October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Steve Cropper & Francis Pavy

In this recent article about legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, check out the painting in the photo. It was painted by local artist Francis Pavy, who was commissioned by Cropper's wife to paint the piece for his 50th birthday.

by: R. Reese Fuller 4:09 PM

Horse Farm Court Filing Still A Mystery

The local attorney who filed the UL Lafayette horse farm/Jimmy Davidson property exchange agreement with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Oct. 20 says he did it to enter the documents into the public record. It's still unclear whether a lawsuit to uphold the controversial agreement is forthcoming.

"All I can tell you is the members of BRE-ARD requested I file it in the conveyance records to protect their interests," says Joe Bouligny Jr. BRE-ARD is the entity comprised of Jerry Brents and Dan Menard, who were to get 36 acres of the horse farm after they bought attorney Davidson's 4 acres and exchanged them with the university. (See Cover-Up.)

The front 36 acres of the Johnston Street horse farm and 4 acres of Davidson's land were originally valued at $3.25 million. After new appraisals on both the horse farm and Davidson property revealed the university would be squandering $4 million, Authement called off the swap in mid-June, though he remains dogged in his quest to buy the Davidson property.

The court filing had community members, especially those associated with Save the Horse Farm, scrambling for an explanation. The university was as blindsided as they were. "We don't know anything about it," UL spokeswoman Julie Dronet says. "Dr. Authement didn't even know anything about it."

It now seems a bit ironic that all of Authement's buddies (surely UL Foundation Board member Davidson is in on this) might be posturing to force him to uphold the tainted agreement by filing suit, especially after Menard told The Independent Weekly last year that he had only the university's best interests at heart. "Everything is ethical, moral and legal," he said about the proposed swap, "and to be perfectly honest, I'm trying to help the university if I can."

by: Leslie Turk 3:49 PM

The Tax Man

In what appears to be a bizarre role reversal, local Republicans continue to come out in favor of Mayor Durel's 1 cent sales tax increase proposal while local Democrats are now blasting Durel for being an irresponsible "Tax and spend Republican". This week, local Republican Executive Committee member Don Bertrand endorsed Mayor Durel's one cent tax hike, while the local Democratic executive committee has come out unanimously against it.

The local Republican executive committee is not making an endorsement as a whole, because of divided support on the issue. But several Republicans, and the chamber of commerce, have come out for the tax proposal.

I think both the pro-sales tax Republicans and the Democrats against the proposal make solid arguments. More and more, it seems like this issue is shaping up to be a referendum on the Durel administration, which is aggressively promoting the tax as being essential for Lafayette's future. This vote could serve as a good barometer of how vulnerable Durel is going into his re-election campaign next year.

by: Nathan Stubbs 11:59 AM

Al Berard and Richard LeBouef, you've got money waiting for you. Other local artists could be eligible, too ...

It looks like at least a few local artists -- and possibly more -- have some money coming to them, if they take the time to collect some unpaid royalties. Here's the lowdown:


SoundExchange, the non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. and designated by the United States Copyright Office to collect and distribute royalties from webcasters, satellite radio services and other digital music providers to recording artists and record labels, is embarking on a major campaign to reach approximately 9,000 unregistered recording artists and approximately 2,000 unregistered independent record labels, as the deadline to sign up to receive digital performance royalties collected during between 1996 and 2000 fast approaches. Under federal law, royalties that are not claimed by recording artists and record labels within three years of SoundExchange's receipt of such royalties are forfeited and the royalties are applied to offset actual costs incurred in the collection, distribution, establishment and enforcement of statutory royalties. The SoundExchange Board of Directors, jointly controlled by representatives of recording artists and record labels, has extended that deadline on numerous occasions, but claims to royalties paid for the years 1996 through March 31, 2000 will not be accepted after December 15, 2006.

