- Will Broyles
- From Left to Right: Sports Commission chief Kelly Wells, Former Mayor Cedric Glover, City Council Member Oliver Jenkins, Mayor Ollie Tyler, City Council Member Michael Corbin
Mayor Ollie Tyler’s publicly funded D-League arena concoction has been widely unpopular among Shreveporters ever since her administration (with other key players like the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission) launched a sneak attack on taxpayers weeks ago. In that attack, taxpayers were informed that a hurried march was underway that included funding the arena through a scheme that denied the public from being able to vote on the matter under the guise that the monies would come from the Riverfront Development Fund and a somehow foolproof plan for the complex to pay for itself through profits (in spite of having no formal plan, no formal contracts with the developers involved, and even no formal commitment from the NBA Pelican’s ownership).
In the weeks following, pressure has ratcheted up on City Council members about a vote tomorrow to continue the arena madness and create the “bond team”… a.k.a. those who will make money off the “professional services” of concocting the plan that circumvents taxpayers in how the bond is funded/defined.
It appears that pressure might be paying off for the citizens. It’s hard to tell exactly what is at play, but on Friday, KTAL reported (here) that Stephanie Lynch appears to be reversing her vote as part of the 5-of-7 members who supported the original arena bond legislation. She and Councilman Willie Bradford are planning to introduce a resolution tomorrow asking Mayor Tyler to “decline the opportunity to further participate in the process” of bidding on the basketball team via the arena development.
Lynch cited the “overwhelming opposition” to the arena and stated that Mayor Tyler “has failed to make her case with citizens and the business community for this arena deal.” Tyler’s administration responded to Lynch’s move by dismissing it and claiming that she will continue to move forward on the arena.
By appearance, Shreveporters have to be thoroughly confused that Lynch and Bradford, of the same race and political party, seem headed against Tyler’s arena… but Tyler seems to have bagged votes from Republican’s Oliver Jenkins and Michael Corbin. It would appear that tomorrow’s vote under this scenario would be 4 (Corbin, Jenkins, Everson, Bowman) supporting the legislation versus 3 (Bradford, Lynch, Flurry) opposed.
Taxpayer opponents of the arena can see some hope of victory if they can turn Corbin or Jenkins around. Jenkins and Corbin are having an extremely hard time with their constituents who are not remaining silent about their feelings and aren’t buying the line that we could wait til the very last possible moment to cut off Tyler’s arena fantasy in some future vote they’ll cast. If one of them turns their vote tomorrow, the arena plan as we know it is cooked. That doesn’t mean that Tyler and the Sports Commission folks won’t reorganize and try a newly tweaked scheme… but taxpayers are obviously more awake.
It’s certainly worth giving Jenkins, Corbin, Everson and Bowman your opinions on the matter as this may be the last chance available to defeat the arena concoction. A victory for the taxpayers would send quite the message to our local political “leadership”.