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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shyne, Webb skirmish over Fair Share

As far as drama goes, the Shreveport City Council hasn't had much of it through its first few months since the November elections.

There's been a few flare-ups, to be sure. But nothing like the clash - one-sided as it may have been - at Tuesday's council meeting. Here's a link to the online version of the story in Wednesday's newspaper:

City Councilman Joe Shyne, a Democrat, was plenty upset with Republican colleague Ron Webb for questioning the goals of the city's Fair Share program. Webb said requiring at least 25 percent minority subcontracting work on city projects may be too ambitious a goal for now.

"I think it's unrealistic," Webb said.

Well, that set off Shyne, who helped create Fair Share in 1999 and rarely misses out on a good fight. Shyne, a bit of a boxer in his younger days, wasted little time before taking a swing at Webb.

"I don't know whether it's because of racism or lack of intelligence ... I'm just almost sick that in (2007) that we would have an elected official that would not be in favor of the kind of program that we worked for years to create," Shyne said. "It seems like to me, if it was left up to him, he'd take (the program) and ball it up and throw it in the trash can."

Webb sat silently beside Shyne, seething. You might even say his face turned beet-red. Shyne went on before being warned to direct his comments to a representative for hotel contractor Walton Construction.

Don't think this will be the last time Shyne and Webb cross swords. At all.

Reached on his cell phone Wednesday morning, Webb said, "I didn’t stoop to his level. I could have. But he’s entitled to his opinion and I’m entitled to my opinion. I guess he doesn't believe that, though."

Webb also reiterated his concerns about the program: "I’ve had numerous phone calls in support of what I said yesterday. That only makes me believe that we’re a long way from what it’s intent is."

Asked if he spoke with Shyne after the meeting, Webb said: "I went on about my way. There will be another day. I know this issue is not over by any means."

I couldn't reach Shyne today. All calls to his cell phone went to voice mail. But I have little doubt that he feels the same way.

Stay tuned for the next round of this one.


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