Thursday, May 31, 2007

Outside Judgment: Salemtown Brought Down by Duplex Kings

The duplexes are plenty, all over Nashville in all of our neighborhoods. Every time I pass a lot where one is being built it makes me think about how much the developers dont care about anything accept pulling the biggest possible profit they can. With no regard for the neighborhood or anyone who lives in it .... [A]nyone who's taken a peek at Salemtown knows the duplexes there are very very plentiful .... The only urban neighborhood that comes to mind when I think of single family homes is Hope Gardens, which IMO is starting to gain steam because of that and surpass other neighborhoods who tend to build way more duplexes.
Such is the reputation we are getting to some planning-conscious outsiders, Salemtown. People look at the some of the multi-familyindividual/high density crap that builders like the Duplex Kings are putting up lately in Salemtown and wondering whether it is setting us back behind neighborhoods like Hope Gardens, which seems to attract single-family homes and more attractive builds.
We better start strategizing and doing something about it, folks, or people with lots of money and little taste (like UP, LLC and the development groups at the corner of 6th and Buchanan) will take over and supersaturate our neighborhood with more crap that makes others scratch their heads in puzzled disaffection.

This the 16th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Nothing cooking on a Salemtown meeting, but he did have a community meeting tonight on Rose Park. Unfortunately, it was announced on the 12 South e-mail list just this afternoon. If he is planning a Salemtown meeting, let's hope he does not wait to communicate until the last minute.

Meeting Tonight on Belmont/Rose Park Strife

There was a Community Meeting on Belmont University's proposal to use an Edgehill public park earlier tonight, but I don't know how it went because I only received word of it late this afternoon and I could not attend. According to the notice representatives from both Belmont and the Parks Board were to participate.

It would have been interesting to see whether Organized Neighbors of Edgehill participated since they were given the chance to present their case against Belmont and Metro in court, which puts a halt to the plan's progress through the Planning Commission and Metro Council. District 19 Council Member Ludye Wallace was the sponsor of tonight's meeting.

CM John Summers Tries to Sneak One Past the Goalie

As Intown Will reports, the Metro Council Member from the Sylvan Park area has put the Sylvan Park Overlay Bill back on the June 5 Council Agenda for third and final reading. It has been almost a year and a half since the bill was deferred indefinitely amidst some of the most laughable antics I have seen. It has almost been that long since Sylvan Park residents overwhelming voted against the overlay. Looks like John Summers is playing dirty pool to me.

This is turning into a banner council term for Mr. Summers, especially when you throw in his vote for English Only. I feel for Sylvan Park. If our council member weren't so comparatively poor, I would pity them, too. I cannot decide which is worse: John Summers staining the reputation of overlays by using them as weapons against his neighborhood opponents or Ludye Wallace trying to undermine the idea of reasonable height restrictions in low-rise city neighborhoods by asking if a building can be built "too low."

Holy Storm Chaser, Batman!

It's News 2 Brittney wants to know what this mysterious machine caught on video accelerating toward a Manchester tornado is. I do, too. Anybody know?


Enclave Proceeds Help Launch Jazz Workshop's Inaugural Campaign

Thanks to all of you who have clicked on the ads posted on Enclave. As I have received payments from ads that get clicked, I have forwarded those proceeds to North End non-profits.

As a result of my last contribution, I received a nice letter today from Larry Seeman, the Board President of Nashville Jazz Workshop:


I hope that those of you who appreciate the NJW will also make donations to their first Annual Campaign. Those donations will assist NJW in continuing to make vital contributions to our local community through the education and promotion of the quintessential, classical American musical genre, jazz.

DFA Nashville Endorses Player for 19

From Sean Braisted comes word that the local wing of Democracy for America has endorsed Freda Player for the District 19 council seat opening up in August. That helps Player in the race with 4 other candidates as it gives her a cadre of door-to-door volunteers from the mobilized group that grew out of the popular Howard Dean presidential run of 2004.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Judge Gives Edgehill Neighborhood Their Day in Court By Delaying Rose Park Decision

Not so fast on Belmont University expanding its athletic facilities to a public park: a Chancery Court Judge orders Metro Parks to delay plans so that Organized Neighbors of Edgehill can present their case against BU in court.

Clayton and Salemtown Hit Business Journal

Today's Nashville Business Journal has a piece on the Clayton on 6th Avenue.

They didn't add much more than what Enclave already told you last Thursday. And I threw in some photos.

Salemtown Was Once McGavock Farmland

I spent some time this afternoon in the Metro Archives in Green Hills. I braved Green Hills Gridlock in order to attempt to hunt down some historical information on Morgan Park.

One of the sideshows of this little project that I am embarked on has been to find out interesting information about secondary subjects like the area now known as Salemtown. For instance, I found out that the neighborhood now called Salemtown was subdivided from a farm originally owned by Dr. David T. McGavock, who was one of the titans of horse racing in the early 19th Century.

According to the December 22, 1929 Nashville Banner, McGavock's farm stretched from the top of the hill upon which now sits St. Cecilia Motherhouse to a point south of what is now Morgan Park. What would become Werthan Lofts was farmland for well more than half of the 19th Century. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War the McGavock farm was subdivided by "promoters," who declared that the area was "the most advantageous and coming residential sections of the city."

Some of us still feel that way some 140 years later.

Thompson Campaign Interviews Tarnished Karl Rove Protégé for "Top Job"

Does the Fred Thompson for President Campaign really want to contaminate itself with the White House attorney's scandal? How does hiring the controversial Arkansas attorney whose appointment was politically motivated help Fred Thompson avoid the appearance of impropriety?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Morgan Park Place Par-tay

A good crowd of community leaders, elected officials, business people, and construction types attended this evening's celebration of the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award given to builders of Morgan Park Place for sustainable construction. There were a handful of us from Salemtown.

The builders of MPP, the Lawrence Brothers, announced to the crowd that they will be striving in Phase II of their townhouse project for a higher LEED certification than Phase I, which won them the Governor's Award. They also announced their invitation to use their LEED expertise to advise and to assist other builders who are interested in sustainable, eco-friendly development. Time for you other North End developers to get quality and get on board.


Skip Lawrence of Lawrence Bros. Builders, the first builders to ever win the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award.


Mayoral Candidate David Briley asks for support for his LEED Certification Bill currently pending in Metro Council.


District 19 candidate Freda Player.



District 19 candidate Erica Gilmore.




Council Member Ludye Wallace (in hat) greets David Briley.

Fred Thompson Warms Up in the Republican Bullpen Demagoging the Soldiers and Denigrating the Honorable

You don't need a patch on your arm to have honor.

- -Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men



HT: Volunteer Voters


UPDATE: lending more perspective on that for which soldiers die is WWII veteran J. Glenn Gray:
Numberless soldiers have died, more or less willingly, not for country or honor or religious faith or for any other abstract good, but because they realized that by fleeing their post and rescuing themselves they would expose their companions to greater danger. Such loyalty to the group is the essence of fighting morale.
Service to country is not just reducible to soldiering and soldiering seems to entail more personal, elemental reasons than merely service to country.


