Bond Sales, Dog Park, worse to come?
At his inauguration party in 2006, newly minted Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover started the festivities with a celebratory announcement “Well, here we are…..” He was, of course, referred to his narrow victory over Jerry Jones and his election as Shreveport’s’ first African American mayor. Almost 8 years later, most Shreveport residents are saying, in disappointed if not sarcastic tones, “Well here we are….” as Glover continues to take flack during his last few months as a lame duck Mayor.
Admittedly Glover had many challenges when he took office,– high municipal bond debt, a lagging economy and resentment as well as suspicion due to his race, lack of formal education (only a high school diploma), and his job (as in no job) history. In many aspects, the Big G has improved the overall state of the city. Nevertheless he has allowed several issues to become bigger than life (even bigger than Big G was himself at his heaviest weight) and that is most likely how he will be remembered.
Much can be said, and has been said, about the ill-fated extension of the 3132 loop to the Port, and the decisions by planning agencies that have most likely killed any real possibility of the extension ever being completed. (These and the very real yet rarely discussed funding challenges for the 3132 extension which are suspect at best seriously cloud any reasonable analysis of the current impasse.) Big G has been front and center in this controversy which will most likely not be concluded during his term of office due to pending litigation and needed feasibility studies. The bitterly contested development of Esplanade subdivision has cost the City of Shreveport major bucks in litigation expenses with more yet to be spent, and Big will certainly leave this virtually unresolvable mess behind when he leaves the Mayor’s office.
The Shreveport dog park will certainly be a bittersweet feather in Glovers’ mayoral hat, whether if is actually completed or not during Glover’s term. There’s no doubt that Glover lost the dog park battle, and in the process racked up substantial legal bills at the citizen’s expense.
Shreveport has never witnessed a small yet vocal citizen’s group that not only promoted a cause, but also rammed it down the throat of a mayor. Whether or not the dog park will successfully empower future citizens efforts to promote their causes is an unknown, but there’s no doubt it will be a big chapter in Glovers’s mayoral history.
Glover can, if he so chooses, deflect criticism over 3132 by pointing his finger at the MPC and NLCOG by allowing development prior to Esplanade in the intended 3132 path, and at the Red River Commission for dog park funding without coordination with him. But when it comes to the sale of the remaining authorized but unissued municipal bonds, Big G has only himself to blame for not completing the largest municipal bond package in Shreveport’s history.
Shreveport citizens authorized a $175 million bond package on April 2, 2011 to address much-needed repairs and reconstruction to City facilities, ranging from water and sewerage projects to major overhauls at most city operated community centers and parks. Since 2011 then the City has only sold $81.5 million dollar of the bonds utilizing the services of Calvin Grigsby; $93.5 million of bonds are set to be sold. The highly publicized controversy over Grisby’s billings to the city of Shreveport has not only cost the City substantial funds for the investigation by an outside law firm and a CPA firm, but also continuing legal expenses for litigation to collect (alleged) overpayments to Grisby.
Glover continues to stand by his man Grisby, to the ultimate detriment of Shreveport citizens as well as Glover himself. The unsold bonds could be handled by professionals other than Grigsby, but like a pouting child Big G has refused to acknowledge this political defeat and move on. Glover’s continued stubbornness can not be explained much less rationalized by even the most casual political observer.
Shreveport’s next mayor will not only have responsibility of overseeing the prudent expenditure of the funded capital improvements but also the sale of the remaining authorized, unissued bonds. Unless Ollie Tyler succeeds Glover, it is a given that Grisby will not be handling the bond sales. At this juncture, Glover should fulfill his duties to Shreveport citizens as Mayor by finding a new financial bond consultant and completing the bond sales. Glover’s stubbornness will not increase his approval rating nor his mayoral legacy, which is too bad for Glover and most importantly Shreveport citizens.