Friday, June 29, 2007

Stormwater Problems Documented on Video

We did not get any substantial rain in the North End today, but we did have a water run-off event that demonstrates some of the ponding problems we experience during storms here. Video provides me a great way to document them and to try out Blogger's new video upload component.

video

The Dozier Disconnect

Every time I write about the Iraq War on Enclave, I try to underscore how the billions of dollars sent to Iraq and private contractors like Halliburton are siphoning resources that could best be used on domestic programs that affect cities and neighborhoods and homeland security. Our continuing presence in Iraq is doing little to bring democracy to the Middle East and is in fact a drain on money that could be used to promote domestic development.

So, should mayors be voting to encourage the Bush Administration to find a "swift and prudent" means of redeployment? Absolutely. Should our Mayor be voting for it, given the impact of foreign policy on our local conditions? Absolutely. Polls show that Iraq is considered a war not worth fighting. And Mayors are as invested in that reality as the President is, if not more so.

Hence, Buck Dozier's response to the City Paper regarding Bill Purcell's recent vote on the Iraq War shows how much he lacks a considered grasp of the impact of federal policy on local governance:

The mayor’s not going to be focused on those kinds of issues … and, really, just to be frank with you, as a mayor, I want to focus on the things going on here. … Of all the issues that mayors have got in this country, I’m surprised they took the time to deal with that.
To suggest that the Iraq War is not "going on here," is not affecting the daily lives of the people who live in Nashville, and is not of any significance for the Mayor's Office is naive and insular.

Crime and blight are positively turned around by block grant and other neighborhood development funds, which themselves are drying up because this President chooses to continue to transfer tanker loads of tax dollars down the black hole that is Iraq. Federal support is one less tool a Mayor has to run the city thanks to the Iraq War.

In the end the Dozier Disconnect ties the hands of the Mayor's Office. By his very logic, there is no need for Mayors to meet in conferences in order to develop comprehensive strategies for influencing federal policies to help rather than hinder cities. We have seen over and over again that the world is interconnected, not hived off into sheltered, impervious, and hermetically sealed cells. Those who do not claim a stake in federal policies and international issues fall behind.

A Mayor who would so confine himself to a cavity of limited influence is not a Mayor that could act on behalf of Nashville at any broader level. He's not the kind of Mayor we need today.

Gentry Did Not Care to Suffer the Saltiness

At the same time District 19 Council Member Ludye Wallace was feuding with David Briley, he was also sparring even more aggressively with Mayoral candidate and Vice Mayor Howard Gentry on Tuesday night over the debate about 9 amendments that some wanted to add to the substitute budget bill. And Mr. Gentry gave it right back to him.

Ludye used some of the balance of speaking time that he received from David Briley to accuse Mr. Gentry, who as Chair controls who speaks, of ignoring some in order to allow bill co-sponsor Rip Ryman to table (and thus, kill) each amendment. Several times during the amendment debate, Ludye stood and challenged Mr. Gentry's handling of the meeting and charged that he was being biased in not allowing amendment supporters to speak.

At one point, Ludye lashed out, "You are not letting members speak. You are trying to prevent the people from doing anything." Finally, Mr. Gentry retorted indignantly to Ludye, "You have been talking all day. You are getting your chance."

After several supporters whom Ludye called introduced their amendments, Mr. Gentry attempted to shut the debate down on a technicality. He told the group that, while Ludye had called the names of some amendment supporters and they were recognized, the last two, Ed Whitmore and Jamie Isabel, had not been called with the expressed purpose of introducing amendments. Ludye protested and attempted to convince the Council to vote to overturn Mr. Gentry's ruling.

Mr. Gentry recognized Emily Evans, who swiftly turned the balance of her time over to Mr. Whitmore in order to proceed with his amendment, which ended up being tabled by the Council. After the vote to kill that amendment, Mr. Gentry paused and looked at the vote totals with what looked like an air of frustration. Then re-calling the preceding challenges to his management of the meeting, he took aim at Ms. Evans, who had voted against Mr. Whitmore's amendment: "Say what you will about me, but I think it is just cruel to give the guy a chance and then vote against [his amendment]."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Papa Saved Some Salt for Briley

Tuesday night during the discussion of the proposed budget a verbal scrap broke out between members Ludye Wallace and David Briley over 9 amendments that different members wanted to add that would have transferred funds from certain line items to non-profit organizations (no surprise there).

Ludye wanted to introduce his amendments and call the names of several other members to offer their amendments. He seemed to be angry that some, like Mr. Briley--who had challenged whether other members could follow Ludye to attempt to amend just because their names were called--were going to cut off debate before they had their chance.

