The Caddo Commission spends its portion of Riverfront Gaming Funds by doling it out to non government organizations (NGOs).
This year the expected revenues are $950 grand.
The Commission Appropriations Committee is charge of reviewing all the NGO funding requests. It then makes a recommendation to the full Commission on which organizations are funded, and in what amounts.
The 12 member Commission can amend the Committee’s recommendation on a simple majority vote.
The Appropriations Committee members were Jerald Bowman (chair), Mike Middleton, Mario Chavez, Lynn Cawthorne and Matthew Linn. Commission president Steven Jackson is an ex officio member. (After the meeting, Jackson removed Middleton from the Committee.)
The Committee met on October 2 to review requests of approximately $2.4 million dollars from 66 Caddo organizations.
Once the meeting started Committee members received for the first time a 3 page handout listing the NGOs, the 2017 Commission funding and the requested 2108 funding.
The handout also included a brief description of the funding purpose. Examples include “support and expand Image Changer’s comprehensive tutoring program", “assist with the MLK awards banquet and the Civil Rights Celebration”, and “support for children of faith summer camp.”
Other members of the Commission attended the meeting. Although they could not vote, they were free to chime in, either opposing or pushing funding.
Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) was the most vocal. He convinced the committee to fund several requests that were not timely submitted.
Most significantly LBJ successfully lobbied for funding of his fraternity. The Committee voted for $30 grand to assist with the long established Good Times Roll festival.
The Committee actually had 2 meetings. The first was for 2 hours before the Commission work session.
The second, which was late in the day, after the work session. It was obvious at both meetings that the committee was more motivated by the goal of completion, than careful screening and deliberation.
When it was all said and done the Committee’s approved funding exceeded the anticipated revenues by over $100,000. Another committee meeting will be had to pare down the recommendations before presenting to the entire Commission.
The Committee funding for several NGOs exceeded staff recommendations. These organizations were Bernstein Development Incorporated, the Norwela Council of the Boy Scouts, Community Renewal International, Robinson’s Rescue Low Cost Spay/Neuter, and Urban Support Agency.
NGOs recommended for first time funding included Querbes Park Foundation, Rock Solid Athletic Club, Queensborough Progressive Citizens, Project Seek, Red River Cleanup, and Steeple Success.
How the sixty plus organizations will fare after the next committee meeting to pare down the recommendations to the expected funding is an open question. And then the final committee report will be subject to scrutiny by the 12 member Commission who must make the final approval.
Needless to say, more political game playing can be expected as these elected officials divvy up these funds to bolster their political standing. The entire process, to date, is “politics” in the true sense of the word. And it has not been pretty, to say the least.
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