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Inside Jeff Parish 

Monica Monica, Where Art Thou Monica?
Incumbent 1st District Congressman David Vitter may be receiving more company in his race for re-election. Already facing radio talk show host Robert Namer, Vitter may also be opposed by Dr. Monica Monica, an ophthalmologist who previously ran for the seat in the open election of 1999.

Monica spent $1.4 million in the 1999 race and finished fourth in the multi-candidate race. If she runs this fall, Monica has the ability to spend significant personal resources and could provide Vitter with his most serious challenge. A Republican, Monica is being encouraged by state Democrats to switch parties and run for Congress as a Democrat this year. Democratic State Party Chairman Ben Jeffers confirms that he has been in discussions with Monica, trying to convince her to run as a conservative Democrat against Vitter.

Monica's consultant is Roy Fletcher, who has worked closely with Gov. Mike Foster in previous campaigns, and his association with both Foster and Monica is leading to speculation that the governor may support Monica if she decides to run against Vitter. It will be no surprise if Foster decides to back a candidate against Vitter, because the two have publicly sparred on a variety of issues, including the placement of an Indian casino in Vinton.

There is a possibility that Monica will not make a final decision until the qualifying period, which ends August 23. More surprises may be in store for the voters, and more candidates may emerge between now and then.

Dale Gears Up in Race for Harahan Police Chief
Harahan Councilmember Peter Dale is a candidate for Harahan Police Chief and has now opened his campaign headquarters at 7121 Jefferson Highway. Dale has hired Greg Buisson as his media consultant and Kristy Canale as his campaign manager.

A certified neighborhood negotiator who has set up more than 200 neighborhood watches during his tenure with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department, Dale has served on the Harahan Council for four years.

He believes that, as police chief, he can help organize more watch programs in Harahan and foster more interaction between the community and the police, with an emphasis on activities for youth and seniors. Dale believes it will be a hard fought campaign without personal attacks. "I am hoping for a clean race," he say. "I am only concentrating on telling people why they should vote for me."

The election will be held on Oct. 5.

Bucktown Marina Project on Hold
A vote to amend the Jefferson Parish lease on state land in Bucktown, originally scheduled to be held at the Jefferson Parish Council meeting on July 17, was postponed until a later date. At it stands now, the vote could be held at the next council meeting on Aug. 7 or a later council meeting, or it could be completely withdrawn from the agenda.

In dispute is how to develop the Bucktown marina area. The East End Bucktown Civic Association only wants green space, a public boat launch and wetlands. One hundred members of the association showed up at the July 17 council meeting to express their opposition to the project, but the first order of business at the meeting was to defer the issue until a later date.

Developers have presented a plan that includes a restaurant, office space and retail establishments in a shopping village. However, a major impediment to these plans cropped up earlier this month when the State Department of Natural Resources regulators said they would not continue to process the permit application until the State Attorney General's office ruled on whether the parish can amend its lease with the state, allowing for the redevelopment of the area. Currently, the lease allows only for a public marina and boat launch with public green space and no retail establishments on the waterfront property.

Although the matter appears to be at a standstill, civic association leaders are still planning to mobilize a crowd for the upcoming council meeting. According to Peggy Poche, secretary of the civic association, her group will be meeting to plan strategy. "We are going to meet to see what is in our best interest to do," she says. "There is time between now and August 7 to remove the whole issue from the agenda." The group ultimately hopes that plans for office buildings, retail space and hotels will be eliminated from the redevelopment plan and a six-month moratorium placed on the entire project until a federal environmental impact study is completed.


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