initiative, and her attorneys are arguing that LUS' bond-payment plan violates the Fair Competition Act. But there are encouraging signs for LUS, judging from the reactions of a number of Louisiana Supreme Court Justices:

Justice Jeanette Theriot Knoll seemed taken aback by that interpretation of the law because it is normal for a start-up communications business to lose money in the initial years, waiting for enough subscribers to bring in revenue to cover the initial high-cost of building the needed network.

"Would they ever be successful then?" Knoll asked Baudin, who was making the argument supported by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ruling in his client's favor.

The "scheme" laid out in the Fair Competition Act — as interpreted by Baudin's argument — is "self-defeating," Knoll said.

LUS attorney Mike Hebert agreed, saying that when determining what the Legislature intended to accomplish with a law, the court should throw out possible interpretations that would be "absurd."

The 3rd Circuit and Naquin's interpretation of the law "creates an impossibility," Hebert said.

Baudin said the law may be "poorly drafted," but that's not Naquin's concern.

Chief Judge Pascal Calogero Jr. asked about a provision of the law that prohibits LUS from cross-subsidizing its communications business with tax revenue or "below market-rate" loans.

"Doesn't that mean it's OK?" Calogero asked Baudin. "If they're not below market rate?"

Justice John Weimer asked what would keep the communications system from "spiraling out of control," if it kept getting loans from overall utilities revenue to pay off bond debt, which is essentially also a loan — which Weimer called "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Hebert said while the Fair Competition Act doesn't prohibit the practice, the PSC would have oversight over the transactions and will have the power to determine what is a permissible loan.

Sounds like a good day in court for LUS. The Supreme Court could render its decision within two-three months.

by: Scott Jordan 8:44 AM

Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. and Kris Kristofferson

PHI has been in the news for the bitter strike showdown between PHI management and its pilots, but this morning's Times-Picayune story on legendary songwriter Kris Kristofferson details a brighter, little-known chapter in PHI history:

During a stop in Louisiana this month for a performance at the Paragon Casino in Marksville, he reflected on a musical career that produced the likes of "Me and Bobby McGee," "Why Me" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night," and how it was influenced by his time in the Louisiana oil fields before he caught his first break.

Kristofferson turned down an instructor's post at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to try and break into the music business in the 1960s. Unable to get any closer than a janitor's job at the Columbia Records studio in Nashville, Tenn., he came to Louisiana and took a job with Petroleum Helicopters Inc. of Lafayette, flying between the Louisiana marshes and offshore petroleum facilities. "That was about the last three years before I started performing, before people started cutting my songs," he recalled. "I would work a week down here for PHI, sitting on an oil platform and flying helicopters. Then I'd go back to Nashville at the end of the week and spend a week up there trying to pitch the songs, then come back down and write songs for another week." … "I can remember 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' I wrote sitting on top of an oil platform. I wrote 'Bobby McGee' down here, and a lot of them."

(photo courtesy of

by: Scott Jordan 8:09 AM

Monday, November 27, 2006

A new James Lee Burke movie

According to Production Weekly, part-time New Iberia resident and bestselling crime novelist James Lee Burke's 1993 novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead will be adapted into a movie, with pre-production in Louisiana beginning within the month.

The film centers on Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux, previously played by Alec Baldwin in "Heaven's Prisoners." French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, is slated to begin production in March.

The French director and writer has directed 32 movies and written scripts for 28 films, most notably the 1986 film 'Round Midnight. Burke's In The Electric Mist with Confederate Dead is his third novel to be adapted for the screen. The 1998 TV version of Two for Texas was produced by TNT and starred Kris Kristofferson and Tom Skerrit; and the 1996 Heaven's Prisoners starred Baldwin, Terri Hatcher, Kelly Lynch, Eric Roberts and Mary Stewart Masterson.

For more information about James Lee Burke, read The Independent's August 2 cover story.

