- Will Broyles
The Caddo Parish Commission placed four ballot propositions in front of voters to “renew” four property tax millages anywhere between 2-5 years early. The fact that all four of those lost is one of the biggest stories in Caddo Politics this year… a culmination of a year’s long fight to take the Caddo Parish Commission to task for corruption and malfeasance. That fight started when Elliott Stonecipher blew the whistle on CPERS and other corruption. It prompted the creation of this website due to the lack of any media coverage, and resulted in some media outlets like the Shreveport Times, KTBS and KSLA to begin to cover the story, albeit a couple of years late.
So where is all the missing media coverage of this weekend’s election results and why are they not top news stories in all of our media? That story is now an important lesson in our local conundrum, and easily explains the stranglehold that more malevolent forces behind local politics has on our local media.
First, please note the almost total lack of mention from media outlets about this vote in the lead up to Saturday. Conspicuously absent was the usual media push to get out the vote that typically includes our Caddo Registrar of Voter, Ernie Roberson, doing interviews about the upcoming ballot.
Next, as results came in on Saturday night (Elliott Stonecipher has an excellent analysis), opponents of the tax learned that a small and vocal social media push had tipped the scales and defeated the millages. What happened next was bizarre. No coverage occurred in our local media except for an immediate article by the Times on their website declaring the election too close to call (importantly leaving room for some sort of reversal of the vote results should Commissioners need it). It wasn’t too close to call. It should have been a blowout in support of the taxes and it wasn’t. With less than 10% voter turnout, this was an easy one to call, and it was easily and finally reported on the LA Secretarty of State website. What was the purpose of shading an embarrassing defeat of the Caddo Commission? The Times jumped out front and center to declare, again, that they are on the side of our out of control Caddo Commission. It is no longer unusual that the Times is so far out of touch with their former readers that make up the majority of this population.
Then, KSLA posted a story about the Commission’s loss and exposed how hopelessly lost the Caddo Commission was in “hearing” and understanding what actually happened on Saturday. Notably, KSLA has interviewed Elliott Stonecipher for a host of other stories surrounding the Caddo Commission and lots of other local political issues. They seemed to have lost his number this time. To read their article (here), one would be left with the impression that the Commission and the rest of the world expected a handy victory in this election and that nobody could quite understand where the apparently anonymous cosmic zap of defeat came from. Another media outlet intentionally missing on the story.
Finally, two days later, KTBS ran a report that similarly dismissed the results and disrespected the voters. Intentionally missing the story, KTBS also chose to not visit with frequent news source Elliott Stonecipher. Instead they gave District 3 Commissioner, Steven Jackson, the opportunity to basically dismiss the embarrassing loss as the result of misinformation (an attack on opponents who ironically had the most information) and the Parish’s neglect to spend more of our tax dollars in propoganda for the tax millages.
This cannot be excused. All of our local media have abandoned us where and when it counts. The biggest and most seminal story in local politics in the past few years has been the Caddo Commission and CPERS. Why did all the media whiff or take a pass for so long on this election? Very purposely and carefully is the answer. In a place that is engulfed by systemic corruption, it is impossible for it to have arrived here without the media being complicit in that reality. Now, once the majority of voters spoke out in a referendum about their objection to the problem of our corruption, the media has widely declared who they report for. It is not “we the people”. We all need to remember that every day as we see this fight unfold. We cannot count on our local media for truth, accuracy or help if we cannot get a straight story out of them on this election.