Dog Park Vote May Not Be A Treat

by John Settle
Shreveport Attorney John Settle
John Settle

The Shreveport City Council’s 7-0 vote this week to override Mayor Glover’s veto of a Council resolution reflected a newly discovered backbone by council members who exercised their legislative prerogative to override an executive decision. Unfortunately, this rare display of intestinal fortitude may have little real impact at the end of the day.

Earlier this year, the Red River Waterway Commission approved a request for the Caddo Commission to provide funds ($280,000) for the construction of a regional dog park. The Commission does not own any land adjacent to the Red River, –and thus a site along the southern end of Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway was selected.

Because the property location is in the Shreveport City limits, the Mayor and the Council are necessary parties to complete this funding. The Council authorized heavy G (now known as Lame G) to represent the City in executing the agreement with the Waterway Commission to administer the funds for the dog park construction.

Lame G vetoed the resolution, stating that “the process by which the funds were solicited and subsequently granted was not completely transparent and thereby inclusive of input from all impacted parties including the administration.” Glover also stated as a reason for the veto that “this dog park is not the highest priority among a list of riverfront projects already submitted to the Commission for funding consideration. Those projects include public safety concerns that take precedence over a park for dogs and should be formally addressed before we proceed with lessor priorities.” Glover failed to note that the dog park request for Waterway funding was not contingent upon the City funding application, nor was it a requirement of the Parish to obtain Glover’s blessing in submitting its request.

They also serve who only…

The Council’s override of Glover’s veto is, in effect, more bark than bite; as Big G has stated, their vote can not override his left hand, –i.e. force him to sign the Waterway agreement. The Shreveport Dog Park Alliance has discussed possible legal action against Lame G. From a practical point of view this would not be very fruitful; a Caddo Court can not hold a gun to Glover’s head and force him to sign a contract, much less develop plans, let contracts for construction, etc.

The only real clout the Alliance has, at this juncture, is the ballot box in the 2014 elections. Glover will not be on the ballot; all of the council members probably will be up for re-election–with the exception of Joe Shyne and Ron Webb who are term-limited. Perhaps the only real out for the Alliance is to work with the Waterway Commission in an effort to have it approve funding requests from the City of Shreveport, –or better yet, to condition any grants to the City to be contingent upon the City’s prompt construction of the dog park utilizing the Waterway funds.What did we win?

The Waterway Commission, who collects ad valorem taxes from seven parishes (including Caddo and Bossier) along the Red River, is not likely to play dead, roll over, or heel at the command of Lame G; how this political sideshow plays out will be an interesting political spectacle to observe. What is known is that Glover is fast becoming a lame-duck mayor, and he can expect rougher sledding in the future as he deals with the Council, the local legislative delegation and private citizen groups in the remaining months of this term, which ends in November 2014.

Glover’s bigger than life persona has grown stale, and his “G talk” has become more verbose and less substantive; additionally his unwillingness to be flexible, much less transparent, has diminished his effectiveness. It could be a long 2 years (plus) until Glover leaves office, –not only for Lame G and City officials, but most importantly, Shreveport Citizens.