UPDATE: Thompson ringmaster Steve Gill does what he does best in defense of Thompson's opportunistic demagoguery by targeting a couple of lowly bloggers. Besides being a lawyer who (like Fred Thompson) never served in the military, Steege makes money off his and other people's “support for the troops,” and he profits from waving that flag on his masthead. I would call that mercenary patriotism; ergo if there were not cash-lined pockets involved, then he would not be beating that drum. He’s a war profiteer of a new sort positioning himself for payback from a Fred Thompson run. Apparently, Steege wants to move up in the rankings of the "1oo Most Powerful People in Tennessee." He's a power broker pure and simple, using patriotism cynically to further his own ambitions.

The Consequence of Squander

Nashville's "center-right" mainstream ink jerk takes its shots at Al Gore's new book and it bemoans a society where people from either side of the political divide do not give each other credit for good ideas. Without getting into the question of whether the City Paper has ever credited Al Gore for good ideas, I want to at least emphasize the hypocrisy of the CP's second judgment.

For years the CP has published syndicated right-wing columnists whose best ideas of kindness were to plunge wedges deeper and to polarize to the point of breakage. Yet, the editors lecture the rest of us for lacking kindness that they have never themselves promoted; probably because such kindness does not send their paper flying off the racks.

But in their own flawed appeal of reason they abandon history for revisionism in their defense of George W. Bush:
Bush saw the country through one of its darkest hours since Pearl Harbor though he now gets little credit or recognition for his response to 9/11. The invasion of Afghanistan and the quick response of the American military that seemed to mollify and calm so many Americans after 9/11 is now overshadowed by the difficulty of the Iraq war.
Despite all rationalizing understatement, the Iraq War has been more than just "difficulty." And "seeing us through" means coming out the other side of Afghanistan. Yet, thanks to the diversion to Iraq we are farther away from the other side now than we were in 2001.

President Bush totally squandered the universal, nonpartisan support he had after 9/11. He could have seen us through Afghanistan and been the most popular president in history. Instead, his decisions bogged us down in Baghdad in the classic catch-22 where we must leave but we do not seem to be able to.

Now Afghani terrorists are entrenched and emboldened and Iraq went from a hell hole for some to a hell hole for others, including our own troops. Mr. Bush has to wear that albatross, deserving no better fate, thanks to his failure to persevere and to his resolve to squander. Trying to color that positive shows just how unreasonable the CP editors are.

Monday, May 28, 2007

This the 13th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

We've had more community meetings with candidates for District 19 than we've had with our current council member.

Significance of Tombs to Unknown Soldiers

At the beginning of his captivating history of nationalism and its connections to the popular dissemination of the printed word, Benedict Anderson describes the cultural significance of tombs to Unknown Soldiers. His discussion is just as noteworthy as any other on Memorial Day:
No more arresting emblems of the modern culture of nationalism exist than cenotaphs and tombs of Unknown Soldiers. The public ceremonial reverence accorded these monuments precisely because they are either deliberately empty or no one knows who lies inside them, has no true precedents in earlier times. To feel the force of this modernity one has only to imagine the general reaction to the busy-body who "discovered" the UnKnown Soldier's name or insisted on filling the cenotaph with some real bones. Sacrilege of a strange, contemporary kind! Yet void as these tombs are of identifiable mortal remains or immortal souls, they are nonetheless saturated with ghostly national imaginings. (This is why so many different nations have such tombs without feeling any need to specify the nationality of their absent occupants. What else could they be but Germans, Americans, Argentinians ... ?)

The cultural significance of such monuments becomes clearer if one tries to imagine, say, a Tomb of the Unknown Marxist or a cenotaph for fallen Liberals. Is a sense of absurdity avoidable? The reason is that neither Marxism or Liberalism are much concerned with death and immortality. If the nationalist imagining is so concerned, this suggests a strong affinity with religious imaginings.

District 19 Candidates Spend Some Holiday Time in Salemtown

On Saturday two of the five candidates stopped by to sit and to chat on our porch while doing some holiday weekend canvassing and generally pressing S-town flesh.

I finally met David Shaw, who underscored that he was the only candidate with roots in the North End area, including a grandmother living in Salemtown. Mr. Shaw spoke of the need for change in District 19, not just of Council Members but of the Ludyesque lack of availability in and lack of responsiveness to neighborhoods like Salemtown. He told me that he intends not only to be available and responsive to neighborhoods, but that he intends to have an office on Jeff Street in Germantown where residents can find him when needed. According to Mr. Shaw, no other District 19 candidate will be doing that. I was impressed by his candor about the needs of the community and I came away pleased that we seem to have another strong and insightful candidate running for our council seat. He told me that he intends to attend our June 25 Salemtown Neighbors meeting.

Freda Player also came by and we had a good long chat about local politics. Freda's grasp of the ins and outs of local politics is remarkable. She seems to have a thirst for political knowledge to compliment an encyclopedic well of information on which she is able to draw anecdotes to illustrate her aspirations for public service. Her borderline political geekiness seems balanced by a friendly, listening connectivity. She tells me that she has already started making inquiries around Metro about some interstate-sliced neighborhoods in District 19 (like Salemtown) that lack TDOT sound and sight barriers. It looks as if Ms. Player is proactive, too.

The District 19 candidates whom I have met so far are competitive and they are giving one another a good race for the finish line in August. I truly hope that they continue to make our decision a difficult one.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

News 2's Coverage of Farmers' Market Drama

I rarely pay attention to News 2 Reporter Andy Cordan's "That's Messed Up" stories because I have found them too knee-jerk, too sensationalist, and too tabloid to be really helpful for understanding various issues. Their noise usually obstructs any insight I might get from them.

So, I did miss his May 23rd story on the drama at the Farmers' Market over the possibility that the "middle men" who sell at the front line stalls could be losing some of their stalls to actual farmers.

I do not have much sympathy for the "middle men" who say they represent farmers whom they argue will be cut out if they lose some of their stalls. If the "middle men" are truly interested in the welfare of the farmers they say they represent, then why can't they also lease one of the empty second line stalls and sell their products in a less trafficked area?

Morgan Park Place Throws Party and S-town is Invited


Award-winning developments are a good thing, and so is the LEED bill up before the Metro Council. The Lawrence Brothers show that developers can protect the environment, be good neighbors, and still make money. Crank up Cameo and wail Word Up. It's the code word.

Public Square Farmers' Market Better than the Original Farmers' Market?

The Charlotte Parker has the details on the new Public Square Farmers' Market (operating 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays). The offerings include organic produce, which is something that vendors (who are not farmers) at Farmers' Market at Bicentennial Mall do not offer. The Public Square is close and convenient enough that I will consider it a viable option to the original Farmers' Market.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe

Sketches of the gated community scheduled for the corner of 4th Avenue and Monroe St. in Germantown are now on-line for public consumption.

In other Germantown real estate gab, I am told that a 5-story building is going up at the corner of Jefferson St. and 5th Avenue, which will obviously have great views of Downtown. The 2-story Summer Street Lofts at Madison St. and 5th Avenue currently enjoy that view. So, if you bought a Summer Street Loft for the view, soak it in while you can, because apparently it will be replaced by the view of a 5-story tower across the street.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Find This Salemtown Scenerio Just a Smidge Troubling


So, I was looking back over the zoning maps of Salemtown after the last Council vote to approve electronic signs for CL and CN zoning to see if we had any business that could plausibly put up electronic signs. The only CN zoning we have is at the corner of Buchanan and 5th Avenue (the intersection with Plumbers of Nashville), but business there cannot put up such signs because the amended bill that was passed requires at least 400 feet between the business and the closest residence. There are houses well within the limit at the location (the unamended bill only allowed a 100 foot buffer).

