Longtime Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) employee Alan Clarke assumes the duties of interim executive director on August 16.
Clarke replaces Mark Sweeney, whose last day is August 15. Sweeney accepted a position in Oklahoma a few days after the MPC Board refused to allow his employment contract to automatically renew.
Clarke was selected at the August 1 meeting of the MPC Board. Dale Colvin (who nominated Clarke), Nancy Cooper, Curtis Joseph, Ronnie Remedies, and Bessie Smith voted for Clarke. Theron Jackson and Winzer Andrews voted against Clarke. Board members Lea Desmarteau and Alan Young were not at the meeting.
Clarke will head up the MPC until the next “permanent’ executive director is hired. The MPC budget is $1.2 million dollars; the lions share is funded by the Shreveport City Council. Other funding is from the Caddo Commission and various fees charged by the MPC.
Clarke has over 20 years experience with the MPC. He served as the Zoning Administrator before becoming the interim executive director.
Zoning Enforcement has the largest staff within the MPC and its primary function is to investigate alleged violations of the zoning laws. The Zoning Office averages over 3500 zoning inspections each year. Certificates of occupancy, home occupation applications, and sign permits are also a function of the Zoning Office.
As the interim executive director, Clarke will also oversee the other MPC departments: Land Development, Community Planning and GIS and Mapping.
One challenge for Clarke will be funding for 2019 from the Shreveport City Council and the Caddo Commission. Both bodies have had numerous complaints about the MPC and there have been discussions by members of each concerning 2019 funding. The city budget will be adopted in December and the commission budget is early January.
Clarke’s performance will be judged by the building and development community from day one. This group had constant complaints about Sweeney.
Council and Commission members will get a quick read on his leadership as judged by the number of complaints they receive as well as the number of permits the MPC processes.
For the last year, there have been dark clouds over the MPC office. Clarke’s experience and professional demeanor should provide much-needed stability to this embattled office.
(This article was published in The Forum online on Monday, August 13, 2018)