The link to the artist list is at the bottom of this Soundexchange Web page, and Berard and LeBouef are listed. Soundexchange also stresses that this is an incomplete list, AND there's a separate list for record labels. So if you're a local artist, it can't hurt to check out the Web site and see if you're eligible to collect some cash.

by: Scott Jordan 11:52 AM

Monday, October 30, 2006

Project HEAL honored

Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the arts community of Lafayette recognized that many New Orleans artists who found refuge in Acadiana had lost artwork, studios and equipment as well as their homes. The Acadiana Arts Council, working with Lafayette Consolidated Government created a program, Project HEAL (Helping Employ Artists Locally) to garner federal funding to hire displaced artists and arts administrators for community activities and program development. Donations poured in as well from individuals, artists, nonprofits, corporations and foundations to supply continued support for the program.

In recognition for the excellence of the ACA's program, Project HEAL will be honored on November 8 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge with the "Louisiana Rebirth" award. This award was newly created by the Louisiana Division of the Arts following the 2005 hurricanes and has been added to the roster of the 2006 Governor's Arts Awards.

Another Acadiana recipient is George Rodrigue, who will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

by: Mary Tutwiler 4:54 PM

Meet Guyland Leday

Opelousas accordion wunderkin Guyland Leday is one of 20 finalists in the Oscar Mayer Sing the Jingle, Be a Star contest. Leday beat out thousands of other contestants across the nation who sang their hearts out in their own renditions of the "Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle" or the "Oscar Mayer Bologna Song." (Leday went with the wiener jingle.)

Of all the contestants, there are some strange adults and cute kids, but only a few that actually play instruments in additon to singing. And only Leday - the great grandson of Delton Broussard of the Lawtell Playboys fame - sports a single-row diatonic accordion and plays it left-handed.

To view the finalists and to place your vote, visit www.singthejingle.com. Five grand prize winners will win the chance to appear on a nationally televised commercial and $5,000.

The New York Times wrote of Guyland:

Guyland Leday, a 7-year-old Louisianan, plays zydeco accordion like a boy possessed.

Check out these two clips of Guyland from HBO's The Music in Me: Children's Recitals from Classical to Latin, Jazz to Zydeco:

(Guyland photo couresty of David Simpson, LSUE)

by: R. Reese Fuller 1:15 PM

Friday, October 27, 2006

Generally excellent

Every year, the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards honor newspapers across the nation that "exhibit excellent writing, an interesting approach and valuable subject matter." Sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism, the contest is "the oldest and best-known feature writing and editing competition in American newspapering."

The Independent Weekly won second place for General Excellence in this year's competition. Other winners and finalists for this year's awards include other alternative newsweeklies like LA Weekly, SF Weekly, Phoenix New Times, Philadelphia Weekly , and Houston Press, as well as daily newspapers like The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

by: R. Reese Fuller 10:06 AM

It's Boozoo, that's who

On this rainy and gloomy Friday morning, this clip of Boozoo Chavis performing "Paper in my Shoe" ought to wake you up:

And if you've forgotten who Boozoo was, here's a reminder.

by: R. Reese Fuller 7:04 AM

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bad Judgment

While it's seriously doubtful District Judge Marilyn Castle engaged in any quid pro quo with Councilman Chris Williams over his graffiti legal troubles and her desire for a new courthouse, Castle should NEVER have met with Chris Aug. 23 — the day after Williams' renegged on his promise to support putting the property tax proposition on the November ballot. Williams' doodling case had not yet been assigned to any of the district's 13 judges, but the potential for a conflict of interest was there, and that should have been enough for Castle to avoid the private meeting altogether. No 15th JDC judge should have engaged with him on this matter because of the perception it might be viewed as some sort of negotiating tool in his case (not to mention the probability Chris would make an issue of it down the road; he's now angling to have all 15th JDC judges recused from his case). And sure enough, Chris was randomly assigned to Judge Castle's courtroom a week later.