But that CN is surrounded by a huge chunk of R6, which allows different types of housing, including duplexes. This neighborhood is going to be supersaturated if most of those owners teardown and build duplexes.

Racketolling: Might Events Upstream Slow Things Down the Line?

The Texas Lege is in process of passing a highway bill that places a two-year moratorium on toll road projects. It still raises concerns among some in the Lone Star State.

My question for us: given the push to build the huge intercontinental transportation corridor from Mexico to Canada via West Tennessee, would that moratorium discourage plans to develop the Tennessee toll leg or would it simply give our Governor more time to develop toll roads in other parts of the state (like I-40 through Nashville) to try to build funding for the corridor?

Salemtown and Germantown Leaders Meet to Discuss Plans

During a meeting yesterday evening of leaders from Historic Germantown Neighborhood and Salemtown Neighbors, proponents of the proposed Historic Overlay on Morgan Park told Salemtown leaders that the overlay would only protect the facade of the historic house at 5th and Hume and the stone wall bordering Morgan Park from demolition in the future. Proponents maintained that the overlay would neither prevent changes or build-ons to the house nor affect programs in the park. The overlay would do nothing to the Morgan Park Memorial [Baseball] Field.

Germantown and Salemtown leaders also agreed to work together to encourage Metro Council to make upgrades to the Farmer's Market (including bringing actual farmers and their organic co-hort in to sell their wares rather than the middle merchants who currently occupy the space). The two sides also agreed to co-sponsor debate forum for the Metro Council District 19 candidates near the end of June. Two of the candidates, Erica Gilmore and Freda Player, have committed to Salemtown Neighbors to participate in a debate.

Dear Potential Buyers of New Salemtown Homes That Have Brick Veneer Added Later Than First Intended

Dear Potential Salemtown Home Buyers:

As you are looking at those trendy homes with the hip, unique shape that you do not see in other builds (some designers tell me that there is a structural reason why homes aren't built that way, but I digress), especially those that have brick veneer added as a second thought, be sure you have your hired inspector (and you should hire one) check that brick veneer outside and the foundation in the crawl space.

According to the Nashville Scene's home inspection columnist, Walter Jowers, a mistake commonly made in brick veneer jobs is the failure to install flashings and weep holes to prevent moisture build-up behind the foundation. Now many of us get all warm inside at the mere site of masonry, but brick veneer becomes a liability to your investment if it is blocking moisture under the foundation.

Weep holes cannot be added after a townhouse is built nor can they be drilled after the brick veneer (which may block weep holes) is installed. According to Jowers, you should not trust that the developer or the builder even knows these details, much less that they will take care of you. And, apparently, local codes inspectors do not do a very thorough job in order to warn you.

Buyer beware, and since Salemtown does not have strict zoning overlays, buyer be-paying-an-inspector-to-go-over-the-house-with-a-fine-toothed-comb. While developers may be promising to make your life better, you need to pay someone to inspect and to guarantee that they are true to their word.

Sincerely,
S-townMike

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Metro Historical Commission Awards Salemtown Single-Family Homes Distinctive Preservation Accolade

Mayor Bill Purcell and Metropolitan Historical Commission Officials presented Trust Development with the "Distinctive Preservation Award" for infill projects at the 32nd Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony at the Nashville Public Library on Thursday May 17th.

The award recognizes the diligent and detailed construction of the 3 historic replica homes called "The Clayton on 6th Avenue North," which were designed by Lynn Taylor. The Clayton sits near the intersection of 6th and Coffee St. Trust Development Partner Jim Creason responded:
Salemtown is a great neighborhood and we are excited to be a part of the positive transformation taking shape in the area. This award comes at a time when developers in the neighborhood have a choice between quality-oriented development or "hoe-hum" projects that put profit before all else.
This is great news for Trust, but it also gives Salemtown distinction and housing diversity that the community deserves. This significant recognition should be a lesson for other developers who only see Salemtown as a neighborhood where they can slap things up without regard for balance and where they can pack as many buyers on to a plot of land as possible. Quality should be rewarded, and it has been at 6th and Coffee.

Clement's Plan for Neighborhoods Is Not Enough

So Mayoral Candidate Bob Clement plans if elected to create a "Neighborhood Advisory Council" to meet with him once a month to "make Metro more responsive to neighborhoods." Given the strong executive branch that the Metro Charter defines along with the willingness of Metro Council to go its own way, I favor greater access to the Mayor's office, but there are flaws in Mr. Clement's idea.

One is that the Advisory Council will only consist of one representative from each of the 14 subareas. Each subarea is comprised of many neighborhoods with different needs. Our sub-area of North Nashville includes neighborhoods as diverse as East Germantown and Tomorrow's Hope. So, who would represent us and how could that person gather sufficient feedback from all of the neighborhoods to be effective for the entire sub-area? We need more progress in access to the Mayor than 14 people sitting down with the Mayor 12 times in a year. And we need to more far reaching plan than Mr. Clement offers.

This is progress over candidates like Buck Dozier or Howard Gentry, neither of whom seem to offer much beyond cursory steps on behalf of neighborhoods; but I am still waiting to see which candidate is going to claim the "Neighborhoods Mayor" mantle.

Tennessee Republicans Vote Against Rosa Parks Act

Tennessee's Rosa Parks Act, which would expunge the criminal records of Civil Rights activists arrested for protesting segregation, awaits the Governor's signature. It was supported by nearly everyone in the TenGenAss except for 6 Republican State Senators Representatives who voted against it.

Via TGW, here are the infamous anti-Rosa Parks 6:

• Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland (rep.Kevin.brooks@legislature.state.tn.us)
• Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville (rep.Stacey.campfield@legislature.state.tn.us)
• Rep. Chris Crider, R-Milan (rep.chris.crider@legislature.state.tn.us)
• Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville (rep.bill.dunn@legislature.state.tn.us)
• Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald (rep.joey.Hensley@legislature.state.tn.us)
• Rep. Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro (rep.donna.Rowland@legislature.state.tn.us)

They are today's top 6 Worst Persons in the State.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This the 8th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Can we hear him now?

North End Memorial to "Boys Who Left the Red Wine of Athletic Competition for the Red Blood of War"

Did you know that there is a World War II monument sitting between Salemtown and Germantown? I did not discover it until this past week, in spite of the fact that I have known it was there as long as I've known of Morgan Park. How is it possible that I would have just discovered a monument I already knew was there?

Because I thought the monument was merely a baseball diamond. It turns out that the ballfield between 3rd and 4th Avenues and Hume St. and Morgan Park Place is called "Morgan Park Memorial Field," and it is dedicated to the "THOSE BOYS OF NORTH NASHVILLE" who fought in World War II.



The baseball field is itself a memorial with the 58-year-old marker sitting outside of the right field fence. The dedication prose was written by a Nashville Banner sports editor. According to the April 11, 1949 Nashville Banner, the marker was originally located just outside of the back stop behind home plate. I do not know if that means that home plate was originally near what is now Morgan Park Place or whether the marker has been moved from an original spot at the corner of 4th and Hume St.

