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9.2.05

It's 1984 in Shreveport's Mayor's Office

Will the arrogance never cease? With yet another legal question raised about the construction of the city-owned hotel to accompany its under-construction convention center, Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower resorted to a familiar tactic of blaming the legitimate questioners of the project.

This time, it’s about the city’s application for $12 million in capital outlay funds from the state to help construct the $52 million hotel (yes, state taxpayers, you’re on the hook, too). A lawsuit filed today impugns the legality of the city’s use of it to build the hotel, noting that according to the proposal, the money is needed to build two additional levels on a convention center parking garage, to relocate the Greyhound bus terminal, for landscaping and to "prepare the site for ancillary uses."

One obvious question is the building of two more levels and terminal relocation is going to take a lot of that $12 million. And also, is placement of a full-blown hotel really preparing the convention site for “ancillary” uses?

Actually, the choice of this phrase and word is consistent with Hightower’s style of governance: appearance becoming more important than substance. Policy is proclaimed to create a certain impression and image, while its execution is done in a way to favor special interests. Review the synonym “subsidiary” of “ancillary” et voila, there’s Hightower’s hidden agenda for the money, as a subsidy to his unwritten plans.

I’m no legal expert but on face the plaintiffs seem to have a pretty good case. At the very least, this will give state Sen. Max Malone more ammunition to use to attempt to have the state Bond Commission reverse it previous approval to allow the sale of $40 million to fund the project, a request Malone asked the Commission to consider at its Feb. 17 meeting.

Hightower’s reaction, naturally, is yet again to shoot the messenger (which he’s done so often now if this metaphoric person were to drink something he’d need to mop it up right afterwards):

We've been down this road before .... We need to be spending our time building a hotel and protecting the taxpayers' interest, not fighting desperate attempts to destroy the project …. We're tired of spending untold dollars defending frivolous attempts to stop this project.

If nothing else, this struggle has improved Hightower’s ability to use “newspeak” and “doublethink.” In his lexicon, FLEECING is PROTECTING, and LEGITIMATE is FRIVOLOUS. Thus speaks Big Brother Keith Hightower.

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