Every political organization that receives tax dollars should encourage citizens to attend their regular meetings and to assist the elected or appointed members in the process of spending public dollars. Its fundamental that having the meetings at times and dates that allow for maximum public participation is a starting point for this process. In Caddo Parish the primary bodies that receive tax dollars are the Caddo Parish School Board, the Caddo Commission, the Shreveport City Council and the Port of Shreveport Bossier.
The regularly scheduled meeting dates, including administrative conferences/work sessions, of the School Board, the Commission and the Council are on different dates. This is NOT the case with the Port that has its regular monthly meetings that overlap that of the Commission.
The regular meetings of the Commission are on the first and third Thursdays of each month, starting at 3:30 pm. The Port has its regular board meeting on the same date—the third Thursday of each month—starting at 4:30 pm. The Port generally has committee meetings on the same date; on May 18 the Finance Audit Committee met at 3:00 pm before the Board meeting at 4.30.
Additionally, the Port should join the other 3 bodies in having its meetings video taped and posted on its website, or better yet have the meetings televised live like the Commission and the Council in addition to being videoed. The Port has a high tech, very expensive headquarters castle which is dubbed the Regional Commerce Center with the latest equipment for video-conferencing; seemingly these additional accommodations for transparency would be easy to accomplish. The mere location of the Port’s headquarters south of town is a real factor in the low public attendance at its meetings.
A different meeting date for the Port board would also allow the local media more opportunities to provide coverage of its meetings. Currently the scuttlebutt is that Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler is pushing to have the Port contribute $30 grand of public dollars to the riverfront aquarium. Additionally there are rumors that Tyler wants the Port to build a sports facility for the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team to be utilized by its developmental league team. Having more transparency in Port board meetings is needed if for no other reason to allow concerned citizens to question the Port board members on these issues, along with operations of this heavily tax funded body.
Sooo...why not move the Port board meeting date , televise live the meetings and post a video of the meetings online? These are questions to be asked of the Board, and it’s a shame concerned citizens had to choose between the Port meeting and the Commission meeting on May 18. The solution is easy; move the date of the Port board meetings.