Salemtown Leaders Meet with Salem Gardens Developers

Yesterday afternoon, Salemtown leaders were finally able to communicate all of their concerns about the rezoning of the Salem Gardens properties directly to the developers, who admitted that they had been "hands-off" about getting neighborhood support for their requested changes. The developers also showed some of their plans for duplexes along Garfield Street (elevations pictured above), and asked for neighbors' feedback.

The Salem Gardens Group, who originally received support to build multi-use retail/residential and townhouses at the corner of 6th and Garfield, came back in 2007 and along with UP, LLC asked to have the 5 properties downzoned for duplexes. The Planning Commission rejected that request after hearing opposition at the Public Hearing and recommended to the Metro Council that 3 of the properties be zoned for single-family homes. That recommendation is currently pending third and final reading at the Council's late June meeting.

Should the recommendation be supported by the Council, the SG Group will be able to build the three duplexes along Garfield (pictured above; they are in the process of getting permission to subdivide 1 of the 2 Garfield properties, which will allow them to build the third duplex). They must decide whether they can afford to build a single-family home on their remaining property on 6th Avenue, which will be zoned RS7.5 (intended only for single-family homes) on council approval. Their other options are to do nothing, to request another downzone or to sell it.

While the neighborhood association has not opposed the duplexes along Garfield, it has opposed the SG Group's attempts to build duplexes on the remaining 3 properties along 6th. Yesterday we explained to the SG Group that we are fighting for a balance between detached homes with yards and multi-family dwellings. The SG Group said that they were open to the idea of building a detached home on their 6th Avenue property if they believe that they can get the same return as they would a duplex by doing so. Some neighbors also expressed the hope that the SG Group would consider building brick and masonry duplexes along with their planned clapboard ones and choose a style closer to a "brownstone" look. The SG Group expressed openness to consider those requests.

The remaining two properties in the original Salem Gardens mixed use proposal are owned by UP, LLC (run by Schoene Ansicht developer Steve Yokley, who was not at the meeting). Pending council approval, those will be zoned RS7.5 for single-family homes. Currently, the blighted triplexes pictured at the right sit on the properties. The word on the street is that UP, LLC is not going to tear these down (in which case any new builds would have to be single-family homes). Instead, I am told that they intend to renovate them and use them as multi-individual spaces.

I cannot confirm this, because Mr. Yokley has made it clear to me after my posts on the Schoene Ansicht controversy that I do not have his permission to quote him. However, UP, LLC has also made it clear to neighbors in the past that they do not intend to build any single family homes in Salemtown ever, regardless of the views of our neighborhood association. Given all of the attractive development either going up or planned around Werthan Lofts do you think that these can possibly be upgraded beyond their resident-warehousing/trailer-park look to enhance the quality of life on 6th Avenue?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This the 7th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

He must be resting on the 7th day because there is no word of a community meeting.

Development Still Not Driving Out the Riff-Raff

Several neighbors on 5th and 6th Avenues reported hearing gunshots after 9:00 last night around the intersection of 6th and Hume. You know the intersection of 6th and Hume: where Schoene Ansicht developers insist that they are doing more to drive crime out by simply building some new townhouses than anyone who actually lives in the neighborhood and who belongs to the crime watch that mobilized last night to contact police. ¡Viva la development!

No police reports of suspects at this point.

CRIME ALERT: Possible Gang Activity on the Last Day of School

Metro Police told Salemtown Neighbors last night that there is an unconfirmed rumor that some gangs in Nashville (specifically, the Crips and the Bloods) are planning a show down at an undisclosed location in Nashville on Thursday, May 24 after school (students have a half-day). Police asked residents to pass on any information that they might hear to the Central Precinct. Since the location is unknown, the rumored clash could happen anywhere in the city.

District 19 Now Has a Blogging Council Candidate

While three (E. Gilmore, F. Player, and D. Shaw) of the five candidates competing for the District 19 Metro Council seat in August have websites to publicize their campaigns, Freda Player has launched a weblog on her site, where she is chronicling her impressions of the campaign daily.

I believe that blogging is a great way to get voters to return to a candidate's site on a regular basis to keep up with news from the frontlines of the campaign. I do not think that just having an updated press or news section is enough. That may work for one-time web-site visitors. However, voters also want to read more of the candidate's personal thoughts and dispatches from the front. Campaign blogs open up dynamic dimensions on otherwise static sites.

I hope that the other District 19 candidates will take that extra step and start their own blogs as Ms. Player has.

Council Candidates Meet Salemtown Neighbors

Two dozen people attended last night's Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association meeting, including 3 Metro Council candidates running in the August 2 elections. SNNA members gathered for their monthly meeting, which included discussions with police of the recent spike in crime and plans to meet with Historic Germantown Neighborhood to discuss the latter's proposed historical overlay at Morgan Park and the possibility of a jointly sponsored District 19 candidates' debate before August.

Candidates in attendance at last night's meeting included Richard Exton (at-Large), Erica Gilmore (District 19), and Freda Player (District 19). The candidates introduced themselves and they each spoke briefly to the group about ideas and goals. SNNA President Alan Maloney asked Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Player (there are 3 other District 19 candidates who were not in attendance) if they would commit to participating in a debate forum in the event that one is set up for the North End and they both said, "Yes." The evening was punctuated by local politics as current District 19 Council Member Ludye Wallace (not present) was the topic of a long discussion about passage of the 6th and Garfield rezoning bill currently pending. I thought it was helpful that Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Player got to hear community frustrations with Ludye's performance.

SNNA members also started discussing plans for participation in Germantown's Oktoberfest and Nashville's Night Out Against Crime, which occurs during the first week of August (as does the election). I was struck by how energetic everyone seems to be this year. In past years at the beginning of the summer, the group energy and meeting attendance seemed to wane. This year, the association seems to be gearing up for the summer rather than just putting things on hold until Fall.


UPDATE: Hutchmo's views after the jump.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This the 6th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

One of our members spent an hour on the phone with Ludye a few days ago. She reports that he intends to ask the Council to support the bill on 3rd reading during the second June meeting. He also reportedly intends to meet with Salemtown's association and all of his neighborhoods' associations to introduce the candidates for District 19.

Ludye Wallace Indicted on Gambling Charges

Davidson County Grand Jury indicts District 19 Council Member on charges that he gambled on Buchanan Street nearly a year ago. Looks like he will probably beat the charge on a technicality: while he told police that he lost nearly $2,000 while gambling, in order to get a conviction the police actually have to see him gambling, which they did not during the raid.

We are hurting for good Metro Council leadership in the North End. Educate yourself and please vote in August.

Megan Barry: The 2007 Candidate Best Suited to Help Metro Council Work as It Should

Making my first endorsement of this election cycle, I am pleased to commend to you heartily and without reservation Metro Council at-Large candidate Megan Barry for one of the five at-Large openings on the August 2 ballot. Ms. Barry's past experience on the Metro Council Conduct Board and her current job as an ethics and compliance officer makes a fit with the ethically-challenged Metro Council a natural, indeed a necessary, one.

Check out a couple of recent interviews of Ms. Barry. Regular readers of Enclave will be able to see that she had me at the mention of re-thinking the council's $2 million discretionary funds for infrastructure. She maintains that, rather than funding non-profits over the past 9 months, council members could have spent those funds on urgently needed affordable housing units for the homeless. We both agree that at the very least the funds should have gone to local infrastructure first.