Referring to Mr. Briley's candidacy for Mayor, Ludye accused him of trying to pass a budget without any debate. Ludye also claimed to be acting in the best interests of "the public" (he did not specify the particular subsection of "the public" outside of non-profits whose interests he was defending). Ludye snapped at the at-Large Member, "Some of us aren't running for re-election." Maybe not. But the only reason that Ludye Wallace was standing there scolding David Briley was that he had done whatever it took to get re-elected in the past. Now, facing term limits and out of options, Ludye didn't have a credible leg on which to stand and take shots at other members who are now running.

To his credit, David Briley responded to Ludye by acknowledging that the two of them agree on "almost nothing." However, he added that out of respect for the long tenure of the District 19 Member, Mr. Briley would yield the balance of his time to Ludye in order to allow him to introduce his amendments for a vote, and thus, he blocked the cut-off of debate against a budget bill that he was co-sponsoring.

I thought that was a classy move that Mr. Briley never had to make. It allowed Ludye to introduce his amendments (all of which were tabled, and thus, killed) and to call the names of other members who had amendments (all of which were also tabled). It showed much more class than Ludye returned. The best Ludye could offer was a clipped "thanks" to David Briley when his time had run out. But Ludye Wallace has rarely been mistaken for gracious or humble.

If Spring Hill's Tax Rate is "Still Zero," It Means They Are Still Living Off State Revenues and Other Fees

In an interesting turn of timeliness, given my last post on fees vs. taxes, Ben Cunningham's anti-revenue website is again promoting Spring Hill's lack of property taxes, without reference to how they may be paying for their services. We've seen before that Spring Hill continues no doubt to leech money off of the rest of us via "state-shared revenues" while promoting themselves as a no-tax alternative to Tennessee's other communities. If running a town without taxes looks like a mirage, then it probably is a mirage.


UPDATE: While there are not property tax costs to living in Spring Hill, there seem to be other social and cultural costs imposed by local government. And the cost to your sense of security seems considerable (+40.7% since 2005). We may not see them raising their own revenues now, but the increasing demands on their government will eventually crack that nut (unless they find a way to continue to raise their local fees and to rely on state largess).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here's One for Those Who Say Raising Government Fees Are the Same as Raising Taxes

The Metro Council's most vocal, most visible conservative, Eric Crafton, told his fellows during last night's budget debate that the Council should be proud that it increased the budget without raising taxes. While heaping his praise, Mr. Crafton neglected to mention that the Council was able to raise revenues to provide services to the community by raising fees on items like alarm permits and immunizations (and by cutting services elsewhere).

We hear periodic resistance on the right to raising government fees, because such action is judged to be a de facto tax increase by another name. Council conservatives, who generally give expenditures a good tongue lashing, ignored the fee raises during last night's debate of the budget. That signifies a rubber stamp of fee raises.

However, whether they are called "fees" or "taxes," revenues were raised to pay for services that Nashvillians wanted last night, and any remaining resistance to raising revenues caused the erosion of public services in departments like Metro Parks.


UPDATE: Regarding one of those fees vs. taxes debates, see this. Make sure to include this, too. Then see this.

When Morgan Park Community Center Opens Again It Will Be Closed on Saturdays

The renovations on the Morgan Park Community Center have yet to be complete, and yet, repercussions from last night's passage of the Council's substitute budget affect the hours it will be open when it does eventually open. Only 4 community centers around the city will be open on Saturdays in 07-08, and MPCC is not one of them.

Expect Scruffy Medians Starting in July

One of the casualties of the approved budget may be the upkeep of public right-of-ways like the median on 8th Avenue, North near Werthan.

According to Public Works, which received reductions in services for 07-08, a number of seasonal workers will be let go. That means right-of-aways may start looking scruffier.

Morgan Park Loses Its Diamond


It is not exactly as nostalgic as WP Kinsela opening Chapter 2 of Shoeless Joe with "They Tore Down the Polo Grounds in 1964," but I bring news that subcontractors of Metro Parks have started tearing down the 58-year-old Morgan Park Memorial Field, which Public Works Director Billy Lynch told me recently was the nicest ballfield in Nashville when he was growing up in our neighborhood.

I understand the plan to be to install a "multi-purpose field" in the diamond's place. That idea is sterile, unromantic, and unappealing to me, kind of like the idea of building multi-purpose, astro-turfed stadiums in the Major Leagues in the 1960s. I know the field had run-down in recent years, but this transition seems sad to me.



CRIME ALERT: TBI Lists Two Registered Sex Offenders Living on 6th Avenue, North near Werthan Lofts

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, one perp lives in the triplex at 1615 6th Av N. He was convicted of statutory rape. The other lives in the triplex at 1717 6th Av N. He was convicted of attempted aggravated rape.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mayor's Signature Makes Salem Gardens Re-zoning Official

Mayor Bill Purcell signed the Salem Gardens substitute bill that codifies the Planning Commission's recommendation that 3 properties of 6 along 6th Avenue at Garfield Street be re-zoned for single family homes to balance out the exploding number of duplexes in Salemtown. He signed it on Friday.

