- Weather - Calendar - Jobs - Cars - Real Estate - Apartments - Shopping - Classifieds - Dating

Friday, February 23, 2007

It only took 16 years ....

It’s been 16 years since the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women have held their biennial convention in Northwest Louisiana.

But next week, Shreveport-Bossier City gets its turn.

At the last convention in Lafayette, the local Republican Women’s clubs made a successful pitch to bring its 2,000 members to Bossier City’s Diamond Jack’s Resort Hotel March 2 through March 4.

About 200 are expected to attend, although local organizers wish the number was higher.

“It’s difficult to get people to come to northwest Louisiana,” said Lucille Williams, convention co-chair shown in the photo here with chairwoman Kathy Ross (sitting) and co-chair Anne Price on the right.

“Some of the ladies down south said it’s so far to Shreveport. I told one of them, ‘You know what? We drive down there all the time.’ One lady said, ‘Lucille, it’s downhill.’ I said you have to drive uphill to get back.”

Williams said she expects each of the state’s 37 active clubs to send about five people.

The organizers have lined up a variety of events that will feature local Republicans.

Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker will welcome the attendees. State Rep. Jane Smith and Sen. Sherri Cheek will host a reception of the LFRW’s Magnolia Club at the Louisiana Boardwalk Saturday, while Judge Mike Pitman will lead a devotional Sunday with Shreveport District D city councilman Bryan Wooley singing the anthem.

“He’s got a beautiful voice,” Williams notes.

Other events:

Author Michael Zak will speak noon Saturday, March 2, in Diamond Jack’s Ruby Room. Zak is a native of Chicago and Washington, D.C., resident. Before writing his book “Back to Basics for the Republican Party,” he was a foreign service officer serving in Mexico and Venezuela and was an international banking analyst based in Chicago and New York. Price of the lunch is $35.

The keynote speaker at Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. dinner in the Ruby Room is former Louisiana governor and current CEO of 1st Business Bank Buddy Roemer. Roemer was governor from 1988 to 1992. Cost of dinner is $50.

For reservations, call Virginia Smith at (318) 742-6182 by Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Glover to "China"?

With the 35th anniversary of cold warrior Richard Nixon’s history-making trip to mainland China, “Nixon to China” references will become even more prevalent as the media and pundits apply to current politics other examples of bold strokes from unexpected places.

Look, here’s one now.

Consider the Nixon parallel for Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. The new mayor continues to get points from black audiences for his professed aggressive stance on recurring issues – crime, property standards, jobs -- in predominantly black neighborhoods. He is helped by the fact that he is both a man of color and a long-time public official who has advanced the causes of black Shreveporters.

Case in point was Tuesday’s District F City Council forum where loitering, disrespectful or drug-dealing young people make many residents, particularly the elderly, feel threatened and with many more fretting about wasted youth and lives.

Alluding to the tough conduct and dress codes for the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City, Glover said he has on occasion asked young people how they can act considerately and respectfully “across the river’’ and “not in your own home…I don’t understand that and we’re going to fix it.’’

Fast traffic on Mooretown streets and vacant houses that become havens for drug dealers also came up. Making a reference to his young days playing football, Glover said the police “are not going to play dirty on my watch’’ but they were going to “play aggressively.’’

He added, “We’ve got to stop being afraid of going out and engage the problem.’’One obvious question is whether Glover would try and double the “street’’ credibility of his administration’s law enforcement stance by appointing a black police chief. It’s one of the key appointments still undecided.

-- By Craig Durrett, editorial page editor

The Parade of Horribles

If you've ever gone to a municipality meeting - city council, police jury or commission - you've experienced the "parade of horribles." (A nickname shared to me by a parish official and very appropriate.)

These are all the things that will possibly happen if the particular agenda item gets passed. For example the development of a corner convenience store might raise crime in a nearby subdivision, or the development of an apartment complex might lower nearby property value.

Tuesday at the Bossier City Council meeting, the "parade of horribles" was particularly reaching, not by a resident, but by a councilman.

A new ordinance was introduced that would give law enforcement the right to search and seize weapons found on any person and/or their vehicle if they showed some suspicious activity or gave cause to do so.

For example, said City Attorney Jimmy Hall, an intoxicated person or someone on drugs might be stumbling around and give cause to be searched.

Councilman Jeff Darby came up with a "what if."

"What concerns me is if someone like a 80-year-old woman is shaking because she's walking down some steps and then is subject to be searched," said Darby with all seriousness.

