I would be remiss if I opened this piece with anything other than a sincere expression of best wishes to outgoing State Senator Lydia Jackson. Her election loss yesterday to Greg Tarver is regrettable to many in Shreveport and elsewhere in Louisiana.
Ironically, however, Ms. Jackson’s election defeat is much more about a very strong desire in Shreveport and Caddo Parish’s black community, and among its broader officialdom, for a change in our community’s political leadership. Perhaps more more so than almost any election in my career, Lydia Jackson’s loss – if not Greg Tarver’s win – expresses the desire of a clear majority of community leaders to politically neutralize, if not reverse, the effects on the area of Mayor Cedric Glover and his team.
We should make no mistake about one thing, though: while those who are on the money-making inside of local politics are loudly celebrating last night’s outcome, those of us who care instead about Shreveport becoming healthy and vibrant again may find too little difference between the reigns of our possibly former and soon-to-be political Kings.
It is a sad fact, given her political record to date, that Lydia Jackson gambled her leadership role on Mayor Cedric Glover. She, by her personal and repeated choice, made Glover her co-candidate. Who he is, and what he is and is not doing to and for our area, were key in how our political gods chose sides. In that main plot, Lydia Jackson’s long-standing choice to remain personal and politically remote from much of what happens in her hometown ultimately did her in. Had she rolled up her sleeves all these years to work for her hometown as it continues to decline, she would have known how Glover is actually viewed. Maybe, even, she would have used their friendship to convince him to work to be more honest, officially transparent and communicative, hard-working, and, well, less convinced that he was the hottest political property around when he is, instead, an markedly ineffective mayor of a city in dire need of the opposite.
Yep, this election was about the relative sky-writing of a message of political warning to Cedric Glover and City Hall, but we should appropriately fear that our cure is not worse than our disease. What we now get is what we had for decades, and possibly didn’t remember very well: an extremely well-practiced graduate of the Edwin Edwards College of Politics. That particular class of Louisiana politicos – including Tarver’s old friend and soon-to-be Governor Jindal’s hand-picked State Senate President, John Alario – constantly practices its craft with an ethically (if not morally) deficient skill-set. These pols are downright instinctive in parlaying “public service” into what it always was and remains to them, an opportunity for personal gain … rather than the public trust it actually is.When the smoke in this campaign began clearing over the last few days, I had to figure out which outcome I really preferred. (Not a resident of the district, I was happy not to have to vote.) I had no desire to wade-in between these two before the election, practicing the political version of the Hippocratic Oath, “First, don’t stick your nose where it won’t like what it smells.” Though most cannot know what’s behind our political curtain, I do, and this was a poor choice to have to make. When it came right down to it, though, I knew I was pulling not for Lydia or Greg, but for the third candidate who is always on election ballots, Hope. As awful as the fact is, Hope left Shreveport’s building some time back. If the confidence of Glover & The Gloverites is going to remain unshaken for the three years remaining in their reign, we are in worse trouble than is already obvious and measurable.
So, now and personally, my focus is steady. The financial mismanagement of Shreveport is a clear and present danger to its residents and its future, though virtually no one at City Hall gives the tiniest damn about that, and Cedric Glover’s devotion to self-interests in that regard is what is running the city up to Financial Defcon 1. To make the point, a specific example is the critical need for an external audit into the city’s source of financial “advice,” and everything related to it. That need is being defeated at every turn by Glover and his City Hall devotees, including several City Council members. If a few of those Gloverites read this election as a strong suggestion that their devotion to The Boss is misplaced and is a very good reason to jump that ship, that will be a very positive change for this city.
As I learned long ago, in politics, Hope does not spring eternal. Hope sometimes must be created. So, yes, The King is Dead … Long Live the King! But we must remember that this possibly new King has served before …
… he was known for a lot of things, and benevolence was not one of them.
For the record, and as is always the case, this work has been done strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.
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