(Photo by Robert Clark; courtesy of

by: R. Reese Fuller 12:50 PM

Friday Night Lights

Several local football teams have only one hurdle to overcome on their way to the LHSAA state championship in the Crescent City. And while they might not immediately comprehend the significance of the return to the Superdome as much as the Saints and Saints fans did Sept. 25 (well, pretty much the whole country), they will no doubt one day appreciate what football — from high school to college and professional — has meant for the city's rebirth. Bringing back tradition and flavor in any form are critical ingredients to returning the city to its former greatness. So, in addition to the typical tears that well up when a local team hits the field (my last experience was Northside in 2004, go Keiland!), we'll all have a lot more to be emotional about come Dec. 8 and 9.

After blowing out Northside 56-8, STM plays undefeated Shaw on the road in Class 4A semifinals. In Class 5A, Acadiana crushed St. Paul 40-7 and is preparing to host Catholic High of Baton Rouge, while Sulphur travels to play Rummel. Notre Dame hosts Lutcher in Class 3A after its decisive 39-14 victory over rival Teurlings Catholic.

It's very likely the Acadiana area will be well-represented in New Orleans, where lasting high school memories will once again be created for scores of young students.

by: Leslie Turk 10:14 AM

Farewell, ZydE-Zine

Gary Hayman is officially pulling the plug on his online newsletter for Cajun and zydeco enthusiasts – ZydeE-Zine – although the last issue was published on Sept. 8. In an e-mail sent to his subscribers on Friday, Hayman says some portions of his larger ZydeE-Magic Web site will continue.

What started out, way back in 1993, as just a local Cajun/Zydeco schedule listing for the Washington D.C. area … quickly mushroomed into a separate WEB site of my own with almost 600 individual WEB pages and a popular large FREE e-magazine [ The ZydE-Zine ] with international appeal. I have taken on these projects as a volunteer and public service effort throughout these many years …

I am moving on now to some other interesting objectives. I will also be spending more time with volunteer public service with other local, national and international endeavors and will be involved in another national WEB site project of high interest - but of a different theme.

Thankfully, The Patsy Report, an online directory of Cajun and zydeco events throughout greater Lafayette, will continue.

(Photo courtesy of Gary Hayman)

by: R. Reese Fuller 9:56 AM

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at The Independent Weekly. Hope your day is filled with family and friends and provides a wonderful start to the holiday season.

Now I'm off to break out the frying pot and start injecting a 13-lb. turkey with spices. Fried turkey is one of my favorite meals on the planet.

by: Scott Jordan 9:25 AM

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Aren't they starting a little early?

Just in from the AP:

The eight contestants in the competition had 12 minutes to eat as much of a 12-pound turkey as they could manage. ...

My favorite section:

And their handling of the birds wouldn't have won them any etiquette medals.
The defending turkey-eating champion, Sonya Thomas, known as the "Black Widow," got her mouth too full of turkey to swallow as the contest moved into the homestretch. She was disqualified.

How many eating contests must one win to earn a nickname like "Black Widow"?

by: Scott Jordan 3:00 PM

Chevalier Ancelet

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Barry Jean Ancelet will join ranks with William Faulkner, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackson Pollock and Memphis Slim.

The notable French professor and Cajun folklorist will be knighted with the title of Chevalier into Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ambassador to the United States. The honor recognizes individuals who have made contributions to the enrichment of the French culture's arts and literature.

Ancelet is the author of several books on Cajun and Creole culture, a professor of modern languages, the head of UL Lafayette's folklore studies department, co-founder of the 1974 Tribute to Cajun Music (which later became the annual Festivals Acadiens festival), a Cajun French poet, and the host of the weekly live radio broadcast Rendez-vous des Cajuns from The Liberty Theater in Eunice.