Hall returned in reply, "We have to some faith that officers would use their discretion, but if its any consolation, we've never had a 80-year-old woman arrested on the grounds. Although, we did have an old man with a cane one time that could have created a real problem."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I-49 needs “grand slam” commitment

Mayor upon mayor. Leader upon leader. Official upon official. Senators and congressmen sing the same tune: I-49 North is the artery that will feed the heart of Louisiana and pave the promise of economic development in all its forms.

All believe. Many have worked and pushed, but the whole deal isn’t final.

Louisiana is rebuilding piece by piece today after the hurricanes – and we see some slow revitalization. Committing wholly to finishing I-49 North will convert our dial-up connection to the nation’s economy into a broadband conduit. (Metaphors and analogies? I got a million of ‘em.)

As Shreveport Mayor Glover lamented at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Group today, our state has its single best opportunity to seal a “complete and absolute” deal to fund all 35 miles left uncompleted with our state’s approaching-two-billion-dollars budget surplus. His voice got louder as he intimated that Governor Blanco will be failing the whole state if she doesn’t act fast on our number one priority for economic development.

Glover said he pressed the opportunity of the budget surplus for I-49 with the governor. Until a deal is sealed, he’ll go around telling folks about the languishing opportunity: meeting after meeting, resident to resident and newspaper to all media.

The half-baked commitment we have needs to become “complete and absolute.” A “grand slam” is needed in our 9th-inning status after the hurricanes -- rather than the “bunts” Blanco is hitting, Glover contends. Committing now for the whole enchilada (from here to Arkansas) is the “single greatest thing we can do,” Glover said.

Seize the day governor and set a “legacy that will be everlasting.”

Hesitation and delays only mean more costs and undelivered promise that will be your legacy.

Finish the song.

---- posted by Alan English, executive editor

Note: “Government should pave the way and get out of the way,” said Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne speaking at Shreveport Rotary today. His choice of “pave” in reference to government’s role in hurricane recovery hit a chord.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

DC Mardi Gras main event hot ticket

The annual Washington Mardi Gras Ball of The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians was held on Saturday, February 10, 2007. Hurricane Katrina remembrances kicked off the "There's No Place Like Home" theme which brought in groups to fill the Hilton Washington main ballroom. U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) served as ball chairman offering opening remarks. Floats circled the floor after royalty laced with political figures were presented.
-- Alan English, executive editor
See photos of Louisianians, politicos and revelers taking part in the exclusive DC event (gallery list available on

Photos of Shreveport Mardi Gras events are posted too.

Some faces you'll see:

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Washington Mardi Gras moments

Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA) whistles for the Shreveport-Bossier Host group to move to the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians 2007 Friday Festival on Feb. 9th.

Members of the Shreveport-Bossier Host Group gather around Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and his wife Veronica at the Hilton Washington event.

Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker dances the night away with his wife Adele.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and former Louisiana Senator John Breaux greet each other at the festival.

A photo gallery from the Friday night event is posted in the list.

-- Alan English, executive editor

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

“Most of my issues happen when left to my own devices”

As part of our election coverage, The Times meets individually with the candidates and asks them to share their vision for the office they’re seeking and to address issues that have come up throughout the campaign.

So it was only natural that when Shreveport City Councilman Calvin Lester met with the editorial board to explain why he was best qualified for the District 4 state representative seat that editorial page editor Craig Durrett would ask him about his various ethics fines over the years and last month’s recommendation by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board that Lester be suspended.

Given Lester’s history, how could voters be confident that he would practice good, ethical government?

Here’s an excerpt of Lester’s answer:

"First of all, no one can say that Calvin Lester has ever used his office to do anything other than represent his people. I’ve done that. No one can say that Calvin Lester has ever done anything unethical, illegal as a city councilman. That has not happened.

My issues with the Board of Ethics have been because I did not have an accountant to help me prepare my reports. In fact, I got that hefty fine because I paid my campaign workers in cash, which I found out was a violation. But every time that we went out we had the records, the Social Security numbers, and even the Board of Ethics folks will tell you the only way that they knew it is because I told the truth about it. If I had been dishonest about my report, they would not have caught it but I said that’s what I did. I did not know it was wrong, and I was honest and I admitted to it.

As it relates to the issue of my law license, those issues happened before I was an elected official. I was sworn in, I passed the bar. I finished law school in 1996, and I passed the bar in 1997 and I started practicing about that time. The two cases that have been reviewed, one was from 1998; I had been practicing a little bit more than a year. The other case happened in 2002, earlier in the year, before I even decided to run for office.

