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Walker remarks reminds Bossier ship of fools sails on

Some governments get saved from mistakes by fate. Others do not because they meet the enemies of good decision-making, and they are themselves.

Hope still exists for the one that apparently dodged a bullet through not fault of its own, the Caddo Parish School Board. The bullet it dodged came in the form of Monroe Superintendant of Schools James Dupree who now is less than a month from being fired from this post. Over a year ago, he almost was hired by Caddo. Offered the job, negotiations foundered because the district would not meet his salary demands.

Having endured a stormy history in five years for Monroe, Dupree is on his way out as a result of allegations of improper procedural actions as well as missing subjective outcome targets for performance. Not that the district’s academic performance helped his cause – the Monroe City School District according to the latest evaluation scored below the state’s average accountability score for all districts, was regarded as not making acceptable progress in sub-groups scores, and whose 76.8 accountability score among systems ranked 44th of the 61 assessed districts. (By contrast, Caddo with a score of 81.9 raked 35th.)

Whether the district did any better by hiring current Superintendant Gerald Dawkins remains an open question. Hired just over a year ago, to tackle low-performing schools he introduced a plan long on cosmetic but short on substantive changes and demonstrated some resistance to the implementation of the progressive educational strategy of charter schools when the state removed two underperforming schools from the district’s jurisdiction. Still, on the surface to date Caddo seems better off because of Dupree’s inflated sense of self-value and its ability to detect this.

Unfortunately, such self-awareness seems genetically removed and replaced with terminal self-congratulation among reelected Bossier City officials who gathered, with the one open seat winner on the City Council, at the end of June to be sworn in to another term. At least that was the impression made by Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker in remarks about the city government’s doings over the past four years, whose presented a laundry list of excuse-making for expensive mistakes made in that time period.

For example, Walker crowed about how the city was about to embark upon several transportation projects – neglecting to mention that these and others already finished could have been completed years earlier if the city had not wasted around $112 million on an arena that loses money, a private parking garage that will take decades to pay off, and the Cyber Innovation Center which probably never will recoup its investment. None of these had to be built with the people’s money and if they were needed would have been built by the private sector. Infrastructure improvements should have been a far bigger priority.

As part of these new projects, the city is about to expropriate and tear down the Provenza Building on Traffic Street that has housed for many years psychics willing to do readings on the future. With that gone, one wonders where Walker will now get his information about the prospects for the CIC which he insists will make a “ton of money” despite the $35 million (to the city) gamble that it would attract Air Force cyber operations to Barksdale Air Force Base that went to San Antonio.

It is bad enough that Walker and the incumbents were so blinded by needs to feed their egos that they took what clear-headed individuals realized was an impermissibly-risky gamble with money that wasn’t theirs. But it is unconscionable that he does not correct the mistake but instead in a bull-headed, ignorant manner on this issue continues to blow sunshine up the public’s collective skirts that makes the sun’s output look like a moonless night in the darkest graveyard. We neither are amused nor are buying it.

Walker also complimented the City Council on how pleasant its members were to work with – meaning their state of pliancy made them equally as derelict as he on these issues. But there seems to be no great desire to end this nonsense by the voters as witnessed by the paucity of candidates to the entrenched mandarins in the spring elections and the biggest issue during the campaign of the only new member was his participation in Airline High’s 1967 state football championship.

No doubt these kinds of things are what prompted Walker to assert that the city is “getting a reputation as a progressive city around the state.” Before you laugh, he’s actually right. “Progressive” is a term often appropriated by liberals to describe their big-spending ideology that stridently objects to smaller government, that does not believe that government should do only the necessary tasks rather than build monuments to themselves. Mayor Walker and returning members of the Bossier City Council, you have found yourselves.


Anonymous said...

The CenturyTel Center cost 56 million and the financials show a profit every year. Where do you get your data?

I would think a person of your self proclaimed inteligence would be concerned about your accuracy.

Jeff Sadow said...

The $56 million is about on target. Now throw in the $21 million for the garage and $35 million for the CIC and you'll see that's only half the waste. (Incidentally, the cost of the arena as sold to the public was $35 million -- but you knew that already, being either an elected Bossier politician or working for the city.)

The city's own records show that on a direct cost operating basis, typically the center breaks about even -- some years it ekes out a small gain, some years it does the opposite (except for a few of larger losses). But this ignores not only indirect costs -- such as increased traffic, police presence, etc. -- but also opportunity costs. Had the $56 million been invested even at today's low interest rates, it would be churning out well over $1 million a year -- money the city could have used instead of increasing user fees on its water and sewerage ratepayers. Try as you like, there is no way you can argue the Center makes back its direct costs, indirect costs, and opportunity costs -- to the detirment of its citizenry.

Please search through the site to find more financial analyses and how much Bossier City elected officials' stupidity have cost its citizenry. It will correct the errors in your comments and perhaps persuade you to disembark the ship of fools.