‘We are following the science’ is a worn-out phrase we have become all too familiar with. It has been frequently used by totalitarians and progressives over the last few years. While individual rights were trampled, that line was repeatedly touted as a justification for implementing draconian measures. But when was the very last time you actually heard someone use that phrase? Would you be surprised to know that local politicians have picked up the line? Well don’t be.
In a radio interview with Carol Ross yesterday, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory proudly stated “we follow the science!” Although his statement didn’t concern health emergencies, it certainly involved individual rights. In repeating the line Guillory was speaking about several court cases involving Lafayette City-Parish Government and private citizens. The issues involved the alleged unlawful seizure of private property by LCG for use in drainage projects.
“Quick Take” (Rapid Theft)
Guillory proudly proclaimed that he was protecting the lives and property of Lafayette. Those who brought suit against LCG for the unlawful seizure of their personal property don’t see it that way. At heart is basic individual liberty to own personal property and what has become known as the “quick take” statute. The legislation which was originally crafted in 2009 by Louisiana State Representative Joel Robideaux narrowly dealt with Lafayette’s Kaliste Saloom Road Widening Project. That changed in 2018 when Louisiana Senator Page Cortez pushed through a bill (SB497) extending “quick take” to include any “drainage, road, or bridge projects” in the City or Parish of Lafayette. The statute, which only affects the residents of the Parish of Lafayette, allows the government “expropriate” (steal) prior to the property owner being compensated or the terms of compensation being set.
However, so far, LCG is 0 for 2 in court. Valerie Gotch-Garrett issued the most recent rebuff against the “Homewood detention project.” Previously, Judge Michelle Breaux rejected another of LCG’s attempts to seize property on Lake Farm Road. In these cases, and also the one in St. Martin Parish, work commenced (and was even completed in one case) before Lafayette Consolidated Government bothered to inform affected parties.
During the same interview, Guillory claimed that the matters before the court were about money and indicated that he didn’t feel he could “ethically” pay the rightful property owners the compensation they sought citing that doing so would be a “gratuitous donation” of public property.
The Louisiana Constitution (Article 7, Section 14) proclaims “…the funds, credit, property, or things of value of the state or of any political subdivision shall not be loaned, pledged, or donated to or for any person, association, or corporation, public or private.” However, LCG has routinely made gratuitous donations from the public treasury. Some examples include the gratuitous donation of $1.5 million dollars to the Bottle Art Lofts development, the gratuitous donation of adjudicated properties to a non-profit owned by former Councilman Chris Williams, and the gratuitous donation of funds to a for-profit corporation to build a gas station. Paying a property owner the full value of property you took without their permission is much different than a gratuitous donation for which the city received nothing in return.
Next Hearing In Federal Court
While LCG licks their wounds over the recent legal defeats, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has removed a preemptive suit filed by Guillory over the Cypress Island Spoil Levee debacle to Federal Court. Although the Corps has not filed responsive pleadings in the matter, the St. Martin Parish Government promptly filed a Motion to Dismiss. Not bad for a government agency that LCG openly criticized for taking “a quarter of a century” to act. That hearing is set for June 29, 2022.
All of these shenanigans has caused many people to reach out to us, wondering what is going on in City-Parish Government. Guillory may have saved us from Carlee, but some are starting to ask, who will save us from Josh?
If we’re not watching them, who will?
Citizens for a New Louisiana is the only organization in Louisiana dedicated to reforming local government. With the help of numerous volunteers we are making some progress. However, there’s much more work we could be doing. Making a difference will take a little more than reading an article every now and then. Your community doesn’t need another spectator. They need someone willing to step onto the field and become a real part of the solution. Will you join us?Help us to achieve the vision of creating a new, propserous state by becoming a Citizen of a New Louisiana. Become a Citizen