Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Eric Crafton Calls Folks from the National Endowment for the Arts "Freeloaders"

During last night's Council debate on a bill that would merely approve a Metro application for NEA matching-funds to bring in a facilitator and programming to help the arts community develop a "cultural vision" for Nashville, Council Member Eric Crafton protested that the $50,000 in matching funds that would be required from Metro if NEA even approved the application should go to pay for shortages in the Nashville's libraries or to assist local arts groups (even though the NEA program is for local arts groups).

He also attacked the as yet unnamed, unidentified, un-NEA-approved NEA facilitator without ever having met him or her. Said Crafton:

Let's quit letting all these freeloaders pick the pockets of the taxpayers.
To repeat: this was not a vote to approve any NEA funds. It was a vote to approve an application to the NEA that drew Crafton's knee-jerk response. And if the application is approved by the NEA and then if the Metro Council approves release of the $50,000 in matching funds at a future date, the NEA would kick in its own $50,000.

As for spending the money on libraries, let's put aside the hypocrisy of Council Members complaining about where tax money is going after 6 months of their spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on private non-profits to the nearly complete exclusion of our infrastructure. Ludye Wallace straightened the matter out by saying that the $50,000 would come from funds already earmarked and approved by the Council as matching grant funds. They could not be spent on the library budget nor on any other project, including a Nashville-based facilitator or any other local "freeloader" to help Nashville develop a cultural vision.

The irrational lengths to which some council members will go to wage their own personal culture wars are simply beyond me. As a result of the sword-rattling, the bill was deferred on first reading without the benefit of any consideration or debates in committees; it had to be deferred I'm sure so that the culture warriors could feel comfortable just voting to get it to committees where their questions could be answered.

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