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Monday, Aug. 28, 2017

Dear Shreveport, You have to start treating yourself better

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I know you have been through some really tough stuff. The drop in oil prices in the 1980s, the bankruptcies and foreclosures – you have really never been the same since then. The 7, 500 jobs lost at the Western Electric plant – that was a rough patch, too, I know. I mean, so many good people have left you behind for greener pastures, and after 40 years, some just never came back.

I was happy to hear the news, though, about your discovering the Haynesville Shale in 2008, and just couldn’t believe when the drop in oil prices came so fast and caused so many rigs (and jobs) to leave for other states. Then you had to cope with the GM Plant closing in 2012. I was so sorry to hear about those thousands of jobs disappearing – good-paying ones, too, I know. And even though you knew it was coming, you’re really never prepared for something like that.

But enough of all that talk … it’s important to remember the good times, too, right? Like when the census came out in 1970, and it showed no growth in population? That’s when you came up with a plan to develop an interstate highway from Shreveport to South Louisiana (I-49), and to complete the Inner Loop, and get graduate courses at LSUS – and population did grow.

But before that, in the late 1960s, remember how you would go down to Baton Rouge to meet with Gov. John McKeithen over and over? That’s how LSU-Shreveport and Southern University got started here, and most importantly, that’s how you got the medical school started. And none of that would have happened without you believing in you.

Now, I know you are probably feeling hurt, angry, frustrated or shut down with how everything is around you today. Maybe there's not much that could make you feel better at this point. But I know this: You have to start treating yourself better, like the best Shreveport you’ve ever been.

And from what you’ve been saying about yourself recently, it makes me very sad.

Ever since this Pelicans “G League” proposal has been out there, you’ve let everyone know how much you stink.

You’ve posted on social media about how “the people that sit on the selection committee have sense not to select such a crime-ridden city for any new ball team” and that you’ve “never fully understood what creates a successful venue.” And then you posted, “Get out now, folks. It ain't gonna get better in Shreveport!” Look, you can’t keep talking to yourself this way. I don’t know if this Pelicans “G League” is a good idea or not, but this stinking thinking has to stop. All that stinking thinking does is make you feel defeated, discouraged and depressed. Haven’t you ever heard that you are what you think about?

Instead of all this negative talk, how about asking, “What can I do differently this time to make sure I don’t mess up again?” Yes, over the last 20 years, seven semi-professional teams tried to make Shreveport-Bossier their home. But again, the question is not how horrible you think you are or unworthy. The question is, “Can it be done differently this time to get a better result?” Perhaps this just isn’t the right time for you to do this basketball deal. That’s OK, but that’s no reason for you to bad-mouth yourself to the world. How you speak to yourself is important. The Bible tells us this also: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7).

And I do think some of it is the people you are hanging around. You keep letting people lead you around every four years or so who don’t have a plan, and it has to stop. They may intend to do good, but if intentions are all that were needed to be successful, or to stop smoking or to lose weight, then we’d all be a lot happier and healthier.

You had a plan of action back when you were going to Baton Rouge and meeting with Gov. McKeithen in the late 1960s. And you had a plan when you wanted to build I-49 and make the Red River navigable in the 1970s, and attracted General Motors.

"Instead of all this negative talk, how about asking, “What can I do differently this time to make sure I don’t mess up again?”

You have been at your best when you’ve had a game plan and players on your team who could execute the strategy. Right now, you simply don’t believe you can win.

For too many years, I know you feel like you have been living in the shadow of your more successful brother in Dallas, and that you’re not as fun and pretty as your sister, South Louisiana, but it doesn’t have to be that way, Shreveport.

I know there is greatness within you, and you should remind yourself of the same, because it’s time to change not only how you talk to yourself, but the way you look and your so-called friends, because you’ll never become what you need to be by remaining what you are.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.

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