By the way, I met a couple at the Germantown/Salemtown social over the weekend who own the corner lot across 6th from Salem Gardens. They told me that their plans are to build a zero-lot line structure (zero-lot line = cluster housing development in which individual dwelling units are placed on separately platted lots). One popular source says zero lots lines assume dwindling single-family urban lots and cater mainly to baby boom empty nesters.

Metro Council Passes Substitute 07-08 Budget

They voted 37-0 after a rather ugly floor debate on amendments that were all disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee. Cuts to fund employee pay raises and libraries came from schools, parks, and the 311 call center.


UPDATE: Tonight the online Tennessean has a somewhat ominous response from the Parks Director:
There’s going to be suffering in other areas [besides new planned nature centers that were cut], and I hope the public understands.


UPDATE: The day-after Tennessean tells us that Member Jim Gotto's expected cuts recommendations to the Metro Arts Commission and Social Services were averted, but it does not give the details on why the conservative member either did not follow through or was defeated.

Thompson Campaign Staffer Tied to African American Voter Disenfranchisement

Tim Griffin, who was already at the center of a storm of controversy over the White House Attorney General firings, was hired by Fred Thompson's Campaign for President as a communications consultant earlier this month. Muckraker reports that allegations that he was connected with attempts in Florida during the 2004 election to target and to challenge African Americans in mostly white Duval County have been strengthened by a comparative analysis of the list of 1,800 names targeted by the Republican National Committee.

Fred Thompson has not projected the appearance of propriety with this controversial hiring. Surely there are other effective consultants out there than one with such insidious ties to Karl Rove and the Bush White House.

A Clementine Catastrophe

NashPo speaks of Metro Council rumors that if Bob Clement wins the Mayor's race in August, then he will simply offer the 11-acre riverfront property (which formerly held the thermal plant and currently sits in limbo, thanks to the failed Nashville Sounds ballpark plan) to the highest private bidders.

If those rumors are true, I would say that Bob Clement fails to comprehend the priceless potential of that property should it stay in public hands. I would say that he does not understand the qualities that create healthy metropolitan development. Metro should be leaning toward acquiring property for public use and for private/public partnerships, not selling it.

Why don't we just sell off Centennial Park or Percy Warner Park, if he wants some quick cash? Those sales would be less catastrophic to Nashville than selling off the most valuable piece of waterfront property in Tennessee; indeed, less disasterous than pawning one of the linchpins of balanced urban growth in the Downtown neighborhoods.

Whatever Happened to the Idea of Eliminating Multiple-Meter Discounts to Help Fund Our Water Services?

Ever since Council Members Ginger Pepper and Jim Shulman saved big multiple-meter businesses like Vanderbilt from suffering the loss of their discounts in order to help pay for our water system, the subject has never been raised again. The defense they used at the time was that the birth of the idea of cutting discounts did not give these behemoths enough time to plan their budgets around them. If the Nashville City Paper's prediction was right, the resulting cuts to 2006-2007 stormwater projects totalled in the millions of dollars.

Now that a year has passed since Ms. Pepper and Mr. Shulman pulled that possibility out of the budget, I am left with so many questions: how much time do businesses need to plan their budgets around lost discounts? How come large non-profits are entitled to an indefinitely open amount of time to plan for the loss of discounts while the rest of us common schmoes have to plan for fee increases and the elimination of sprinkler adjustments within the coming year?

The Metro Council votes tonight to increase our fees and adjustments for 2007-2008. Maybe next June they will eliminate the discounts for multiple-meter businesses and non-profits. Shouldn't two years be plenty of time for notifying and preparing those institutions that they have to kick in their fair share, too?

The Other Perennial Whipping Boy: Social Services Facing Gotto's $2M Cuts Tonight

Last year, the Metro Council amended the Mayor's budget to slash $60,000 from Social Services, which helps poor people pay their utility bills. Tonight social conservative Jim Gotto will move to raid Social Services to the tune of $2,000,000.

After members vote on this tonight, we will be able to judge whether the Metro Council is interested in spreading pragmatic cuts around year-to-year or in basing their budget decisions on more ideological reasons that have nothing to do with how cold winters can get when some families cannot afford to pay their electricity bills.

Council Social Conservatives to Lead Charge against the Metro Arts Commission Budget Again Tonight

Last year these Council Members voted to shift almost $260,000 from the Metro Arts Commission to the Sheriff's Office, despite the fact that there was no request from or need expressed by the Sheriff:
  • Charlie Tygard
  • Vivan Wilhoite
  • Randy Foster
  • Eric Crafton
  • Ed Whitmore
  • Ludye Wallace
  • Harold White
  • Carl Burch
  • Jim Gotto
  • Rip Ryman
  • Jim Forkum
  • Jason Hart
  • Michael Craddock
  • Jamie Isabel
Despite the increase to the Sheriff's garbage detail, I saw no appreciable difference since 2006 in litter collection by the Sheriff in Salemtown.