Judges are supposed to exercise good judgment, and in this case just about anyone pushing the courthouse tax measure, with the obvious exception of DA Mike Harson, could have made the trip to Williams' office along with Clerk of Court Louis Perret and Joe Oelkers of Acadiana Legal Services. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss why Williams voted against putting the measure on the ballot when he had already promised his support to Oelkers and Mike Skinner (who was out of town for the Aug. 23 meeting with Chris). Williams told Castle et al he was mad about the MLK Drive issue but called the council clerk during the meeting and asked that it be brought up for reconsideration Sept. 5, at which time he voted for putting it on the ballot. Despite that by the Sept. 5 council meeting Chris' case was indeed before her, Castle attended the meeting and asked the council to reconsider putting the measure on the ballot, another lapse in judgment.

It seems to me, however, Chris is the guilty party who tried to do a "tit for tat" on the courthouse tax, which didn't work out too well for him — and Castle was not keen enough to steer clear of his plan.

by: Leslie Turk 3:11 PM

More sensitivity from the Times of Acadiana

From the same paper that said missing an episode of American Idol was worse than Hurricane Katrina's damage, The Times of Acadiana once again brings you this week's unbelievably offensive tidbit. The article doesn't appear to be available online, but The Times of Acadiana's current issue has a column from UL economics professor Rand Ressler on the death penalty as a deterrent to crime. Here's Ressler's conclusion:

An honest debate regarding the pros and cons of capital punishment must acknowledge its effectiveness as a deterrent to murder. Furthermore, the more gruesome the method of execution, the greater its deterrent effect. So what'll it be, regular or extra crispy?

The Times, with all its sensitivity and wisdom, of course used "Regular or extra crispy; the death penalty as a deterrent" for its headline on the story.

The Times aside, if this is the kind of "humor" Ressler uses in his classroom, I feel sorry for his UL students.

by: Scott Jordan 9:07 AM

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America give Lafayette Rep. Charles Boustany a 'D' grade

Non-profit, non-partisan organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America just issued the results of its comprehensive study into legislators' records on voting for or against measures that would support U.S. troops and veterans. It used a mathematical formula to assess legislators' votes, and assigned each legislator a letter grade from A+ (best) to F (worst).

Lafayette Rep. Charles Boustany received a ‘D.' Here are the complete results of Louisiana's delegation, in descending order:

William Jefferson, Democrat: A-
Mary Landrieu, Democrat: B+
Charlie Melancon, Democrat: B+
Rodney Alexander, Republican: B-
Jim McCrery, Republican: C
Richard Baker, Republican: C
Charles Boustany, Republican: D
Bobby Jindal, Republican: D

And coming in last, and the only legislator to receive a failing grade:
David Vitter, Republican: F

To view the complete state-by-state list and legislator grades, go here.

by: Scott Jordan 3:55 PM

Monday, October 23, 2006

Making the Grade

The state department of education released its annual school performance scores today. The scores, based on a composite of stadardized test scores (LEAP and GEE), and attendance and dropout data, can be viewed here.

In Lafayette, the good news is N.P. Moss Middle School has lifted itself out of its designation as an "academically unacceptable" school. The bad news is Northside High School now finds itself listed as "academically unacceptable" and must implement the requirements of "School Improvement 2"

Basically, NHS, like Moss last year, will now be under strict state supervision and is required to use a certain percentage of its Title I dollars for programs geared toward improving the school performance score. The biggest sanction is that NHS, as a Title I school, must now offer all its students "choice", just as N.P. Moss had to do last year. In other words, the school board must decide, by December, on two alternative, and "academically acceptable" public high schools in the parish to allow NHS students the choice of attending, along with the option of staying at NHS. This may be very difficult for the board, given that NHS has almost 1,000 students, and practically all of the other public high schools in the parish are already overcrowded.

by: Nathan Stubbs 3:28 PM

Grand's last stand

About 30 days after The Independent reported that disputes between tenants Jennifer Grand, owner of Grand Contemporary art gallery, hip-hop club RAIN owner Jason Robino, and landlord Kathy Ashworth, were leading to the flagship art gallery's departure from the building in January 2007, Jennifer Grand issued a letter telling friends of the gallery that she has officially closed her doors two months early.

Ashworth informed Grand on Oct. 19 that her lease is up Oct. 31. Grand says she can't imagine any other reason for Ashworth terminating the agreement 2 months early except "retaliation for the article."