You will also discover her impulse to eschew lightning rod issues over which council members can exercise very little influence (like illegal immigration and English Only) and to focus instead on matters in their control, like exhibiting clarity on conflicts of interest, putting more police on the streets, removing impedients to funding public schools, and leading for sustainability and LEED certification in Nashville's exploding development.

I had the chance to meet Ms. Barry face-to-face at a party that she and her husband Bruce Barry (Nashville Scene writer and Vanderbilt Professor) hosted over the weekend in honor of Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Talking more personally with her sealed the deal for me and for S-townWife. Not only will we be voting for her, but we have decided to make our first ever financial contribution to a candidate running for office; and we are pleased that the candidate is Megan Barry for Metro Council at-Large. I encourage you to vote for her, too.

Salemtown Neighbors Meeting Tonight

We usually meet on the 4th Monday of each month, but because Memorial Day is next Monday, our monthly meeting got bumped up a week to tonight. I understand that there is a chance that one or maybe even two candidates running for the Metro Council District 19 seat may be in attendance. The meeting starts at 6:30 and it will be held at Watkins Institute of Art over in MetroCenter.

Buh-bye

Not too long ago I had a verbal altercation with some residents suspected of dealing drugs here in Salemtown (vehicular traffic coming, staying for short periods of time, and going from their apartment at all hours of the day and night). They accused me of calling the police on them for some loud noise they were making a few nights before (which somebody else had done), and they told me that they were not going to be driven out of the neighborhood.

I saw them moving out of their apartment last week. They will not be missed. But, unfortunately, someone in some other neighborhood will be forced to deal with them now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Can You Build a Building Too Low?

Council Member at-Large David Briley was able to return to last Tuesday night's council meeting with a substitute to his height restriction bill that represented a compromise between developers (who seek to build taller houses) and neighbors (who desire to keep their sunlight from being blotted out).

The compromise apparently did not impress Ludye Wallace, who seems to think that the sky is the limit on neighborhood building heights. I taped Mr. Wallace's oppositional and entertaining comments toward Mr. Briley's bill (sorry for the less-than-satisfying quality of the video; while I am commentary-rich, I am video-feed-software-poor).

This the 5th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Still no word.

CRIME ALERT: Suspicious Early Morning SUV and Break-ins

From HistoricGermantown:
A gold or bronze Yukon has been spotted circling our neighborhood at odd hours. It is pulling a black trailer behind the vehicle with a water tank on it. In the wee hours of the morning (4am), this vehicle has been shining a red light into windows to detect activity. They could be planning a break-in or could be stealing your water for their business. If you see this vehicle, call the police immediately.

Several break-ins have occurred on 6th Avenue involving cars. Not only have they stolen what was loose in the car, but have done significant damage to the cars beyond breaking windows. Protect your vehicles.

The police want us to know that there is a drug shortage in Nashville, driving up crime for more money to buy what drugs are available. Therefore, if you mix in the new construction, cars parked on the side of the road already broken into, you have a perfect opportunity for more serious break-ins and robbery.

Please be aware, alert and call the police when you are suspicion of anything. It is good for all of us to be protective of our community.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This the 4th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

No word from our Council Member on the promised community meeting on rezoning at 6th and Garfield.

Morgan Park Progress: Community Center Under New Bright Lights at Night

Renovations on the Morgan Park Community Center are not complete, but with the construction of new lights this week, the historical wing of the MPCC has been bathed in bright light after the sun goes down. It is an impressive sight compared to the dim lighting the building used to have. I could not wait until after the renovations to get some pictures of the illumination.




Friday, May 18, 2007

This the 3rd Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Salty Papa still silent about Salemtown assemblage.

Salemtown and Werthan Leaders Meet to Pursue Common Goals

This morning I attended a meeting between the Werthan Homeowners Association Communications Chairperson and the Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association President to talk about joining forces in a larger neighborhood watch, developing joint community projects, and attending one another's meetings. Everyone agreed that forming links between the two associations served residents in both Salemtown and Werthan.

The point was brought out that many Werthan pedestrians and bikers utilize Salemtown as a gateway to MetroCenter and the Cumberland River Greenway, so they already have affinities for and interests in the security of Salemtown. Likewise, all agreed that Werthan residents provide a broader reach for the Salemtown Neighborhood Watch and that they increase our security. We also had preliminary discussions on possible coordinating social activities and community projects like volunteer action in Cheatham Place.

Exciting new opportunities seem to be opening up between the two groups in ways that could not if each worked alone.

Nashboro Village Development Bill Deferred amidst Charges that Developer "Bamboozled"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This the 2nd Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Still awaiting that annoucement of date, time, and place to discuss what Salemtown apparently fails to understand about the rezoning at 6th and Garfield.

MetroCenter = "Auto Dealership Central"?

Nashpo has a piece on Hippodrome's planned move to Vantage Way near Salemtown and reports that it is part of a trend that will be bringing more dealerships to MetroCenter. Looks like the days of a quiet jog or bike around MetroCenter may be drawing to a close. Good thing for our community or not?

The Logical End of Mayor Purcell's Support of News Racks

Cat-Mac shows us in pictures the arbitrary and capricious logic behind Mayor Purcell's veto of the Council's news rack regulation bill. Why does corporate media have some imagined constitutional right to place their commercial racks on sidewalks but not next to landmarks like the Parthenon? If the Mayor is serious about it, then it's time to open all public lands up to commercial sales of newspapers and giveaway apartment guides. How about lining the entire length of the Shelby Street Bridge with media boxes to champion so-called "freedom of the press?"


UPDATE: The link to the pictures no longer works as Catherine has put an "invitation only" requirement on her blog. I cannot even get there now.

Belmont-Hillsboro Conservation Overlay Passes Metro Council Third Reading

Passed with minor resistance from Ronnie Greer and Carolyn Baldwin Tucker.

Freudian Slip of the Day

I would urge this Clowncil to vote for what's pending tonight.
- - Ludye "Salty Papa" Wallace during last Tuesday's Council Meeting debate on a bill to provide Williamson County sewer hook-ups

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This the 1st Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

And we have no indication that the promised community meeting on rezoning at 6th and Garfield has been scheduled before the June 19th third reading on the rezoning bill.

No fliers.

No e-mails.


No snail mails.


No phone calls.


No word-of-mouth.


No rumors.


No Ludye.

If he has plans to hold a Salemtown community meeting, the Salemtown where I live currently has no knowledge of it.

Metro Council Passes Disputed Hermitage Zoning Changes on Third Reading

A highly charged Planned Unit Development that would allow expansion that Hermitage neighborhood residents maintain would destroy their Neighborhood Plan for a walkable neighborhood passed third and final reading last night amid a cloud of controversy about the bill, about the expansion, and about co-sponsors Harold White and J.B. Loring.

Several members mentioned that "a lot of people" in the neighborhood were upset by the development, which would add a third story to a medical building, take retail out of the first floor, and set it back to create more room for the increased vehicular traffic that comes with emergency treatment for patients at the center. Those comments seemed to have fallen on deaf Council ears, as the resolution is now law and the medical group is free to expand.

