SHREVEPORT – A CITY WITHOUT A MAYOR

Share
by Elliott Stonecipher

Calhoun Allen
Billy Hanna
John Hussey
Hazel Beard
Bo Williams
Keith Hightower
Cedric Glover  

At least 16 former mayors of Shreveport are buried among them
They all end up somewhere…

This is the list of Shreveport mayors during the past 42 years.  Each took the Oath of Office, swearing faithfully to serve the people of Shreveport to the best of her or his ability.  From 1970 until today, through seasons of our city’s life marked by population boom and bust, economic good times and bad, corruption and reform, many of us have observed the performance of each.  Relatively fewer of us knew each of these mayors, personally.

I have observed and been involved in this particular Shreveport scene more than most.  I liked and respected some of these mayors, became real friends with some, and opposed others.  Some were notably focused on a better Shreveport, and the others? … well, perhaps not so much.  I have worked in government, and have known many elected executives, mayors and governors.  Any way you cut it, what these people do and do not to do is very, very important to us.

What we are now seeing in Shreveport would be rare anywhere, and is unheard of here.

We learned last week, albeit well after the fact of its discovery, that Mayor Cedric Glover had neglected his duty to a degree that neither I nor anyone with whom I’ve spoken can remember:  he forgot that a quarter-cent sales tax renewal which had to be passed by the voters this year.  Now, of course, we learn that he and his staff figured this out too late to get it on the November election ballot, so a special election – for this renewal only – is necessary in December.  This will cost the city and state close to $200,000.  Bear in mind, this is not a quarter-cent sales tax for city hall toilet paper and other supplies:  this tax is necessary for fire and police personnel salaries and equipment.

Most Shreveporters don’t know that our mayor’s staff complains a lot – but only in private – that Mayor Glover is almost never in his office.  That’s nothing to ignore, since one day it could matter.  Emergencies happen all the time in our cities, and mayors are elected to he there and handle them.  Glover might very well not be available.  This latest and costly mistake warns us of that fact, and shows that no one on his staff truly “has his back,” either.

Former Shreveport mayors Fant, Gardner & Allen

Here is a short list of very troubling – to us, not Glover – actions by our mayor in just the past two or three years:

—  He deliberately and maliciously destroyed the Shreveport Regional Sports Authority, well known nationally for its exemplary record in bringing lucrative sporting events to our city.  He did this because one particular friend of his got himself in a jam, and wanted the director’s job.  Another group of cohorts knew how to make money on the switch to a new such entity, but they had to absolutely control it – i.e., push out the long-serving director – to ply their, uh, trade.  Mainly though, Glover, who had a year earlier feted the director with her own “day” in Shreveport, killed the SRSA because he wanted to, and because he could.  His abuse of power was a dark and awesome thing to witness.

—  Mayor Glover deliberately killed the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port, planned for decades and directly invested in by the people with their bond issue vote in 1996.  Glover knew well when he killed the highway just what the action meant since he was on the City Council leading up to that 64% to 36% voter approval.  He killed 3132 so a political “friend” could make millions upon millions of dollars with a ultra-high-end residential development.  The Extension was in the way of that developer’s many millions in profits, so he partnered with our mayor to get the highway the hell out of his way.  As we have learned, Glover knew he would never get the required City Council approval, so he broke the law to go around them, hijacking the local transportation planning agency to do the job.  That we the people were sold out in the process was, to Glover, mere collateral damage.

—  Glover took direct actions which prompted a City Council-ordered external investigation into his unique relationship with his hand-picked “financial advisor,” a man who has attracted the attention of investigators and prosecutors in other cities over many years.  (That the citizenry has not heard a word about this investigation for months is in itself very troubling.)

Who’s in Command?

—  Now, the mayor is working to kill the “gift” from the Red River Waterway Commission of a $280,000 dog park.  If he succeeds in killing the dog park, such will mean he deliberately by-passed the City Charter-dictated process.  He opposed the gift for purely self-serving reasons, the Council overrode him, he vetoed the Council action, and the Council unanimously overrode the veto.  To have his way, he now promises to abuse his power with an extra-legal gimmick – a signature on a kind of contract.  The Council must sue, but their lawyer would be the city attorney, a lady who has previously said she is merely “a messenger” working for the mayor, not the attorney representing the people of Shreveport, or, by extension, the Council.

Ask me no questions...
Dumb looks are free!

—  Now we learn that our mayor “forgot” to see when taxes funding fire and police have to be renewed.  When questioned by a reporter about “forgetting” this critical piece of city business, Glover said, “the staff is more competent and capable than I am.”  That may be, but it looks like a distinction without a difference, and we did not elect any of his staff to be our mayor.

In terms of using the office to serve himself,  Cedric Glover is the mayor, but in terms of providing what any city simply must have from its top elected official, he is not.  There are two years left in this mayor’s reign, and real risk that his performance will only get worse.  Absent a recall, virtually impossible under Louisiana law, or being charged with a felony, Glover’s resignation is the solution, but even less likely than a recall.

Our City Council must step into this increasingly sizable void.  Councilmen Ron Webb and Joe Shyne have proven with the 3132 Extension issue that their broad and deep institutional knowledge is crucially important and valuable in all things.  The Council could, should it choose, use that knowledge and experience to act in specific protection against our mayor’s declining interest in any work or behavior which is not self-serving.

The legislative branch trying to back-stop the citizenry as as executive branch stand-in is not what our form of government or specific City Charter provisions contemplate.  Regardless, it is a better option that waiting to learn when and how mayoral incompetence and disinterest becomes something far worse.

Elliott Stonecipher

Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest.  No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work.  This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.
Share