The social conservatives--lead by Mr. Tygard, who admitted that the cuts were vendetta on Mayor Purcell in 2006--are emboldened in 2007 to cut $1,000,000 from the arts budget to supply identified needs in the employee wages and the library system. Leading the charge this year is Mr. Gotto (perhaps because Mr. Tygard is actually trying to get elected as a Member at-Large in August?).

The arts continue to be tied to the perennial conservative whipping post at budget time. This year they stand to suffer some broad stripes.

District 19 Candidates Attend Salemtown Neighbors Meeting

District 19 Metro Council candidates Erica Gilmore and David Shaw were in attendance at last night's SNNA meeting. It was Mr. Shaw's first visit and Ms. Gilmore's second visit with us, and we appreciate their interest.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Absence of Candidates

Conspicuously absent from last Saturday night's very well attended G-town/S-town Block Party were the candidates running for Metro offices. Freda Player's campaign had a couple of workers there who were passing out literature and bagging residents for yard signs. There was one guy wearing a David Briley for Mayor sticker, but I could not tell whether he was campaigning or just a socializing as a resident.

Megan Barry Gets Another Endorsement

The endorsements are stacking up for at-Large candidate Megan Barry. SEIU is the latest organization to endorse her.

SEIU also endorsed Freda Player for District 19 Council Member.

Portland Blues: Java Joint Hits the Skids

A stray scolding from a irritated barista permanently severed my long-time patronage with Portland Brews this morning. The break-up was overdue. You see, I like their coffee, but lately that quality is not enough to overcome their deteriorating service.

The Portland Brews on Murphy Road consistently suffers now from what set in a few years ago at Fido: a staff of struggling artists and musicians more focused on talking up their crafts and gigs than on slinging coffee. That would be fine if the place were not consistently stuffed to the gills with customers who seem too happy to buy a single cup o' joe and camp out there long after their buzz has worn off. However, rarely can one find a table there for grabbing a quick breakfast in a place whose quality does not match its seeming popularity.

Speaking of breakfast, our relationship went rocky when Portland Brews decided to stop preparing a hot breakfast, choosing instead to offer only bagels and pre-made dishes. Their reasons: they were losing money by having some staff in the back cook and they wanted to devote more time and money to special espresso roasts for the connoisseurs among their regulars. I do not know how they have room for connoisseurs with crowds of students keyboarding away or local suits holding meetings in a java joint rather than in their conference rooms.

But since the change was made a few weeks ago, I have seen no special espresso roast offers for that elite clientele and the customer relations of the staff has gone downhill as their time free from the bondage to the cookery in the back room has increased. Food prep now means mostly popping bagels in a toaster out front, and yet, almost every time I have ordered a bagel since the changes were made, the staff either forgot my order or forgot to fish the bagel out of the toaster. I have actually waited 10-15 minutes on a couple of occasions to get a toasted bagel. The staff seemed more consumed with debating the finer points of acoustic rifts and less concerned with taking my order and letting me go in a timely manner.

This morning was the final straw. I ordered a double breve with no bagel. Seems easy enough, especially when I had been ordering the same 12-ounce to-go drink in the same place at least twice a week for a year. Mind you: I had not even had my coffee, yet; and what coffee-drinkers among us would blame me for having a bit of a pre-coffee snarl? And what barista should not expect a lack of humor until the drinker imbibes? Even while moody, I politely ordered my breve and I patiently weathered the barista chatter about "practicing octaves with one hand and scales with the other even without a metronome."

When the call came that my drink was ready, I found that they put it in a 16-ounce cup. I told them that I wanted the same 12-ounce cup that they always pulled out the minute they saw me at the register having made no prompt at all. I wondered to myself why they would assume that my breve should go in the larger cup. No matter, because everybody knows that the tenets of customer relations dictate a new cup of coffee: businesses eat cup-sized losses to hold on to the regular-sized customer.

Not in this case. The Barista proceeded to chastise me for not telling her clearly beforehand that I wanted mine in the smaller cup. She also said that "next time" I needed to tell her as much because "Half-and-Half is very expensive to waste." The pre-coffee snarl and lack of humor were now no doubt obvious on my face. Even so, I made no loud scene, as she made me my usual drink, but I did calculate what would come next.

When she called me up to her bar for my breve, I informed her quietly but bluntly, "There will be no 'next time.' I have been a regular customer here for a long time, but I will not be back 'next time.'"

