by Elliott Stonecipher
Shreveporters who care may have learned little from our current mayoral election, but most of us have at least noticed that some top players in these campaigns act as though there is gold at the end of this dim and discolored election rainbow.
In fact, as some of us know and many of the rest of us fear and suspect, such may well be exactly what is in it for those players: bucks … beaucoup bucks.
As one commentator recently reminded me in a social media message, Shreveport deserves better. Cities, we might take a moment to remember, are their people. Here, that refers to tens of thousands of good, decent and hard-working people. They may be fairly chastised for having, by default, handed the governance of the city over to a cabal of self-dealers, but such are sins of omission. These do not participate in the practiced and systemic raiding of local tax coffers.
Just in case anger is rising among readers who are also supporters of the remaining candidates, note that I do not necessarily write of these candidates themselves. Literally, neither of them is aware enough by personal experience of how city government works to get this piece.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, that these two do not know the how or who of our city’s underlying malady offers us no protection. In fact, their ill-preparation for the job went a long way toward their recruitment as candidates. To the recruiters at issue, the less prepared and more dependent the mayor – regardless the reason for their dependency – the better.
The candidates are nowadays picked by a toxic combination of some other elected officials and their handlers. These, too, do the bulk of the fund-raising for their selectees. Yes, some good and honest people are mixed in with these usual suspects in any given campaign group, but these few good people are inconsequential to the outcome.
Our city’s years-long march to this crisis is also its most glaring evidence. Over the past couple of decades, more and more and more people have withdrawn from local government as corruption came to identify it. Nature abhors a vacuum in leadership as all else, and into that void rushed serial manipulators whose table is correctly set only after they recruit, fund and elect compliant, if not culpable, public officials.
These people devote themselves to the control of officials who, in turn, control public budgets. Unable or unwilling to compete for their livelihoods in the real economy, they increasingly depend on public money. Their success is truly our expense. “They” are entire organizations in some cases, ones which many honest people would never suspect.
As this campaign began, I warned in a different column about one specific application of these points, putting their essence this way:
“No matter that the city is stagnant, if not tipping over into something worse, top insiders, along with their small army of election wizards and flacks, prefer things precisely as they are, thank you (taxpayers) very much. Money in those particular and few pockets and purses is the tune, and these are the folks who have long called the dance. Their lone measure of supposed success has always been how much public money can be scored by control of the mayor’s office.”
Now, almost three months deep into this sad election season, that warning gong is deafening. Almost all has played out, and is set to head straight into City Hall, as foreseen. Among the top cogs in these well-greased wheels are public officials who will simply remain in present City Hall positions. In other cases, a shuffle or two will be necessary to hide what is too obvious to too many.
Cleaning this up falls to those with the legal authority to do that job, government entities which are inexplicably silent, as if somehow neutered.
The point here and now is that all elections are not of equal importance. The likely significance of this one cannot be overstated, regardless that our vote seems a feeble response.
Such was not ordained. Some few and locally powerful self-servers delivered us here. That they draw critical strength from the silence of so many of the rest of us is indisputable.
There are possible remedies of which I and others are aware, but precisely the officials at issue, along with their supporters, will oppose every such attempt … albeit from hiding. Whether even our news media will support such remedies is unknown, and regrettably so.
None of this withstanding, voting in this election is our next step. Leaving the caring to others is no option, as our dis-ease indisputably proves.
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.