by Elliott Stonecipher
With appreciation to the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, I share with you this link from its website. Readers may there see and hear the result of the Chamber’s work in interviewing candidates for Shreveport Mayor and City Council on a range of issues including the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier.
Click first on the Chamber’s Question #2 link, then on the picture of any candidate whose response you care to consider.
Please note that I have taken great care not to discuss with any candidate, in any way, our Coalition’s intention to write this evaluation of the responses given to the Chamber of Commerce. Likewise, the Coalition cannot and will not make commitments of any kind to any candidate for election office.
The following are points I, on behalf of the Coalition, believe are notable.
Mayoral Candidate and City Councilman Sam Jenkins
Seeing and hearing is believing. From his City Council seat, Mr. Jenkins has been exposed to, over the past 3 1/2 years, tens of hours of public presentation of information – in great detail – about this project. Nonetheless, he repeatedly boils his position down to the fact that the 3132 Extension is “not in the jurisdiction” of the city. He makes that remark even given that he voted on June 10th to greenlight further development in a potential Extension route, overruling our Metropolitan Planning Commission’s (MPC) rejection of such an intended violation in doing so.
Mayoral Candidate Victoria Provenza
Ms. Provenza expresses support for the Extension, shows that she has done some homework on the issue, and most notably and specifically opposes the action on June 10th of the City Council.
The decided clunker in Ms. Provenza’s answer is her expression that developer Tim Larkin’s “hold(ing) his investment,” deserves consideration. As she puts it, “from a business perspective you kind of have to respect that.”
In fact, taxpayers and others, particularly mayors, should not “respect” that. Ms. Provenza does not yet understand that Mr. Larkin knew very, very, very well when he made his “investment” that every dollar and cent of it was purely at risk because he was building precisely within the only remaining undeveloped land for the Extension. She may also note that Larkin did so in no small part because his partners in the deal included Mayor Cedric Glover (a “partner,” one way or another), along with several other high-powered financiers and related others.
Mayoral Candidate Patrick Williams
For the record, State Representative Patrick Williams has for some time been on the record, as a state legislator, supporting the Extension. This is seen in his notably strong response to the Chamber’s question.
Rep. Williams notes that the “Port is vital,” repeating that for emphasis. He also says specifically that “we all knew the route of that interstate (sic) before we bought the property,” explaining further that the “three developers … understood that before they started those developments.” (The Twelve Oaks development company includes two principles, and those two along with Tim Larkin may explain Williams’ mention of “three” developers.)
Mayoral Candidate Ollie Tyler
It is most important to remember in this context that Ms. Tyler may well be a political extension of the eight years in office of Mayor Glover. I wrote about that aspect of this mayoral campaign on August 25th.
Glover, developer Tim Larkin, and top public employees at the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) are the greatest known enemies of our city’s hope for the completion of the Extension to the Port, and are the three who and which acted on April 7, 2011, to terminate the Extension. Ms. Tyler was hand-picked and recruited to run by key individuals who, from outside government, most “handled” Mayor Glover throughout his term.
As for her stated position in response to the Chamber of Commerce question, it is decidedly supportive of the Extension. If Ms. Tyler is elected, and if she quickly proves to be her own person by completely cleaning our City Hall house, including replacement of key top officials, her response here is notable. It must be said, however, that she has already refused to say she would replace the City Attorney who has worked with such commitment to Glover, in this and all other things, regardless that she is also the chief attorney for the City Council and the taxpayers.
Mayoral Candidate Anna Marie Arpino
Ms. Arpino expresses support of the 3132 Extension, albeit by way of only a glancing blow within her remarks. Also, she mentions an alternative route for the Extension with which we are not familiar.
District “A” City Council Candidates Willie Bradford and Bobby Joe Cooper
It is no surprise that Mr. Bradford, an opponent to incumbent District “A” Council member Rose McCulloch, is the strongest proponent of the 3132 Extension to the Port. An active member of our Coalition, and a current (or past?) employee of Coalition sponsor Willis-Knighton Health System, no candidate in this race – for mayor or Council – has attended more public meetings on the subject than Mr. Bradford.
Very familiar, therefore, with the project’s history, Mr. Bradford’s response includes a “by all means necessary” definition of how far he will go in completion of the Extension. Furthermore, he pledges to attempt on the Council, if elected, a reversal of the Council’s June 10th override of the MPC decision against Larkin’s further development within the area of the likely corridor. No one else running for mayor or city council expresses such an intention.
