by Marion Marks
Summer Brain: the state that a child’s brain slips into during the months out of school.
Shreveport Summer Brain: the state that most citizens, particularly voters, find themselves during the months prior to campaign filing dates when various political interest groups jockey to take money and oxygen out of the community.
In the last few months Shreveport has experienced several waves of Summer Brain designed to garner a fall election consensus coalition for the November election. Jockeying and cajoling within the business community we have observed various factions roll out both Patrick Williams and Ollie Tyler as their best successors to the failed Glover administration.
Behind the scenes coalition builders have tried to cobble together racially diverse elements who previously seldom would be seen in the same room together. The Tarver and Glover/Landrieu camps have barely talked on common issue since Tarver‘s victory for state senate seat over Lydia Jackson.
Glover has placed himself in virtual time-out isolation since his magic surgery, dog park fiasco and recently the Grigsby impasse with the city council. Years ago, in political time keeping, Glover was seen as a success for his coalition building skills. Now those coalitions are even stronger, but in defiance to any policy but Glover’s.
Tarver has been busy consolidating his fiefdom with Baton Rouge, healthcare and Jindal de facto victories. Often the quiet is deafening from Tarver’s camp, but a recent Shreveport Sun interview confirms his amazing grasp and dexterity in dealing with sharp objects and often-inept adversaries.
The Committee of 100, along with the Chamber of Commerce, frustrated with loss of influence in city government has flopped from one candidate to another before they could find a malleable puppet in twice-retired, never tested in elected office, academic “OT” Ollie Tyler. Shreveport city councilman Sam Jenkins was cast out due to the revelation of his unacceptable political baggage.
Some believe Ollie was deemed “OT” because “Over Time” became the next great hope after Sam Jenkins failed during the vetting process. Others believe she is working in “Over Time.” I think the new consensus may become “Other Troubles” which will trickle out as the vetting process really begins. The number of billboards out at this time may make it more difficult for others to engage as potential candidates, but seriously, who remembers a June billboard in October?
Regardless of which camp you are currently reside, Shreveport Summer Brain has just begun to grab the mind of citizens, and it’s now starting to hurt mine. Watching money tally on electronic billboards that will be modified, perhaps weekly, to refine or cover any new pimple, and seeing candidates paraded out at interest events never ceases to amaze me. Contrived political dog and pony shows at this phase of the election process is challenging, at best.
Most citizens won’t focus on the mayor’s race until choices are narrowed and the “lesser of the weevils” becomes assertive. I’m still waiting to see more shoes fall and discover who has cut which deals. Remember they are selling off sections of the city or lucrative government services in an effort to garner supporters. As my Yankee friends say, Shreveport City Hall is such a cheap date!
On a smaller Shreveport stage, it was interesting to see an apparent over-legal-size billboard/yard sign for a new Shreveport City Marshal contender, Anthony Johnson. I am told Johnson is the former deputy marshal, designated personal driver to Shreveport City Marshal “Diamond” Charlie Caldwell.
Johnson was subsequently unceremoniously fired. Johnson claims to have a road map to many of Caldwell’s skeletons. We eagerly await the nighttime grave hunts. This now makes two of Caldwell’s fired deputies seeking his office as well as former Shreveport Police officer Don Otis. The sport of rooting out evil may set a new standard here. Perhaps a better candidate is still in the wings!
The waste and corruption in the city marshal’s office calls for new blood and an imaginative approach to administering an important and neglected part of the city justice system. It’s too bad we don’t understand the potential in a successful marshal’s office. Bossier has created a model of success, started when Johnny Wyatt turned that neglected office into the modern technology and support organization needed by government services. This streamline operations supports the city court system as well as parish-wide electronic evidence processing.
Lynn Austin, retiring this fall has continued to improve and enhance services, while adding the Bossier City Marshal’s office to Hall of Fame status. I can only hope continued success there will force Shreveport to see that the East Side really is doing some things better. There is lots of room for constructive work in all Shreveport governmental processes.