by Marion Marks
Last year Shreveport proved that Sunshine Week was NOT really being celebrated by all parties. Some public entities actively opposed transparency and made every attempt to cloud government document access and obfuscate attempts to demand free and open discussion of the public’s business. This year, we may fare little better.
However, let’s celebrate the efforts to go through the motions. The Shreveport Times, once again, writes an article proclaiming the values of Sunshine Week. And at the same time the agenda of those supported by the Gannett muscle received favored coverage in the space provided by the paper. The Caddo Parish School Board Bond proposition appears to only have the side of the board and administration receiving large positive coverage.
The Caddo Commission and Shreve Memorial Library also has a year of celebration of fighting transparency, as Elliott Stonecipher noted last year, “Our government really did do precisely the opposite of what Sunshine Week exists to celebrate.” And, we need to do more to reverse the course.
I received an email that was predominantly directed at the media, and have waited two days after I asked a few questions of other recipients. Since I have heard nothing, I feel the public deserves to know what is passing for asking hard questions, and not receiving answers.
The “Open email” sent from a reader:
“Dear Mrs Tyler,
Actions speak louder than words. I voted for because you would be independent and not be manipulated by back room deals and politics. While I respect Cedric and aIl that he did for this city, it appears he may be calling the shot in your administration. Such is evident by the hiring of Brian Crawford as CAO not CEO according the city’s webpage. Brian was without question Glover’s guy being selected by him as Chief of the Fire Department then elevated Assistant CAO. He packed his bagged and ditched this when he saw that he could not be Mayor. It is clear he sees your one term as the changing paradigm that gives him an ounce of hope to be a viable candidate next time around.
Attending an event this weekend, I was informed former aide to Senator Landrieu AND Glover’s cousin Mrs. Tari Bradford is being brought in as a Chief of Staff or Government Relations. Is this paying your debt to both Glover and Mary Landrieu at the same time? Not only is this being reported by street gossipers, several city workers have spotted her in Government Plaza attempting to give out orders prior to her official start. Finally you have left Glover’s A&E selection team in place to decide major contracts and projects. Did the big bucks Linda Biernacki pumped into your campaign speak? It’s also no secret that Mr. David Aubrey along with Mr. Lynn Braggs were Glover handlers throughout his entire terms in office. It is obvious we are in Cedric’s third term
As one of your supporters, sister to sister I hope and pray these things are not true. Be transparent in your doings and stop with the outside special interest influence. We are watching to see if those words you uttered during the campaign will be lived up to.
Brandy Davis” [Link to acrobat copy of email]
This original email was carbon copied to:
City Councilman Oliver Jenkins, Alison Bath (Shreveport Times), attorney John Settle and community activist Jimmy Couvillion were carbon copied, and I received it as a blind copy. Therefore, before everyone goes off about the fact that this is Sunshine Week and a time to celebrate Open Government, let’s examine the allegations that Ms. Davis makes.
Cedric Glover left office firmly in control of what city resources were not firmly nailed down. However, even as Mayor Tyler came into office, Glover managed to keep most of his key staff’s shadow or personage in place. Aubrey and Braggs are two of the most visible, yet the serious money that can be managed and directed through contracts is directed by other key departments, whose managers did not change with the new administration.
Calling staff “Handlers” of Glover is like saying the shark was managed by the minnow. Glover would take direction from no one during his entire time in office unless either a court or a monied interest made a more appealing path for him to take. Glover seems to want to keep his hand in as much as he is able, even though we don’t see him on the front page of many news stories.
The Glover finger print, or grease smudge, seems to invade too many government projects still. And, until we sever our connection with the failed Glover management policies we will continue down a losing path that has cost our community dearly.
In the spirit of Sunshine Week and Open Government, it would be nice for the mayor or her senior staff to respond to some of these inquiries and allegations. I don’t want a personal response, the “Mainstream Media” should have ample opportunity to ask and demand answers. Leading members of the media, who have discussed some of these issues, tell me that they also have questions that receive little response from the administration. Perhaps it’s time to ask harder questions, file official Public Record Requests and demand hard-copy answers. Cast a little light on this subject, please.