Grand is continuing her search for a new location downtown. Meanwhile, she says she will continue to do business out of her Breaux Bridge location. As for the remaining art at the Grand Contemporary, this is the time to snatch up something you've had your eye on. "All reasonable offers considered," Grand says, "especially on large pieces."

by: Mary Tutwiler 2:01 PM

Pushing for drilling royalties

The New York Times' lead editorial today urges the House of Representatives and President Bush to back the proposed Senate bill that would guarantee oil and gas royalties for Louisiana and other coastal states from drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

The entire editorial is essential reading, but here are two money quotes:

Since the deluge of Hurricane Katrina anniversary coverage in August, there has been very little talk about the safety of New Orleans and the surrounding region. In fact, the city and the region are more vulnerable than ever. …

The House should instead see [the bill] as a way to restore the health of a battered ecosystem, as future protection for the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, and as a way to deliver on unfulfilled promises.

by: Scott Jordan 12:04 PM

Thursday, October 19, 2006

No room in Gretna for the poor

Gretna's sheriff's department, on the west bank of the river from New Orleans, shamed itself in the days following Hurricane Katrina, by threatening Crescent City residents with a show of armed force. Gretna police fired shots over the heads of people attempting to evacuate across the Mississippi River bridge into unflooded Gretna, sending them back into the chaos of New Orleans. Gretna officials countered charges of racism with the prevalent fear in the aftermath of the storm of looting and violence.

If that show of callous disregard for those in dire straits weren't disgusting enough, today's headlines in the Times Picayune should solidify the nation's view of Gretna's leadership. West Bank councilman Chris Roberts sponsored a resolution, backed by the Jefferson Parish Council, objecting to building low-income housing in Gretna and Terrytown.

The Picayune reported that Roberts says he sees a direct correlation between low-income tenants and criminal complaints in his district. Roberts wants no new developments if they invite poor New Orleanians.

"Crime is already at a pace that residents are reconsidering living here," Roberts said. "You would be having folks in Orleans Parish who lived in public housing complexes into Jefferson Parish. That's just not something I'm interested in."

Robert's deliberate criminalization of poverty (and reading between the lines, race) sets him off as the worst of leaders, fearmongering and causing division when he should be working toward healing the deep wounds New Orleans has suffered. It is leadership like his that reinforces the politics of hatred and lends ammunition to those in the nation who believe that Louisiana has gotten what it deserves.

by: Mary Tutwiler 2:53 PM

Don't worry about that pesky environmental permit process or possible wetland damage; we're just trying to speed up the recovery rate

Given the amount of determined and loud community activism that's sprung up in both Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina, the 30-day public comment session on this initiative is gonna be filled with multiple groups trying to stop or reform this measure.

by: Scott Jordan 2:39 PM

Advertiser publisher: No time "to think about the news"

"This is how big the money pressures are. I don't have time to think about the news because I'm worried about the money. I don't have time to think about who should be elected. OK?"

In an episode of LPB's program Louisiana Public Square, that's how The Daily Advertiser's publisher, Ted Power, responded to a roundtable participant who expressed concern over the control of local media by national corporations. The topic of the episode was "Consuming Media," focusing on media and media literacy.

At one point, when host and moderator Craig Freeman attempted to bring the discussion back to "profits trumping the news" for corporations, Power interrupted with this comment:

"Profits aren't trumping news values. Profits are shaping what we cover, in a newspaper's point of view, as far as geography. The values are the same."

Power also had this to say:

"Most newspapers, most television stations are going to have to concentrate on local, local news."

Read more about "local, local news."

by: R. Reese Fuller 10:42 AM

Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander and the Foley page scandal

The Mark Foley scandal isn't going away – and it looks like Louisiana Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander is making sure that he won't be taken down with any of his colleagues who may have had a role in not blowing the whistle earlier on Foley's illicit activity with congressional pages. Here's the relevant section from today's Advocate article:

After testifying for three hours before the closed-door House Ethics Committee, a frustrated Alexander emerged saying he didn't understand why e-mails sent to pages by former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., were not reported earlier, before Foley had solicited a page sponsored by Alexander.