Then I walked off calmly and coldly with my piping breve, and out the door, which only gave her the chance to reply, "But, sir ...!" Half-and-Half may be expensive to waste. But can it be any more expensive than the loss of a regular customer and each $1 tip he coughed up for every $3 cup of coffee he bought since the place opened? I leave Portland Brews to work out that equation on its own.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Board of Zoning Defers Belmont's Request for Use of Rose Park

Belmont has yet to submit a traffic study on the impact of using Rose Park. Metro Board of Zoning deferred until August. How can a university with ambitious designs on a public park have failed to submit a traffic study before this issue ever got past the Parks Board? One of the major neighborhood concerns is traffic congestion with athletic events. So, how does Belmont hope to allay neighborhood concerns with no traffic study?

NashPo Reports that Buck Dozier Was Allegedly Complicit in NIMBY Impropriety

According to a lawsuit filed by Evangelist Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice against Metro Government, Mayoral Candidate Buck Dozier is complicit with Rip Ryman in keeping a religious-based treatment facility for teens out of Ryman's district. NashPo also reports that Mr. Ryman is alleged to have misinformed a crowd during a community meeting as one resident in attendance exclaimed, "We don't want any whores and drug addicts or sex offenders walking our streets!"

A Couple of Second Thoughts from Recent Posts

To build on Bruce Barry's comments on Realtor Barbara Browning: the name "Love Circle" is a natural for an adult book store or, better yet, a "gentleman's club." The "Love Circle Love Club" would fit nicely on those weekends where Big and Rich are entertaining their irascible buddy Kid Rock, and the limo slide from Rich's Love Tower to the Love Club would be fast and cheap.


More on the G-town/S-town Saturday Soirée: Tom Lazzaro of Germantown's Lazzarolli's Handmade Pasta & Ravioli tells me that he will be there with a fresh tortellini salad in tow. Yum! Me first!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Midsummer Night's Return

Low Rent 1950's Era Apartments at 3rd and Garfield on the Market for $725K

They put a fresh paint job and Karen Hoff's company on it for selling, but are these apartments worth anything more than what might be paid for a tear down?

Keep this in mind: 13 units, which cannot be much more than 500 square feet each, and they are called "multi-family"; maybe if the families are marmots.

Outstanding Idea. Needs a Catchier Title.

We are past due:

All Salemtown and Germantown residents
are invited to the

1st Annual Salemtown-Germantown Block Party

Saturday, June 23rd
5PM - 9PM
1600 block of 5th Av N
Food, Music, Games, & Fun!

This year we work on logistics; next year, the title.

I nominate: "2nd Annual Summer Solstice Solace."

Happy Solstice!

What perfect weather for the longest day of the year, but keep in mind that the days will get shorter beginning tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cavalcade of Capitalists: She Only Wants Zoning When It Benefits Her

Here is one for all those value-added zealots in the real estate industry who naively and blissfully believe we can just turn every thing over to the market based on the dogma that it cures all ills without any need for regulations or zoning measures.

The Nashville Scene's Bruce Barry refers us to the real estate broker, Barbara Browning (Browning, Inc, Broker), who opposed the height restriction bill passed at last night's council meeting. She told the Tennessean that only people who live in "little cottages" oppose giving rich people a free hand to build 60-70 foot home towers that blot out other people's sun in smaller scale neighborhoods.

Bruce bequeaths a gem that has to be our quote of the week:

Browning, one assumes, opposes all zoning laws. Browning, one hopes, will find the owner of the lot next door to hers seeking a variance to build a convenience store, or maybe an adult bookstore. Browning, one eagerly anticipates, will appear cheerfully on that owner’s behalf down at the Metro Planning Commission.
Unless Barbara Browning (http://www.barbarabrowning.com/) was misquoted in the Tennessean, she seems to be one of the most unneighborly Realtors I have seen around town relative to the scores of us cottage-bound peons at her feet.

Megan Barry Gets Dem Women's PAC Endorsement; Gilmore and Player Split PAC's Support

Michael Cass has the news on more support for Megan Barry for one of the at-Large Council seats. (My disclaimer: Go, Megan!).

But the Democratic Women's PAC is encouraging their members to volunteer to campaign for either Erica Gilmore or Freda Player in District 19.

The Ugliest Building in Nashville

In answer to Wage's call:



I don't know what it is called, but it is near the Court House and I pass it nearly every day.

I cannot think of another building that instills more aversion in its absolute void of beauty than this one. None of the other monstrocities listed in the comments sink below its inability to contribute much to the urban aesthetic.

Record of Candidates' Votes on Leasing Rose Park to Belmont

Here is how some of the candidates running for Metro offices in August voted on last night's Rose Park/Belmont Lease Agreement bill, which was up for the first of three readings:


Voting for passage of the resolution approving the agreement to lease Rose Park (public) to Belmont Athletics (private)

Buck Dozier (Mayoral candidate)
Diane Neighbors (Vice Mayoral candidate)
David Briley (Mayoral candidate)
J.B. Loring (at-Large candidate)
Charlie Tygard (at-Large candidate)


Voting against approval

Carolyn Baldwin Tucker (Vice Mayoral candidate)
John Summers (at-Large candidate)
Ronnie Greer (at-Large candidate)


There could be reasons for voting for this bill besides supporting Belmont against the Edgehill neighborhood, so it is hard to read reasons into first reading votes. More reliable judgments may be formed after the second reading vote, which will follow the Public Hearing and the committee process.

