“Plan B” for District E and the Rest of Shreveport
I am Benjamin P. Arnold and, as an entrepreneur, graduate of LSUS (as well as having attended numerous schools throughout Southwest Shreveport), and a veteran of both the Army and Navy, I am honored to seek your vote as District E’s representative and the First Independent to serve on the Shreveport City Council.
I could present you with a long resume of past accomplishments and qualifications but none of them entitle me to serve as your representative, nor do they truly prepared anyone to lead District E into the future. Fortunately, I am devoting a significant amount of time to familiarizing myself with the technological, economic, financial, educational, and governmental realities of that future.
Instead of going on about the past, I will now share with you the vision for the future I am bringing to District E and the Shreveport City Council. Admittedly, as with all plans, I do not expect every detail of this plan, which I simply refer to as “Plan B,” to be enacted exactly as presented; but these are projects that will get people talking and encourage all of Shreveport to press boldly forward.
Yet, as this call to boldness takes us forward, it does not create such a future by sacrificing our existing responsibilities or dreams, whose origins are rooted deeply in our rich past.
The priorities of Plan B are the same as are the primary responsibilities of all local government bodies: city administration (public works, like water and streets, and operations), safety and security (law enforcement), economic development (promoting and attracting businesses and job creation), and education and training (traditional and nontraditional).
The first step in this four year plan begins by reinvesting approximately one third of the City Operating Budget, or approximately one hundred and fifty million dollars, back into the most neglected, yet vital, areas of running a city: administration.
Our first year will be dedicated to improving our streets, water, and sewage systems. Work will be contracted to locally-owned companies who will be given incentives to hire locally. This will result in new job and revenue creation that will have a positive effect on our city’s economy.
The second step, which will begin at the same time as improvements to our infrastructure, will be raising our local law enforcement salaries to the Southern Average, or eleven thousand dollars over the course of four years.
As a cost-cutting measure, we will offer retired law enforcement and city employees, as well as those still employed but who qualify for retirement, a lump sum buy-out of their retirement plans. In order to qualify for the pay raises, officers will be reassessed to ensure we have the most professional, well qualified police force in the State, if not the entire south!
Additionally, officers will be equipped with wireless cameras to be worn on their uniforms. These cameras will reduce the number of false claims of officer brutality, and their subsequent legal fees, as well as actual instances of unnecessary force by officers.
We will also initiate an academy to train law enforcement officials in the techniques of non-lethal, non-violent engagement. This academy will be marketed to cities, states, and nations all over the world to help prepare our law enforcement officials for an increasingly violent and intolerant world.
Likewise, we will work with the local nonprofit sector to create a “citizens academy” to train in the practices of “civic engagement” and nonviolent demonstrations. These academies will be created, in conjunction with the local film industry, in revitalized and remodeled blighted areas of the city which can also serve as backdrops for movies and other civic initiatives.
Although, retirees are entitled to take their buy-outs wherever they choose, they—and participants mentioned in “Year Three of Plan B”—will be given incentive to stay in Shreveport by being exempted from city sales tax. For retirees, this equates to an 8.65 per cent increase in the value of their retirement. Furthermore, with the retirement funds saved in Shreveport’s City Credit Union the city will reap the benefits of fractional lending, as explained in “Year Three.”
As city revenue increases from improved infrastructure, relations between citizens and officers, and job creation, we will work feverishly to ensure that the atmosphere of District E—and all of Shreveport—is the most conducive for business expansion and creation in the country. This starts by working more closely with the African American Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Greater Shreveport Chamber, SBA (Small Business Association), and community business organizations to stream line the process of permitting, licensure, and authorization.
However, as our local economy has slumped and America has endured a recession for over fourteen years, many existing business owners and would be entrepreneurs, many of whom have filed for bankruptcy and over-extended their credit, no longer qualify for loans or at least not at a reasonable rate.
With the additional revenue generated from the aforementioned year’s programs, we will make micro loans available to entrepreneurs who do not qualify for traditional lending.
However, for those who qualify for such loans from the City, they will be required to contract with Shreveport for certain services, offered by local professionals, such as accounting, management, marketing, human resources, finance, etc. These services will be negotiated down through collective bargaining. Such involvement will be on a contractual basis and ensure such businesses are run efficiently and profitably.
The city will be paid a small percentage of the business’ revenue, as would a franchisee, and the contracts will be constantly reviewed and, at the end of every term, business owners will be given the option to buy-out, maintain, or request an increase or decrease in the percentage of ownership.
For the City, the loss in sales tax revenue would be supplemented by the interest payments on the loans (for instance, a loan at ten percent still produces 1.35 per cent net profit, despite the lack of sales tax). Furthermore, the additional income tax revenue generated through the creation of new businesses will increase Shreveport’s payments from Baton Rouge!
To increase the “Value Added Perception” of our local economy, those businesses who participate in Plan B will be networked with other businesses, such as locally-owned , nonprofit and faith-based agencies, whose resources and services will be available at discounted prices, as would be a “buyers’ market,” such as wholesale stores (like Sam’s and COSTCO). This will also provide us with a more accurate measure of our local economy’s health.
As with the previous three, year four will be initiated during “Year One of Plan B” and is the most exciting and innovative of all. It incorporates existing elements of our community and channels our focus and energy towards further developing a twenty first century economy.
To learn more about “Year Four of Plan B,” please show me the honor of attending the “We the People” forum October 28 at 5:30. It will be held at the Mediastar Entertainment Hall located at 1258 Dalzell St, Shreveport, LA 71103. You can RSVP by calling (318) 221-0779.
Join us and share in the excitement as I unveil the fourth phase (“Year Four”) of this Bold and Innovative Plan, “Plan B,” done in conjunction with the Parish Commission.
Thank you for your attention and vote of confidence, ensuring Shreveport remains, “A Great Place to Call Home!”
Hope to see you there!
Benjamin Arnold is a candidate for Shreveport City Council in District “E” and a graduate of LSUS. He hopes to be Shreveport’s first Independent Councilman.