Seemingly Shreveport’s new mayor Ollie Tyler (as of Saturday December 27) is confused about her new job. Yes, she will be Shreveport’s next mayor – and its first female African American at that. (Hazel Beard was the first female mayor and Cedric Glover the first black mayor.)
Evidently Tyler is obsessed with her pioneering resume. Her campaign pushcard described her as a “trailblazer”; – the “firsts” listed include first female superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools, first African American woman inducted into the Jr. Achievement Business Hall of Fame of North Louisiana and first African American Superintendent (interm) of Education for the state of Louisiana. Not surprising her campaign propaganda failed to list other “first’s” of dubious distinction: first Caddo superintendent to have failing schools go from 1 to 12; first superintendent to increase by 31% budget expenses for administrative staff; and the first superintendent to have 21 schools show higher failure rates from one year to the next.
Tyler can now add to her trophy case a merit badge for being the first mayor elect to co-host a school tour touting Caddo Transition schools. Tyler did not ride the school bus with Caddo Superintendent Lamar Goree – and about 20 community leaders – – but she did drive her car from school to school, and along with Goree served as school guide. The day after the Tyler-Goree dog-and-pony show Goree had a press conference to announce a bond proposal that he would present to the school board on January 6, 2015.
The package, which Goree hopes will be approved on January 20, authorizes the school district to issue up its $108 million in bonds and reallocate one-mil of a six-mil tax currently used to pay off previous bond issues. Goree wants to build 3 new schools and close 6 others. Goree’s future as Caddo Superintendent may be on the line; the 2015 school board has 6 new members who did not participate in his selection. Goree was not a real winner in the process; after a 6-6 white black vote, the white candidate withdrew his name leaving Goree as the only finalist for the job.
What role, if any, new Mayor Tyler will play in endorsing Goree’s bond package is at this time a big unknown. What is known is that Tyler has been a virtual hermit since her December 6 election speech. Tyler’s plans for the staffing of her administration have very very secretive – so much that she has not announced the existence of her transition team which is co-chaired by Reginald Abrahams and Tom Arceneaux. The time line for putting her “people” into key City Hall positions is not known.
One can only surmise that Tyler’s presence on the school PR tour suggests that she has the City Hall transition under control (?) – or that she is more interested in Caddo schools than running the City. The status of public education is, or should be, a concern of all local elected officials including Tyler – if for no other reason that economic development is dependent in part on this key quality of life component.
Nevertheless, Tyler’s primary concern as Shreveport’s next mayor should be on City Hall – not Midway – and the long list of immediate challenges she identified in her campaign. If Tyler is successful in getting the trains to run on time, then maybe she can venture back into the education field. What political clout Tyler has going into office as Shreveport’s new mayor may be quickly lost if she jumps into what promises to be a dogfight over Goree’s bond package – both at the School Board and with the voters if put on the May ballot.