Ancelet says he's touched and honored to receive the distinction. "I feel like this is an honor I share with all of the storytellers and singers and all of the other people I've worked with over the years," he says. "I find that there's a little bit of irony in knighting someone who has spent a whole lifetime trying to honor the culture of supposedly ordinary people. That's a delicious irony."

by: R. Reese Fuller 11:43 AM

9 museums for $9

Rather than competing for business, Lafayette's museums are teaming up. They recently began offering a simple gift idea that anyone should be able to appreciate: 9 museums for $9. The package deal offers one time admission to each of Lafayette's nine museums and is a 78 percent discount off normal prices. The museums include the Acadian Cultural Center, Acadian Village, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Alexandre Mouton House, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Children's Museum of Acadiana, Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, University Art Museum and Vermilionville.

Tickets can be purchased at the Lafayette Visitor's Center on the Evangeline Thruway or at any of the participating museums except the Acadian Cultural Center. Call LCVC for more info at 232-3737.

by: Nathan Stubbs 11:19 AM

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A big reason to be thankful in Louisiana on Thanksgiving this year

Officially, there are still 10 days left, but it looks like we're going to emerge from this year's hurricane season unscathed.

by: Scott Jordan 9:55 AM

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ducks and dogs

Persistence has paid off for Lafayette artist Tony Bernard. After entering the Louisiana Duck Stamp Competition five years in a row and placing third and second several times, Bernard's picture of a chocolate Labrador retriever against a stormy blue sky with mallards banking into the headwinds has won first place. Prints of the Bernard painting are available from the artist. The 19th anniversary 2007-08 stamp, featuring Bernard's work, is expected to go on sale June 1, 2007.

The Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp program was established in 1988 to generate revenue for conservation and enhancement of state wetlands that benefit Louisiana's ducks and geese. This program has generated over $9 million for wetland conservation in Louisiana since 1989, with over $500,000 from last year's competition alone. Money from this fund helps repair levees and perform other wetland management practices on the state's Wildlife Management Areas.

by: Mary Tutwiler 3:30 PM

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rebuilding Gulf Coast libraries

Gulf Coast librarians and community leaders will gather in Baton Rouge to address the ongoing rebuilding of public libraries, Nov. 28-30. The Summit - Building Libraries, Building Community: A Summit on the Role of Public Libraries in Re-Creating Community on the Gulf Coast - is hosted by the Southeastern Library Network, in partnership with the Mississippi Library Commission and the The State Library of Louisiana.

After the summit, public libraries will be eligible for grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's three-year iniative to rebuild libraries damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana and Mississippi. Thirty-one public libraries were destroyed by last year's hurricanes.

by: R. Reese Fuller 10:32 AM

Bravo Nouveau

The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived, et, c'est bon! This year is one of the best presses of the new wine I have tasted in a long long time. The wine is fresh and delicious, as close to just-pressed grape juice as wine gets, as Beaujolais Nouveau should be.

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the first pressing of gamay grapes in France's Beaujolais region. The grapes were on the vine 30 days ago, picked by hand, and are made into wine in a speedy process called carbonic maceration, also called whole berry fermentation, which preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.

On the third Thursday in November every year, the new wine is rushed to market. Glasses were lifted all over the world last night in a traditional celebration of the new wine. Often, that first glass is the last glass, Beaujolais Nouveau tends to be uneven, so it is especially delightful when the new wine is so good.

Drink Beaujolais Nouveau between now and Christmas. It's a terrific Thanksgiving wine as well, the fruity, light nature of the wine allows it to pair well with turkey and all the trimmings. And at about $10 a bottle, you can afford to drink it the way it is meant to be drunk, in gulps rather than sips. Santé.

by: Mary Tutwiler 10:31 AM

Former St. Thomas More wide receiver Javon Walker and Sports Illustrated

Lafayette's Javon Walker is spotlighted on Sports lllustrated's Web site this week, in NFL writer Michael Silver's "Rollin' With" column. The Denver Broncos wide receiver talks about his controversial exodus from the Green Bay Packers and his resurgence with Denver after coming off a knee injury. In the interview, Walker also spotlights the local invention of Lafayette's Lance Strother that's catching on with some college and NFL players:

Silver: You're involved with a device, Great Catch (, that's being used by other receivers in the NFL and college football to help them learn to catch the ball with their fingers. Tell us about it.

