Sunday, September 3, 2017

Arena Madness

Longtime readers might notice a sort of involuntary facelift on the blog; apparently Blogger wants me to pay a small fortune to host third-party pictures like my ivory crumpled paper background.  I'm now using a generic Blogger format and saving a small fortune.

That has, for some reason, soured me on the blog for a little bit.  It's almost as if it's not "mine" anymore, but I guess it never was since Blogger is hosting it for free, so there you go.

At any rate, there has been a lot of grumbling in Shreveport these past few weeks about Mayor Ollie Tyler's arena project and I am breaking my blog silence to preserve some of that argument here.

My personal feelings about Shreveport at its potential have always been out front.  For years I've felt that this city is grossly under performing and failing to maximize its resources.  I posted this article in 2015 after a trip to Des Moines which seemed decades ahead of Shreveport.  It still is, for the record.  There has been some progress in downtown Shreveport since that post, and I applaud that, but we still have no jobs and no growing population to fill all those new condos downtown.

A lack of jobs and an glaring, growing crime problem are critical issues in this city.

Mayor Ollie Tyler's odd arena proposal is, on the surface, her attempt to grow the economy but the project is fraught with issues.  Elliott Stonecipher has been on top of this from Day One and his posts can be read at Real Shreveport. I am linking to his most recent post and from there you can link through to a host of expose pieces about the problems with this project.

Lex Talamo with The Shreveport Times has documented Shreveport's long neglected, crumbling infrastructure in her article of September 2:

  • The city's sole water treatment facility is sometimes stretched to capacity and operates, at peak, below its original capacity by 12 million gallons of water per day. 
  • Cross Lake, which supplies water to the water treatment facility, needs an estimated  $200 million in upgrades, including to fight invasive species such as Giant Salvinia.  Cross Lake Dam, which stores water for the facility, needs up to $18 million for repairs.
  • The city has met its deadlines so far in completing work under a federal order requiring $500 million in fixes to city sewers. But now the work gets more difficult and expensive. A source of funding has not been identified.
  • All told, the infrastructure maintenance, repair and upgrade bill facing city government is around $1.5 billion — the result of paltry appropriations for decades.
Erin McCarty also has a revealing article in which she wonders what happened to the $5 million bond issue that voters approved for a park at Cross Bayou in 1996?

What you really should be angry about is what has been happening over the past 20 years? We have no park at Cross Bayou. We voted for that in 1996. Who has failed to deliver and why? This one vote should make us all very hesitant to believe government promises.

On the flip side, in The Forum, Louis Avallone chides us to quit the "stinking thinking" and quit badmouthing ourselves:

I don’t know if this Pelicans “G League” is a good idea or not, but this stinking thinking has to stop. All that stinking thinking does is make you feel defeated, discouraged and depressed. Haven’t you ever heard that you are what you think about?

And finally, Steve Becker penned this piece on social media which has been shared many times over:

Shreveport is slowly becoming the Detroit of Northwest Louisiana because of the lame brain idiots (Democrats) who gets voted into office, mainly the mayor-ship. "Shrevetroit" is broke, the infrastructure like streets and sewers are crumbling, any business with any sense won't come here because of the high local and state taxes on businesses, there is no viable workforce because anyone who has an education leaves and never comes back... 
For some dumbass reason the mayor and several people in city government wants to build a $100 million sports arena to "entice" an NBA developmental team... If you don't know anything about the history of sports teams in "Shrevetroit" the best way to describe it is "dismal at best," with the exception of a minor league baseball and hockey time from time to time, but as for minor league basketball... They came and went as fast as a son-cone left on a "Shrevetroit" sidewalk on an August afternoon. Maybe the sno-cone lasted longer. 
What makes matters worse, the city doesn't even own the property where they want to put the proposed arena... More money spent that the city really doesn't have.  
This morning I had the radio on KEEL and they had on Mayor Ollie and she was blathering about the arena. She was saying that it's true the city doesn't have the money to fix the infrastructure, but with the arena and and entertainment district the city can "generate revenue to rebuild infrastructure and do other things." My head began to hurt like I had just gotten a brain freeze from eating a sno-cone as fast as I could before it melted. (As for an entertainment district, the Red River Entertainment District on the riverfront was a complete disaster because the city refused to control criminal elements for fear of offending someone, and people stopped going. Now the Red River Entertainment District under the Texas Street Bridge make a great spot for winos. You can smell their contributions when you walk past the few businesses that decided to stay and the many vacant buildings where business didn't.)
Then upon being asked the question about, "What do you say to those who point out the failure of other sports teams in Shreveport?" The answer went something like this, "I will tell them that many successful people failed in their ventures before finding success."
Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, first of all the money that those "successful people" failed with was their own. You, dear lady are a steward of public funds, not a gambler of public funds. If you can't see that you have no business being in the position you are in. Hell, I have a better idea, why don't you and your little toady Brian Crawford go to the El Dorado or Sam's Town Casino and put received city tax revenues on the old craps table and take a chance because there isn't any difference according to your philosophy of public fund expenditures.
Meanwhile, the city's crime rate is rising faster than a clogged commode that has been flushed numerous time, the city's first responders haven't had a pay raise in over ten years...
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see an entertainment district, but I do know if it were a viable, profitable venture private investors would have done it a long time ago. So, in the mean time old Ollie, Brian, and the rest of city gang want to get on their knees and shoot dice using public funds.

