Has Mayor Perkins Been Given a Fair Shake?
Mayor Adrian Perkins' resume is impressive: star athlete, West Point grad, Harvard grad, class president at both universities, published author, second youngest Mayor in Shreveport history...I could go on. But one new item we can add to that list is lightning rod for controversy.
Look, fairly or unfairly, Mayor Perkins has faced controversy since before he took office. From garbage fees to questionable insurance changes to his security detail, every single decision he's made has been questioned. Heck, certain "media" personalities and online bloggers were questioning whether or not he ever went to Harvard or West Point. They also propagated several other outright lies about the guy. Its ridiculous. There are a lot of local politicians with big time detractors...but I can't recall anyone getting beat up quite as much as Adrian Perkins.
Now, some of his decisions deserve to be dissected and beat to the ground. You can't ask for more money from citizens or give someone a city contract (especially someone that, at the very least, is loosely connected to your inner circle), without questions being asked.
But, in all fairness, Adrian has also taken a butt kicking for things that maybe he shouldn't have. Depending on who you talk to, Perkins' "security team" is an egregious misappropriations of city resources. That he's got a driver and armed guard at all times. But, the truth of the matter is, its four police officers who are on call, if the Mayor needs it. From personal experience, I've seen Adrian out and about numerous times since he's taken office and every time he's been driving himself and alone. So, its a bit mischaracterization of what's actually happening.
Then there's the deal with Caddo Schools and the University of New Orleans. People were coming out of the wood work to bust Adrian up over making the decision to connect our schools with a New Orleans University instead of a local university like Louisiana State University in Shreveport. While I understand the frustration, Adrian has little to nothing to do with the decision or situation. He may have connected UNO and the Caddo School Board...but at the end of the day, Caddo Schools are the one who make the decision. They are the ones who put the deal together. Not the Mayor, not the city of Shreveport. The Caddo School board alone makes that decision. Adrian just was along for the ride, so to speak.
And then there's the fact that people are beating him up because Shreveport is...well....still Shreveport. Adrian, while campaigning, promised a lot of changes. And he has, at the very least, has made progress in some areas. Keith Hanson, Chief Technology officer, has announced several technological changes to the water department to fix their issues. The airport has added additional flights and services. He's announced several educational programs to help improve the areas' work force. We have at least one new business coming to town, bringing along 75 decent paying jobs. And, from my personal knowledge, there's a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on that is saving the city money and moving things forward. So, there has been progress...it just hasn't been anything to complete change the "face" of Shreveport. A lot of the things he's putting into place take time to develop, they aren't things that change overnight.
I guess my point to all this is we should judge the kid fairly. When the city elected him, we knew he was a political novice. Which, from what I remember, is one of things people liked about Adrian; he wasn't a political insider...he was a fresh face. I'm sure Adrian and I will agree and disagree on a lot of things over the next 4 years. But, I'm not ready to break out the shovel and bury the guy just yet.