Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Dailies Cover the Petition Fiasco

The Dailies covered the strange story of the dead man walking petition this morning. It's a story we've told and retold on these pages so I'll just let them tell it this time.



On the Validity of the Petition

Advertiser:

A petition being circulated calling for a vote on the LUS fiber optic project is not valid, LUS Director Terry Huval told the City-Parish Council on Tuesday.

Advocate:

... it's not clear whether the petition is valid in the first place.

The administration has contended all along that, if a group wants to call for a vote of the people, it should follow petition and referendum procedures in the city-parish charter, which requires signatures of 15 percent of registered voters.

Fiber 411 is seeking signatures under the authority of a state statute dealing with public improvement bonds, which requires signatures from only 5 percent of the turnout from the last election.

But LUS is issuing the $125 million in bonds using a different state statute -- one that regulates revenue bonds and that contains no provisions for a petition.

In effect, the Fiber 411 petition may not be anymore than a representation of public opinion -- not a legally binding document.

On the Honesty of the Petition's Presentation

Advertiser:

City-Parish President Joey Durel again Tuesday encouraged residents not to sign the petition unless they oppose the fiber project. Some individuals circulating the petition are falsely telling residents that signing the petition does not indicate opposition to the fiber plan, he said.

"They are completely against the project," Durel said. "If you sign the petition, realize you are against the project."

Advocate:

Durel said the group is using "false pretenses" by telling people a signature on the petition indicates only a desire to vote.

"While they're telling you that they are not for or against it, they are not being honest," Durel said. "They are completely against it."

On Why the Petition Just Doesn't Make Sense

Advocate:

Councilman Louis Benjamin said there's a lot of misinformation circulating about the LUS project.

"The bottom line is very simple," Benjamin said. "If I own the company that I'm doing business with, then naturally it's going to be a cheaper product."

LUS is owned by its customers and overseen by the Lafayette Public Utility Authority -- made up of the councilmen whose districts are primarily inside the city limits.


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