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Inside Jeff Parish 

Councilman Lavarine to Propose Carnival Committee
At the next meeting of the Jefferson Parish Council, Councilman John Lavarine will propose that an official Jefferson Parish Carnival Committee be formed to prevent any future Mardi Gras mishaps similar to the controversy that occurred this year between the krewes of Aladdin and Excalibur and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

"The Carnival Committee will be focused on improving, stabilizing and promoting the family atmosphere of Mardi Gras in Jefferson Parish," says Lavarine. "This is a multi-million dollar business in Jefferson Parish. We don't want to see that go down the tubes." If approved by the Council, the committee -- which would include krewe captains, politicians, parish administrators, business and tourism officials, civic activists and sheriff's office representatives -- would present Mardi Gras recommendations to the Jefferson Parish Council for consideration.

Prior to the kickoff of this year's Carnival season, Sheriff Harry Lee had said that Aladdin and Excalibur would not be allowed to roll until an outstanding security fee was paid. According to the sheriff's office, Jefferson Parish krewes that have been formed since the early 1990s are required to pay the cost of police protection along their route. The dispute has since been resolved, and both parades will roll. In the case of Excalibur, Lavarine pledged to Lee that he would personally cover whatever balance the krewe owes after their fundraising is complete.

Vitter Back in Spotlight
Last May, Congressman David Vitter decided to withdraw from the governor's race. At the time, he indicated that he did not want to put the strain of a grueling statewide campaign on his family. The announcement was a setback for the Louisiana Republican Party because Vitter was probably the Republican Party's most high-profile contender for the position.

After his withdrawal, Vitter won an easy reelection to his congressional seat last fall. Since then, he has been generating a significant amount of statewide publicity, leading some to speculate that he has a renewed interest in the governor's race.

In recent weeks, Vitter has locked horns with Gov. Mike Foster again on the issue of a casino for the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians; Vitter is opposed to an effort to locate a casino in Desoto Parish, near the Texas border. He also has publicly asked President George W. Bush to reject an appeal by former Gov. Edwin Edwards for a presidential pardon. And just last week, Vitter was at a press conference with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to announce federal funding for the City Hall corruption probe. It is also noteworthy that Vitter recently spent a day touring highway projects in north Louisiana, visiting Barksdale Air Force Base, and speaking to the Chamber of Commerce in Shreveport and Bossier City.

Why the high profile? While it could be that Vitter is reconsidering the governor's race, if his good friend Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick enters the race, it would be unlikely that Vitter would run against him. Another scenario is that Vitter is starting early on a 2004 U.S. Senate race. There is continuing speculation that incumbent Democratic Sen. John Breaux will not run for reelection; if Breaux does not run, Vitter would be considered one of the favorites in that race.

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