If you would like to know how the incumbent council member representing your district voted, let me know and I'll pass the info along.

Roadway Hypocrisy: What's Good For "Korean Veterans" Is Not Good for Bordeaux Residents

I had no dog in the fight over Brenda Gilmore's attempt to have the Council rename County Hospital Road to "Bordeaux Boulevard." Opposition to her measure seemed to be growing since May based on a perception that some businesses on the road opposed it even as Ms. Gilmore was arguing that the community supported it. That perception was probably the reason why Ms. Gilmore's ordinance went down to defeat 17-13 last night.

This was one of the first attempts to rename a road since the controversial renaming of Downtown's Gateway Boulevard to "Korean Veterans Boulevard." So, I zeroed my attention on how the 3 most vocal proponents of renaming Gateway--Rip Ryman, J.B. Loring, and Eric Crafton--voted last night. I did not detect the slightest bit of empathy from any of the three. All voted against Ms. Gilmore, and Mr. Ryman's on-camera facial expressions during Ms. Gilmore's remarks looked like he was less than cordial to her request.

Their opposition may border on hypocrisy, since there was neighborhood opposition to renaming Gateway expressed both to Council and to the Planning Commission. During the Gateway debate all three members either ignored or, in Mr. Ryman's case, minimized neighborhood opposition to renaming a boulevard that was not even in their own districts. Last night Mr. Crafton exercised his own two faces when he called attention to the Planning Commission's disapproval of Ms. Gilmore's request, even as he ignored the Planning Commission's disapproval of renaming Gateway Boulevard in March and April for reasons salient to the proposal itself.

For all of their sanctimonious hand-wringing and chest-pounding about the urgency of renaming a road outside of their districts for their own pet cause, one would think that Mr. Ryman, Mr. Loring, and Mr. Crafton would have shown a little more understanding toward Ms. Gilmore who was at least advocating for a road name in her own district.

David Briley's Height Restriction Bill Passes

Urban neighborhoods finally (pending the Mayor's sig) have a clear standard in place as Metro Council closes the three-story loophole.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Salemtown Wins! Metro Council Approves Planning Commission's Recommendation for Single Family Home Zoning on 6th

It has been a challenge, but Salemtown residents finally got the balance they demanded for months with the Metro Council approving the Planning Commission's recommendation of zoning for single-family homes on three of the six Salem Gardens properties. When the bill's time came up, Ludye Wallace merely moved to approve and the Council followed suit. All that is needed now is the Mayor's signature.

While the Salem Gardens group is definitely going to build three duplexes, the future status of the three single-family zoned properties is now up in the air and up to the owners. Two of the SFH properties have blighted triplexes owned by UP, LLC, which has said that it will build no SFHs in Salemtown. If they stand by those words, their options are to continue to manage the triplexes, to sell the properties, or to start the re-zoning request process all over (which would not be wise, given the neighborhood resolve and the Planning Commission and Metro Council strikes against them). The remaining SFH property is owned by Salem Gardens partners, who told Salemtown Neighbors that they would either look into the possibility of building a SFH or they would sell.

Ludye deserves some credit for finally coming through, but the real catalysts in this valuable win were all of the Salemtown Association members who volunteered to attend Metro meetings, to write council members, and to go door-to-door with a petition. Also, I am still amazed by the stunning response of the Planning Commission on behalf of the neighborhood. I honestly thought before their unanimous vote that our chances were remote. I think that the developers underestimated us, too. I am not sure that we would have won without their wholehearted support.

Amphitheatre Resolution Deferred

Metro Council voted tonight to defer on 2nd reading the resolution to approve the development of an amphitheatre on the old Downtown thermal site.

The Very Last 2006-2007 Infrastructure Request, and Guess Who It Is From?

Ludye Wallace made an emergency request to draw discretionary money from "infrastructure" funds, and it had to do with his previous request for $22,250 for MDHA. If I understood him correctly, his resolution is to stipulate that the funds could be spent on Edmondson Park (Charlotte Av.) as well as an originally requested mini-park on Jefferson Street. There was no objection to the request and council voted to approve.

Rose Park Bill Challenged on First Reading

Ludye Wallace's resolution to move the process along on behalf of Belmont University's expansion into Rose Park was brought into debate at the request of at-Large Member Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, who expressed her opposition on behalf of the Edgehill residents. The Council voted to approve Ludye's bill with a recorded roll call vote, requested by 5 members. I'll post the votes of the candidates for the August 2 election as soon as I get them. Obviously, Ms. Tucker, who is running for Vice Mayor, voted against the resolution.