He makes a valid point about our first responders; Michael Carter, president of the Shreveport Police Officers Association, issued this statement last week:

"The Shreveport Police Officers Association opposes a “G” League Basketball Arena expenditure in Shreveport, Louisiana. 
 "The SPOA has diligently pursued a pay raise proposal for 11 years. The pay proposal was vetoed under former Mayor Cedric Glover in 2008, voted down by City Council Members in 2012, and deliberately ignored since February of 2015 by The Honorable Mayor Ollie Tyler. "Many excuses have been provided, however, the “lack of funds” has been a consistent plea from City Administration. Now, a new venture requiring more than $30,000,000.00 of tax payer’s money, with interest, is being aggressively pursued.  
 "In an astonishing vote of 5-2, the Shreveport City Council proved, in our opinion, that public safety is not their priority. With shootings almost daily, we watch our City leaders ponder dreams of a “G” league Arena. There is no potential of a 30,000,000.00 return.  
 "$30,000.000.00 could drastically change the Shreveport Police Department into a progressive law enforcement agency. With daily infrastructure needs and public safety needs, the City of Shreveport has found what it is willing to invest in, and it is not the safety of the average citizen.  
 "SPOA adamantly holds Mayor Ollie Tyler, CAO Brian Crawford, and City Attorney Will Bradford, Jr. accountable for ignoring the safety needs of Shreveport, Louisiana. They have left no room for doubt. They are focused on issues that do not make Shreveport a better place to work and live. Now, the City Council, except for two, are looking to join the excitement that can only be enjoyed if you literally ignore the death and violence in the districts they represent.  
 "Please join the Shreveport Police Officers Association and oppose the basketball Arena."
If nothing else, the City's treatment of the Shreveport Captain's ballpark is enough for me; they've allowed the stadium to become uninhabitable.  There is no reason in the world why a city this size should not have a minor league baseball team.

In a city that can't even properly run an animal shelter, why should we trust this project?

All said, it's a very contentious issue in Shreveport right now made worse by the fact that it seems like it's being pushed down our throats without any time for proper examination of the project and without voter approval.

I'm all for Shreveport turning around and becoming a city equal to its potential but there are many more major issues on our plate right now.  Crime is out of control, police morale is low and our officers are underpaid and often underappreciated. Infrastructure is crumbling.  Jobs are nonexistent and our young people are leaving in droves.  At the very least, the arena project needs much more vetting before going forward.

The mayor's detailed plan can be seen here.

Follow Elliot Stonecipher's posts here.

Locate your City Council member here.


Anonymous said...

The problem started in the 60's, with Gregory Tarver and his BULL nonsense, and the hippies that turned Highland into a wasteland. Yeah, some of Highland's come back, but what about Allendale, or the Cooper Road area, or Cedar Grove? Before the hippie and BULL era, Shreveport had low crime, growth (Texas Eastern, United Gas, WKM Wellhead, Bird Roofing plant, GE transfomers, Beard-Poulan, Western Electric...need I go on?), TWO water plants, etc. etc. Now? Casinos and an empty GM plant. What a waste. All starting with selfish hippies and politicians starting in the 60's. CrustyOldTVTech sends.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, to explain how Tarver and company destroyed Shreveport. They wanted political power for their own ends, and decided to get there by forcing the city into a different form of government, the mayor-council form. Shreveport had thrived under the Commission form of municipal governance, due to the fact that it was very difficult for a Commissioner of Public Works to get re-elected if the water plant was in bad shape...either a Commissioner delivered results in his area, or he got "fired". The mayor-council form of municipal governance leads to classic big-city corruption, ward healers, community agitators as councilmen, etc. Shreveport had no reason to change what worked, but BULL and the hippies demanded and agitated, and got their way, like spoiled brats. CrustyOldTVTech sends.