Shreveport Attorney John Settle
Opinion by John Settle

If one is a real fan of the Glover administration, then Ollie Tyler is probably the candidate to vote for. Not to be picking on Big G as he finishes up his 8 years as Shreveport’s mayor, but just stating the obvious. There is no reason to believe that Ollie Tyler as mayor will be much different from 4 more years of the “The Next Great City in the South”.

He's an Angel!
He’s an Angel!

Glover has had some success in his administration. As the first black mayor of third largest city in the state of Louisiana, he has (to date) had a scandal free administration with little if any racial disharmony – which in Louisiana is an accomplishment in itself. Glover, the consummate politician, has handled himself well on the state and national levels when representing his home city, – – and on the local level as well during his first term. He has successfully refinanced bond debt for the convention center that had soured, opened up government to more minority participation, and passed the largest bond issue in Shreveport’s history.

SUCCESS-iffyGlover’s administration has, however, been severely hampered in his second term by poor relations with the City Council and citizen groups alike. Additionally much of Glover’s energy has been expended on the 3132 debacle, the dog park mess, and the fuss over his financial advisor – – all of which has resulted in expensive, counterproductive litigation. And to top it all off, Big G is attempting to continue his political kingdom by selecting Shreveport’s next mayor.

Initially Glover endorsed councilman Sam Jenkins, who had been for the most part his water boy to the Council. After Sam’s financial issues became public knowledge and Sam refused to support retention of Grigsby as Glover’s financial advisor, Big G unceremoniously dumped him like a scalded dog. Sam’s determination to stay in the Mayor’s race is no doubt fueled, in part, by this rebuff.

Glover then selected Ollie Tyler to carry his torch. Tyler, a respected educator, had retired from her last position as interim Louisiana Education Superintendent. Glover assigned his top political operative (referred to by many as Big G’s “shake down man”) to run the Tyler campaign (Lynn Braggs). He also surrounded Tyler with some downtown power brokers who have benefitted from his administration; obviously this crowd believes that Tyler will feather their nest for the next 4 years. To round out her campaign team, Tyler has added some of her former school board subordinates who drive her to functions and cater to her as if she were still the Caddo Queen Bee.

Rose view of CPSB?
Rose view of CPSB?

Tyler’s campaign is based on rosy but questionable memories of her performance as Caddo Superintendent; her speeches are a continual recitation of budgets, numbers of students and employees, and bureaucrat accomplishments. Tyler promises task forces to build visions, the procurement of federal grants to resolve city problems, and delegation of her duties like a true bureaucrat. Her public appearances are carefully scripted and she rarely speaks contemporaneously; at a recent forum she admitted she had no knowledge of The Barnwell Center – a long revered riverfront institution. At public functions, she clearly is not at ease – – striking the pose of an aristocrat who expects voters to approach her rather than engaging citizens on a personal level.

Tyler’s campaign materials fail to mention her first marriage, much less the cause of death of that husband. Rumors continue as to her relationships with a juvenile student while she was Caddo Superintendent along with suspected substance abuse. Her lack of energy is apparent at evening engagements, which might be reflective of age (listed at 69 but believed to be over 70) and her health; she cited health reasons for her 2007 retirement as Caddo Superintendent. Her zeal to become mayor is seemingly driven by her desire to add to her list of “firsts” which are paraded in her campaign literature as qualifications to be mayor.

Bottom line Tyler’s past history, lack of civic involvement in Shreveport, and dis-connect with average citizens leave her heavily reliant on her advisors, which is reflective of her career in education. She has not held an elected office for over 20 years and thus she has had no real civic accountability as an elected public official. Tyler offers is no more than a caretaker to sit at the Mayor’s desk at a time when Shreveport needs a high energy, clearly independent leader who will not rely on studies, staff or history to provide leadership.