It’s expected for political operatives to be extremely defensive of their candidates and their system. After all, you never bite that hand that feeds you, intentionally. However, now is the time to admit to citizens, and particularly those who chose to exercise their democratic right to vote, that the system has been well manipulated by the puppet masters all along. September 9th Mayoral Forum(View Here) that featured two of the six candidates seemed to be quite well manipulated. Lots of excuses for why only two appeared, and plenty of blame to go around for that.
What I saw was well-rehearsed, since the script was written days in advance. With questions provided several days before the format was tedious and non-responsive as far as “debate style” as one would expect. Well-read by Tyler and acted by Williams, as he stood on cue to deliver lines. I learned nothing new, except that it appears handlers are chomping at the bit to get control of city services and purse strings. And, here’s the rub.
Anyone who pays attention to city government must certainly recognize that there are great gaps in the funds collected to run city services and the actual services provided. This gap I will call the “political shrinkage” or the cost of paying for those who bring you the best that local money can buy is producing city services for citizens.
All who live within the city limits require certain services from the city which include fire and police protection, water, trash and other sanitation services, roads, traffic control and infrastructure and a legal and support system that is defined by the city charter and state regulations. These services are paid for by property taxes, court assessed fees, sales taxes and assorted assessments that add up to one of the highest municipal costs per capita in Louisiana.
Defining and dissecting the real costs to citizens is another issue, yet during election season it is appropriate to examine how those seeking your vote address the cost of providing services and what they propose doing to effect change in the system. The September 9 forum hosted by the North Shreveport Business Association allowed two of the leading candidates to address these issues in some of their questions, and that is my jumping off point for examination.
Neither Ollie Tyler, former CPSB Superintendent and CAO, NOT CEO as she is so fond of quoting. of the school’s 6,000+ employees, not state representative Patrick Williams, co-chairman of the house appropriations committee, were the least kind to Mayor Cedric Glover’s administration. Both referred to the current administration as a failure, something with which most with agree. Yet the degree of failure and the specifics of what brought us to this point along with how they will address the need to fix things is where everything gets a little “foggy.”
Tyler has a team of triage workers prepared to come in to revive the city corpse. Williams readily admits the patient is near-dead, yet his team which quickly tears at the Glover lackeys refuses to convey specifics of supporters who will come in to rescue the city.
It’s accurate to demand that voters admit to the current failures. Although these two may succeed in stage one in the graduate course of administrative leadership, the class is far beyond this lesson. Even though Williams has almost completed his doctorate and Tyler led the failing school system, Shreveport is no place to test your classroom analogies.
The City of Shreveport’s problems seem to be far more toxic than most will admit, even the local media dances around the edges of the retirement system debacle that city finance officers openly, or at least when approached by reporters and those seeking real numbers, admit they cannot provide. When finance officials, paid by public monies, can’t even come up with solid numbers as to the true amount the retirement fund needs to become solvent, the patient is probably, really about to expire.
Real numbers need real transparency to the public. And No Candidate has yet stood up to admit the truths. Glover, in his long-winded diatribes has repeatedly blamed the city council. The city council has been unable to pry the mayor out of his position. So, it is time the public demand from those seeking to fix the system that they admit they can’t get the truth out of the current mayor, but that it seems to be “really, really BAD!”
No, we may not be over the cliff, but if we don’t want to become the “Next Great Detroit of America” we better start to fix things. Shreveporters need to demand the truth and prepare for a magic potion. I can only hope it’s not snake oil they are selling.