Charter commish off to sputtering start

by Walter Pierce

The nine-member Lafayette Charter Commission is short one member.

The nine-member Lafayette Charter Commission is short one member after the withdrawal of one panelist named to the commission by City-Parish President Joey Durel, followed by the realization that the replacement candidate named by Durel cannot legally serve on the commission because he is already an elected official.

Durel announced late Wednesday afternoon that former City-Parish Councilman Randy Menard, one of two selections Durel made for the commission, asked to be removed because he was concerned he couldn't devote the time necessary to serve on the commission, and that Mike Hefner, the District 5 representative on the Lafayette Parish School Board, had been named to replace Menard. However, Durel says he learned at about 9 p.m. Wednesday that Hefner is ineligible because he is an elected official.

Durel tells The Independent he's "got some ideas and batting some things around" for who will be his third choice for the slot. Whomever Durel names, that person will have to be a resident of unincorporated Lafayette Parish.

The parish's chief executive says Menard had expressed some reservations about accepting the commission appointment "a week or so ago," but that on the day before the commission was appointed Durel e-mailed Menard to get his address and other information for the clerk of court, and Menard's reply providing the information led Durel to believe that Menard had reconciled his reservations and was prepared to sit on the commission.

"I think his intentions were good," Durel says. "But he got concerned about the time commitment."

The commission is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday, July 21. It will set its own meeting schedule and will meet for nine months, at which time it will make recommendations concerning the Lafayette Home Rule Charter.