Is City Funding for Urban Film Festival Legal?
Another controversy is brewing at Shreveport City Hall. The council voted 4-2 this week to provide $10,000 in funding for the Shreveport Urban Film Festival.
Voting for this measure were Stephanie Lynch, Jeff Everson, James Flurry, and Willi Bradford. Only Oliver Jenkins and Michael Corbin voted against the funding. Jerry Bowman did not vote on this measure.
The reason this is so controversial is because it seems to be ethnically exclusive. In fact, a flyer for this event says all the films will be by "emerging African American Writers and Directors." Many who are opposed to this funding want to know if it is even legal.
Shreveport City Code might prohibit this expenditure. Here's what's in the city code:
Sec. 26-53. - Donation of city funds; contracts.
The public funds or property of the city shall not be donated to any for-profit organization, business or venture. This provision shall not prevent the expenditure of funds or waiver of revenues for the following purposes:
The public funds or property of the city shall not be donated, loaned or pledged to any person, except for public purposes.
Sec. 26-54. - Prohibited use of city funds.
It shall be unlawful for any official, employee, department, agency or office of the city to authorize the use or expenditure of funds allocated to the city for the purpose of the creation, promotion, enhancement and/or support of any endeavor, organization, activity, etc., which discriminates against persons by reason of race, color, sex, national origin or religion.
The Shreveport City Attorney does have to approve the fiscal agent for this group before the money can be spent. The group will also have to provide evidence of all expenses.