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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Catching Hell For Not Raising Hell


Columnist offers disclaimer

For many years my columns subjected me to never-ending name-calling.

Some weeks I was a hero, and other weeks I was a goat. Some weeks I was both – depending on who reads what I wrote.

But that’s all OK. I do not write bedtime stores. Nor do I pen fairy tales that always end “happily ever after.”

But there have always been two constants. The first being that “Settle” is not “subtle.” The other being that Settle does not “sell out.”

But times have suddenly changed.

Turncoat, traitor and puppet are now being mentioned with my name.

When Adrian Perkins was elected mayor, I emailed him congratulations. Along with an offer to assist him for his first few months.

My reasons were simple. I wanted then – as I do now – for Perkins to be “successful” as mayor. Not only for his future political career but for me now. As well as my children, grandchild and all Shreveporters.

I was especially intrigued by his “Future of Shreveport” (FOS) endeavor. I published on this project and the fact it was modeled after New Orleans Mayor Cantrell’s “Forward Together New Orleans.”

The charge for the FOS committees is to develop white paper action plans. Perkins wants recommendations for actionable, measurable goals to be accomplished in his first term.

I was not selected for any of the eight FOS Committees. Out of interest, I attended six of the first eight committees as an observer. And I helped the facilitators in small ways like being a “gofer.”

After that, I was asked to assist in the remaining three FOS committee meetings.

I have now attended all of the second and third sets of committee meetings. I also have lined up speakers for the committees, obtained requested information and helped locate a meeting location.

Three committees have wrapped up their meetings, and the remaining committees will have one last session next month. The report is scheduled for release in early May, maybe sooner. When the report is released, my commitment to the FOS will end.

So despite some accusations, Settle is not an official arm of the Perkin administration. But he does have a duty of loyalty, at least in his mind, to the Future of Shreveport project until it is completed. And that means there is a conflict of interest in criticizing the mayor, his actions and his staff until the release of the report.

Despite the lack of any brickbats thrown by Settle at Perkins, other members of the media have not been on a sabbatical. The change by Perkins in insurance agents has been the subject of considerable press scrutiny, almost all of which were not favorable.

Other hot media topics include his proposed Clean City User Fee, Perkins’s removal of persons from appointed boards, and his assistance with the Caddo School Board and University of New Orleans agreement regarding admission of students. And the list goes on.

Even the most ardent Perkins critics should acknowledge some positives of his administration. At the first regular council meeting, he briefed council members on the finances of the city’s sanitation department and the city’s astonishing low reserves.

He named the city’s first chief technology officer by filling an open position in the Information Technology Office.

He attended and actively participated in the U.S. Conference for Mayors.

He was one of 20 mayors selected to participate in the Civic/10 Mayors’ Summit at the heralded South by Southwest conference in Austin.

His administration has provided substantial information on the Environmental Protection Agency consent decree. Now the council knows why the initial $350 million compliance estimate is now a $1.1 billion tab.

A new mayor is traditionally given a 100-day political honeymoon. Counting from his Dec. 29 inauguration, that ends on April 9.

More could be said. Much like all other first-time officials, there is an expected learning curve. It is no different for Perkins or the three new council members.

That being said, Settle is still committed to “pooping out” the facts on local government issues. Bloodletting is not required for this endeavor.

Have no fear; Settle has not become a political “wuss.” Skeptics just need to follow the next issues of 318 Forum.

John Settle’s articles appear in local publications and on his blog Settletalk.com. His email is john@jesettle.com.


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