Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler is on the rubber chicken circuit pushing what she calls a “tax renewal” set for voter approval/disapproval on April 28.
Actually, these millages are not renewals.
The taxes expired on December 31 of last year. Critics are complaining that the Tyler Administration is being less than truthful in their sales pitch.
Semantics aside, another issue has cropped up that Tyler can not explain away.
Emails from city attorney Will Bradford basically admit that tax dollars were utilized improperly to prepare a slick 16 page brochure titled “City of Shreveport 2018 Ad Valorem Tax Renewals…Keeping Our Community Strong.”
At the last Shreveport City Council meeting on February 13 Council woman Stephanie Lynch asked Tyler who prepared the brochure. The answer was that it was produced “in house”.
The city attorney promised to address this issue in an email, which he said would be privileged as “attorney client”, to Council members.
Bradford (not to be confused with Councilman Willie Bradford) later advised that the booklets were “designed by the City’s internal staff utilizing materials and supplies already purchased.” He emphasized that this was to educate the public about the upcoming election.
Somehow Bradford, Chief Administrative Officer Brian Crawford and Tyler all overlooked a basic problem with the brochures contents…that being that it urged voter approval of the tax initiatives. The Louisiana elections code clearly prohibits the use of public funds to urge any voter to “vote for or against any proposition.”
Obviously public dollars were expended to pay the city employees who prepared the booklet. And the same is true for the city materials and supplies that were utilized.
The Election Code does allow for the expenditure of public dollars for the preparation of “factual information relative to a proposition appearing on the election ballot.
Bradford advised Council members that the last page of the booklet which has the “say yes “ language will be removed from any future printings of the booklet. Bradford opined that “all other pages and remaining information is position neutral.” Hopefully he will advise both the Mayor and the CAO to be careful in their presentations to not couch the votes as “renewals.”
How all this plays out is a question that will be answered on April 28.
Tyler is already taking great liberties in touting the accomplishments of her three plus years in office in support of the taxes. An example is claiming credit for the direct flights of American Airlines to Charlotte which were subsidized by another tax millage and negotiated by the Ark-La-Tex Regional Air Service Alliance, not the City.
And while tooting her own horn, Tyler fails to mention that crime during 2017 increased.
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