ATTEMPT TO GRAB $94,000,000 SMELLS BAD

At Tuesday’s (Sept 27) City Council meeting, Mayor Cedric Glover’s latest gambit for unwise (I’m being polite) spending of public money was sidelined for a month-long postponement.  (The Shreveport Times article is here.)

As Tuesday began, there was serious doubt that four Council votes were in place to stop this irresponsible train from reaching Glover’s station of hidden interests, but the key Council vote against his planned grab of $94,000,000 – the vote of Councilman Jeff Everson – held firm, albeit maybe only temporarily.  As Glover’s legendary speechifying for yet more Shreveport municipal debt was ramping up, the votes of Councilmen Corbin, Webb, Everson and Oliver Jenkins were still in the “No” column.  Glover’s point-man of the moment, Councilman Sam Jenkins, then took the action necessary to postpone the vote in order to save this stinker for another possibly bad day.

Four (4) NO Votes!
Four NO Votes - became 6...

We many times hear that some intended action by a politician “fails the smell test,” and it is a fitting reference.  Without undue discussion of the many ways we use our sense of smell to protect us from invisible threats, suffice it to say that many things that otherwise look okay can be tested with a sniff or two and found to be foul.  In that way, the whiff of something very much NOT okay with Glover’s plan is growing into a powerful odor.

First, how in the Good Lord’s name does a responsible city leader add $175,000,000 to a stagnant (at best) city’s bonded debt in the spring of the year, then jump immediately to another near-$100,000,000 in revenue bonds only months later?  With debt-per-capita in Shreveport at $4,000, when will Glover have such us deep enough into debt?

Second, how many times will Shreveport be the last place in America to learn a key and important lesson?  Our previous City Council left office by granting collective bargaining rights to city employees precisely when other cities and states were proclaiming their awareness that those days simply had to be behind us in this country.  Now, with $4-to-$6 trillion in spending reductions by the federal government virtually certainly heading every city’s way, why would our city’s top elected official be supercharging Shreveport’s municipal debt?

Third, why would Glover not bother to earlier, publicly mention his plan to grab $94,000,000 – supposedly for “street repairs” – by bonding out his latest tax increase?  When Glover sang lullabies to the Council and ultimately found enough votes to raise the franchise fee on our electric bills, he knew very, very well that his current plan was his real intention.  Would not public pressure on the City Council on that tax increase vote have been much more strong and negative if the mayor opted – just once, please! – to tell we lowly taxpayers what shape the next shakedown would take?

Fourth, if you buy that this is about a supposed $87 million dollars in street repairs, why would we not first complete the $21,000,000 in street repairs from the brand-new $175,000,000 bond issue?  After all, if we were doing that, we could add to it simultaneously with spending from the new franchise fee tax increase on a pay-as-you-go basis.  (Additional rationale in that context is explained by the Shreveport Times in this editorial.)

Fifth, Shreveport city government simply does not have the wherewithal to organize and well-execute $175,000,000 in bond issue projects while making $94,000,000 in “street repairs” in anything less than many, many, many years.  To be as polite as possible, our city government is not – uh, how shall I say – able to accomplish such.  Good city employees would try, but they would be hamstrung by those who are anything but.

The bottom line is that this isn’t really about street repairs.  Oh, sure, there would be repairs made, but they would be 10% concrete and 90% class warfare and other political ca-ca, spread over those just-mentioned many, many, many years.  Regardless, the point stands:  this awful scheme of Glover’s has – has – to be about Glover; this is about something Glover wants, not something Shreveport needs.

For now, we can only guess what the mayor is really up to, but a growing group of Shreveporters who care are increasingly meeting and talking about the short list of city hall sponsors and friends who typically get paid on the front-end of every such wholly illogical scheme.

The good thing about the smell test is that in fairly short order, the underlying rottenness attacks each and every one of our senses.  For those of us who pay the bills around here, our hope is that our City Council traces this reek to its source in time.

Thank you.

Elliott Stonecipher

Evets Management Services, Inc.
6658 Youree Drive
Suite 180, #367
Shreveport, LA  71105
Phone:  318-424-1695