Cheater's Wheel

During Metro Council discussion tonight on appropriating $1.187 million to the W.O. Smith School, Council Member Ludye Wallace tried to spin Metro's commitment to the school into an analogous commitment to the Hadley Park Junior Tennis Program. According to Ludye, the Metro Council expressed a $60,000 "commitment" last July to the Tennis Program. He conveyed the wish that the Mayor would consider following through with the $60,000 commitment the same way the $1.187 million commitment is being met.

Outside of being two non-profits focused on youth, the two programs have nothing to do with each other. Hence, Ludye Wallace, who knows parliamentary procedure better than any other council member, was out of order in bringing the tennis program into the debate. That fact alone was cause for turning his microphone off (which did not happen).

But Ludye omitted one very important detail about the Council's 2006 attempt to send $60,000 to the tennis program: they tried to pull money out of a fund that the Mayor had allotted to help poor people without means pay their utility bills. They attempted to cut public services for poor people and then funnel the money to a tennis non-profit, whose Director had been warned for years to stop relying on public funds. Where is the nobility in that?

And they only failed to move the money because the sponsor screwed up last July and confused the non-profit tennis program with a for-profit tennis program with a similar name, which automatically kicked the funds back into the General Fund that is subject to the Mayor's discretion. Who would honestly blame the Mayor if he did not honor their tennis "commitment" under those circumstances?

But Ludye was also not entirely honest about the $60,000 commitment; nor was he honest about the Mayor's support. Five months ago the council approved a resolution sending $18,000 out of discretionary funds to the Hadley Park Junior Tennis Program and the Mayor signed off on it. So, almost a third of the commitment has already been met with the support of the Mayor.

Ludye was cheating on the numbers in his spin. If the tennis program fails to get the remaining $42,000, then the loss can be chalked up to botched original sponsorship, and that balance should go back to support people who cannot afford to heat their homes in the winter.

Tombs of Unknown Immigrants

WARNING: This post contains a link to a gallery of graphic images of corpses in various states of decomposition. The images will be disturbing to many, as they should be. You have been forewarned.

ACK is using the news of another Nashvillian killed by an intoxicated illegal immigrant driver to beat the drum that enforcement of immigration laws would have kept that Nashvillian alive.

I'll not pursue the argument as I have in the past that his logic is fallacious in so far as lots of conditions beyond illegal immigration could have prevented that Nashvillian's death, too. That argument has merits, but it is generally ignored by ACK and other fervent immigration critics.

The news of the tragic death has whipped up the usual round of hostility toward immigrants--with the predictable characterizations of foreign lives as meaningless--as if all illegal immigrants live to drink and then drive around killing Nashvillians. To the contrary, there are bad illegal immigrants, but there are also good illegal immigrants.

But the underbelly of illegal immigration generally goes ignored by the deportation rhetoric focused on undifferentiated immigrants (and particularly Hispanics) as a group. There is tragic loss of life on both sides, and the zealots who write about illegal immigration focus on the death of Americans, of Nashvillians, without regard for the death of immigrants who risk everything they have to reunite with family members in America or who are fleeing squalor for a better life here.

If you care to look hard enough, you can find those traces of tragic deaths of immigrants (men, women, and children) whose stories, unlike those of the deceased Nashvillians, will never be told and will never be used to beat a political drum with the passion that critics do.

The Texas Observer, in an online supplement to a recent story they did on the killing fields in Brooks County, Texas, provides a gallery of the corpses of unknown, weak and unlucky immigrants caught in the machinery of black market human trafficking, a market that will probably grow even more lucrative and more deadly when and if mass deportations begin.

I offer the link not to minimize any innocent killed by the vicious behavior of some illegal immigrants. I offer it to balance out the nativist vitriol and thirst for vengeance.

Nashville Women's Political Caucus Candidates Reception Tomorrow Night

Click on image to enlarge.


Tonight's The Night

The Salem Gardens rezoning bill is up for third and final reading at tonight's council meeting. What will Ludye do? Will he support the Planning Commission, the neighborhood association, and over 70 Salemtown residents who signed the petition by moving for passage of the bill that would require 3 single family homes to balance 3 duplexes? What will he tell his fellows about failing to have a community meeting as promised? Will he defer yet again? Only Ludye knows what he is going to do.

Court Allows Metro and Belmont to Continue with Rose Park Plans

The City Paper reports that the Judge has cleared the way for the Belmont move to the Board of Zoning Appeals with their plans for Rose Park.