"There were many people who knew about these e-mails and (instant messages) in the past," Alexander said. "I want to know, who were their (congressional) sponsors?"

Note how Alexander says there were "many people" who knew about Foley's emails and instant messages to pages. I don't gamble, but I'd wager that there's going to be a few more major revelations in this case in the coming weeks.

by: Scott Jordan 9:32 AM

The fiber battle gets major airtime on national television

Lafayette received major airtime in Bill Moyers' "The Net at Risk" report last night on PBS. While the crux of the show was the "Net Neutrality" battle – where giant telecom and cable companies are spending massive amounts of lobbying money to try and kickstart legislation aimed at charging companies and consumers on a sliding scale for internet activity – it also shone the spotlight on Lafayette's fight for LUS' fiber-to-the-home project.

City-Parish President Joey Durel, LUS director Terry Huval and a number of principals of the Lafayette Coming Together pro-fiber community activist group (Don Bertrand, Stephen Handwerk, Gob Williams, Layne St. Julien) all got airtime and made reasoned, strong arguments for LUS' fiber-to-the-home program. Huval was particularly compelling and detailed the all-out efforts of Cox Communications and BellSouth to derail the project. The most telling moment came in one sentence: when the reporter on the piece said, "Cox Communications and BellSouth declined to speak with us." Why didn't two nationally known companies defend their actions in Lafayette and promote their alternative plans on a national television forum? It doesn't take much reading between the lines to answer that question.

by: Scott Jordan 9:10 AM

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rebuilding our heritage

Louisiana's unique architectural heritage stands at risk after the winds and waters of last year's storms. CODOFIL has teamed up with the Office of Historic Preservation to provide grants of $5,000 to $45,000 to secure historic buildings made structurally unsound by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. To apply for the grants, buildings must be on the historic register or deemed eligible for listing. A preliminary meeting for building owners or anyone who wants to help identify and save significantly structures will be held Thur. Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Sliman Theatre in downtown New Iberia. For more information call 225 342-0227 or 866 406-7043 (toll free) or e-mail [email protected].

by: Mary Tutwiler 2:28 PM

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stagg wins highly coveted Esquire endorsement

In what seems like an odd move for what's known primarily as a Men's fashion magazine, Esquire has just issued its endorsements for every single Congressional race in the country. All 504 of them. In Louisiana, the big winners are: Bobby Jindal, Charlie Melancon, Jim McCrery, Richard Baker, Joe Lavinge and, locally, longshot Democratic candidate Mike Stagg.

I'm sure Congressman Charles Boustany is irate at how this guy is beating him out with the editors at such an esteemed style magazine. What are all his rural Acadia and Vermilion Parish constituents going to think when they see this?

Stagg is trying to get some mileage out of this. He's already issued a press release and posted the news at the top of his Web site along with a creepy accompanying video of Boustany's head morphing into President Bush's dog.

by: Nathan Stubbs 1:59 PM

Monday, October 16, 2006

Here's your fresh cup of afternoon outrage

After its tragically inept response to Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency clearly showed it was in need of a drastic overhaul. A reasonable No. 1 priority was ensuring that no one like Michael Brown – a political appointment with no emergency management skills – would ever be put in charge of FEMA again. So it was good news when President Bush signed a bill last week that allowed Congress to set higher job-qualification standards for FEMA directors, right? After all, Bush himself said the bill was "an important piece of legislation that will highlight our government's highest responsibility, and that's to protect the American people." He added that the bill "will also help our government better respond to emergencies and natural disasters by strengthening the capabilities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

There's only one problem: hours after he signed the bill, Bush issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. It's hard to fathom the blatant dishonesty of putting on a dog-and-pony show for a bill signing and then quietly, immediately neutering the very heart of the legislation. Read all the disturbing details in this expertly reported Boston Globe story.

by: Scott Jordan 2:29 PM

Household Chemical Day!

If you have an old cell phone or beeper - or maybe even some old motor oil or antifreeze - just hanging around the house and taking up space, now's the time to get rid of it.

