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28.2.05

Through the looking glass, and how Keith lives there

In the world according to Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower, those who oppose his plans that ill-serve the public, specifically the building of a hotel that likely will end up costing the city more than the benefits it produces (as the only feasibility study concerning it, from Louisiana Tech’s College of Administration and Business Economic Research Division, concludes) do so because they’re mad or miserable: “One's mad because he's unemployed. Three are mad because they're a different political persuasion than I. There are others who are apparently miserable people.”

OK, I’ll play; I’m against not only the building of the hotel, but of the convention center (even if I’m not a city resident). So what am I? My guess is he’s saying the “unemployed” is Lou Burnett, former official in the administration of previous mayor Bo Williams, defeated by Hightower, whose invaluable Fax-Net Update has chronicled in stunning detail misstep after misstep by Hightower on this and other issues. The three of a “different political persuasion” must be Shreveport City Councilmen Thomas Carmody, Mike Gibson, and Jeff Hogan, Republicans all who have cited cogent reasons not to handle this issue the way the Democrat Hightower has.

So I guess I must be a miserable person – and so must be radio talk show host Moon Griffon, Republican state Sen. Max Malone, Republican state Rep. Mike Powell, maybe even Democrat state Sen. Lydia Jackson, all of whom have taken positions in various venues to try to derail Hightower’s boondoggle. I guess there’s something in our misery-loving company that just compels us to oppose irrationally Hightower on this, so he implies.

Well, any reader of this blog, or of Fax-Net Update, or of Shreveport Times editorials, or who listens to Griffon knows that opposition to the hotel as Hightower has played the issue often is anything but irrational. In fact, given all of this, if there’s any irrationality, it’s in Hightower’s insistence that the hotel and convention center together constitute a great economic development boon that cannot be missed unless there’s something mentally wrong with you. (The only thing that seems to explain his dogmatic approach to this issue is these projects allow him to build a monument to himself, positions him for a run at future higher office, and presents preferment opportunities for his political allies to line their pockets – note missing from the equation here is the good of Shreveport.)

But one of the curious things that a visitor down the rabbit hole to Keith’s world discovers is that Hightower avoids debating the merits of issues. So, in trying to build his case, it’s not worth addressing that the Louisiana Tech study shows the unprofitability of the hotel (underscored recently when Caddo Parish Tax Assessor Charlie Hennigton declared that the property may well not be exempt from $1.4 million in annual property taxes, meaning the deficit to the city could be as much as $1 million a year), it’s that the opponents are “mad.”

Or, he tries to substitute one issue for the other, asserting false linkages. An example here is in the claim that having a public vote would entail building a hotel with public approval for general obligation bonds that would reduce the city's borrowing capacity to $60 million, causing the need to raise taxes.

But there’s nothing that requires that this type of bonds, which ties into a jurisdiction’s overall taxing ability, to be used instead of revenue bonds, which tie directly into the revenue-raising capacity of the project, to be a necessary consequence of a public vote. In short, revenue bonds can be used with or without a public vote. But Hightower misled the press twice, when he casually inferred that a vote required use of GO’s and that taxes would have to be raised to pay off those GO’s (there’s no relationship between the two).

I’m surprised that Hightower is not a literature rather than business administration graduate, given his practice of doublethink and his existence in Wonderland. Yet perhaps an allusion to film best sums up his style of governance; given his penchant from trying to deflect people from the real issues and to create straw man arguments, it’s a wonder his nickname in school wasn’t “Roger” and that he did not excel in dodgeball.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hightower is under the misconception that there are only a few people in the city that are against his way of governance -- Lou Burnett, three councilman and a few others. The reality is that there are a great number of citizens that are tired of his bully-politics. He is your textbook bully with all the psychologolical attributes that go with a bully--egocentric, conquering hero, "I'm right they're wrong,"--etc. The media is very light on this neighborhood bully!