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Monday, Jan. 16, 2023

Divisions From the Past Continue

Councilmembers make poor impression

In his inauguration speech last month, Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux said that Shreveport has paid a “high price” for division and that “if we are to have the spirit of renewal,” then we “must heal those divisions and recognize that Shreveport thrives only when all its people thrive.”

And he’s absolutely right. Now, many might say that is “pie-in-thesky thinking.” If you were paying attention to the struggle for power on the city council earlier this month, to simply elect a new chair and vice-chair, or if you knew how councilmembers Bowman, Green, Jackson and Taylor declined the inaugural day luncheon invitation from Mayor Arceneaux to come together – on their first day in office to share a meal in fellowship – you might be skeptical that the divisions from the past could be healed or that we could genuinely move forward together as a community.

No one would blame you if you were unsure of it all because we cannot move forward if we’re still hanging on to the past.

Mere words cannot achieve this, however eloquently spoken, and Mayor Arceneaux cannot accomplish this on his own, however intentional he may be to unite our city.

A divided city council, where some members are intent on maintaining a distance or otherwise keeping alive ancient stereotypes of the past based on race and party affiliation, only serves to entrench these divisions further and hold our community hostage to the past.

For those stuck in the past, the question is, “Why do we need to define our community by where we came from?” Shouldn’t it be about where we’re going? I mean, unless we allow it to, why does the future of our city need to look like our divided past?

The point is that if our divided past equaled the future, what chance – what hope – would any of us have to better our community or one another or enrich those around us?

There’s no doubt many in our community, including those on the city council, profess publicly to work for the common good, yet their lives and priorities indicate otherwise. It’s the old adage that “your actions speak louder than words.”

This isn’t about being partisan, by the way; it’s about being practical. It was John F. Kennedy who said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.” Again, from Mayor Arceneaux’s inauguration speech: “Cities in America that are growing, that are thriving, that are attracting new businesses and residents, do the basics really well. Roads are paved. Lights are on. Grass is mowed. Trash is picked up. Water is clean.”

And one more commonality of those growing communities is that their elected leaders work together.

They work cooperatively. Without regard for who gets the credit and without interest in placing the blame or pointing the finger, so long as the decisions made are the best ones, just and fair for all. This is the job our elected officials signed up for, and we expect them to make the hard decisions, sometimes even at the cost of their own popularity.

It’s time we put this community first by leaving the divisions of the past behind. The cost is simply too great to do anything less. LETTERS Mr. Avallone, I just finished reading your column, “Deserving of Respect Even When We Disagree.” I often read your columns and learn something each time. The title of your current column, as noted above, really represents the essence of your opinion column.

I know you, but certainly not well.

However, I respect you as a professional businessman, attorney and local party leader mostly by how you conduct yourself and the tenor of your columns.

Certainly, I don’t always agree with you, but I do at times, and even if I don’t, I see that you lay out the points you want to make in a sincere, open manner based on a constructive review of the issue.

Accordingly, our community needs contributors like you to stimulate our thinking on what is going on politically in our area, the state and the nation. I have read a few letters to the 318 Forum editor criticizing you and your column as not needed and/or not countered by an opposing-view columnist. I disagree. If such a columnist emerges, OK, but that should not prevent you from writing your column. In my mind, your opinion column and how you write it stand alone and should be read as such.

Keep on doing what you do. – Mary D. Bicknell Publisher/Executive Editor, I am so very thankful to receive the 318 Forum in the mail. In the past, I would kind of rush through the pages. But in this edition, I found myself perusing the many informative writings and enjoying them tremendously. This edition of 318 Forum is a great read-son for the season.

A thankful reader who still loves SBC and community.

– Donald Gaut

Correction to Dec. 14, 2022, issue: “Retro Christmas Décor is All the Rage” was written by Lisa White.

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 louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.


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