Ollie Tyler has been mayor of the third largest city in Louisiana for over 150 days and what does she have to show for her administration? Very very little, especially since she became the de facto mayor after the October primary and had very little politicking to do to ensure her November election.
For beginners, one can look at the staff she has assembled—which is long on political patronage and short on qualified appointments. For beginners the selection of Brian Crawford as Chief Administrative Officer was a condition of Tyler receiving the support of key downtown power brokers—so no credit to Tyler for that one. The same was basically true of naming former Times editor Africa Price to an over paid pr job at City Hall. Tyler had worked with Africa at the Community Foundation and the job promise not only helped promote positive press during the campaign with the Shreveport Times but also additional support from key Foundation supporters.Read more
I believe the “Can of Worms” the Hillary Clinton email server revelation exposed regarding use of non-official email accounts for State Department business emails must be addressed by the local media as it affects our local entities and business correspondence failures. Locally, in my opinion, we have done a very poor job of addressing what the law requires public officials to do.
We have a great starting point, and I believe we must have formal discussion of this topic. Here is a great article for awareness of issues, for those who may not understand the implications of public records.
Most government and board emails I receive from local public officialsor entities regarding government business will have one or more parties who private email address is used. In recent public records requests [PRR], and over the last year on too many occasions, I was a party to PRR filings where the board members, government agency representatives Read more
Following the Little Free Library issue in Shreveport has been a folly for social media gurus as the chain of bumbles by the MPC staff has only been heightened when a non-threat appeared from copy-cat Anonymous spoofs along with law-enforcement tracking of the culprits.
The Little Free Library (LFL) concept* is a well-established institution nationwide base on the concept that libraries, book-sharing and reading are a basis for educating the public, providing cheap recreational materials and challenging the system of who controls public access and public areas. Little Free Libraries can be found generally through social media, but Google searches also take searchers to potential local venues, where available.
The Shreveport LFL first appeared in social media in February, 2013, however the origins may predate the FaceBook group page. The founders appear to be based around librarians and bibliophiles who appreciate reading, sharing books Read more
On June 25, 2014, Shreve Memorial Library Director announced that he would be leaving the library system for a new opportunity at an undisclosed location. We have since determined that he will be serving as the Executive Director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Public Library System at an annual salary of $152,000-$177,000 plus benefits. In Heezen’s farewell email sent to library staff and Board of Control members, the then-anonymous library system was described as “a larger system that has already achieved a good deal of what we have targeted to do here.” This is good, as results do not appear to be one of Heezen’s strengths during his relatively brief tenure with SML. Indeed, under his leadership, the library has experienced many months that can only be described as “more of the same,” with accusations of unethical conduct and racist behavior that plagued previous Director and current CFO and/or Budget Officer Jim Pelton being sustained under Heezen’s leadership.
Of course, we’d love to say “Bon voyage,” but that appears to be premature. In the same email, Heezen indicated that his last work day at SML would be August 29, 2014, at which point he would be on vacation until November 14, 2014. We are told that departing senior staff members taking months-long vacation is “tradition,” if not the “policy,” of SML, embraced by the Library’s HR expert-in-resident Jennie Paxton. While this practice may not technically be illegal, it certainly seems to be imprudent, as the Library is then faced with a number of options that are costly and counterproductive. The Library could appoint an interim Director, paying Heezen’s salary and benefits for the duration Read more
Since the last Board of Control meeting, a small group of citizens has requested a number of PRR responses to evaluate in response to the library board and executive handling of the Sunshine Forum and other issues under scrutiny. SML has addressed these matters by shuffling staff at least three times that we can tell, and has chosen a path of destroying records and communicating in a manner of secrecy we believe to be consistent with a pattern of deliberately refusing to follow regulations a public organization must follow. We believe the majority of the board is not aware of many of these issues, but because of the board actions at the last meeting we must assume they approve of them. Specific discriminatory policies of the administration against minority and non-minority employees have been rampant because of overt and covert actions of the administration.
