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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Joe Shyne, unplugged pt. 2

More material from more than two hours of interviews with District F councilman-elect Joe Shyne, perhaps the most quotable - and colorful - local political figure:

"My daddy didn't believe that preachers ought to hold political office. And that's where I get my beliefs from. God called you to preach. You've got a full-time job. Be active in your community. But you don't need to hold a political office" - Shyne on some of the beliefs instilled in him by his late father, a Methodist preacher and educator.

“I think Jesus taught love for everybody. And I think this (Bush) administration has brought in a lot of hate toward gays and lesbians and people who might not have the same beliefs or ideas that they have. They have not brought in ... tolerance. My daddy felt that God created everybody. And all of us are human. All of us have shortcomings. We all fall short. My daddy loved everybody” – Shyne on the Bush Administration.

“They never dreamed that I was going to be able to get a pardon from a Republican governor. But God blessed me to get this pardon from a Republican governor. Then they said I needed one from the president.
"What I look like trying to get a pardon from the president of the United States over $1,500? Out of all the major things that the president of the United States has to deal with … the only way you get a presidential pardon is to major contributor to the Republican Party. It was stupid” – Shyne on getting a pardon from former Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster in Aug. 2003.

“God is going to make sure that he takes care of you. Now, you may have to go through some rough spots. But God is going to take care of you. That’s why you see me driving along here now as the city councilman. All of this was because of the grace and mercy of God. Wasn’t because I so smart.
"But now you’ve got to understand: if people are coming at you to get you, they can get you because you’re going to slip. Look at Bill Clinton. Now you know that girl (Monica Lewinsky) didn’t just accidentally save that dress with that stain on there. Time you get home, you try to wash that off” - Shyne on being the target of a federal case for bribery. He plead guilty to the bribery charge in 1994.

Joe Shyne, unplugged

As a note to the lengthy feature story about Joe Shyne that appeared in Monday's paper (,

I have to note that he might have been about the most accessible subject I've ever interviewed since I've become a reporter. That probably has a lot to do with the length of the story - that's my feeble attempt at an apology to my editors and the readers.

But, believe it or not, I actually left some stuff out of the story. I've broken down Shyne's wit and wisdom into two separate blog entries. Here's a few pearls from District F's council-elect:

"We were being neglected out here. And you got to understand: people take care of people who look like themselves. That's just human nature." - Shyne on why he initially ran for a city council seat in 1982.

"Herman wasn't getting nothing done. Herman was a good ol' preacher. But folks realized that Herman couldn't get the job done" - Shyne on his first opponent in a council race, then-incumbent Rev. Herman Farr in 1982.

"That's because I've always been aggressive. They want to say militant. I say aggressive" - Shyne on the reason he wasn't endorsed by The Times in a previous council race.

“I didn’t mind them endorsing James. It wasn’t going to be nothing but the kiss of death for him. If he’d been smart, he’d have told them, “Nah, don’t endorse me” – Shyne on The Times endorsing Green for the District F seat in the Sept. 30 election.

"There was a higher turnout for me than it was the mayoral candidates. There wasn't a mayoral candidate who got the turnout I got. These people know what Joe Shyne is all about" - Shyne making a questionable comparison of his election-night numbers to some of those in the mayoral race.

“He and I worked very closely together. I miss him. He understood the political process. A lot of folks don’t understand the political process. Huck understood it. I understood it. So we could work very well together. He was not selfish and I was not selfish. A lot of people let their egos get involved in the political process and you can’t do that” – Shyne on the late Hilry Huckaby, a former city councilman and close friend.

"The Fair Share program that we have, I led the fight on that. That was to bring more blacks. I’m not going to use the term minorities. I want to say more blacks because we get lost when we start using the term minorities. We put white women in there. We put Asians in there. We put Mexicans in there. All that kind of stuff. The Fair Share program was actually designed to bring more black businesses into bidding on contracts at city hall” – Shyne on the controversial Fair Share program, a city initiative created to increase minority participation in city contracts.

"I'd be crazy to care of folks in Broadmoor when they don't vote for me. These are the people who vote for me, so I take care of them" - Shyne on his reputation for constituent service.

