$100,000 Government Raise And Possible Free Speech Violation For Sal Perez – Wingin’ It Wednesday
This week on "Wingin' It Wednesday", panelist Carol Ross, Mike Stagg, and Warren Caudle joined "Mornings with Ken and Bernie" to discuss the pay raises voted on by Lafayette City-Parish Council as well as the arrest of Salvador Perez for his 9/11 graffiti.
Here's what the panel had to say:
1. What do you think of pay raises recently approved by the Lafayette City-Parish Council. Overall 10% raise for council members, some department heads receiving up $10,000 and LUS director Terry Huval’s $100,000 raise.
Mike Stagg started us off:
I think the eye catcher is Terry Huval's raise. Huval's been a great leader of LUS. He's marshaled the opening and rollout of LUS fiber, which has been a great economic advantage for Lafayette. He's been running basically two systems. While it's a huge raise they gave him, I think it's money he earned.
From an LUS standpoint, if there is a criticism I have of Mr. Huval, they made a mistake with the renewal of the contract of Cleco with the rodemacher contract. Mr. Huval's thinking on energy generation needs to get as progressive as his thinking with bandwidth.
Carol Ross added:
Let me stipulate, I think Huval's done a great job with the utility system and the rollout of LUS fiber. The problem I have with this is it's just so tone deaf. This could have been easily rolled out, phased in, whatever. I don't doubt that Terry Huval deserves to be paid at the going rate for such managers. He's an outstanding engineer and we're lucky to have him. The thing people worry about is that public employee salaries are getting out there, and then when you add the pension benefits...
Council members should never have voted for a raise. This is an elected position, not a job. The elected officials do not deserve the raise. Front line employees, they are the ones that deserve the raise. The guys out in the ditches, the public works employees.
Warren Caudle Concluded:
One of the things you have to look at is across the country, federal government all the way down to local government, it is just a spending frenzy. We got this thing now where we don't even discuss raises anymore. It just pops up and we give them. Government has gotten non-responsive to the people who are supposed to be running the show, and that's the people.
2. Sal Perez was arrested last week after placing cardboard cutouts depicting airplanes crashing on the 9/11 memorial in downtown Lafayette. Do you think Perez’s first amendment rights were violated?
As you know I've said many times on this program that 1st amendment protects ugly speech and pretty speech, but this has nothing to do with free speech. It's about criminal damage to property. Now he has the right to think whatever he wants to think. But I wouldn't get to worked up about this guy, he just put his artwork where he shouldn't have.
I don't think the guy's first amendment rights were violated, he had criminal damage to public property. What he depicted I don't agree with completely, but he had every right to depict it on his property. Don't do it on public property.
I totally think it's a whole to-do about nothing. I'd like to see what kind of damage was actually done. I know that if those things are left on things like the Iwo Jima memorial in Washington, they are picked up and thrown away, but there's something about 9/11 that has changed the psyche of this country.
I do believe it will go down as the pinnacle of when the United States of America has begun to spiral out of control.
I don't think any crime was committed by Salvador Perez. His crime was offending sensibilities. He was charged with a felony so that he could be punished before a judge or a DA could dismiss the charges. I've talked to a number of lawyers about this case and there is no basis for him being charged. He did not damage the monument. The monument is on a street corner. You can not trespass on a street corner in a public right-of-way. Whatever damage was done to the Sans Souci building, maybe they were negligent in taking care of that building. Whatever offense was given is no more offense than dragging this country into a trillion dollar war with a country that had nothing to do with it.
Salvador Perez is out of jail, and I'm proud to say it was a great and spontaneous movement organized here in Lafayette that got him out of jail.
It got national attention, the fact that Lafayette was punishing political speech. He offended sensibilities, he didn't commit a crime.
Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think about today’s Wingin’ It Wednesday topics. Who got it right, who got it wrong, and who was way off? Let us know in the comment section.