Walker: Back when I was in high school (at St. Thomas More in Lafayette, La.) our offensive coordinator, Leland Padgett, used to say to us, "You don't really have great hands, you have great fingers." Well, one of my high school teammates, Lance Strother, decided to build on that idea, and we came up with a device that prevents the palm from catching the ball. It's this band that goes across each hand and attaches the equivalent of a golf ball to each palm, which means you have to catch with your fingertips. I use it on my days off or on the field during pregame warmups.

In other Louisiana sports/Sports Illustated news, this week's SI college basketball preview ranks LSU as No. 4 in the nation in its preseason rankings.

by: Scott Jordan 8:12 AM

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A note from – and fundraiser for – Independent Snake Oil cartoonist Greg Peters

If you're a fan of Independent cartoonist Greg Peters' weekly Snake Oil cartoon and/or his bi-weekly Suspect Device cartoon in New Orleans' Gambit Weekly newspaper, Greg has some serious news to report. I'll let Greg explain:

Blogging has been off lately because I've felt like crap. I've felt like crap because I am in Stage-3 Congestive Heart Failure, very close to Stage-4 and the accompanying Big Sleep.

I've actually been feeling like crap for a couple of years, unable to concentrate, constantly sleepy, etc, but in the last couple of months it's gotten severe. About all I can do these days is retain water, but I can do it like a pro.

In about two weeks, I will be undergoing open-heart aortic valve replacement at the Cleveland Clinic, with an option to remain hooked to a heart-lung machine and be put on a transplant list if things go wrong. If things go right, I'll be home in ten days. If things go really wrong … at least one doctor has put my chances of getting off the table alive at 50-50, although he a) is not my surgeon and b) also described my heart in terms that led me to think he was describing a nice London Broil and was perhaps merely hungry.

In any event, blogging will be sporadic at best and may cease entirely based on my connectivity and health (obviously, if I die, you can expect it to taper off fairly rapidly) for the next 6 weeks-to-forever. The comics Suspect Device and Snake Oil will also be going on indefinite hiatus starting next week.

It's been fun. With any luck, it'll continue to be fun.

SEMI-RELATED REQUEST: I'm going to be stuck in Cleveland for at least three weeks and homebound after that for at least six. I'd like to be able to retain connectivity and maybe continue to work at my low-stress (mostly) day job (graphic design) during that time, but to do so I really need a laptop with ethernet/wireless and the balls to handle Adobe CS and Macromedia Studio. If anyone knows of a recent-vintage Mac laptop, with >500 mb memory (minimum) and decent connectivity options that is available for rent, lease, or purchase at hey-it-fell-off-the-truck level prices, please contact me at greg at Thenkew.

After Greg posted that note on his Web site, a number of New Orleans bloggers and fans of Greg's work immediately started a fundraising campaign to help Greg buy the computer he needs for post-surgery. If you'd like to contribute, the details are here.

If you'd like to know more about the man behind the comic strip, here's a profile of Greg I wrote for the Independent a few years back that also ran in New Orleans' Gambit Weekly, after Greg was selected for inclusion in the book Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists.

by: Scott Jordan 12:52 PM

Inadequate? Try inexcusable

As Independent Weekly contributing writer Jeremy Alford noted last weeek in a story about the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the Road Home program is moving agonizingly slow. It's simply inexcusable that out of more than 70,000 people who've applied for desperately needed money to rebuild or repair their hurricane-damaged homes, less than 30 have received their check from the LRA.

This morning's Advocate story notes that Gov. Blanco used part of her press conference yesterday (primarily scheduled to tout a plant expansion) to say that the pace of the Road Home program was inadequate.

"We're going to talk about what's causing the roadblocks. I need to know because I will not tolerate any slow action," she said.

