More Than A Feeling
Sometimes you just have to trust your gut instinct
Do you ever have a gut feeling? Where you are convinced, almost instantly, by feelings that you cannot always explain? Some folks call this intuition, which comes from the Latin word “intuir,” meaning “knowledge from within.” These are the times when we just “know” in our hearts and souls, irrespective of our five senses, that something feels right or feels wrong.
Like choosing a spouse, accepting a job offer or even voting in an election.
You can see this playing out in our mayoral run-off set for Dec. 10 – many voters just have a “feeling” about one candidate or the other, and where there is any missing information about the candidate, many of us just fill in the “gaps.”
The same happened four years ago in the Shreveport mayor’s race.
There was confusion over a candidate’s background and brushes with the law. Questions about how many times they have voted, or if they have voted at all. Many wondered if a strong resume was enough or if a candidate (once elected) might pay back their friends with multi-million-dollar city contracts or lopsided development deals that leave the citizens of Shreveport on the hook – and holding the bag – for decades to come.
For some voters in 2018, there were questions of which mayoral candidate was most likely to tell the truth or why so many dollars contributed to one candidate were from outside of the city, not to mention from so many folks who couldn’t even vote in our elections in the first place.
And yet, despite the gut feelings back then, Adrian Perkins was elected anyway.
Some say they have that same feeling about this year’s mayoral race regarding Greg Tarver. While some might dismiss those feelings and fill in the “gaps” (like many did four years ago with Perkins), our city’s position is too dire, too urgent to do this all over again.
This doesn’t make Greg Tarver a bad guy, but if he truly believes, as I do, that we need to “unify” our city, then addressing the proverbial “elephant in the room” (namely, why controversy follows him nearly wherever he goes) should be discussed now and not later.
Greg Tarver has said that he doesn’t have any “skeletons” in his closet because they’re all out on the front pages of the newspapers. That’s certainly true and one of the reasons why the Shreveport Journal reported years ago that the “word most frequently used to describe state Senator Greg Tarver’s politics is ‘controversial.’”
For example, there was the time he called local civil rights activist, educator and former state lawmaker Alphonse Jackson an “Uncle Tom” just because Jackson’s position on some proposed legislation was different from Tarver’s (even though Jackson was a charter member of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and served as the state representative from District 2 in Caddo Parish for 20 years).
And then there was that time he supposedly told one of his political opponents, “You have to go through Greg Tarver to get elected.” Then there was the time that federal court documents indicated Tarver’s name was mentioned in a discussion between two video poker operators who claimed that Tarver (allegedly) held up several video poker laws in the legislature until some people “helped” him first. Later, there was the FBI’s riverboat licensing case where Tarver was indicted, along with former Gov. Edwin Edwards. (Tarver was fully acquitted of those charges, however.)
Many might say all of this is just oldfashioned Louisiana politics – what do you expect? Maybe so. But does that make it any better?
People are dying in our streets from violent crime, good-paying jobs are moving across the river, our young people are moving away, the quality of basic city services is declining, and we’ve written checks our bank won’t cash.
This isn’t about politics, and it’s not a game.
Yet just last week, Tarver said in an interview that being mayor is a “game that is all about who you know.” But aren’t the years and years of “it’s not what you know, but who you know” at city hall that has led us to the position we are in today?
He says he has “a relationship with people in Baton Rouge.” He says, “I know how to get things done in Baton Rouge, I know the people who to touch in Baton Rouge.” And yes, I’m sure those contacts can be helpful in running the city initially, but many thought Perkins’ contacts, from West Point to Harvard Law School, would be helpful also (but they weren’t at all).
You know, years ago, when Senator Tarver was named to the (then) newly created Insurance Committee in the Louisiana State Legislature, he said his appointment had more to do with politics than expertise, saying, “You get assignments because you are in the clique.”
The trouble is we don’t need more cliques or politics in Shreveport – we need more clarity and transparency. And for everyone to have a seat at the table, whether they know the mayor or no one at all. Whether you’ve lived here for 50 years or just moved here and are not part of any clique.
That’s how we’re going to turn this city around – and that’s more than a gut feeling.
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at email@example.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.