On Oct. 28, Lafayette Consolidated Government's Environmental Quality Divsion will host Household Chemical Day. Take your household items to be recycled to 400 Dorset Ave., just off of Pinhook Road around the railroad tracks, between Evangeline and General Mouton.

Consult the list of approved items or call (337) 291-8529 for more information.

by: R. Reese Fuller 11:03 AM

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Moyers on America" sneak peek

Here's a preview of the segment about Lafayette that will run on Moyers on America's program "The Net at Risk" that will air on LPB Wednesday night, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.

by: R. Reese Fuller 3:13 PM

Another "guest columnist"

Scott Jordan was furious last week with The Daily Advertiser and its guest columnist, Donna Greco. The insanity continues with this week's column by David Prejean. Some of Prejean's comments warrant closer scrutiny:

Sure, there is still racism. So what? There are people who discriminate against fat people, ugly people, short people. There are even some who discriminate against snooty, rich people. And, yes, there will always be people who discriminate against blacks.

First of all, to equate racism with discrimination against the fat, the ugly, and the short is just flat out ignorant. And with the comment "so what," Prejean acknowledges racism and his own lack of concern for those who are victims of it. As an afterthought, he notes that even "snooty, rich people" get discriminated against. What? Is that the silver bullet of the argument? What does that even mean?

But all of that foolishness aside, Prejean's comments don't advance the dialogue on race-related issues in this city, and for the second week in a row, the daily paper has published essentially the same "guest column" of the "shut up about MLK Drive" variety, with just a different author.

Where's the common ground on all of this? Is anyone even willing to look for the middle ground, or are we all going to hang out on the extreme fringes and yell at one another? If you haven't read Scott's cover story this week, "Where's the Leadership?" I encourage you to do so. It addresses the MLK Drive issue, the problems with both sides of this debate, and our leaders' lack of leadership.

by: R. Reese Fuller 9:29 AM

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pic of the day

The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, as part of its Family Fun Concert series, will present "A Tour of the Orchestra" at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22. It sounds like fun for the whole family - adults get to hear music, and the kids get to learn about musical instruments.

But does anybody else find this photo perplexing? That lady on the left is probably a violin or a viola, and the second guy is probably a drum. But what about those other two people? Is that third guy a baritone, a sousaphone, or a mushroom?

by: R. Reese Fuller 3:17 PM

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Independent gets $20,500 in legal fees

On Monday, Oct. 9, District Judge Ed Rubin awarded attorneys' fees to The Independent Weekly, essentially forcing UL Lafayette to reimburse the paper for having to file a Public Records lawsuit for the new Davidson appraisal.

Rubin ordered the university to pay the newspaper $20,491.50 for fees and costs; the university has not indicated whether it will appeal Rubin's award.

On Sept. 11 Rubin ruled that the appraisal of attorney Jimmy Davidson's Girard Park property was a public record, and the university turned it over a week later. The university tried to keep the document under wraps because the new appraisal was $1.75 million less than UL planned to pay for the property in the now defunct horse farm land swap deal.

To date, the university has paid $10,450 to appraise Davidson's property. Even before trying to negotiate a lower price for the land, UL President Ray Authement moved to order yet another appraisal — one that ostensibly would bring the value more in line with the seller's asking price.

Davidson is a member of the UL Foundation's Board of Trustees.

by: Leslie Turk 4:33 PM

Vote for Deuce

The Saints' Deuce McAllister has been nominated as one of three finalists for this week's Fed Ex Ground Top Running Backs. If he wins, the NFL donates $5,000 to Children's Hospital of New Orleans. It's a worthy cause and one that will help give a small boost to struggling New Orleans healthcare providers.

Visit this site and vote.

(And you can vote for Manning too.)

by: Nathan Stubbs 12:12 PM

DRU: the next Usher?

