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Hightower's "Shreveport Shuffle" wearing very thin

Mayor Keith Hightower ought to get a copyright on his “Shreveport Shuffle,” his attempted rhetorical deflections from the shortcomings of his governance. Even so, he wouldn’t make a whole lot of money off of it since his excuses are so lame.

The latest example comes from his response to City Councilman Mike Gibson’s queries about substandard, perhaps even dangerously, low water pressure in southeast Shreveport (which, one might suspect, pays more taxes to the city than any other area of town). Gibson claimed more money was going into building downtown structures than water and sewerage infrastructure, while Hightower responded that more had been spent during his term on the infrastructure.

Hightower’s response misleads in at least three ways. First, unless estimates have changed radically, the eventual cost, over about a two-year period, of the convention center and its related hotel (assuming these are what Gibson refers to) will be well in excess of the $122 million figure cited by Hightower (at least $140 million of local money).

Second, the figure Hightower cites is over his entire administration. More appropriately would be the figure spent over the period during which the two downtown structures are going to be built. That’s not going to be close to the $122 million figure.

Third, $122 million is barely a quarter of the projected infrastructure needs for the city. Put another way, if funds used to build the structures instead had been diverted to infrastructure, about a third of the backlog would already have been addressed. Instead, the backlog remains with the city retaining only enough bonding capacity to address a fraction of the need, thanks to the downtown spending.

Here’s the straight story: Hightower, rather than addressing genuine city needs, chose to spend taxpayers’ money on trinkets that likely will cost taxpayers more than they contribute for many years to come, even as the city crumbles around him. Water pressure problems, which could have been avoided easily with proper planning and allocation of resources, are just one of the first, and probably far too many in the future, symptoms of this neglect.

Hightower can dance around this all he wants in his official communications, but it doesn’t change the fact that his capital spending agenda diverges from the genuine needs of the citizens of Shreveport.

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