Responding to a statement that Mr. White made last night that only 6 people showed up for a community meeting, Neighborhood blogger Jean Grey--whose blog I'm embarrassed to admit I just discovered today--writes:
Harold said that there were "six" people at the May 7 community meeting. Well, let me ask you, Harold, do you think the community is psychic? Do you think they just automatically show up? NO, you have to put some effort into inviting them!!! Like we did!!!! And, I'm sorry, but I've been too freakin' too busy to do your job for you.
I'm bound to join in and ask our Council Members, can we really call them "community meetings" when the community isn't properly informed about them?

Someone in Hermitage produced a sobering video on this controversy, and I'm sorry that I didn't find out about it until after the Council's vote. You have to watch it. It is effective and it should give us all pause on the power that Council Members have to ignore neighborhoods and tell neighborhood organizations that they are not bound to negotiate with any person beyond the monied interests of business.

One Last Metro Council Push for "Infrastructure" Earmarks, Part IV

According to the Metro Council Clerk's Office, here are the 23 previously unnamed (at least for public consumption) "Late Resolutions" from last night requesting Metro Council Discretionary Funds (requests for non-profit earmarks not addressed to public infrastructure are in red letters):
  • $1,500 to the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (Vivian Wilhoite)
  • $1,500 to the Metropolitan Information Technology Services Department (Wilhoite)
  • $1,650 to Metro Nashville Public Works (Parker Toler, Sam Coleman)
  • $2,000 to the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (Erik Cole)
  • $2,000 to the Metropolitan Historical Commission (Wilhoite)
  • $2,000 to Metro Nashville Public Works (Wilhoite)
  • $3,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, Inc. (Wilhoite)
  • $3,000 to the Mary Parrish Center (Wilhoite)
  • $3,000 to the National Council on Aging (Toler)
  • $3,000 to Senior Citizens, Inc. (Feller Brown)
  • $3,387 to Metro Nashville Public Works (Wilhoite)
  • $4,000 to the Metro Sheriff's Office (Wilhoite)
  • $4,000 to the Nashville Minority Business Development Loan Fund, Inc. (Wilhoite)
  • $5,000 to the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville (Wilhoite, Pam Murray)
  • $6,750 to the Nashville Humane Association (Jim Forkum)
  • $7,000 to the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation (Wilhoite)
  • $8,875 to Bethlehem Centers of Nashville (Walter Hunt)
  • $10,000 to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education, Inc. (Murray, Toler)
  • $11,750 to Vanderbilt University (Anna Page, Wilhoite)
  • $15,000 to Friends of Warner Parks (Emily Evans)
  • $23,305 to the Neighborhoods Resource Center (Mike Jameson, Wilhoite, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, Sam Coleman)
  • $25,000 to Metro Nashville Public Works (Greg Adkins)
  • $35,750 to NEON, North Edgefield Organized Neighbors (Murray, Rip Ryman)

These resolutions were passed in one lump without consideration or discussion.

Obviously, there are a good number of requests here that address public infrastructure and services (reportedly, those are more likely to get processed before the June 30 deadline). It is really too bad that public programs have not been at least getting funds at this clip the whole year.

Papa Was Salty Last Night

I do not know what Ludye Wallace had up his sleeve in delaying the Salem Gardens vote last night until the end of June. He said that he wants to hold a community meeting and help "the public" understand what they were supporting.

Salemtown residents started understanding the message that the Planning Commission sent about balance at Salem Gardens in late March. We understood in April when we started e-mailing council members and signing petitions. We understood in May 1 when several of us stood with one voice against a single absentee developer in the Metro Council Public Hearing. The only thing we do not understand is why Ludye Wallace fails to understand that we understand.

Despite our understanding, this morning I went back to the Senior Planner who was in charge of this rezoning request and I asked her if I had misunderstood that rezoning 3 of the 5 properties to an RS7.5 would only allow single-family homes and would not allow duplexes. Here is her response:

Just to confirm, RS7.5 will only allow single family units. If the Council rezones the three properties to RS7.5 as recommended by the Planning Commission, then only single family units would be permitted. The other two parcels that are recommended to remain MUN could have a number of uses including duplexes. This may have been what the Councilmember was referring to.
So, it is clear that I did not misunderstand anything. Ludye Wallace is the only one failing to understand.

But Ludye seemed to be in a salty mood last night. On other bills he chewed up chunks of meeting time speaking against the public.
  • He taunted David Briley's height restriction substitute bill, which was a compromise from neighborhood complaints about developments that block out the sun and the profit motive of developers.
  • He defended Harold White's controversial PUD request and dismissed the neighborhood opposition (expressed by other Council Members) to White's bill.
  • He spoke in favor of an electronic sign bill that Council Member David Briley characterized as having no observable support in the neighborhoods it affected and as only being supported by a single sign-making business. Ludye also chastised a group of Council Members who wanted to amend that bill to exclude specific streets in order to protect nascent major planning projects (like Gallatin Road) and lectured them on how to vote in the future.
Papa Ludye was salty toward "the public" last night, so why should those of us in one of his neighborhoods be exempt from his flying brine? Either he is spoiling for a fight with residents and on behalf of developers or he is simply out of touch with the bulk of his own constituency. Maybe it is some of both.

Metro Council Ethics Bill Passes; Late Attempt to Amend Meals-for-Deals Back in Repelled

Metro Council passed the controversial Ethics Bill on second reading last night. The bill would extend state-mandated ethics requirements to all Metro employees. Recent attempts to amend the bill in order to slip patronizing free meals for Metro Council members back in seem to be dead.

District 30 Council Member Jim Hodge tried to amend the bill to allow free meals riding a comparison of meals between patrons with business before the council and council members with church fellowship suppers. He received support from our own member Ludye Wallace (no surprise there). The bill's prohibition of meals-for-deals is stricter than what the state requires, a point which seemed to be grounds used by Mr. Hodge and Mr. Wallace for allowing members their free meals. Their amendment was soundly defeated in a charge to table it led by Michael Craddock who self-identified as a fellowshipping Southern Baptist who likes to eat but who would refuse to allow anyone else to pay for his own meals.

The state has given municipalities until the end of June to pass ethics legislation. Metro Council is on track to do so.

One Last Metro Council Push for "Infrastructure" Earmarks, Part III

Twenty-three late requests for discretionary earmarks for nonprofits (not on the original Metro Council agenda) were made last night and they were all passed together without any description, discussion, or debate. I am trying to find out how much they cost and whom they are to.

In related news, a council advisor told the herd that they could "theoretically" still get more earmarks designated for Metro Departments in for one of the two remaining council meetings before the June 30 cut-off, but that non-profit earmarks would "probably" not have enough time for consideration. During that discussion, several council members lobbed criticism at council staff for not supplying them disbursement information about their own discretionary funds; as if the members have not had 12 months to hunt down that information themselves.

Ludye Wallace Defers Salemtown Rezoning; Says "Public" May Not Understand It

District 19 Council Member Ludye Wallace deferring a bill is not news. Like fish take to water, so Ludye takes to deferrals.

But what is news for Salemtown--and frustrating news for all of us who have worked so hard for several months to fight for balance in the neighborhood--is that Ludye Wallace convinced the Metro Council last night to defer the final reading of the 6th and Garfield re-zoning bill until June, saying that he plans to do something he has never done in the 3 years I have lived here: hold a community meeting, so that he can discuss the matter with the neighborhood. He also told the Metro Council that we may not understand the zoning and that the RS7.5, which Planning has told us is meant for single family homes may actually allow duplexes to be built on the old Salem Gardens properties.

