Pooyie! 11.18.2009

Louisiana — Lafayette in particular — continues to outperform much of the nation in weathering the recession. The Hub City is ranked ninth in the latest annual list of America’s 25 best-performing cities. The Milken Institute, an independent think tank, ranks cities based on a number of factors including job creation, salaries and industrial/economic activity. Baton Rouge landed at 18th on the list and Shreveport-Bossier came in at 24th. All three metro areas showed improvement over last year’s rankings: Lafayette moved up from 14th; Baton Rouge from 40th; and Shreveport-Bossier from 67th.

Lafayette may be riding out the recession relatively well, but it’s been a bumpy ride for many of our community’s non-profit agencies as individuals and companies pull back their charitable donations. Acadiana Outreach, which helps individuals and families affected by substance-abuse transition to healthy, productive lives, is one such agency in desperate need of help. One estimate that crossed our collective desk has AO’s donations down 50 percent in the last several months. Tomorrow’s Palates & Paté fundraiser could be a make-or-break event for the non-profit. For more, see this week’s LivingIND cover story.

Just when we think we have state Rep. Rickey Hardy figured out, he hits the enigma button. The colorful, quotable Lafayette lawmaker and former school board member last week found the sweet spot where legislative power and hurt feelings converge, sticking it to the Lafayette Parish School System to the tune of $746,000 in Louisiana Educational Excellence Fund money. The funding, drawn from the 1998 court settlement with Big Tobacco, is distributed to public school systems for drop-out prevention and other programs. The LPSS apparently failed to honor the protocol of contacting its House representative (Hardy) to supplicate, “Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?” In a pique, Hardy offered a motion during a joint House-Senate Education Committee hearing to distribute the funding to all parishes except Lafayette. Twenty-four hours of crackling brouhaha later, Hardy softened his stand and suggested he may revisit the funding in December. Heretofore, Hardy has proven himself a champion of public education, but this latest episode has left us scratching our head.