or Glover Clone?
One of the worst kept secrets of the Tyler campaign (at least among her key downtown supporters) was her potential hire for Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Former Shreveport Fire Chief Brian Crawford’s name was tossed out as a carrot to attract supporters for Tyler by many who obviously expect to benefit from the Tyler administration, especially Linda Biernacki. Thus Tyler’s announcement of her selection of Crawford to be Shreveport’s next CAO was no surprise to informed political observers.
In October of 2012 Crawford was named the fire chief for Plano, Texas. He had worked for 28 years in Shreveport, where he started as a firefighter and worked his way up to fire chief; as chief, he was responsible for 22 fire stations and more than 600 personnel. He also had extensive emergency management experience with his involvement in hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike. Crawford was also commander of the USAR Louisiana Task Force 1 operation in Tuscaloosa, AL, following the F4 tornado in 2011.
Crawford has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and a master’s degree in organizational psychology. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program and the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
Crawford never really moved to Plano; his wife and son continued to live in their Shreveport family home; his wife is a Caddo school teacher. At one time he had ambitions to be mayor, and his interest in returning to the CAO’s office is a natural for him for obvious reasons.
Crawford’s selection has many positives. He is known to the community and he has experience in City Hall. As Shreveport Assistant CAO, Crawford oversaw a $500 million operating budget. Crawford has more real world knowledge and experience in City Hall than all of Tyler’s mayoral staff combined. This is a statement in and of itself.
As to the negatives, Crawford left some enemies in the Shreveport Fire Department; many of the higher ups as well rank and file were happy to see him retire. The same is true of his tenure at City Hall where he served, eagerly and aggressively, as Glover’s point man on controversial issues – often with a certain degree of arrogance.
Throughout her campaign Tyler said she would not be a “Glover girl” as mayor. Her selection of Crawford, plus her retention of Glover assistants at highly inflated salaries, leads many skeptics to question who will really run City Hall. Crawford has a big personality, as in ego; while at Shreveport Fire Department and with Glover he had free reign to be his own man and “do his thing” with little (if any) restraints. Tyler has a reputation of being very tight fisted when it comes to “control”, and what the interplay between her and Crawford will be an interesting watch.
How Crawford staffs his office will be an immediate indication of his marching orders from Tyler. So far, the new mayor has placed a premium on loyalty and political reward versus diversity and talent. Crawford can, in the right circumstances, restore credibility and leadership to City Hall. And on the other hand, Crawford could be more of the same at 500 Travis which will mean that the downtown crowd who selected Tyler to run for mayor will continue to benefit from how the City of Shreveport is operated.
Without a doubt Crawford will be closely scrutinized and will most likely be the face of the Tyler administration since she is not expected to really be an active participant in the government process – which can be good or bad.