Today in Lafayette, various woke organizations have come together to bring you a lecture on “equity.” If you haven’t been paying much attention, “equity” is the latest woke buzzword for life is unfair and so we, the all knowing government, will force what we deem to be fairness. This is the same attitude that brought us the government’s “no French in schools” program in the 1950s. That was when government figured out it could use your tax dollars to change you – whether you liked it or not. They alone determined that the French language should be exterminated in Louisiana.
Here we are some seventy years hence, and the Louisiana government has spent millions failing to undo the damage. For all of your tax dollars they’ve spent, the French language is no closer to being in common use than Mandarin.
They can’t help themselves
A regular reader will remember the woke lectures we once received from the Bayou Vermilion District’s litter abatement team. Instead of scooping trash out of the river to ensure homes don’t flood, the woke activists that had embedded themselves into taxpayer funded jobs decided to lecture the community on systemic racism. If your memory is short, feel free to refresh it with these blasts from the past.
- Advocate reporter harasses black employee into resigning
- Vermilionville lost $1 MILLION last year
- Vermilionville: We don’t need no stinking audit!
- Who really owns Vermilionville?
So the woke lectures continue
Now they can’t use the Bayou Vermilion District (or the Library) to lecture you about how very terrible you are for not being as woke as they are. What’s a woke bureaucrat to do? Well, they’re retreating to the government funded organizations they still control. It’s these organizations that are now going to send your tax dollars to lecture you. Specifically, we’re taking about the event, Creating Equitable Communities, being put on by a laundry list of local bureaucracies and government funded slush fund organizations.
Who are these organizations? Well, not all of them are taxpayer funded (that I know of) but they’re all certainly a varying degree of woke. Let’s take a closer look.
Those woke organizations your taxes are paying for
Acadiana Center for the Arts, operates on annual government grants from the City of Lafayette. At one time, it was $365,000. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, Nanette Cook (2/10) upgraded them by an additional $100,000. ACA occupies and operates from within a government owned building, effectively rent free. The most recent budget reflects the current amount to be gifted to ACA by the City of Lafayette is 257,680 (2021-22 adopted budget, page 250). That appears to be fairly accurate, as OpenBook reflects $261,559.76 paid to ACA before October 31 (the end of the fiscal year).
OneAcadiana – a 501c6 “business league” (Chamber of Commerce) nonprofit. Last time we checked, OneAcadiana still receives ~$200,000 annually from LEDA’s ad valorem tax revenue (page 30, LEDA 2014 annual report). It was OneAcadiana that supported the completely unnecessary $256 million school tax in 2017. When the tax failed miserably, CEO Jason El Koubi swiftly decamped to Virginia.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette really needs no explanation about taxpayer funding. However, it’d be good to remember that the attempted Drag Queen Story Time, a drag show for three-year-olds that CFNL stopped in Lafayette, can be traced back to the woke think tank that is ULL. It was also ULL that picked up the woke “voter suppression” lecture after the library rejected it. That event was also the last straw for woke Library Director, Theresa Elberson, and her attempts to manipulate Lafayette’s culture. After this event was blocked by her board for being too one-sided, she quickly resigned before they could fire her.
LEDA is Lafayette Economic Development Authority. Although their ad valorem tax extracts nearly $4 million from the local economy, no one is quite sure what they do with all that money. According to page 37 their 2020 audit, then President and CEO, Gregg Gothreaux, was compensated an astonishing $450,000. That’s no anomaly, either. It’s a regular occurrence. According to page 37 of the 2021 audit, Gothreaux was compensated an incredible $490,500! We won’t know what his replacement, Mandi Mitchell, makes until the next audit comes out. Reportedly, it’s a huge decrease. If we guesstimate based on one-month’s pay in 2021, however, she’s still north of $300,000. That’s pretty incredible.
Downtown Development Authority operates on their own ad valorem tax that brought in about $417,000 in 2021 (page 11). Agency head, Anita Begnaud spent $588,000, so they were in the red by $175,000, with a dwindling fund balance of about $635,000. That’s an ongoing trend, by the way. They’re provided with free rent in old city hall courtesy of the City of Lafayette. Begnaud’s compensation is around $143,091 for managing three employees (2021 annual report, page 26) – which is more than the Lafayette Mayor-President’s salary. The organization is known for throwing elaborate parties and raising taxes. Currently, they raise 50% more than allowed by their enabling legislation (section 5A). However, that’s still not enough, so Begnaud rammed through an additional 1% sales tax and 2% occupancy tax without voter approval.
Leadership Institute of Acadiana is a division of OneAcadiana, Lafayette’s chamber of commerce. According to their 2019 form 990 with the IRS, they have the same address and phone number as the chamber. Their board consists of quite a few local woke bureaucrats, such as: Cydra Wingerter (Lafayette’s CAO), Kevin Blanchard (LPTFA), and Carlee Alm-Labar.
Vibrant Acadiana is yet another division of OneAcadiana. However, this one isn’t registered as a separate nonprofit that we can find. It’s just an expensive three-page website. In addition to the Chamber’s branding, the unlisted contact page includes a phone number and email address that goes right back to the taxpayer funded chamber.
Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority operates on margins from historic tax credits and low-income housing tax credits (building ~$800 per square foot ‘low income’ housing). Their last known fund balance was about $20 million (2021 annual report, Page 28). The organization is run by Kevin Blanchard and Rebekke Miller. They conceal their salaries from reporting requirements by stating that the president of their board receives no compensation. However, according to the document that created his position out of thin air, Blanchard can be compensated as much as $130,000.
Aren’t you tired paying people to lecture you?
With the possible exception of “Leadership Institute,” all of these organizations receive some kind of government funding. Even that exception isn’t quite right because it is effectively a tentacle of OneAcadiana, which does receive taxpayer money. A large number of these organizations employ people who call us ‘grifters’ because we tell you what they’re really doing behind the scenes. We receive no tax money for this – but they receive tax money to lecture you! When will enough be enough?