Thursday, September 21, 2006

Little Cabin in the Wood

There were several dust-ups at Tuesday night's council meeting beyond the English-only controversy.

One that went unnoticed in the mainstream media, but stood out to me involved the protection and security of a restored log cabin in Bellevue. Council member Charlie Tygard wants to protect the cabin, which sits in a secluded part of a park and keeps getting hit by vandals. So, he presented a bill requesting $3,500 for surveillance cameras, rather than relying on calls to Park Rangers.

The one hitch is that he was requesting the money from funds that, according to the Metro Finance Department, Metro Council had already voted to encumber when it passed the Capital Budget. That dilemma flustered several council members, including Eric Crafton, who started yelping about how ridiculous it was that the Finance Department could not find such a small amount of money in a multi-million dollar budget to buy the cameras. This is the same Eric Crafton who a little over a month ago was screaming against Metro's expenditure of money for paper publications. Money is an object when it comes to paper, but when it comes to security cameras it is no object?

It is definitely no object to Charlie Tygard, who made his plea on preservationist grounds even though in 2005 he voted to help kill a resolution that would have authorized an investigation of the fishy demolition of historic Evergreen Place, which was the oldest building in Davidson County. Nonetheless, Tygard was visibly upset that the Finance Department's response to his request for camera funds was to suggest that he spend it out of the $50,000 individual discretionary funds that each council member gave themselves this year for their own pet projects. I do not know what Tygard is so upset about. $3,500 is also a small percentage of $50,000. How is drawing on those funds a bad idea? It is not the Finance Department's fault that the council voted to encumber funds to other projects.

The council approved Tygard's resolution by voice vote (according to the Clerk's Office, there were no "nays"), fed by Crafton's rather irresponsible inducement that they just approve it and then let Metro Finance trouble itself over where the money will come from. Is that supposed to be leadership that Crafton is expressing? Sounds more like personal animosity to me, especially when Tygard seems to have $50,000 to spend at his discretion.

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