May 31, 2022 9:00am

Committee got it wrong on consolidated government, Power Poll Acadiana residents say

It's also time to revisit the process of hiring a police chief for the city of Lafayette

Photo of Adam Daigle
Lafayette, LA Correspondent

It’s the issue that won’t go away for many residents in the city of Lafayette: At best, city-parish government should be deconsolidated.

At the least? Lafayette should have its own mayor.

This month’s Power Poll Acadiana results are in and show solid support for the measure that’s been discussed at length. It’s an issue the respondents were polled about a year ago, and results this time were the same: It’s time to move forward on rebuilding the current government system that consolidates the city of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish that now involves slightly more residents living outside the city than inside.

The recent recommendation from the City-Parish Alignment Commission, appointed by the Lafayette Parish Council, to keep LCG as is was the wrong decision, respondents said.

More respondents — 52% — sided with the city council-appointed Protect the City Committee, which recommended the city council ask voters to consider dissolving LCG and the 1992 charter amendment that consolidated the two governing bodies.

A good portion — 31% — was undecided on the issue. Only 18% of respondents favored the measure to keep the current system.

When consolidated government came into being in 1996, 63.4% of the people in Lafayette Parish lived in the city of Lafayette, reports from last week indicate. Now, thanks to population growth outside the city, only 49.8% of the parish's population now lives in Lafayette.

Last year respondents were strongly in favor or splitting the position of mayor-president to give the city of Lafayette its own mayor, and they still feel that way with 66% responding that there should be a mayor of the city of Lafayette. More respondents — 15% — were undecided on the question, and just 13% said they still feel the two positions should remain as one.

On a related topic, respondents favored reviewing the process of selecting a new police chief after details surfaced recently on the firing of former interim police chief Wayne Griffin, who was let go for lying to investigators and harassment. The department is under its fifth chief — interim chief Monte Potier until a new one is hired — under the administration of Mayor-President Josh Guillory.

Is it time to adress the issue? Just under half — 49% — of respondents indicated something has to change with the process of hiring a police chief.

Chief Toby Aguillard, appointed under former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, resigned under pressure on the first day of Guillory’s tenure. Scott Morgan was then named interim chief before Thomas Glover was hired in December 2020, but Glover was fired without explanation last fall.

Other respondents backed firmer stances: 21% indicated to keep the process as is and have the mayor-president appoint a police chief, while 20% favored making the position of police chief an elected one.

Other questions dealt with state and national topics:

  • In regard to the Buffalo supermarket shooting and the shooter’s belief in the “replacement theory” that immigrants are coming to the U.S. to replace native-born Americans, 55% said they strong disagreed with that theory. The remaining responses went like this: 20% disagreed, 19% were not sure, 4% agreed and 3% strongly agreed.
  • On the topic of raising the minimum wage in Louisiana, which failed in the state legislature again, 60% of respondents indicated the state made the wrong move in not raising it. The remaining responses went like this: 22% said it’s not a big issue since most employers pay a higher wage, 8% said the federal government should address the issue, 5% were undecided and 4% said minimum wage should remain unchanged.

Abram Freeman, pastor of Acts of Love Christian Fellowship, admitted that businesses need to be profitable but it’s up to government to protect workers’ rights. If it wasn’t for government intervention, he claimed, some people might still be paid $3.35 an hour.

“As I go back into history I realize that time and time again labor has been exploited throughout our history,” he wrote. “It is the people who work hard and have carried the burden of keeping America strong. Having an increase to the minimum wage will not destroy our economy, but I believe it will enhance it.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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