Guey keynote highlights Plaq. business futureSep 22nd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Continuing in their effort to conjoin the business community with local government, Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry, better known as PABI, invited Council Chairman Dr. Stuart Guey to speak at the monthly meeting of the organization.
Guey took the opportunity to highlight some issues that were of particular interest to the local business community, including the redistricting of the Parish.
Those who live in the Parish know that Katrina did more than change the landscape, it created a massive population shift. After the Census, Guey said, the large difference in the numbers point to a significant redistriting. And even though the Eastbank can maintain its unity after the changes, as many as six of the nine Council districts will fall in the Belle Chasse region. Even for Guey, who represents District 4 in Belle Chasse, that is too much power for one segment of the community to hold.
“I think that’s totally unnacceptable for one area to have that much power,” Guey said. “Six votes can override any presidential veto.”
For Guey, the redistricting should account for this possible power shift by converting the Parish Council to a 5-2 system. Here, there would be five districts for the Parish, with two At-Large seats, to represent the entire Parish. In that light, Guey said, every voter would ostensibly have three representatives on the Council.
“Once the reality of the six-districts in Belle Chasse settles in, we can start talking about alternatives, including the five/two set-up,” Guey said.
Another potential change for the Parish concerning the restructuring of the railroad running along Highway 23. The lines have proved problematic for both businesses and citizens, with the potential delays and the over 100 cross-overs needed to get residents and customers to the river-side of Highway 23.
“Rio Grande railroad is taking the initiative of re-routing the rails through Belle Chasse,” Guey said.
The proposed route would take the rails through areas considered industrial or otherwise call for low-residential population, like the take-off areas near the Belle Chasse’s Naval Air Station’s jet runways.
To complete projects like the railway reroute or any of the planned or to-be-planned Parish expansions, business will have to remain abreast and involved.
“When business has a vested interest to get it done, it gets done,” Guey said. “Elected officials come and go, but business stays, business pays the bills and gets it done.”
Joint Land Use Study
A few other items touched upon were the Joint-Land use study with the Naval Air Station and the community’s effect on the station’s growth, as well as the effect of the base on the community. Guey pointed to the land-use study as a solution for keeping surrounding neighborhoods inhabitable and peaceful for people, while keeping the base functional, operational, and right where it is.
Not much was mentioned on the subject of Morteco and the Walmart that the developer proposes bringing to the Parish. As the litigation is on-going, Guey could not reveal too many details, except that the possibility still exists that a Walmart may be coming.
Parish and Morteco attorneys will meet today, Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m., before Judge Foil, at the temporary courthouse on F. Edward Hebert Blvd.
Overall, Guey commented that struggles have existed between local government and the business community, but the ties being created at the local level, and more importantly the regional level, are stronger than he’s ever seen, and that is the road the Parish should stay on.
“I see more of an attitude of cooperation than I’ve seen in years,” Guey said. “We have challenges…but if you don’t act for change, you’ve defeated yourself.”
The next PABI meeting is currently scheduled for Oct. 19 in the Belle Chasse Auditorium for 11:30 a.m. This is the group’s annual membership drive, and the keynote speaker will be Michael Hecht, CEO of the Greater New Orleans Inc. Those thinking about joining PABI are invited.