Monday, July 16, 2007

Tax Money for Non-Profit Pays Televised Dividends for Charlie Tygard's at-Large Campaign

When Council Member Charlie Tygard sponsored a successful effort to move $50,000 out of Mayor Purcell's 2006 budget to a Habitat for Humanity Project, he emphasized that the money would provide Council a service opportunity for bonding. Given a TV ad that the Tygard for Council-at-Large Campaign produced this weekend, that $50,000 is now paying him election season dividends: the beneficiary, LaShonda Corlew appears on the commercial with several others endorsing Charlie Tygard in his run for one of the 5 open at-Large seats.

In a 2006 Bellevue newsletter, Mr. Tygard took credit for coordinating the Nashville Community Build of "an affordable home for a deserving family in Nashville’s Providence Park subdivision" partially funded by our tax dollars. A September 2006 Habitat Nashville press release identifies LaShonda Corlew as the beneficiary of the Nashville Community Build. According to Metro Finance, September was the first month that a portion of the $50,000 ($12,500) was dispersed to pay a Providence Park contractor. The rest of those funds were dispersed each month through June 2007 in $4,166 payments for Providence Park construction. A final report on spending of the $50,000 is required by Metro of Habitat Nashville by August 14, 2007 (12 days after the at-Large election).

While Ms. Corlew may be supporting Mr. Tygard absent any strings and without any reference to the construction project, this still could appear to some to be a quid pro quo. And the mere appearance that Mr. Tygard's sponsorship of a bill to move $50,000 out of the budget to pay a non-profit for construction work on a house of a beneficiary who now endorses him is simply not ethical. Also, the appearance of the title "Habitat for Humanity" could be interpreted to mean that the non-profit endorses him, which is just the kind of ethical morass I've been warning about incessantly during the past year with respect to sending public dollars to non-profits.

The irony of Ms. Corlow's connection of Mr. Tygard with "safe, affordable neighborhoods" is that the move of $50,000 to Habitat apparently cost the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods a staffer. Moreover, she owes only the slightest appreciation to Mr. Tygard for $50,000 that was not his. Heck, it was not even out of his own assigned discretionary funds. Her fondest gratitude should be saved for Metro tax payers, who are the actual benefactors.

SIDE NOTE: 20 council members voted with Mr. Tygard to send $50,000 to Habitat in June 2006. Here are the ones who are now running for office.
  • Buck Dozier (Mayoral candidate)
  • Michael Craddock (Council candidate)
  • Rip Ryman (Council candidate)
  • Carl Burch (Council candidate)
  • Harold White (Council candidate)
  • JB Loring (at-Large candidate)
  • Ronnie Greer (at-Large candidate)
  • Eric Crafton (Council candidate)
  • John Summers (at-Large candidate)
  • Randy Foster (Council candidate)
  • Parker Toler (Council candidate)
2 members currently running--Diane Neighbors (Vice Mayor) and Vivian Wilhoite (Council)--abstained from voting for or against Mr. Tygard.


  1. Have you noticed that Diane Neighbors abstains from most votes? This is the second time in one week a council vote has been listed publicly and both seem to be simple yes or no votes.

  2. Charlie Tygard does not know the meaning of the word "ethical." Charlie Tygard serves only Charlie Tygard's interests. The day he goes back to being Just a Citizen will be a great day in Nashville.