I await his notification of this community meeting. I await it with disbelief and resolve.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Un-"Neighborhoods Mayor" Veto

Get used to this view:


NashPo reports that Mayor Bill Purcell will veto the Metro Council resolution regulating the commerce of newspapers and media guides on public sidewalks.

Corporate media wins; neighborhoods lose; First Amendment unaffected either way.


[Photo credit: cdub]



UPDATE: The Tennessean is reporting an hour or so after the word of the Mayor's veto that some of the publications that sell their wares at news racks have reached an agreement for self-monitoring "that they hope will eliminate the need" for regulation.

I smell some coordination between the publishers and the Mayor's Office; perhaps a veto in exchange for going through the motions of self-regulating?

But one of the bill co-sponsors, Mike Jameson, tells the Tennessean that there is no agreement since all publishers have not agreed on the the agreement. That is exactly what happened in the recent past when publishers said that hey would self-regulate and failed to do so.


UPDATE: The Council Clerk read the Mayor's veto to the Council at 7:10 p.m. At 7:11, the Vice Mayor suspended discussion of the veto until the next council meeting, since the letter was received in the Council Office at 4:00 this afternoon.

One Last Metro Council Push for "Infrastructure" Earmarks, Part II

In keeping with their track record of shunting tax dollars away from public services in order to support and patronize private non-profit organizations, the agenda has its share of earmarks going to the private sector. Given recent trends in these requests, expect no debate and quick passage, even of the $15,000 to a Baptist Church.

Here are what may be the last bunch of non-profit earmarks for 2006-2007:

One Last Metro Council Push for "Infrastructure" Earmarks, Part I

In spite of the warning that tonight's Metro Council meeting would likely be too close to the June deadline for considering any more requests for discretionary funds created by late property taxes, a number of council members put in requests for earmarks from those funds. Since the number of last-minute requests is legion, I am dividing them up into two posts, one on actual infrastructure requests and the other on the typical non-profit patronage that has characterized the majority of these requests.

The resolutions requesting tax money for actual public projects and infrastructure include:
  • $1,750 for upgrades in the children's section of the Green Hills Public Library (Jim Shulman)
  • $35,000 for the Metro Police Department's "Crime Reduction Team" activities in the South Sector (Sam Coleman)
  • $5,250 for inmate community service equipment and supplies in the Metro Sheriff's Office (Eric Crafton)
  • $12,667 for monument refurbishment and tree acquisition and planting in a public right of way (Erik Cole)
  • $12,750 for partial funding of the Nashville Alliance for Public Education (Lynn Williams)
Ms. Williams' request does not stipulate whether the Alliance for Public Education will spend the funds on actual schools in her district, but I am told that the only way that the Council can legally use discretionary funds for education is to give them to the School District's non-profit partner. Hence, I am giving her request the benefit of the doubt.

Once again, this is a small number of request for funds for actual public programs and services, but that fact should in no way dampen our gratitude to these five council members for using their funds wisely and for cutting against the grain of non-profit earmarking.

Hispanic Hookers Garner Media Attention

I'm building an Enclave library on City Paper Reporter Jared Allen's pickups and splashes. Mr. Allen is gaining quite the reputation for being the CP Foreign-Born Criminals Beat Writer; let us hope he has some Spanish fluency so that he is able to balance all sides in his writing (there are other journalists whose bilingual abilities would suggest greater balance).

This morning Allen's topic is "Hispanic Brothels," some of which are run by illegal immigrants. As if the bordellos run by legal criminals do not warrant mainstream media attention. I know that the City Paper has some red meat to dangle at its target conservative audience, but why can't it do some investigative reporting on reputed prostitution and slum lording in communities outside of predominately Hispanic ones?


UPDATE: In response to this post, Volunteer Voters says Allen's piece sounds like news. I wouldn't try to dispel the proposition that it is news. But there are many stories in the naked city. Unfortunately, the City Paper's ideological blinders and tunnel vision exclude some stories and sensationalize others. What ACK doesn't acknowledge is that they have to keep a particular readership that might not be as interested in prostitution unlinked to foreign-born populations. That latter is a real froth-frapper. Just watch the comments board grow under Allen's story today. And for the record, I take on lots of different media sources beyond the CP, especially when they become unbalanced and go just plain wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Local Restaurant Featured in American Idol Promo

In what is only my second post ever on American Idol stars (the first was purely accidental), I reluctantly bow to this strain of popular culture, but only for the good of the North End.

HT: You know who you are.

Cooper's Budget Requests Include Religious-Based Earmarks

Last week's NYTimes published a story on the lucrative business religious-based groups are doing with Congress in order to obtain noncompetitive earmarks without having to bid for them. Many of these groups are also hiring professional lobbyists to lasso the earmarks, which are said to feed the budget deficit and which have resulted in congressional bribery scandals.

The phenomenal growth of religious-based earmarks is shown by the Times bar chart on the left. The longest bar represents the 108th Congress (2003-2005).

Reading the NYT piece made me sit up and take notice of this morning's Tennessean, which listed U.S. Representative Jim Cooper's (D) requested 2008 earmarks. There are a number of religious-based groups in his bunch (I do not know whether they retained lobbyists or whether those lobbyists enlisted Mr. Cooper's support):
  • $300,000 to the YMCA for Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth Program

  • $1,000,000 to Lipscomb University for conflict management courses for police

  • $500,000 to Lipscomb University for geothermal heating/cooling in campus buildings

  • $1,500,000 to Lipscomb University for nurse retention

  • $250,000 to Belmont University to support the Health Science Center

  • $1,250,000 to the YMCA for youth outreach programs, including "character development"

  • $1,417,000 to the YMCA for after-school programs
In fairness to these organizations, there are other non-religious non-profits that Mr. Cooper is seeking to subsidize. And funding non-profits in general when public programs are suffering cuts is due scrutiny.

However, religious-based organizations focus on the narrowest, most prosaic missions and value sets, but they do not have to compete to get the earmarks. For instance, David Lipscomb describes itself thusly:
committed to teach truth as revealed in God’s word through daily Bible classes and chapel, encouraging each student to an exploration of scripture, to know Jesus Christ and to grow in His image. Classes in every area are taught in a faith-informed approach by highly qualified faculty who represent the range of perspectives that exist among churches of Christ.
The YMCA is poised to score almost $3,000,000 in earmarks from Congress. On the one hand, the YMCA keeps the "spiritual" component in its mission broad enough so that it cannot be charged with proselytizing those it serves.

On the other hand, the YMCA is a major sponsor of parochial events like the Downtown Prayer Celebration, which is an extension of the National Day of Prayer (NDP). NDP is coordinated by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which reportedly instructs its volunteers to allow only conservative Christians to speak, and “Christian nation” rhetoric often punctuates its rhetoric. My family supports the YMCA with our money and we sent one of our daughters to YMCA summer camp, but I do not believe that $3M in federal tax dollars should be going to an organization that sponsors conservative Christian rallies.