Well, it's been tolerated so far. And there's no telling how many applicants simply decided to throw in the towel and move out of state because of the infuriating bureaucracy bogging down the Road Home program. Make no mistake: the Road Home program is Blanco's program. And she needs to fix it fast, because it's becoming a maddening embarrassment in the recovery efforts.

by: Scott Jordan 9:22 AM

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who does Rev. Raymond Brown represent?

Rev. Brown, who says he represents the New Black Panther Party, is making a name for himself in New Iberia, inciting violence in an already racially tense situation following the Sugar Cane festival that responsible citizens and lawmakers are attempting to solve in a non-violent manner.

A month ago he insulted the governor and ripped local clergy who have worked with the city and Sheriff's Department, calling them "Uncle Toms, bootlicking and tap-dancing, scratch-where-it-don't itch preachers."

Last week, Brown returned to New Iberia threatening violence if a list of demands he had for the Sheriff were not met.

"I can bring people from all over the country here. You think I'm lying?" [Brown] said. "I'm even tied with some groups I don't even want to mention. They'll come and smoke this town."

The sheriff's department is investigating Brown for possibly breaking the law.

"Terrorism ... can be construed to mean inciting a community, whether with a physical act or with words," Hebert said. "It's a fine line, and we're examining it to see if there's been any state or federal violations."

Meanwhile the Black Panther Party has posted a disclaimer on their Web site declaring that there is no New Black Panther Party.

In response from numerous requests from individuals seeking information on the "New Black Panthers," the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation issues this public statement to correct the distorted record being made in the media by a small band of African Americans calling themselves the New Black Panthers...the people in the New Black Panthers were never members of the Black Panther Party and have no legitimate claim on the Party's name.

Who continues to welcome Rev. Brown to New Iberia?

Certainly there are problems in the community. Tear gassing a crowd of festival-goers is an extreme action, and Sheriff Hebert 's report exonerating his own department after an internal investigation isn't particularly reassuring . But there are proper legal channels for challenging the sheriff, and the mayor has made a commitment to working out these problems in a non-violent manner. What the community needs is to continue to make intelligent choices, remain vigilant and pull together.

Not only is Rev. Brown divisive, but he has been disingenuous about who he speaks for. What are his motives?

by: Mary Tutwiler 2:58 PM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Smokin dat weed"

That's the headline on The Crowley Post-Signal's Web site. You may have to scroll down a bit to find the story, but here's the gist of it:

CROWLEY– The Crowley Fire Department responded to a call Monday afternoon at 812 Hargrave Street, but when they arrived at the scene they discovered that the smoke was being produced by a couple of occupants getting high.

Allegedly two males had smoked enough weed in order to alarm neighbors.

Note: The Crowley-Post Signal has removed the above news item from its Web site. (Nov. 12, 2006)

by: R. Reese Fuller 5:20 PM

Reel it in

While on her two-week business development juant through Asia, Gov. Blanco has been sending out e-postcards each day to keep us all posted on her progress. The postcards have typically been pretty banal, with the governor listing her daily meetings and repeating lines about the importance of economic development. Perhaps in an effort to spice up the commentary, today's postcard, from Taipei, features a more folksy spin.

One of several "fishing trips" ends today, but I will continue to cast a wide net to land good paying jobs and new investments. On my way back to Louisiana, I am stopping in Kuwait with my tackle box and lures as we explore another major opportunity.

Please, somebody tell her to reel it in before she gets hung up.

by: Nathan Stubbs 3:27 PM

Uh ... what?

I stumbled across this Daily Advertiser article about Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel and the recent defeat of his proposed sales tax at the polls:

Durel admitted there isn't much he can do different in working with state officials.

"I might buy thicker knee pads for when I go to Baton Rouge," he said.

by: R. Reese Fuller 3:08 PM

University of Louisiana at Qatar

The Pennisula, "Qatar's Leading English Daily," reports that the mass communications department at UL Lafayette has entered into an exchange with the mass communications department at Qatar University. Starting in the spring semester of 2007, the two universities will partner with one another in the program "Global Communication at Work."

