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Black Shreveport council Democrats play for keeps

In revisiting the battle over unionization of Shreveport city employees, the rookie city council member got caught up in the fallout.

Last year, the council approved of an ordinance to allow unionization of city employees by a 4-3 vote. Joining the three black Democrats on the council in favor of the ordinance was white Republican Mike Gibson, who, being the executive director of the local contractors’ association, had sympathy towards unions. However, Democrat Mayor Keith Hightower wisely vetoed the measure which, because it required five votes to do so successfully, was not overridden and the ordinance did not go into effect.

But Gibson departed for greener pastures and his replacement, picked by the Democrat majority on the council, Cynthia Robertson, found herself thrust into a rehash of the decision. Again, the black Democrats pushed the issue – indeed, they timed the vote so that all of the favorable votes would be present. However, none of the prior year’s opponents indicated they would change their minds, and Robertson herself signaled that she would vote against the measure.

This meant that it would not pass, much less survive a mayoral veto. Yet the black majority timed the vote so that Robertson was absent on a natural break and thus the vote was 3-3, not giving Robertson a chance vote against it. In be able to do so, she may have gained credit with her constituents when she faces election in the fall. Most of her Democrat colleagues (one, Monty Walford, consistently has voted against unionization) by this move seemed set on preventing her from getting political credit.

This tells us equally about the attitudes of the black members of the council concerning their views of Robertson and her chances of winning election. It confirms that these members wanted somebody they thought would be good as a placeholder, not somebody who could become a rival, and somebody they believe has so little chance of election that they won’t even help her out on a cause lost anyway. Or, they don’t want to see a white woman, even if she is a Democrat, as an ally.

If Calvin Lester, Theron Jackson, and James Green really were concerned about party building, they would have done what they could to get a Democrat, regardless of skin color, in a position to “steal” a district that normally could be expected to elect a Republican. Instead, they probably are pinning their hopes of capturing Walford’s swing district, by the fall having a slight black Democrat majority, and throwing him overboard, too, in order to get a black majority Democrat council. Welcome to the evolving Shreveport.


Anonymous said...

Wow, as if you are one to talk.
I can't wait to tell your other black former students to read this. It pretty much confirms what we all thought was probably your problem. It's not that you are racist, but powerful and/or opinionated blacks have an effect on you. Do what you will with that information, but I challange you to pay attention to your actions concerning us. When I say us, I mean blacks.

Jeff Sadow said...

The best I can do with this remark, since I don't know what you're referring to, is to say powerful and/or opinioniated people have the following effect on me: if they base their statements or public policy on a worldview that is based on fact and logic, I'll tell the world they're doing a good job, but if they don't I will expose their shortcomings and/or hidden agendas to the world -- which has prompted a number of local politicans to feel negatively, to put it charitably, about me.

Reviewing the actions of the three councilmen named, the rhetoric they use, even the measures they have supported or opposed and the way in which they have done these things, I think this is an exceptionally plausible explanation for their actions concerning that vote. (You are welcome to post your own, and then readers can choose which seems more compelling).

Unfortunately, race is a big deal to these guys in their poltiical careers, and there are many others who will support them because of that (which I can tell you about from personal experience). I wish it weren't the case, but it is.

You're invited to elaborate on your remark, not necessarily here if you choose because, again, I don't understand what you're talking about.