SHREVEPORT, La. — A redistricting plan that gives the city of Shreveport five black and two white electoral districts has been approved by the City Council Tuesday.
The council also withdrew an emergency resolution encouraging the mayor to buy new police cars and install surveillance cameras throughout the city.
And the panel heard from the city’s risk manager who advised against dropping a performance bond from a recycling contract.
The proposed redistricting maps were late in the agenda but attracted half a dozen comments at the start of the meeting. Most were in favor of what was labeled Plan 9B which gives the city a solid 5-2 black majority.
Councilor John Nickelson and Grayson Boucher, the two white council members, backed an alternative motion for Plan 2, which was an amended map that would keep the districts similar to the current layout with four black districts, two white and one of 50 year. 50.
Demographer Gary Joiner said Plan 2 is one he created based solely on 2020 census numbers. It keeps current elected officials in the districts from which they were last elected.
Joiner agreed with Boucher’s description that this is the most “organic” plan of any he has made.
“There’s no question about it,” Joiner said.
Other than Councilwoman LaVette Fuller asking for a review of a map that keeps the downtown district in one ward rather than dividing it into two, no other council members have commented. Diet 9B was approved with Nickelson and Boucher opposed.
HELLCATS AND CAMERAS
During Monday’s business session, Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor said no hellcat vehicles would be purchased for the police department despite the wording of a proposed emergency resolution.
This the resolution has been reworded for Tuesday’s meeting by deleting the reference to hellcats and replacing it with the purchase of vehicles for the Community Response Unit. Also in the resolution, it is recommended that the mayor hire a contractor to install cameras throughout the city as crime-fighting tools.
However, the proposed resolution did not pass the vote as it had to be approved unanimously to be added to the agenda. Nickelson and Boucher voted against.
Nickelson said that while he supports the plan to add cameras, he questioned using a third party to do the job because there had been no real discussion about it. He said he did not consider this matter an emergency and requested additional information.
Councilor James Green said the resolution was made after holding separate meetings with four members of council to get their advice on how best to find immediate solutions to tackle crime.
“We can’t wait for the cameras to come up any longer,” Green said.
But the original resolution which was on the agenda was removed for review.
Green turned to Mayor Adrian Perkins and asked him to step up on the demands and report information at the next meeting.
He also clarified that board members “never wanted to buy hellcats; it’s just those fast chargers. We didn’t know anything else to call it. We just knew we were in hell.
Green said no money was earmarked for either project. He described the resolution as a “skeleton” for making the request to the mayor’s office.
RECYCLING PERFORMANCE GUARANTEE
There were no objections during the meeting at the presentation of a resolution to drop the performance bond requirement of a contract awarded last year to C. Edwards Concepts LLC to do recycling in the city. The matter will be voted on at the June 28 meeting.
However, at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Nickelson called Richard Lewis Hunter Sr., the city’s risk manager, and asked him about concerns he had expressed about the move.
Hunter listed highlights from his 46-year career in risk management to support his recommendation that the city council not waive the performance bond or insurance requirements of the Edwards contract. Hunter said he reviewed the company’s finances and said he would not recommend such a move.
He checked Edwards’ financial background and found that the company owned no property, other than a 2013 Lexus SUV, had no garage or owned any trucks.
“My concern is why the city would take so many risks and expose public ratepayers to this kind of risk,” Hunter said.
He also found several judgments and liens against C. Edwards Concepts from the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Louisiana.
Hunter said he wouldn’t recommend the city take the risk without having some type of financial backing with insurance contracts and a bond.
“I don’t understand the logic of why we would want to proceed without having insurance in place. … It’s citizens’ money, not just any individual’s money,” Hunter said.
Charlette Edwards spoke later in the meeting but did not acknowledge Hunter’s comments. She began by thanking those who worked on the project to “bring it to fruition.”
She said that when she learned on Monday that the contract was on the cards, she recalled that there were issues she had asked about before but had not gotten an answer to. The contract as presented, she said, would require working in 2022 on a budget that was drafted in 2020.
The main concern, she said, is a termination for convenience clause added to the contract. She understands the city has the right to do this, but she said if it was done, she would be “stuck with a truck lease.” I’m stuck with a construction lease. I am obligated to pay staff if you decide to terminate for convenience.
She then handed a binder to the clerk.
The contract provides that Edwards will receive $158,333 per month to pick up recycling.