by Elliott Stonecipher
[DISCLAIMER: I have in no way supported the election campaign of any candidate on the November 4th ballot.]
Writing this article is not my job, and I know that. It is the job of others, and I urgently hope they will step-up. I can sound the warning once again, but the news media is our hope in this, as always.
With one week and a day remaining before election day, Shreveport voters will more than likely err in casting ballots for mayor. Even at this late date, some of these candidates still have not been vetted for this job.
It is axiomatic that voters cannot know what we cannot know. That is what the news media is tasked by community contract to do: find the facts and truth in matters of consequence, give it to us, and let us decide what to do with and about it. Who we elect to be our next mayor is of urgent consequence. Our city’s long stay in governmental and political purgatory is now primed to roll-over into the only thing worse.
The lone public poll in this race – paid for by two local news media staples, KTBS Television and the Shreveport Times – shows Ollie Tyler with a solid lead, followed by Victoria Provenza and State Rep. Patrick Williams. Tyler’s lead, as I wrote about in August, is likely understated given the benefit she likely receives from suspect “ground games” on election day.
With each top contender identified in the poll, there are very troubling facts – already public or, in greater number, very deliberately withheld – which, if fairly exposed, would cause many not to vote as is otherwise most likely.
Such facts are now oozing out about the circumstances surrounding Ms. Provenza’s move here from Colorado a few years ago. These reports are alarming, and bear directly on the bedrock question of if and how Ms. Provenza or anyone else is able and prepared to run a municipal government in a city of 200,000 people. Again, our traditional news media has yet to report any of this, and Ms. Provenza has refused to address these issues … in any way.
The also serious questions about Rep. Williams’ double-dipping into both state government and campaign accounts for reimbursement of the same job-related expenses have been the subject of much public exposure and debate. For whatever reasons, local news media have aggressively reported and re-reported these facts.
Such is precisely what our news media should and must do, with and about each – all – of these top-three candidates.
In the case of Ms. Tyler, here is how I described this matter in the above-linked article a few weeks ago:
… Ms. Tyler must self-report details of her personal and public past which bear on her qualifications to be mayor. In context, there are two or more startlingly provocative allegations, and with one of those, I have confirmation of the event. Along with that confirmation was a virtual guarantee that Ms. Tyler will not self-report or discuss it … period.
Let no one mistake my belief about the proper context of my concerns: none of this is my business, or the business of any other person, if Ms. Tyler is not seeking public office. She IS, however seeking an office, the top one in our city, and has chosen to stonewall her way into the mayor’s office, as has Ms. Provenza.
Many have shared with me their awareness that Ms. Tyler was somehow involved in the death of her husband. (I am referring to the alleged event with the choice of the least offensive words.) There is no way around the fact that lacking context, the asserted and alleged circumstances are shocking.
Thanks to unsolicited information shared with me, the fact of the event has been confirmed. That source, with knowledge of the broader subject, confirmed it to me, and stressed that Ms. Tyler will answer no questions about it, much less self-report the details. In other words, Ms. Tyler has decided the electorate – we – have no right to know.
If, as some contend, the husband’s death involved spousal abuse, Ms. Tyler and we well know and understand that confirmation of those facts would not disqualify her to be our mayor. She would be no more disqualified by such facts than she is by her gender or race or age.
Equally troubling are claims of specific improprieties – again, I am being as polite as I know how – while Ms. Tyler was Superintendent of Caddo public schools. These behaviors are personal in nature, but also directly job-related. If true in any part, these allegations-turned-fact would certainly disqualify her for election, I believe.
Why doesn’t Ms. Tyler simply submit to a reporter’s interview and state for the record that none of these allegations are true in any way? Why not say nothing of the kind ever happened in any marriage, or in her role as Caddo Superintendent?
Do we really believe Shreveport is not damaged if we elect a mayor with these questions hanging, only for non-local news media to later confirm and expose the facts?
What do we believe when, given these facts, Ms. Provenza and Ms. Tyler profess loudly, repeatedly and publicly their respective commitments to City Hall “transparency”?
I, and most others of us I choose to believe, sincerely hope for the sake of Ms. Tyler, Ms. Provenza and their families that the events said to be at issue in these matters never occurred. But, if they did, I also hope both candidates will recognize that their stonewalling is a loud and bold disservice to Shreveport and its people.
Most of us are strikingly capable of reacting with real understanding in our awareness and reactions to these asserted facts. All candidates should trust our fairness, just as they plead with us to trust theirs.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.