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Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

IT NEVER ENDS

Politics and sports go on forever

Talk about overload. It is just hard to relax these days. We had the climax to the 2014 election year, which was stressful enough. Then came the college bowl games and playoffs and the NFL football playoffs. You would think sports would provide a relaxing break. Maybe for some, but not for me.

Here’s the problem. It is a tradition with me, which goes back to my days in Washington when I was a big Redskins fan, of drinking Bloody Marys when watching sports events, such as football. So, obviously, I have been imbibing quite a bit over the past several weeks. No, I am not an alcoholic – yet.

I have mentioned before that I am such an LSU fan that I cannot watch the games live. I TiVo them. If LSU wins, I watch. If they lose, I delete. Crazy, I know. Even with teams I should not care about, I can’t just watch and relax. I immediately decide who I want to win, and the game becomes a matter of life and death, intense and stressful. More Bloody Marys. I know. I probably need counseling, but at my age that would likely be a waste of time.

And so it goes. We still have the NFL Super Bowl yet to come. When that’s over, it will be time to focus in on the 2015 elections. Before that, everyone has a watchful eye on the Mayor Ollie Tyler administration and the revamped city council as well as the Caddo Parish School Board.

While Tyler has come under some criticism for getting off to a slow start with appointments to key positions, she is making progress. Tyler as mayor, will be paid, including salary and benefits, $105,200 a year. She has tabbed Africa Price to be communications director at a salary of $99,300. And Pam Raines is the mayor’s chief confidential executive assistant at $97,900 a year. Steven Jackson is also listed as an assistant to the mayor with a salary of $80,300, and Yolanda McCoy has the title of administrative assistant, making $45,800 a year. I guess things have gotten more specialized in the mayor’s office. In the late 1990s, when I worked for Mayor Bo Williams, I served as executive assistant and also handled the duties of communications director at a salary of $65,000.

Tyler has chosen Brian Crawford to be Chief Administrative Officer, the most key position in her administration. I am pleased with her choice. Crawford is a former Shreveport Fire Chief and was for a while assistant chief administrative officer under Mayor Cedric Glover. He left to become fire chief in Plano, Texas. I, for one, am glad to see him return to Shreveport. When he was assistant CAO, he was always knowledgeable and accessible and would immediately handle every inquiry. He will definitely be an asset for Tyler and her staff, most of whom are inexperienced with regard to city government.

Let me say this on behalf of Tyler and her staff. I spent 27 years working at the federal level before coming to Shreveport. When Williams offered me the executive assistant position, I thought it would be an easy gig. After all, there was not much to being mayor of a city like Shreveport. Not so. I soon learned that being mayor, and working in the mayor’s office, was not easy at all. Everything eventually winds up on the mayor’s desk.

There are many decisions to be made, many problems to be solved, and city government is a very complicated operation. Therefore, I can certainly understand it will take some time for Tyler and her staff to get a grasp of the magnitude of their duties. After all, no matter who you supported for mayor, we all want to see our leaders succeed for the benefit of the city.

As far as the 2015 elections are concerned, things are moving into high gear, especially when it comes to the governor’s race. There are four declared candidates: U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (all Republicans), and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. The latest poll by Southern Media and Opinion Research showed Vitter with 36 percent, Edwards 26 percent, Dardenne 19 percent, Angelle 3 percent and 16 percent undecided.

I had my first encounter with one of the candidates last week when I met John Bel Edwards, who is from Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, for breakfast at Strawn’s. Edwards is a graduate of West Point. After a tour in the Army as a paratrooper, he attended LSU Law School. He is now a practicing attorney with the Edwards and Associates Law Firm. He comes from a political family, the son of a Tangipahoa Sheriff. A brother is the current sheriff, another brother is the police chief of the town of Independence, and a brother-in-law is a District Court juvenile judge. So it was inevitable that Edwards would also wind up in politics.

He is charismatic, easy to talk to, knowledgeable about the state’s problems, and has some definite ideas about how to move Louisiana forward. I was impressed with his philosophy and his commitment to what will be an expensive and difficult race and the confidence is his ability to win. I would suggest you take a look at his website, www.johnbelforlouisiana.com.

ON STANDS NOW!

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