The public has been asked to believe that “the Shreve Memorial Library Board of Control ALWAYS approves all library programs and diversity of programs and participants is a requirement for ALL.” Public Records Requests prove this is not evident in any policy or procedure of the library and certainly it has not been evident in any programs except the Sunshine Forum. We again publicly ask that Read more
Once again the Caddo Commission is trying to float another ad valorem tax bond issue. Like before, the Commission has picked a date where the bond issue is the only ballot issue – Saturday, May 3. By the narrowest of margins (59 votes), the last attempted bond issue was defeated on October 19, 2013. And as before, the Commission does not have a sound basis for asking for these funds from over taxed property owners.
The Commission could have scheduled this vote on another date, like the November primary election which will feature the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Shreveport Mayor and City Council, Caddo School Board and Shreveport Marshal. In that event, the Commissioner would have shared the cost of the election with other governmental entities. The 2013 failed bond election cost the Parish in excess of $144,000; the May election costs should be about the same.
The bond election is to continue a 1.75 millage tax to enable the Parish to issue additional debt, – – projected to be approximately $23 million to fund capital needs for next 5 years. The expected bond issue schedule is $8 million in 2014 and 2015, and then $7 million in 2016. The Commission expects to spend approximately $4 million per year over a 6-year period for capital improvements. Read more
The concept “Lewd in the Library” is probably far too tame today to consider behavior that would get most banned from the library. However, “Lewd” might aptly refer to the angle some staff at Shreve Memorial Library branches have previously applied to patrons who didn’t follow personal directives. KTBS covered the 26-page list of Banned Patrons as young as 8-years old. Some seem to be banned for infractions that lack logic or certainly a defined policy.
Whatever the “unacceptable” behavior is that has neither Policy nor Procedure definition according to board guidelines, patrons as young as 8-years old have been “Banned for LIFE!” AT least it’s for life until they successfully appeal their expulsion from the library when they are old enough to understand the issues. If these issues are not clarified, we will have children who can’t even look at art Read more
Louisiana citizenship requirement #1: understand we live in a very HUMID environment; mold and mildew are inherent issues, more so DANGERS to specific assets. Groups accepting a building to house books should KNOW if the building has a vapor barrier and is capable of housing paper-based products. Quotes, even thoughts that appear quite difficult to comprehend from a library board member:
“He said it is suspected the building may not have a vapor barrier in the walls to prevent moisture from seeping through.“
“There are underlying issues in the building itself,” he said. “Until we hire a professional to come and take a good assessment of it, we won’t really know.”
$10,000 expense to taxpayers to be told details of this problem seems more than a day late and $10,000 too much. Mold and construction experts KNEW this Read more
When one thinks of the many challenges Shreveport’s next mayor should address, appointments to the multitude of local boards and commissions is probably not even on the radar screen. However, the wheels of a democratic government do turn, in part, on the actions/reactions of these groups which in theory provide meaningful input on how the city’s tax dollars are spent.
Some of these appointive bodies are high profile and well known to most citizens, – like the Shreveport Airport Authority, the Caddo-Bossier Port Commission, the Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Shreveport Metropolitan Zoning Board of Appeals, the Shreveport Parks & Recreation Council, and the Downtown Development Authority. Other boards/commissions that have a public profile include the Housing Authority of the City of Shreveport, the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, the Property Standards Board, the Shreve Memorial Library Board, and the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Commission, among others.
Many boards/commissions rarely make the news and thus are known at best by only those directly affected by their actions, – like the Building Board of Appeals, the Employment Retirement System Board of Trustees, the Shreveport Health Trust Read more
A small group has begun wading through documents of the library as part of a Public Records Review. One of the first glaring documents screamed to me, and anyone looking at “Board of Control” responsibilities, would find in a Board Packet Correspondence document section on Governance Practices Training for the board reason to scream. This document shows critical flaws in the system.*
The document covers the planned board workshop outcomes, expectations, and path by which the consultant hopes to accomplish stated goals of governance. This program of the Sandbar Groupis similar to many other “in-service” programs run for non-profit boards. The problem seems to be that the Shreve Memorial Library Board of Control failed , as a whole, to internalize the substance of the program. This is so critical, I want to quote and give some analysis. Additionally, I believe you should send the basics of this email as a public letter to apply to almost EVERY Public entity and citizen who participates in governance. The one page I pulled is this (The single page is attached to this email):
IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE PRACTICES The Shreve Memorial Library (January 13, 2010)
SITUATION APPRAISAL The Shreve Memorial Library provides library services to Caddo Parish. Governed by a Board of Control Read more