MELANCON FILES IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon is indeed a Blue Dog. The Napoleonville Democrat tows the conservative line on social issues, much to the delight of his constituency, but his friends on the Hill (like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco) have prompted his opponents to tag him as liberal in the past. As such, Melancon's latest policy move is a no-brainer.

Melancon has filed legislation that offers "commonsense measures" to address the nation's continuing challenges with illegal immigration. The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, also known as SAVE, is a three-part plan to drastically reduce illegal immigration through stricter border security, employer verification and interior enforcement. "Illegal immigration is a threat to our communities and a burden on our local governments," says Melancon. "We must do something to solve this problem."

Melancon says it's estimated that more than 12 million people are in the country illegally, and thousands more are coming in every week. "Americans are demanding a solution," he adds. Specifically, the SAVE Act would add 8,000 new patrol agents to the nation's border, require employers to verify legal status and further enforce existing laws that the congressman says lack any real bite. ... VITTER'S TESTIMONY CANCELED U.S. Sen. David Vitter was scheduled to testify this week about his involvement with an escort service ran by the "D.C. Madam." Deborah Jeane Palfrey had subpoenaed Vitter, but last week, a federal judge canceled the hearing. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that Palfrey was attempting "an end run" around evidentiary rules to get an advance look at the government's case.

Palfrey has been indicted for running a prostitution ring in D.C. Her attorneys were expected to question Vitter about his involvement with the escorts. ... WILL BOUSTANY/VITTER/GIULANI ALLIANCE HOLD? Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-gun control. So it came as no surprise when many people scratched their heads wondering why bedrock conservatives like U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany and U.S. Sen. David Vitter endorsed him earlier this year.

Will the state's GOP base stand for it as the election draws closer? There are already indications that the Christian Right is turning up the heat. Most recently, the former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has 15 million members nationwide, called for a boycott of CBN and The 700 Club after Pat Robertson made his own Giuliani endorsement.

Additionally, Campaign for Children and Families, a leading West Coast pro-family organization, is condemning the "selling out of family values" in leaders, like Robertson, endorsing the former New York mayor. CCF President Randy Thomasson offered up a scathing quote, one that could possibly cross over to Lafayette's Boustany or Metairie's Vitter in coming months. "Pat Robertson is casting a blind eye to Rudy Giuliani's big-time advocacy of the transsexual, bisexual and homosexual agenda ' an intolerant agenda that harms children, religious freedom, parental rights, the institution of marriage and the Boy Scouts," he says. ... LWV URGES ACTION ON AILING SCHOOL FACILITIES Lafayette's public school buildings are "old, overcrowded, and underfunded" and in dire need of a major face lift in order to provide local students a quality education. That's the synopsis of a study published last week by the Lafayette League of Women Voters. Other highlights, er, lowlights, include: 60 percent of Lafayette Parish's public schools are at least 40 years old, and almost 40 percent are at least 50 years old; 25 percent of the school system's total classrooms are now portable. Although Lafayette Parish has the third highest per capita income in the state, 26 other parishes have a higher millage rate for their schools, 13 parishes have a higher sales tax rate, and 15 parishes spend more per pupil; St. Tammany Parish raises almost double what Lafayette Parish does for its schools in total ad valorem revenue (property tax).

School Board members have been invited to attend the league's next meeting on Dec. 3 to address the study. The league, which is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with new membership, also plans to be involved when the board holds an upcoming workshop devoted to adopting a long-term, comprehensive facilities plan. The school facilities report is one of two studies the local LWV plans to release. Another study on the potential of Lafayette Utilities System's fiber-to-the-home project is already under way.

Contributors: Jeremy Alford, R. Reese Fuller and

Nathan Stubbs