Other candidates in the race for this Council seat are Bobby Joe Cooper and Gregory Young. In his brief remarks, Mr. Cooper expressed support of the Extension. Mr. Young did not schedule an interview with the Chamber.
District “B” City Councilman Jeff Everson and District “A” Councilwoman Rose McCulloch
As noted above, Councilman Sam Jenkins voted against the 3132 Extension in the June 10th action of the Council, and was joined in that opposition by District “B” City Councilman Jeff Everson, and District “A” Councilwoman Rose McCulloch. Also voting then for Larkin’s continued development in the route area were Councilmen Oliver Jenkins and Michael Corbin, the leader of the political op.
Mr. Everson’s near-three-minute response to the Chamber’s question is downright other-worldly. Note as you watch and listen that Everson could in no way reconcile his remarks with his direct and contradictory votes on both the Hwy. 3132 Extension and the I-49 extension through (or around) downtown Shreveport. In each case, Everson voted to override opposite and well-founded actions by our MPC.
Ms. McCulloch is at first sheepish as she forgets to mention her vote against the Extension on June 10th, then says she is “OK with getting 3132 done.” The facts prove that such a sad expression of “support” is pure poppycock.
District “B” City Council Challengers Craig Lee and Lynn Cawthorne
Running for Jeff Everson’s spot on the City Council is long-time civic activist Craig Lee. I recommend to all his less-than-three-minute answer to the Chamber’s question. Along with his support of the 3132 Extension, and its direct link to expansion of the Port and economic development, Mr. Lee expresses a broad understanding of various issues facing Shreveport.
Lee notes his understanding of the city’s population stagnation, a bit of its population history, the effect of such stagnation on matters ranging from air fares to loss of “intellectual capital,” and, of course, the need for population in-migration. He notes our corruption trouble, i.e., people in politics being “paid behind the scenes,” as well as the urgent need to grow our tax base.
Lynn Cawthorne is also a candidate for Everson’s seat. He briefly expresses his support of the Extension in his remarks.
District “E” City Council Candidates Wanda Wright, Ben Arnold, James Flurry and Durwood Hendricks, Jr.
The four candidates in this Southwest Shreveport district race seek to replace term-limited Councilman Ron Webb. Each expresses support of the 3132 Extension.
It will be difficult to elect a Council member as strongly supportive of the Extension as Mr. Webb has been. These interviews suggest, however, attention to Ms. Wanda Wright. Her short and strong expression of support for the Extension – noting and repeating how “essential” it is – is marvelously laced with a kind of down-home honesty and common sense mainly missing any longer from public service, and from the public debate of this issue.
Listen for these snippets:
” … I don’t understand how properties have been allowed to develop in front of it.
… We have a Master Plan, why are we not following it? It’s collecting dust?
… Timeline? … I don’t know … it should have already been done. A day late and a dollar short.”
District “F” City Council Candidates James Green and Stephanie Lynch
These candidates are running to replace term-limited Councilman Joe Shyne, also a staunch support of the 3132 Extension.
Mr. Green closes out his remarks by saying he is “very, very supportive” of the Extension, and that it should be completed “very, very soon.”
Ms. Lynch, a current member of the Caddo Commission who seeks to switch over to the City Council, comes across in her remarks as anything but certainly supportive of the Extension. Although she says, toward the close, “… we do need to extend it …,” she most notably positions herself as offering ” … a fresh perspective …” on the subject.
District “G” City Council Candidates Innis Addison, Jerry Bowman, Jr., and Billy Wayne
The incumbent Council member in this district is Sam Jenkins, whose entry into the mayor’s race ends his representation of these Shreveport residents.
Mr. Addison’s brief response was directed at the “timeline” question, and did not directly express either support or opposition.
Mr. Bowman, an employee of Willis-Knight Health system, is supportive of the Extension, noting that its completion should be accomplished “quickly.”
Mr. Wayne, toward the end of his comments, says “… it (the Extension) has to be completed … no doubt.” He then, though, backs away from unquestioned support by noting that, “… I would have to look at it myself and see specifically what is going to be done and who is proposing what.”
Finish 3132 Coalition
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.