Lafayette municipal councils support the Home Rule Charter Commission. What happens next?


Lafayette city council voted 4-1 on Tuesday in favor of convening a charter of autonomy commission to propose changes to the consolidated local government, but that doesn’t mean that will happen.

Council volunteer Protect the City Committee worked for months to revise the structure of Lafayette’s consolidated government.

After a long series of public meetings, this committee produced a report recommending that the municipal and parish councils of Lafayette convene a charter commission to propose a certain level of deconsolidation to voters in an election.

The city council welcomed the proposal on Tuesday.

City protection committee members Jan Swift (left) and Roddy Bergeron (right) present the findings of their committee's draft report on the split from the Lafayette consolidated government at a town hall on Monday 14 June 2021.

“You can agree or disagree with the issues on this matter, but we are here to make continued efforts to improve our town of Lafayette,” City Councilor Liz Hebert said. “Whether you agree with everything in this (report) or completely disagree with it, you can totally agree with it. “

A commission of the charter of autonomy would have a maximum of 18 months to develop a proposal to change Lafayette’s form of government. He would then walk past voters in a parish-wide election.

City Councilor Andy Naquin cast the only vote against convening a charter committee on Tuesday, calling the measure “premature.” He tried to postpone the vote but did not get the necessary support from the rest of the board to do so.

Lafayette City Council President Liz Hebert addresses voters at a town hall on the recommendation of the City's Protection Committee to split the consolidated Lafayette government on Monday, June 14, 2021.

Naquin sought to delay the vote until the Lafayette Parish Council’s City-Parish Alignment Commission, which was recently created in response to the city’s protection committee, completes its six-month study on government consolidated.

City Councilor Glenn Lazard said he felt a delay was unwarranted and would not change council support for the decision.

“If we proceed tonight or wait a month, two months, three months, I don’t think the outcome will be any different,” Lazard said.

“That’s why I don’t see the point in delaying the inevitable.”

Lafayette City Council members Pat Lewis of District 1 and Glenn Lazard of District 5 held a series of town halls to discuss a report from the city's protection committee aimed at deconsolidating the Lafayette government.  Wednesday June 16, 2021.

The city council vote calls for an 11-member commission, with one nomination for each of the five city council members and five parish council members, as well as one for President Mayor Josh Guillory.

But the qualified majority support of the city council for the convening of a commission, stimulated by calls for greater autonomy and a desire for the city to elect its own mayor, will not be enough on its own to convene a commission of the city. charter.

Instead, Lafayette Parish Council must sign for the city’s vote to accomplish anything. City council members have acknowledged that this is unlikely to happen.

The parish’s nine-member CPA commission, which is advisory only and not a charter commission, has yet to set a date for its first meeting.

The members of the commission are:

  • Parish Councilor Bryan Tabor (General Parish Council)
  • City Councilor Nanette Cook (City Council in general)
  • Charles “Buddy” Schilling II (Parish Councilor Bryan Tabor)
  • Parish Councilor Kevin Naquin (self-proclaimed)
  • Pastor and Business Owner Joseph Richard (Parish Councilor Josh Carlson)
  • Advertising Director Paul Eason (Parish Councilor John Guilbeau)
  • Accountant Will Thiele (AB Rubin Parish Council)
  • President of the Republican Party Lafayette Tim Breaux (Mayor-President Josh Guillory)
  • Former Mayor of Scott Purvis Morrison (mayors of the region)

The composition of the CPA Commission includes the most frequent negotiators of the current councils, but lacks a strong political bent, apart from the appointment of Breaux by Guillory. He suggests that anti-deconsolidation parish council members may not be trying to block a possible charter commission, but rather delay current calls to convene one.

President Mayor Josh Guillory speaking before the removal of the Sheep Statue.  After 99 years at the corner of Jefferson Street and Lee Avenue in downtown Lafayette, the statue of Confederate General Alfred Mouton is removed.  Saturday July 17, 2021.

The commission’s six-month timeline will likely slow down the convening of any charter commission long enough to avoid changes to the local ballot in 2023, when Guillory and both councils are re-elected.

But that doesn’t mark the end of the road for efforts to call for a short-term charter commission.

There are two potential avenues.

The first is described in state law, which gives residents of a local government the opportunity to convene a charter commission of autonomy through a petition which, in the parish of Lafayette, must collect the signatures of 10,000 registered voters.

This would require members of a charter commission to be elected by voters before starting to propose changes.

The second option would likely be an uphill battle in court that city council members have said they hope to avoid.

Councilor Nanette Cook at a meeting on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Councilor Nanette Cook, promoter of the charter commission and the only council member appointed to the parish council commission, said she hopes this can move forward in finding a solution that serves the interests of the community. city ​​and parish.

“I believe we can work with the parish on this point. I understand that we now have an alignment committee, and the word ‘functional consolidation’, to me, has some merit that I think we need to look at as well, ”Cook said.

“I look forward to working with them to see what we can do together to see what works best for both entities because, once again, Lafayette is in the parish.”

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