19-year-old Duson resident Andrew Broussard - aka DRU (which is also an acronym for "Dynamic, Representing, Unique.") - is being billed as a singing, dancing, and acting triple threat, according to his electronic press kit. With comparsions to Baby Face, Smokey Robinson and even Michael Jackson, could DRU be our next Usher? On DRU's myspace page, you can listen to his single "It's Alright," which is currently playing on local radio stations, and decide for yourself.

by: R. Reese Fuller 10:38 AM

Starting to be a lonely election season

I'm still a little stunned about the rapidly dwindling political races this season. Yesterday I read that state Rep. Wilfred Pierre backed out and decided not to run for the state senate seat being vacated by Don Cravins, who was elected mayor of Opelousas. Knowing that Cravins was term-limited out next year and looking for another post, Pierre started fundraising for a run at the state senate seat almost a year ago, telling everyone he was going to run. State Rep. Don Cravins, Jr. also had been gearing up for the race. As of last Friday, they were both still in. Yesterday, Pierre told The Advertiser he had "a change of heart." (On a side note, Pierre also addressed the rumors that he had been receiving calls from local city officials close to city-parish president Joey Durel, asking that he consider getting back on the city-parish council, saying "that's not going to happen." given the state of affairs on the local council, hard to blame him there.)

Last night, I read about state Sen. Francis Heitmeier bowing out of the secretary of state's race. Heitmeier would only say that after looking at the numbers, his New Orleans base just ain't what it used to be.

Seems to me like the real losers here may be the voters, who may no longer have a choice in either of these races (and the reporters, who won't have as much politics to write about). As a reporter and a follower of politics, I had been looking forward to the Pierre-Cravins Jr. race. The short timespan set for the election (sheduled for Dec. 9) tended to favor Cravins Jr., who has the St. Landry Parish base and his father's name to draw on. Still, I'm a little surprised to see Pierre back down.

And Surely, Heitmeier was the underdog going into the run-off in the secretary of state's race. A lot of people were surprised to see how low New Orleans' turnout was in the Sept. 30 election (Baton Rouge, where Heitmeier's opponent Jay Dardenne hails from, turned out about twice the votes). It seems like the politicians are starting to feel it's better to back out than to risk losing.

by: Nathan Stubbs 10:33 AM

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Moyers on Lafayette

Stephen Handwerk, of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Party, announced today that LUS' fiber-to-the-home initiative will be featured in an upcoming episode of "Moyers on America" to air on PBS stations nationwide. The episode "The Net at Risk" is scheduled to air on LPB stations on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006. Check LPB's program schedule for other air times.

by: R. Reese Fuller 1:31 PM

Monday, October 09, 2006

Roux the day

Lots stirring in New Iberia this weekend.

When the temperature drops, the butane burners heat up for the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff. In its 17th year now, the battle for best gumbo is ladled over two days. Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Cajun and Creole Food Fest fills Bouligny Plaza in the heart of downtown New Iberia. Dance to Thomas Big Hat Fields and TK Hulin on the banks of Bayou Teche, or shop the specialty stores along Main Street. At 5 p.m., every art gallery, restaurant, book store and bar will open with the fall Art Walk. Over 25 local artists have work on display throughout the downtown Historic District.

Sunday, Oct. 15, 70 teams will square off in Bouligny Plaza with entries in three categories. Seafood could contain the usual suspects--shrimp, crab and oyster. The second category is Non-Seafood. Game gumbos have been known to bubble with emu, specklebelly and nutria along with the regular chicken and sausage entries. There is a third category which is a catch-all for those who can't decide whether to cook fish or fowl. Called Melange, all those critters up for debate, like alligator, frog and turtle can simmer alongside mallard and coot or even the tiny shrimp called sea-bob.

Cups of gumbo go on sale at 11 a.m., $2 for non-seafood, $2.50 for seafood gumbo. Jr. Flores and the Bayou Boys begin the music at 9:30 a.m., followed by Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie, from 1-4 p.m. Just cruise down Highway 182, when you get to New Iberia, open your window and follow your nose.

by: Mary Tutwiler 1:38 PM

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An empty place at the table

The first time I encountered Johnny Apple's food and travel writing was in Dec. 2002. I had written a long travel piece for the Times Picayune on some of the great country stores and plate lunch places of Acadiana. The story was published in April 2002. My story began at Suire's Grocery just south of Kaplan, where I extolled the marvelous turtle sauce piquant. Eight months later, and proudly pinned to the wall inside Suire's was a New York Times travel and food story about the great country lunch places of Acadiana, leading off at Suire's. I took one look at the headline, with the misspelled word "crayfish" and fumed that some Yankee who couldn't even get the local lingo right had followed in my well-fed footprints.