This course to be taught in both universities, University of Louisiana and Qatar University, will help students to access and understand each other's culture. The partnership also includes a plan to send students from Qatar University to University of Louisiana for classes in digital journalism, advanced reporting and online journalism. At the same time, students from University of Louisiana will come to Qatar University to join the Arabic for Non - native speakers program in order to study Arabic and encounter the culture.

by: R. Reese Fuller 9:50 AM

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Preservation soiree

Time has a way of washing over a landscape, changing names and faces until what once seemed immutable is now forgotten. Take old neighborhoods. The section of Lafayette located between Congress, University, Simcoe and S. Pierce streets is now known as Fightingville. But in 1856, it was surveyed as the first subdivision in Vermilionville, and named the Mills Addition. The streets of the neighhborhood--Madison, St. John, Washington, Lafayette--are home to some of the finest old houses in the city.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inception of the Mills Addition, Sonya and Henry Boudreaux are opening the doors of their restored 19th century historic home, the "William Brant House," at 614 Madison St., for an evening of fine dining and jazz. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette's education programs, designed to help save and restore the architectural heritage of the city. Cost is $50 per person and seating in limited. For more info, call 291-8431.

by: Mary Tutwiler 4:09 PM

Monday, November 06, 2006

Courthouse Considerations

I don't think anyone questions that Lafayette Parish is in need of a new parish courthouse but I think a lot of people are still largely in the dark on all the details of the property tax plan to be voted on tomorrow. The basic plan is to demolish the old federal courthouse at the corner of Jefferson and Main St. to build a new 220,000 square foot courthouse (more than twice the size of current courthouse) and renovate the old parish courthouse. The new courthouse would be built to accomodate for projected future growth as well as incorporate the district attorney's office.

One part of the plan I recently came across that I don't think has been reported at all is that demolition plans call for the old arts council building at the corner of Main and Polk St., that Acadiana Open Channel currently operates out of, to be leveled for a 15,000 square foot parking lot for courthouse employees. City-Parish CAO Dee Stanley emphatically stated that "this does not mean the end of A.O.C." and that, if the tax passes, there will be plenty of time to plan a move for A.O.C., since the demolition and construction won't likely begin until 2008. Stanley also added that the building A.O.C. is in now is not in great shape. This may all be true but it seems to me like it certainly wouldn't hurt for proponents of the new courthouse and property tax to have some idea in mind now for where to move a community institution like A.O.C. before asking voters to fund its demolition. This plan will definitely change the face of downtown and it would be nice if there were some architectural sketches or something that would clearly illustrate what's being proposed.

I hope everyone will study the courthouse plan as much as possible before voting tomorrow. You can read about all the reasons why Lafayette needs a new courthouse here. The courthouse property tax has been endorsed by Downtown Development Authority, the chamber of commerce, Mayor Durel, and just this weekend, The Daily Advertiser. The Independent's editorial on the taxes on tomorrow's ballot is here.

by: Nathan Stubbs 9:11 AM

Friday, November 03, 2006

Stunning displays of editorial logic

Today's Daily Advertiser editorial page has an editorial about … another editorial on the same page. Let's see what they have to say:

Just across the way, past the letters to the editor, is the incredibly interesting column of David Prejean, who suggests you stay away from the polls Tuesday. "Don't listen to the cacophony of voices demanding that you go vote," he urges. "Ignorance is bliss, and the blissful can stay home on November 7th and contribute to democracy in their own way."

What way?

We don't know; the column ends at that point.

David, whom we respect and who is one of those exceptional writers we chose as volunteer guest columnists, uses the word "ignorant" twice, so we assume - although it is not completely clear - that he is urging the uninformed to stay away from the polls.

So the Advertiser praises Prejean as an exceptional writer and says his column today is "incredibly interesting," but admits they have no idea what he is trying to say.