We also should be questioning whether these earmarks (along with all non-profit earmarks) are taking money away from public services that address the broadest human need possible. Mr. Cooper should be asking for funding that has the greatest impact on the local community at large, not helping special constituencies that might return favors in the future.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother and Child

Lock One Park

Today we spent Mothers Day across the river on the North and East Banks. The pictures below are from Lock One Park, which is across the Cumberland from MetroCenter. It is on a bluff that was one of the earliest white settlements on the river (1780). Before the TVA built dams to control Cumberland River flooding, this land had a lock for that purpose.

Lock One Park is a bit secluded, and I would not advise children going without adults. However, it has the potential to be a beautiful green space if Metro would refurbish the crumbling old walls of mortar stone and flagstone, clear out brush, and put in some safety rails by the river. It has an outstanding view of Downtown and across MetroCenter (the Mother House at Mount Vernon Gardens across MetroCenter Blvd. from Starbucks is seen clearly in the last photo). It would be a great spot for picnicking if Metro would tend to it.




Cavalcade of Capitalists: Cause of Unprecedented Bee Collapse Might Be Commercialization and Suburban Sprawl

The humble honey bee is a major link in the food chain vital to human beings. That link is now pulling apart because of the recent mysterious deaths of billions of honey bees, called "colony collapse disorder." Without the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and seeds by honey bees we would face a major global food shortage, a dire prospect that is now attracting the attention of governments. The problem is not as bad in Tennessee as in other eastern and southern states, at least not yet.

While several possible causes are identified, including "natural" causes like fungus, mites, and disease, commercialization and spreading suburbanization also seem to be culprits. Even though a fungus attack on bee colonies might seem like a natural first cause of "general stress collapse," the bees' susceptibility might be being increased by industry:
Bee pollination is increasingly a highly concentrated industry. Rather than a dispersed system of local hives, a few commercial operators now haul tens of billions of bees from coast to coast in 18-wheelers .... First, the bees themselves have been bred into single-purpose superpollinators, rather than bees with multiple functions (make honey, feed the queen, maintain the hives, and extend the species). The industrial bees have lost the diversity and natural traits of wild bees.

Second, constant trucking puts stress on the bees, suppressing their immune systems and making them vulnerable to viruses, mites, and diseases. As part of their forced migration, the bees are fed a limited diet of high fructose corn syrup–about as healthy as humans trying to live on Cokes.
It appears that the industry is trading long-term colony health for short term bucks.

But suburbia--which is rarely accused of promoting too much diversity--the destruction of natural habitats with sprawl, and the increased and indiscriminate use of lethal and maiming pesticides in order to have that "perfect lawn" to drive home to may also be the cause of colony collapse. Thanks to our own avarice and vanity, we face an impending crisis that money may not be able to buy our way out of.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Metro Public Works to Pave Salemtown Alleys This Month

This morning I and a couple of other Salemtown Neighbors members met with Public Works head honchos in the alley between 5th and 6th Avenues not for a rumble, but to come to some mutual understanding on addressing Salemtown's problems. They told us that they are going to pave the alleys between 5th and 6th from Hume to Buchanan. Originally they were going to stop before they got to Buchanan, but one of the members present who lives on Buchanan told them about his alley deteriorating because of the garbage trucks that come through.

Another neighbor raised the issue that Schoene Ansicht (corner of 6th and Hume) developers were required by Metro Water officials to put down a crown in the alley next to their property because they have directed a surface-water holding tank run-off toward a low-lying property across the alley. Public Works officials told her that the alley would be paved as scheduled and that when Schoene Ansicht investors (UP, LLC) put the crown in that they would be responsible for any repairs to the asphalt put down beforehand. They told us that it had been a mistake to allow UP, LLC to build Schoene Ansicht as they had: packing as many townhouses as possible on a steep incline with inadequate provisions for proper underground stormwater run-off.

PW leaders also tried to emphasize that problems we encountered with Metro Customer Service in the past were not with their CS employees. They said that the problem with CS is that there are three different phone banks to which callers go when they want to file a complaint, and that creates response problems for PW. We were encouraged to contact PW in the future if we had any problems at all.

Metro Council Bill Would Give $15,000 Property Tax Dollars to a Baptist Church

There was a time when and a people for whom being Baptist meant rejecting state funding for fear of violating church-state separation under the Constitution's Establishment Clause. That does not seem to apply for St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, which awaits passage of a Metro Council resolution on Tueday that would hand them $15,000 of public money to support their outreach ministries.

What We've Worked Hard For

The Salem Gardens zoning bill--amended to include 3 detached single family homes to balance planned duplexes or townhouses--is scheduled for third reading on Tuesday. Unless our Council Member stumbles, bumbles, and defers this, the victory of final passage will be a sweet one. It seems such like a long time ago that I went before the Planning Commission thinking that we had little chance of turning the original request around. What a sublime satisfaction this will be should we win.

CRIME ALERT: Salemtown Developers Also Hit By Recent Crime Wave

Trust Development, builders of the Clayton on 6th Avenue, reported to the Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association that two of the three new Trane HVAC units at the Clayton were ruined by thieves ripping the insides out. They've asked SNNA to communicate the theft to the police and to find out whether there are any off-duty officers who might be available for hire for a security watch. They are also contacting other Salemtown developers to explore different security options.

I suggested to another developer just a few days ago that, since their property does not sit on a corner surrounded by SNNA block watchers, he may want to consider bright lights and either a security guard or security cameras. He told me that he was already considering the latter. I suggested to Trust Development that this is an excellent opportunity to help us recruit more SNNA block watchers around the Clayton (that part of Salemtown has been relatively unresponsive to invitations to join during the last couple of Nights Out Against Crime that we've sponsored).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Are the Odds that Two Different Lester C. McClains Share the Same Zip Code?

Thanks to Bill Hobbs for sharing the information from the Governor's Office that the gubernatorial appointee to a safety board, Lester C. McClain lives at:

305 Long Valley Road
Brentwood, TN 37027

The mailing address listed on Metro Property Maps for Lester C. McClain who owns the 6th Avenue property suspected of quartering prostitutes is:

P.O. Box 63
Brentwood, TN 37027

I received the following pictures of Lester C. McClain's other properties in urban neighborhoods from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous. I have not been told whether these abodes house hookers as the apartments on 6th Avenue near Hume are alleged to, but they do not exactly set the bar very high for their communities, either. At least a couple of them clearly qualify as blight (being extraordinarily charitable to the two others):


1711 24th Ave. North
(purchased 1997 for $8000; Duplex; appraisal: $149,000)



1623 12th Ave. North
(purchased 1995 for $15,300; Single family; appraisal: $42,000)



1621 7th Ave. North
(purchased 1998 for $6000; Duplex; appraisal: $80,200)



712 Lena St.
(purchased 1996 for $10,000; Single family; appraisal: 40,000)

My guess is that Lester C. McClain probably takes care of his Brentwood 37027 property (or property) much better than those he owns in North Nashville.


UPDATE: I have added the purchase date, price, and current appraisal to the pictures above.

For purposes of comparison, here is a picture of the alleged bordello on 6th Avenue, North along with purchase/appraisal figures:

1611 6th Ave. North
(purchased 1995 for $16,000; 4plex; appraisal: $109,800)


UPDATE: In comments below, Sageish relates a conversation with a relative who acknowledges that property owner Lester C. McClain and Bredesen appointee Lester C. McClain are one and the same person.