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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Safety And Security

Also, money matters and staffing the city

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux is working with Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith to address safety and security issues in downtown Shreveport after videos circulated on social media of raucous activity in the area the first weekend of this month.

“We are working on strategies to prevent and dispel the kind of activity we had late night downtown over the weekend,” Arceneaux said. “We’re examining what ordinances the establishments may have violated so that we can enforce those, and then developing strategies for breaking up the kind of activity that was there.”

Tim Huck, owner of Sand Bar in the area where the incident occurred, spoke recently to the Shreveport City Council about the matter.

“It was his view that several of the clubs had put their speakers on the outside so people in the streets could be partying with people in the establishment,” Arceneaux said. “He said that it was his opinion that was not permitted, and that if we were to stop that, it would go a long way to stopping the street party atmosphere. I thought that was a very practical, downto-earth suggestion that we should follow up on.”

The mayor asked Smith to look into a decibel meter that would give police officers trackable evidence to support citations for noise ordinance violations.

“It isn’t just a matter of knowing the sound is too loud,” he said. “It’s a matter of issuing a citation and being prepared to back up that citation with evidence. I have asked the chief to look for meters that have time stamps or something along those lines so that we can shut those people down.

“You can get an app on your phone that can measure the decibels, but it’s difficult to authenticate that data in court. If there are repeated violations, and the police decide to take some action with respect to somebody’s liquor license, we have to be fully prepared with our case.

“As with everything, it’s a little bit more complicated than it looks on the surface, but not anything we can’t handle.”

Vote of confidence

Arceneaux is celebrating the passage of six tax millage proposals April 29 that amount to about $11.5 million in the city’s budget.

Here are the millages that passed on the ballot:

• 1.13 mills for streets, totaling $1,761,400

• 0.84 mills for recreation facilities, totaling $1,309,300

• 1.13 mills for city wages and salaries, totaling $1,761,400

• 1.13 mills for police and fire uniforms and equipment, totaling $1,761,400

• 1.7 mills for pensions for city employees, totaling $2,649,000

• 1.48 mills for a three-platoon system for Shreveport Police, totaling $2,307,000

“I am thrilled,” Arceneaux said. “I really felt that indicated some confidence by the electorate in the way things are going and what we are doing. They all passed. The lowest margin was 73 percent.”

In other money matters, several of the mayor’s budget amendments went before the city council for approval on May 9. They include $9.5 million for street construction and $500,000 each for street repair, street maintenance and additional demolitions under property standards.

“It’s about an $11-million-plus package that reflects the priorities we laid out in the campaign,” Arceneaux said. “That’ll be the first budgetary example of putting into place the priorities that I ran on during the campaign.”

Full staff

Arceneaux hopes to complete his top-level administrative staff with his appointment of Marcus Edwards for city attorney. Edwards has accepted the appointment and is scheduled to be confirmed by the city council at its May 23 meeting.

Edwards is currently a partner at Myers, Smith and Roberts. He is a graduate of Tulane Law School.

“That’s a very fine law school, and he’s a very fine lawyer,” Arceneaux said. “He’s already handling some very significant litigation for the city, and he’s done that for a number of years.”

Arceneaux recalls the moment he knew Edwards what the right man for the job.

“I was in a long meeting with him on one of the cases he is handling (for the city),” Arceneaux said. “He impressed me not just with his knowledge of the case and his knowledge of the law that applied to the case but his sense of the people in the room and the kinds of things you want a sophisticated lawyer to have. I am very pleased that he has agreed to accept the appointment.”

If Edwards is confirmed on May 23, he was start with the city on July 1 after completing some private-practice work.

In other news The mayor said the city has sent a draft of a lease for Millennium Studios to a representative for Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who is considering bringing some of his TV and movie production to the studio in downtown Shreveport.

“We are hoping to hear back from them,” he said. “we think it’s in line with our exchange of ideas. We’ll see what his lawyers and his side say.”

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