Badon ponders another City Council race

Whatever else you might say about state Rep. Austin Badon, you could never accuse him of lacking persistence. He’s made at least three unsuccessful bids for a seat on the New Orleans City Council, yet rumors continue to circulate he plans on trying again next year.

In an interview recently, Badon played it coy about whether he might go for the at-large council seat set to be vacated by Jackie Clarkson, who will have to step down in 2014 because of term limits. Yet he sounded an awful lot like a man running for office.

“I’m strongly looking at the position,” Badon said, claiming — as potential candidates often do — that he’s been approached by constituents asking him to run.

“I’m very flattered that the community has reached out to me,” he said. “Every place I go people are asking whether I’m running.”

Badon acknowledged his past council races, most recently a run for the District E seat won late last year by Councilman James Gray, “didn’t work out as I hoped.” But, he said, “Today is a new day. A lot has changed.”

St. John the Baptist remap plan rejected

School officials in St. John the Baptist Parish are headed back to the drawing board.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office has informed the School Board it is “unable to implement” a redistricting plan drawn up by a Kenner consultant that the parish hired last year.

Redistricting occurs every 10 years, after the federal census, to account for population changes.

The board is required to have a new map for its 11 member districts in place by the time of the next scheduled election, in 2014.

St. John gained almost 3,000 residents from 2000 to 2010, according to census data, bringing the total population to almost 45,000 residents.

The Secretary of State’s Office found several deficiencies in the parish’s proposed plan.

A number of voting precincts were split among multiple school board districts, eight districts contained more than three partial precincts and more than a dozen precincts were “unaccounted for in the plan,” according to a Sept. 19 letter to the board from state Elections Commissioner Angie Rogers.

“No precinct shall be divided into more than two school board districts. No school board district shall contain more than three divided percents,” Rogers wrote.

The board’s decision to hire the Kenner consulting firm, Data Center LLC, was controversial. The firm’s head is Cedric Floyd, a Jefferson Parish School Board member.

Floyd’s company was one of three that responded to the district’s request for proposals last year.

The firm dropped its price by $1,000, to $24,000, at the 11th hour to become the least expensive option, according to news reports.

The board voted to hire the firm in May 2012.

“I was under the impression ... that the amount involved is supposed to be secret until the proposal period is closed.

I find it curious that four minutes before the deadline this company reduced its price,” School Board member Russ Wise said at the meeting, according to a news report.

A separate redistricting plan drawn up by Floyd’s firm for the St. Bernard Parish School Board was also rejected this month by the Secretary of State’s Office, records show.

Floyd did not return a message seeking comment Friday.

Former planning director back in game

Yolanda Rodriguez, who was dismissed as executive director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission in June after almost a decade on the job, has resurfaced.

Political consultant Vincent Sylvain’s New Orleans Agenda marketing operation last week sent out an online column by Rodriguez asking readers, “What do you know about zoning?” She warned what they don’t know “could actually cost you time and money in the long run.”

The column noted the Planning Commission recently released a second draft of the city’s proposed new comprehensive zoning ordinance, “proposing new design controls and a design review process, new parking standards, and refined storm water management provisions.”

The new draft also contains “an innovative approach to housing and mixed-use development with the use of density bonuses,” Rodriguez added.

“If you have not checked out the draft CZO, now is the time,” Rodriguez wrote.

“During the month of October the City Planning Commission will hold a series of community meetings asking for comments on the second CZO draft.”

Rodriguez was fired by the commission on a 7-1 vote that reflected several members’ long-term unhappiness with her leadership.

The commission, meanwhile, continues its search for a new executive director.