That I could be so honored. The weasel I imagined was no other than R.W. Apple, one of the country's most respected war correspondents, political analysts, the New York Times' bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London and Washington and of late, the erudite, globe-trotting food and travel writer whose insatiable appetite and expense account became newsroom legend.

I came to love and admire Apple's huge cravings for food and esoterica. Every week I'd scan the New York Times in the hopes that the centerpiece of the Travel Section would be his, and came to be able to spot his headlines before I ever opened up a story online. He brought a hungry curiosity to everything he wrote, whether it was about making traditional cured salami and ham or distilling the complexities of Tennessee sourmash. And he had a particular love affair with the food of Louisiana. From the temples of gastronomy in New Orleans to the backwater boudin and sausage kitchens of Cajun country, Apple ate everything and kept coming back for more.

The veteran journalist died this morning at the age of 71
, of thoracic cancer. The loss of his larger-than-life presence diminishes the writing world. He was both wise and outrageous and lived in a way most of us couldn't even hope to emulate. I'll miss not only his stories, but the thought of Johnny Apple circumnavigating the globe, tasting all it had to offer, keenly anticipating his next adventure, his next meal.

by: Mary Tutwiler 3:51 PM

The politics of hate and division

Way to go, Daily Advertiser. Hand over your editorial page to "guest columnist" Donna Greco, who writes this today:

To Louis Benjamin: drop the Martin Luther King thing. Everyone is just Kinged out in this town. We have a national holiday; it is celebrated widely with parades, speeches and other types of tributes. The schools participate like it is the notation of the Second Coming and the media spends several days touting its coming, its doings, and its going. Drop it!

"Everyone" is Kinged out? Sorry, Ms. Greco, but you don't speak for the people of Lafayette. And I find your oh-so-subtle denigration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day – "The schools participate like it is the notation of the Second Coming …" – offensive and revolting.

I'd really love to know the Advertiser's "policy" on guest editorials. What if someone wants to say they're tired of hearing about Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa for 800 words? Is that OK?

And on the other side of the demagogue fence, Councilman Chris Williams introduced his latest ally at his press conference last Friday. It's the Reverend Raymond Brown of the National Action Network and the new Black Panther Party. Brown was in New Iberia yesterday addressing the tear-gas incident in an African-American neighborhood that happened after the Sugarcane Festival – a serious situation that deserves a full investigation into the New Iberia Sheriff's department's actions. But here are the comments made by Brown yesterday to The Advocate:

"Gov. Blanco, as you know, she was slow to respond to (Hurricane) Katrina. The governor, excuse the expression, is a no-good bitch. That's not a curse word, we say that in church. She's no good."

The article continues:

Brown also ripped the local clergy who have worked with the city and Sheriff's Department in the west end, calling them "Uncle Toms, bootlicking and tap-dancing, scratch-where-it-don't-itch preachers."

I have never been more disgusted with our local leaders and the Daily Advertiser than I am right now. If there is one pro-active, reasonable voice that's trying to address this situation with a positive solution that would benefit the whole community, I can't find it.

by: Scott Jordan 2:44 PM

Monday, October 02, 2006

Apathy in action

Pat Carroll, director of elections with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's office, says 19 percent of Lafayette Parish's registered voters actually showed up at the polls and voted on Saturday. When compared to other elections, Carroll says, "Sadly enough, it's fair." Statewide, 20 percent of Louisiana's registered voters bothered to vote.

What's the big deal? It wasn't like there was anything important to vote for - like constitutional amendments or school board members or secretary of state or insurance commissioner or …

Uh, nevermind.

by: R. Reese Fuller 3:12 PM