“I play the role, not just of city councilman, but I guess kind of like a missionary. I do everything. I’m there as a public servant. I do it, 24-7.”

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chester, Chester, Chester...

I am almost terrified of Chester T. Kelley.

Well, not terrified--at least not totally. But I am a little concerned about his brazen stance against illegal immigrants.

The reason for my latest bout of fear? Has anyone seen his commercial where he likens illegal immigrants to "weapons of mass destruction" and simultaneously slings mud at incumbent congressman Jim McCrery?

WMDs? That's a stretch, isn't it? Yikes!

Almost every working stiff (myself included) wants to see people who come into our country work and pay taxes, etc. like we do. But I don't think illegal immigrants are here to kill us all, like "weapons of mass destruction" would.

But, maybe he really feels threatened. On the same topic he told Times reporters and editors, “I honestly believe with all my heart, that the American way of life, the culture as we know it is in serious jeopardy of being totally and completely obliterated. … There’s no doubt that moving away from the Anglo-European background that we move in a totally different direction from the way we think and the way we intend to educate and raise our families.”

Obliterated? Yikes, again.

I wonder if he knows we all come from immigrants of some kind. That's how our country was built, right?

Mmm, mmm good shoe leather

First, the gay community rolled its eyes when Shreveport mayoral candidate Jerry Jones lamented that homosexuals have the monopoly on artistic talent. Then the Longview and Minden mayors took offense at Jones’ comments to send Shreveport’s criminals to those cities.

Is anyone going to claim affront to Jones’ latest slip of the tongue during KSLA’s televised debate Saturday night?

In stating his opinion of the city’s Fair Share program for small, disadvantaged businesses, Jones said, “As presently constituted Fair Share is simply not making anyone happy. The minority contracting community does not like it. The regular contracting industry doesn’t like it.”

I’m glad I don’t have to define what “regular” means.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A sad state of affairs

We’ve been asking for questions from readers to use in the Nov. 2 debate between Shreveport mayoral runoff candidates Cedric Glover and Jerry Jones. I received this one this morning:

“My name is Hannah Hickman and I am in the 7th grade at First Baptist Church School. With all the recent school shootings around the country, there are times I get nervous going to school. What are some things you plan to do if you are elected mayor to help the children of Shreveport feel safe when they go to school?”

Where are the days when our biggest problem was finding a misplaced library book?

Translation, please

Would someone please tell me what Artis Cash’s stance on immigration is? Here’s how the candidate for our district’s U.S. House of Representatives seat answered when asked by a colleague:

“What’s on the table now is really what you’re going to have to look at, and the Senate has a version and the Congress has a version. The Congress version is more punitive than the Senate version. The Senate version I think is the one that set, alright now, we’ve done stuck our foot in our mouth. It’s time for us to figure out how we’re going to pull it out without dying.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"I" is OK, unless you're "R" or "D"

A couple weeks ago Shreveporter Lennis Elston wrote an opinion piece in The Times saying it’s OK for a candidate to use the word “I.”

“Now they say, ‘If we are elected, we will do thus and so.’ Who is ‘we’ anyway?’” she wrote.
As I sit here transcribing interviews with several of the candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot, her words come back to me: “I” is OK!

We are in the race for change …”

We are looking to …”

We believe if we are elected …”

The only thing I can figure is heaven forbid voters confuse these staunch Republicans and Democrats for Independents.

So much for the melting pot

Several of the people who attended the Tuesday night forum with the candidates challenging U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery walked away impressed by Chester Kelley’s well-researched and well-stated responses.

He’s certainly not one to mince words or worry about political correctness.

On his pet topic of illegal immigration, Kelley earlier told a group of Times reporters and editors, “I honestly believe with all my heart, that the American way of life, the culture as we know it is in serious jeopardy of being totally and completely obliterated. … There’s no doubt that moving away from the Anglo-European background that we move in a totally different direction from the way we think and the way we intend to educate and raise our families.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An economic model to share?

“I don’t think there are a lot of industries that pay minimum wage. I dare say if you go to McDonald’s here, there are very few employees at McDonald’s making minimum wage,” U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery recently told The Times editorial board. “A few may start at minimum wage but if they stay and work, they very quickly get bumped up to above minimum wage. … The vast majority who do work for minimum wage are not the bread winner for the family. That’s just not reality.”

