Caddo Election: We Fed Goliath … He’s Eating Us Alive

April 9, 2016

As the discussion about the Caddo Parish election today ensues, there will be all manner of celebrations, claims, charges, scapegoating, and the rest of the full range of chat and chatter.  Given my upcoming enforced “vacation,” I will get mine out of the way tonight.

For any who do not know, I began running the numbers in political goings-on when I was in college.  Over the years, I have been involved in hundreds of elections, many of them in the category we always called “referenda,” in other words, elections like today’s:  Caddo Parish school board tax issues, the Port of Caddo-Bossier tax issue, and a vote in Fire District #4 which was held in only 13 of our 151 precincts.

It is these elections, I long ago learned, which teach political fundamentals better than anything.  Lesson #1:  you have to vote.

As many of you have heard or read me saying or writing, the only surprise in Caddo Parish tax renewal elections is when one fails.  That happened to the Caddo Parish Commission in 2013 and 2014, back-to-back votes to renew a tiny millage for road maintenance.  Each of those failed … a big, big deal.

The CPSB’s win today – 13,057 average “Yes” votes in the three propositions and 7,505 average “No” – is something entirely different.  The base vote of support for the CPSB is mammoth as such things go.  Nothing else is like it here.

Our school system employs some 6,800 people.  To put this in perspective, that is 15.5-times as many as the Caddo Commission’s 441 employees, and 2.5-times as many as those working for Shreveport city government.  It is 4-times as many as our Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, 1,000 more than Willis-Knighton, and 500 more than LSU Health Sciences Center.

Next, returning to the real key … voter turnout.  The average vote of the three CPSB propositions tells us 20,562 voters went to the polls.  That is a horrid 12.5% turnout among our 164,348 registered voters.

Now … let’s go back to those 6,800 CPSB employees.

…  To the 6,800 employees, I will add 3,200 more who are vendors receiving significant “business” (?) from the CPSB, or are adult-age beneficiaries of Title 1 or other such programs, or are paid for summer camps for our kids, etc., etc.  (The 3,200 number is way to low, but it will simplify this example.)

…  That’s 10,000 employees or paid vendors or other direct monetary beneficiaries who count on the CPSB for food on their tables.

…  Of these 10,000, let’s say 6,500 voted and voted “Yes,” which may be low, but is certainly not high.

…  Then, let’s assume those 6,500 averaged 1 additional “Yes” vote from family members or close friends or employees.

That’s 13,000 “Yes” votes for CPSB today.  The average “Yes” for the CPSB today on its three propositions was 13,057.

All of that is to say this:  we turn next to those who are opposed to the CPSB, or taxes, or particularly nasty scandals among public employees, or public employees stealing our money and getting away with it, i.e., corruption.

I don’t know how many there are of us, but I’m guessing it’s a lot.  I would guess it’s a majority.  But 50% + 1 of us would total 82,175 of us best-government folks.

So, what does it mean that 7,505 of us voted today.

My point is this:  the CPSB became what it is today because we have shelled out so much money to it over the decades that it has hired so many people, and practiced its political patronage so well at our expense that it can now eat us alive.

And is doing so.

If the good people of Caddo Parish ever want to save ourselves and our place, we have to vote.  The CPSB and the Caddo Commission and Shreveport City Hall and all the rest have come to own this place … and us.  None more so than our Caddo school system.

Once again, today, the good and honest and decent people stayed home … in proverbial droves.  To the 7,505 who took all of this hellacious collapse now underway serious enough to vote … please accept my very real “Thank You!”

I will let all readers of this piece decide what all of this predicts for Caddo Parish.  I already know.

Elliott Stonecipher

(Elliott Stonecipher does this work pro bono … no compensation of any kind is solicited or accepted.  He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article.  Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, of course – is expected.  The use of his work without such credit to him is unethical and will not be quietly accepted.)

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