Read Prejean's editorial for a full dose of his scattershot logic. The following passage is an indication of what you're in for:

The [Daily Advertiser] quoted a local party leader as saying that the founding fathers did not want a few people making decisions for the many. In fact, that is exactly what the founding fathers wanted. When this country was founded, white men with property were the only people allowed to vote. Now, I'm not saying that we've gone downhill as a result of women, minorities and non-property holders voting, but ... My point is that quantity does not necessarily mean quality.

by: Scott Jordan 9:30 AM

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ann Savoy on Amazon

Watch Bill Maher jokingly call Ann Savoy a "traitor" for singing in French, on a segment of Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher. Savoy performs on this 13-minute segment with Linda Ronstadt as the Zozo Sisters.

Keep an eye out also for Savoy's son, Joel Savoy, on fiddle and Lafayette songwriter Sam Broussard on guitar.

For more on Savoy and Ronstadt's "Adieu False Heart," read Joshua Clegg Caffery's "Songbird Sisters."

by: R. Reese Fuller 10:41 AM

A smackdown for the ages

If you have a passion for New Orleans and Louisiana food and culture, then maybe you've heard about renowned food critic Alan Richman's review of New Orleans restaurants in the current November issue of GQ magazine. The story is so ill-informed, lazy, mean-spirited and offensive that it's a disgrace.

And now you can read Times-Picayune writer Brett Anderson's methodical, majestic and thorough gutting of Richman's story here. Anderson's one of my favorite writers in Louisiana and one of the best food writers in the country, and he harnesses his indignation with Richman's story into one of the greatest critical smackdowns you'll ever read. Here's an early highlight:

Outrage harnessed as both a critical and comedic tool is a Richman calling card; its appearance in the New Orleans piece is an early signal of the amateurism on display. He likens the French Quarter to Tijuana, dismisses New Orleanians as lazy, overweight drunkards ("I believe their morning exercise regimen consists of stumbling out of bars") and wonders if Creoles are a myth, "faery folk, like leprechauns," on the basis of having "never met one."

Leah Chase, the most famous Creole chef on the planet, whom Richman quotes extensively, apparently doesn't count.

by: Scott Jordan 10:31 AM

The Bush administration's reaction to two billion dollars lost from flawed oil and gas leases: yawn

From this morning's New York Times:

U.S. Agency to Review Oil Royalties

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 — The Government Accountability Office, the watchdog agency for Congress, is beginning a broad investigation into potential deficiencies in how the government collects billions of dollars in royalties from companies that produce oil and gas on federal territory. ...

"They don't know how much oil is coming out of the ground," said Representative Darrell E. Issa, Republican of California and chairman of the committee's subcommittee on energy. "If an oil company were to give them the right number, they would take it. If they were to give them the wrong number, they would take it."
In July, Mr. Issa and Mr. Davis publicly accused the [Interior D]epartment of stonewalling their inquiry. "We believe the department may have deliberately withheld crucial information," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the department.

In September, the two lawmakers expressed anger that the Bush administration had decided it would not try to recover about $2 billion that had already been lost as a result of the flawed leases.

"This is absurd," they wrote in a letter to Dirk Kempthorne, the interior secretary. "That money belongs to the federal government."

The new investigation will come on top of others already under way. The Government Accountability Office is already digging into the agency's accounting systems. The inspector general of the Interior Department is reviewing the agency's auditing and enforcement efforts; that report is expected by the end of December.

by: Scott Jordan 8:34 AM

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Boustany ducks debate

Three weeks ago, when the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce signed on to co-sponsor a debate, along with the Greater SW Black Chamber, between Congresman Charles Boutany and his challenger in the Nov. 5 election, Democrat Mike Stagg, it looked like a done deal. After all, Boustany is a former executive board member with the Lafayette Chamber and it seemed unlikely he would back out of doing at least one debate throughout his re-election campaign. Well, now he has. After initially agreeing to the debate, Boustany has officially backed out.