Just wondering: Is McCrery, who makes a $165,000 annual congressional salary, on track with his comments or out of touch with Louisiana’s reality?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We knew her when …

Talk about a zealous volunteer.

Anna Cole, who police say was a supporter of Shreveport City Council District E candidate John Albritton, allegedly yelled at supporters of opponent Ron Webb and tried to hit them with her car. She brushed a 17-year-old girl but didn’t seriously hurt her.

I had talked to Cole on several occasions prior to her alleged election day fiasco. In early September she was already voicing her, um, distaste for Webb.

She told me she was upset about a campaign flyer she had received from Webb listing endorsements from high-profile public officials and business owners. She said she called several of them to verify the endorsements and was told Webb used their names without permission.

“The thing about it, most people don’t even get involved. They’ll look at it and say, ‘Oh, my goodness. Look at all these important people backing this man,’” Cole told me then. “It’s just dishonest.”

Referring to herself as Rosa Parks (actually, “that woman on the bus”), Cole said, “I’m not going to be afraid. I am a citizen and this is wrong. … I’m going to stand up for what I think is right.”
When I called the same people Cole called to verify the endorsements – and several others on the list – I heard a different story.

One business owner said Cole called him three times, “ranting” 30 minutes on each occasion. He sent me an email when she was booked for aggravated battery and charged with making harassing phone calls to Webb before the election. I wonder who Cole is going to support Nov. 7?

I thought they were going to play nice ...

Remember the election night promises of Jerry Jones and Cedric Glover to keep the runoff campaign clean? Does this qualify?

“If you look at Cedric’s record, which I think is the best indicator of future performance is past performance, … his default position on revenue issues is to raise taxes. Our research has shown that we have not found a single tax that has come before Cedric that he has voted against. Similarly, when it comes to solving problems, I think Cedric’s natural inclination is to solve it by putting on another level of bureaucracy.”

Jones’ comments were made during an interview with me last week for a story citing the differences between him and Glover.

Jones went on to list a variety of organizations that had put Glover in its wall of shame or had given him failing grades as a legislator. But in typical diplomatic fashion, Jones added, “I think the difference between us is what is my knee-jerk position going to be to a problem vs. what is his knee-jerk position going to be to a problem? … That doesn’t make him a bad person, it doesn’t make him a bad mayor necessarily. But I think what the citizens are going to have to decide is, which philosophy do they think is best for the city?”

For his part, Glover was quick to point out his experience as a legislator and his ability to unite people.

“I see my candidacy, my life, my experiences as being about Shreveport’s future and not it’s past. I think I’m the candidate in this race that’s focused on about where it is we’re going as a city as opposed to going back to places where we’ve already been,” he said.

What does he mean?

“I’d like to think that as an individual, as an elected official, I’ve been about trying to get us focused on a positive future and not taking us back to a point where we don’t have a respect for all people, all of our economic entities, all of our jobs, all of our various types of people, of various types of views and perspectives, one that is inclusive, one that is diverse, one that respects diversity and includes it as opposed to one that simply gives lip service to it,” he said.

Was that a veiled jab at Jones?

“It’s a more generalized statement,” Glover said.

Ouch, nonetheless.

Do the math

Artis Cash, who’s looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery in the Nov. 7 election, received the endorsement of the Louisiana Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. He received 89 votes compared to 18 votes for the other Democratic contender, Patti Cox.

The committee is comprised of a male and female representative from each of the 105 state House districts.

105 districts x 2 representatives = 210 possible votes.

89 votes for Cash + 18 votes for Cox = 107 votes cast.

210 possible votes – 107 votes cast = 103 no votes.

To be fair, the DSCC has about 20 vacancies, meaning in reality about 56 percent of its group cast ballots to endorse Cash.

Wow, somebody hire these folks to boost voter turnout.

Place your bets now

Early voting for races on the Nov. 7 ballot begins Thursday and ends 4:30 p.m. Oct. 31. Want to take a guess at how many people turn out? Bet there are more jelly beans in the jar on my editor’s desk …