Originally published in The Inquisitor
The joint statement on the City Bond Proposals issued Monday by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and the Committee of 100 (C100) gave me hope that they are beginning to get honest with themselves and us citizens of Shreveport. The statement recognizes the overwhelming amount of deferred maintenance in Shreveport, while also recognizing that Shreveport is a “shrinking city”. Difficult to deny any longer after last February’s water crisis. The two groups call for only spending what we can afford. Gone is the Field of Dreams language, “if we build it (fill in blank with stadium, highway, tall building of your choice), they will come”. But we already know that don’t we?
Then the document calls for “a broader conversation”. Welcome Chamber and C100 to that conversation. It has been going on here for at least a decade. Let’s see if we can get you guys caught up as you join The Conversation already in progress. First off, our young adults that can afford to move away have done so already. Yours may have too. Why do you think that is? Ask them. It isn’t because we don’t have a new skyscraper downtown on Cross Bayou, or a new basketball stadium for billionaire basketball team owners to make money in. It ain’t because we don’t have enough miles of inner-city highways that we can’t afford to keep up here. It is because you guys didn’t humble yourselves and ask the citizens of Shreveport what they want here. Instead, you assumed, remember what happens with assumptions, that a bigger city is better. Maybe because building big makes big bucks for you guys?
You made it, you guys got recognized in chapter 8 of “Confessions of an Engineer” (Willey, September 2021, 272 pages) a book that Planetizen (Planetizen.com) just named the top Urban Planning Book of 2021. You’ve not only made a name for yourselves in the Urban Planning community, but you’ve made Ms. Rosie Chaffold even more famous along with her Allendale neighborhood. What if you join the conversation we’ve been having and instead of raising $100k for an advertising campaign, funded a study that we are hoping to pull together? A professional study done by firms with Engineers and Planners who can analyze a city’s land use and tax revenues and find where the efficiencies are and where they ain’t.
Now, here is why I am joining with the C100 and the Chamber and support their statement, their “moment of clarity” if you will. They are right for once. We have hit bottom and it is indeed time to stop digging, as humorist Will Rogers used to say. We are larger in land area than real big cities like Boston, or Cincinnati. Almost as big as Detroit, but we aren’t doing as well as Flint and Detroit and others because we have less than 1/3 of the citizens to pay for everything that we’ve promised ourselves. Solution? A moratorium on annexations would be a good start. PerkWrites@gmail.com