There's already been a lot of people calling Boustany out for not debating and I know the SW Black Chamber of Commerce was trying to work around Boustany's schedule to make this happen. It seems pretty insulting to voters that he couldn't find time to make the appearance. Stagg will be the sole candidate appearing at the forum tonight at 7 p.m. at the Clifton Chenier Center.

by: Nathan Stubbs 3:25 PM

A Voodoo Experience

How could I even think of keeping my soon-to-be 16-year-old from seeing Saturday headliner the Red Hot Chili Peppers at this year's Voodoo Music Experience? Was I crazy? Did I not realize the significance of this? So while we made the trek to N.O. Saturday, the opportunity to dine at Tommy's Cuisine in the Warehouse District was enough to get me off the grounds before the peppas hit the stage (N.O. food always wins), but she and other local fest-goers say the high-energy performance was incredible, with the band playing two encores for the jam-packed City Park crowd.

"One of my first CDs was Blood Sugar Sex Magik," says Blake Lagneaux of Lafayette. "I grew up with the Chili Peppers, and they put on a fantastic show," adds Lagneaux, who couldn't get enough of the diverse lineup from his first Voodoo encounter. "Where else can you catch a New Orleans brass band, stroll over to goth punks My Chemical Romance, bounce back to Juvenile and then wrap up the night with the Red Hot Chili Peppers?"

Here's Lagneaux's take on Voodoo 2006:

Duran Duran – I have an all-things-80s soft spot. These guys are 80s pop gods. And they still got it.

My Chemical Romance – This group proved to me that they are more than just a goth fad group. There's some real substance here, and they prove it live. The lead singer is an eerie hybrid of Billy Corgan and Freddie Murcury.

Jamie Lidell – British techno/house/funk/soul ball of endless energy. A blast to watch.

Soul Rebels – N'awlins brass band that infused popular hip-hop and R&B – real crowd pleasers.

Mute Math – I think this is an upcoming band to watch. Great live. And they are New Orleans natives.

by: Leslie Turk 3:13 PM

Election tension high in St. Landry Parish

St. Landry Parish is anxiously waiting to see who will be elected its next sheriff. Interim Sheriff Laura Balthazar is facing off against former state police official Bobby Guidroz in a run-off to succeed longtime sheriff Howard Zerangue, who passed away in April.

The race, which pits an African American woman against a white man, has racial tensions running high. The Advocate reports today on the NAACP's decision to double its monitors for the election. The Department of Justice was already on hand to monitor the primarily election and is expected to be there again next Tuesday.

There have been a lot of allegations flying around in this race, from both sides, related to voter intimidation, none of which have been substantiated. One St. Landry parish political observer told me today "it's the most racially divisive thing I've ever seen in my life" and that "I think if you ask anyone in the parish, they can't wait for this to be over."

by: Nathan Stubbs 2:01 PM

FEMA does it again

With the town of Erath's history of flooding, four significant floods in the past 20 years and then the total inundation of Hurricane Rita, it seems like a no brainer for federal dollars to be used to prevent future floods rather than pay for post flood clean-up. Erath has a plan, to move much of the town north of Hwy. 14, to higher elevations, thus mitigating the possibility of flooding after heavy rains or storm surges. One element of the plan was to build new facilities for heavily damaged Erath middle and high schools on land the Vermilion Parish School Board already owns north of the highway.

This was such an intelligent idea it should come as no surprise that FEMA, after months of talk indicating they would pay at least partially for the move, has reversed course and will only invest money in repairing the schools at their current sites. Rebuilding Erath's schools, including Dozier Elementary, on high ground is estimated to cost $45 million, with FEMA paying 90 percent of the cost. Repairs may cost significantly less, but considering the past problems with flooding, and future possibilities of further damage, it is a good investment to protect Erath's schools.

Good ideas? Good investments? I don't see any improvement in the lack of federal government concerns about our state. FEMA continues to fumble every opportunity to help build a safer place to live. It becomes more and more evident that Louisiana will have to look after her own business and her own future.

by: Mary Tutwiler 11:52 AM