Let me say this, none of those issues had anything to do with the quality of my representation of my folks. … In terms of (my) personal life and (my) practicing life, the reality of it is that as a practitioner of law, there have been some things that I have done in terms of being careless and reckless and being young in the profession and not knowing that now that I have grown and now that I have matured both as a person and a lawyer, I realize the things that I was doing I should not have and I realize that there were some things that if I would have had some guidance in terms of practicing with a more senior attorney I would have known that you should do it this way vs. that way.

And certainly if I would have had additional resources in terms of professional help like a CPA, an accountant, things of that nature, a lot of those problems I had in terms of accounting with things, I would not have had because most of my issues happen when left to my own devices to account for different things and I just lost track of it in the process of a campaign.

I’ve not shirked away from those responsibilities and I have said that if there are penalties that are to be meted out to me for the violations, if there are some, I will submit to that. That’s going to be something that I will have to deal with personally and certainly my family is going to have to deal with.

But in terms of is that stopping me from being or would that prevent me from being an effective state representative, I think the answer to that is no. … I would just ask people to judge me on my record of my works and that’s all I can ask.The people who are going to believe are going to believe me. The ones that aren’t, aren’t.

But I would just ask people to look at me and look at my record of public service and I think they will find a person that has put it on the line for his constituents every day that has not enriched himself that probably in many instances has done a better job taking care of his constituents’ business than his own personal business and a lot of that is because I believe in doing this job.”

Monday, February 05, 2007

Putting into words what he feels

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is voicing support for U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, who announced his bid for Louisiana governor. The state Republican party has sent out Vitter's letter with a note: “It is critical that we look to his words as we move forward this election year (to) elect the best Republicans to help reform our state.”

Here’s Vitter’s letter:

Dear Friend,

Wendy and I hope this email finds you and your family well.

Now that Bobby Jindal has made it clear that he will run for Governor later this year, Wendy and I wanted to let you know how supportive we are of him in this vital endeavor.

All of us face extraordinary challenges in Louisiana. This is particularly true because of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. At the same time, we face extraordinary opportunities – to bring needed reform and positive change to our state. Legislative term limits, which take effect this year, make that more possible than ever before. Both these challenges and these opportunities demand that we have strong, visionary leadership in the Governor’s Office.

We have anything but that now. While we need determined action to cut through bureaucracy and spur recovery, we get the Road Home program. While we need a new health care model that gives all of our citizens real choice and quality, we get plans to largely rebuild our flawed system of the past. While we need allies from both political parties in Washington, we get political attacks and whining that turns off many of these potential allies. In short, while we need leadership and solutions, we get finger-pointing and excuses.

Bobby’s election would wipe that slate clean. He would provide the positive leadership – for reform and change – that we need.

And Bobby is uniquely positioned to win this election. He’s shown extraordinary strength in all recent polls of the governor’s race with no close second among anyone who has expressed any possible interest in running (including the sitting governor).

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Bobby doesn’t need our immediate help. By uniting early and supporting Bobby, we can provide his campaign with the momentum he needs to win.
There are two important ways you can help.

First, you can donate to Bobby’s campaign online by clicking here. Your personal contribution of $1000, $500, $250, $100, or even $50 will be much appreciated. Campaigns are expensive and every dollar helps. Secondly, you can sign up as a volunteer by clicking here. Your support will ensure that Bobby has the most organized and effective effort possible when the full campaign begins later this year.

Almost every election, someone argues that it’s the most important election of our lifetime. But isn’t that true this time, in terms of our future in Louisiana? We’re at a crossroads following the hurricanes. Do we stay on the path we’ve been on, or do we demand better? And if we don’t demand bold, positive change now, when will we ever? Please join Wendy and me in committing all of our help and support to Bobby now.

In need of change?

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover’s transition team leaders will tell you the use of volunteers to raise money for an inaugural gala is unusual practice for Louisiana.

State law appears to back that up.

Normally, candidates are required to report to the state ethics administration who gave them money during the campaign.

But there are no laws for once a candidate wins office and needs money for the transition, except if you’re governor. Then the Code of Ethics requires that the governor-elect report its donors to the ethics administration. There’s no limit on how much contributors can give.

“It is a potential area for abuse that should be subject to the same limit and reporting requirements that any political campaign is,” Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said of the lack of laws on transition teams.

Dardenne, who as a state senator authored several ethics bills aimed at clarifying the state’s campaign finance laws, said he isn’t surprised there are loopholes in the law since the use of transition teams for fundraising is an uncommon practice.

“There probably should be legislation to correct that. This is a relatively new phenomena,” he said.

But don’t hold your breath for change any time soon. The legislative session that convenes April 30 is a fiscal-only session, meaning legislators can only file five bills that are non-fiscal in nature.

Not to mention it’s an election year, and who in their right mind would limit the amount of money they can raise?