The best laid plans for economic development can come undone by an ineffective education system. That is why one of my proudest achievements as President of the Committee Of One Hundred was passing the 2004 Caddo Parish School Bond Election to insure the infrastructure of Caddo Schools is solid and will create the best learning environment for all our children.
No child in 2005 should have to sit in a classroom or cafeteria without air-conditioning or not have access to the latest computer technology.
The children entering first grade in 2006 in Caddo Parish will be competing with children from Beijing, London, Mexico City, and Vancouver for jobs and opportunity. Shreveport is a part of the global community and we must insure our children are prepared for that challenge. One way the mayor can do this is by being a strong confidant and supporter of the superintendent.
Crime: We need to develop new strategies of crime prevention that reflects the growth of our city. The Shreveport Police Department is our first response to crime and it is only through a partnership with this group and every day citizens that we will minimize crime in our city.
We must acknowledge that incidents like the Hudspeth shooting have deepened the mistrust between the Police and many inner city neighborhoods. We cannot hope to combat crime without rebuilding that trust. A disciplined well paid police department that has developed strategies for partnering with local citizens to police their neighborhoods is essential. We must pay our police officers and give them the training - particularly in diversity and cultural sensitivity - and support to do their jobs and we must demand and expect the highest levels of professionalism in return. Crime diminishes the quality of all of our lives, by driving up the cost of doing business, overburdening our criminal justice system and causing fear and anxiety among our most vulnerable citizens.
Gaming: In one night, the state of Mississippi after Katrina learned how vital gaming is to its economy. The wrath of Hurricane Katrina wiped away over $500,000 in daily tax revenues, and thousands of jobs. Faced with rebuilding, the state will almost certainly move to land base casinos to ensure that the gaming industry is not vulnerable to another national disaster. As the Gulf Coast rebulds its gaming industry even bigger and better and the Texas Legislature moves toward the inevitable legalization of some form of gaming, we must work with our operators to ensure that the state of Louisiana's regulatory environment unleashes the full capacity of our market.
We in Shreveport must not wait until a Katrina calamity happens to realize how vital gaming is to our city. Gaming has been an important corporate citizen to Shreveport and it is time we bring them in as full partners in the city's future. The Mayor must be an advocate in Baton Rouge to ensure that our local gaming industry operates in a regulatory environment that not only allows it to sustain and increase the jobs that it brings to Shreveport.
Neighborhood Revitalization: Shreveport's downtown is enjoying a renaissance that jumpstarted five years ago with hotels as nice as any in the country: chic new condos downtown, a riverfront park, a vibrant night life and the Bossier Riverwalk. With the new convention center and hotel coming on line, the future is bright.
However, many of Shreveport's poorest neighborhoods have not shared in that revitalization. Ledbetter, Allendale, and Martin Luther King still suffer from continued economic disinvestment, crime, and a declining house stock. Yet, the people of these neighborhoods continue bring energy and creativity to our city in the face of intractable urban problems. The City of Shreveport has an economic and moral obligation to partner with them. When we loose a neighborhood like Ledbetter we lose more than housing and citizenry, we lose a vital cultural link to this city's past. In saving our neighborhoods we are saving our city.
There are great things happening in Highland and Queensborough but we have to bring the neighborhoods in the northern part of city into the new Shreveport. The mayor must bring community leaders, banking, developers, the state and federal governments together to develop a strategic plan that ignites true rebuilding of our inner city neighborhoods.