It’s All In The Family In Bossier

by John Settle
In Bossier they play for KEEPS!

Elected officials from Bossier Parish have always had a laissez-faire attitude toward conflicts of interest, nepotism, and brother-in-law dealings.  Often referred to as the free state of Bossier, the parish and city governments operate like a magic kingdom in a child’s fairytale, –where good wins out over evil, and everything always ends happily ever after.
    The Bossier City Council and its mayor allow the City to be run by its part-time city attorney, who also has a substantial private practice of law.  The Parish, up until 2010, had an administrator who also served as one of its twelve police jurors.  And the two at large Bossier City Council districts push the constitutional limits of fair representation, effectively giving North Bossier three of the seven council votes.
Bossier’s tax base wealth is the result of geography –not astute political planning.  The meandering channel of the Red River has blessed the parish with three of the five riverboat casinos, –with another coming online next year.  Similarly, the river boat development on the East bank spawned an economic engine in the Boardwalk; this development along with the boats has converted a marshy, underdeveloped area that includes a former landfill into a substantial tax revenue base.
    Bossier’s small minority population is the primary reason for the better school ratings of the Bossier Parish Schools versus that of Caddo.  Additionally the large infusion of out of state students from Barksdale AFB personnel has enriched its school population and buttressed its test scores.
Bossier Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin has his cousin on the payroll, –retired District Judge Cecil Campbell.  Marvin allows a part-time district attorney to take plea offers from his brother-in-law.  The wife of the unofficial campaign manager for the judicial candidate endorsed by the Marvin political machine is also an employee of Marvin.  The wife of a sitting Judge is also on the D.A.’s payroll.
    The Bossier Parish Police Jury attorney is also on the payroll of the Bossier Parish School Board and D.A. Marvin.  This attorney also has a private practice of law.
The upcoming hosts for a campaign recognition for incumbent Mayo Lo Walker is reflective of the “integration” of politicos and elected officials. Two of the hosts are paid public employees, –Bossier Parish Community College Chancellor Jim Henderson and Bossier Parish Police Juror Administrator Bill Altimus.
In a somewhat similar fashion, Cyber Innovative Center Director Craig Spohn seemingly looks sideways at political conflict of interest matters.  The Center is the product of substantial public dollars, which are also part of its operating funds.  Spohn, a retired air force officer like Walker, is also a host for the Walker reception.
This political inbreeding has been a way of life for way too long on the East side of the Red.  And as the public becomes more involved and tax revenues continue to be squeezed, one can hope that more light will be focused on how governments “work” in Bossier Parish. Despite outward appearances, all is not well in the free state of Bossier.