PROPOSED ARENA WOULD BE FRUIT OF A POISONOUS TREE
Sunday, June 11, 2017 … 10:50 A.M.
The push by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler to build a $25,000,000 sports arena sets the Shreveport bar of public transparency and accountability at a new low.
… This suspicious op came out of nowhere, a dramatic surprise to even City Council members.
… Tyler is prepared to finance the arena by cutting the City Council out, if necessary.
… The plan ignores our consensus priority, the spiral-down in delivery of basic city services.
… At the core of this op is the Sports Commission, forever suspect by facts of its creation.
In short, everything about this “plan” screams that something is wrong, and that we had better find out what it is, no matter anything else out of City Hall.
The arena is attached to Tyler’s newfound craving for a minor league basketball team. If the Council balks, Tyler has a ready alternate, as reported May 19, 2017, by Arena Digest …
… “According to some members of the Caddo-Bossier Port Commission, one proposed funding idea was for the city and the Port to form a partnership to secure bonds to build an arena.” (SEE link below.)
Let us note the obvious: the Port knows no more about sports marketing or sports arenas or sports anything else than any sports fan, and Port board members are appointed, not elected.
Bond issuance by Port board members would be taxation without representation, just as State Rep. Cedric Glover intended with his now-toast House Bill 667.
Our little-known Sports Commission, set-up inside the Convention & Tourist Bureau, is at the core of this … and screams for scrutiny.
Until a rampage by then-mayor Cedric Glover in 2010 and 2011, the long-successful Shreveport Regional Sports Authority (SRSA) took point in attracting and marketing sports events.
No mayor, however, could control the SRSA – it was deliberately set up that way – and none cared to until Glover stomped it out.
Owing to my 2007-2008 consulting work with the Louisiana Ethics Administration, long-time SRSA Director Mary Ann Tice asked for my help as Glover’s targeted the SRSA.
I had never met Ms. Tice, but the work, which continued for the better part of a year, proved how precisely correct were her fears.
No matter what laws were broken or other damage was done, Glover was going to have a new “sports marketing” entity here which he controlled … stuffed with taxpayer money. A group of Glover’s “friends” would attach to the new entity to profit in untold ways.
There would be zero public transparency or accountability.
The SRSA became a target immediately after Ms. Tice succeeded wildly in bringing the 2009 Bassmaster Classic here (SEE link below). That dramatically proved to Glover that attracting and marketing such events could be lucrative … but only if SRSA was dead and gone.
Glover killed the SRSA because it was set up in the mid-1990s to repel meddling by mayors. By law it was a private, non-profit corporation serving local government bodies by contract:
“An economic development corporation organized under the provisions of this Chapter is a private, nonprofit corporation and is prohibited from functioning as an agency of the state or of any political subdivision of the state, and its directors, officers, or employees are prohibited from functioning as and are not to be considered to be public employees for any purpose whatsoever …”
So, Glover strong-armed as necessary all local governing bodies to kill their contracts with SRSA … to defund it. Without those contracts and money from the City of Shreveport, Caddo Parish Commission, Bossier Police Jury and Bossier City Hall, the SRSA and Tice were done.
Involved then and now are current tourist bureau staffers Kelly Wells and Stacy Brown, and former Caddo Commissioner John Escude. Notable too is Ken Antee, a former city official in the administration of Mayor Keith Hightower.
The tourist bureau’s most “recent,” 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (SEE link below) shows that the Sports Commission’s budget that year was $1,248,065.
The report shows nothing about who got it, much less for what.
Until we know those things, and all is publicly scrutinized, this op is suspect … and, as attorneys put it, fruit of a poisonous tree.
… to be continued …
© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
2009 Bassmasters Classic: https://www.bassmaster.com/node/40297
2015 tourist bureau financial report: https://app.lla.state.la.us/…/3120F986CB…/$FILE/0000FFDB.pdf