Walter Pierce

RE: Scrap Consolidation?

by Walter Pierce

Ain't gonna happen - not yet anyway - and here's why

Ultimately it will be the voters of Lafayette Parish - city, unincorporated, smaller municipalities - who will decide whether to chuck the city-parish charter and return to dual city and parish forms of government. But penultimately the Lafayette City-Parish Council must make it possible, and the vote to advance an ordinance to the ballot box will require a 6-3 super-majority. That's not likely. Here's how we think it will shake out:

FOR: Brandon Shelvin (District 3), Kenneth Boudreaux (District 4), Don Bertrand (District 7), Keith Patin (District 8)

The city-majority council members have much to gain if the charter is repealed. Each is in his first term in office and, assuming the charter is repealed and a new city council with a three-term limit is (re)created, presumably each could try for what would amount to four consecutive terms in office.

Boudreaux and Patin, who both voted for the deconsolidation recommendation as members of the charter committee, are on board with scrapping the city-parish charter. Bertrand says he's on the fence and feels like we're moving too quickly, but adds, "It would be hard for me not to give the people of the city of Lafayette and the parish the opportunity to vote on something."

Like Boudreaux, Shelvin represents an economically challenged part of the city that stands to benefit if the parish is jettisoned and the city focuses its resources on itself.

AGAINST: Purvis Morrison (District 1), Jared Bellard (District 5), William Theriot (District 9)

Morrison is on record dead set against repealing the charter. "When I ran [for office] I can specifically remember people asking us not to be this north side-south side, east side-west side council," he says. "They wanted us to be a total council for this parish, and now we're coming out in our third year [in office] and we're talking about deconsolidating. This parish is not that big, and to pit the parish against the city is not the right direction."

Theriot says he's keeping an open mind, but neither he nor Bellard have any apparent motivation in voting for deconsolidation; they would effectively be voting themselves out of Lafayette government since neither lives in the city limits.

X FACTORS: Jay Castille, (District 2), Sam Dore (District 6)

Castille's district is 48 percent city, 52 percent rural and Carencro, so he's the most likely to be divided. He tells The Independent he prefers to amend the charter to make it a more workable document, yet he joined the committee on Feb. 1 in voting unanimously to put a deconsolidation ordinance before the council. But he also says we're going at this too fast: "I still believe the people have the right to vote on their type of government, but I also believe they have the right to have the information they need to make an educated vote."

Dore, the LPUA chairman, represents the district that is most overwhelmingly city residents. But he, too, is wary of giving up on consolidation, and he says he's hearing the same from his constituents. "I don't believe that consolidation is working the way it should or that it could," he says, "and I think we could make some hard choices and improve on the way it works. But scrapping it? Man, I don't know."

Dore and Castille both sound more likely to vote against a deconsolidation ordinance. So where does that leave us? Four in favor, five against. Two votes short of even making it onto a ballot.