A Franchise That I Require

The worst part of owning a big dog is the big poop I have to clean up around the yard that stacks up each week before the trash man comes. Pet Butler cannot come to Nashville soon enough for me, and ten bucks a week sounds like a good deal as long as I do not go anywhere near doggy doo any more. So, if any of you enterprising entrepreneurs are looking into franchising, just let me know. I'll be your first customer.


NCP has Overview of District 19 Candidates

The City Paper provides a summary of the candidates' talking points, including those of Janice Davis and Keith Pitts, whom we have not seen yet in Salemtown. Are they less committed to working for us on the North End than Erica Gilmore, Freda Player, and David Shaw? Those three have been visible and audible here. Ms. Davis seems wholly devoted to the Rose Park/Belmont controversy.

Ghost Ballet Frame Foreground

Monday, June 18, 2007

This the 34th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

So, will he move to approve tomorrow or move to defer? More importantly, will he tell the Council that he had a community meeting?

Still Fails to Answer the Question of Whether You Can Build a House "Too Low"

The eternal question--which only council members who are not running for office are allegedly free to ask--of whether you can build a house underground will probably go unanswered tomorrow night as David Briley's height restriction bill is up for third and final reading. They just need to pass this thing, get some measurable standards in place, and let "Lawyer Dread" address the superfluous minutiae.

Bill Would Recoup Losses on False Alarm Responses by Raising Alarm Permit Fees

I imagine those of us with security alarms have gotten off rather easily only paying $10.00 a year (residential). I also imagine that the costs of police response to false alarms is substantial, given the number of alarmed homes now.

Metro Council intends to change that by doubling both residential and commercial fees tomorrow night on third reading. While I wish that the residential raise would have been closer to $15.00, I'm not entirely opposed to this fee increase. Someone has to pay for false alarms, and going after the owners individually would probably involve a complaint and appeal process that would end up costing Metro even more, thus requiring even higher fees.

Blogging Pelton Is Not the Real Pelton?

V-Squared reports that at-Large candidate and newly minted right-wing firebrand Dave Pelton is not blogging his own posts even though they are written in first person as if he were blogging.

If true, it is more of a Romper Room no-no than a huge bloody transgression, but if I were given the choice between a candidate who blogs less frequently but honestly because of campaign demands and one who has a hired front man shilling under the candidate's name, I would prefer the former over the latter.


UPDATE: Pelton Campaign Manager says it is not true.

More Alarming Than Mere Spite

Charlie Tygard told the City Paper that some fellow council members want to "test the real estate market" and possibly sell the most valuable piece of Tennessee property (the old thermal site) to private developers.

Set the red flags to waving. Public ownership of that land makes our community much more wealthy than it would be should a clique of council members offer it to their development buddies. Only short-sighted leaders sell the long-term value of land for the short-term value of cash.

Petty Spite from Charlie Tygard?

The City Paper reports that Council Member and at-Large candidate Charlie Tygard, who originally supported the idea of an amphitheatre on the old Downtown thermal site, is now threatening to oppose it because the Mayor's Office is still not giving his district enough money to build a library (although they are getting enough money to buy land for a library). It sounds like, even if an amphitheatre were the best use for Nashville over all of the property, Charlie Tygard would still oppose it on smaller-minded grounds. No surprise there. He did it before in opposing Court House renovations.

Scene Corrects Online Anecdote About Howard Gentry

They added an editor's note to the body of Jeff Woods' Political Notes hit piece on the mayoral candidate.

Council Bill Would Regulate After Hours Clubs

A bill sponsored by Council Members Adam Dread and Mike Jameson that would require registration and regulation of after hours clubs (those that stay open after 3 a.m. and allow patrons to bring in alcohol) is up for first reading at Metro Council tomorrow night. According to the bill, over 560 calls to Metro Police were made from these clubs over a 2 year period.

Maine Steps Ahead of Tennessee in Promoting Small Business by Protecting Net Neutrality

Maine becomes the first state to pass legislation protecting net neutrality, making it a more attractive place (than Tennessee, for instance) for launching tech industry start-ups.

Controversial Downtown Westin Eighty-Sixed?

Rumors seem to abound about unworkable redevelopment lines and slow condo sales.

"Neighborhoods Mayor" Still an Unfilled Campaign Niche

According to this morning's Tennessean, demand is still high for at least one of the mayoral candidates to step up strongly and be a pro-neighborhoods advocate. We are less than two months away from the election and so far all we are hearing are half-baked ideas that are not nearly as seismic as the 1999 formation of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Columns and Steps

The Tennessean's Use of "Adult Entertainment Businesses" is Air-Brushed Racial Code

This morning's Tennessean reports:
Unlike brothels operated from massage parlors or adult entertainment businesses, many Hispanic brothels are set up in regular homes or apartments, right in the middle of Nashville neighborhoods. That can pose a problem for adults and children who live in those areas and are exposed the business of prostitution.
Let's read between the lines. The real implication here is: "Unlike white brothels ..., many Hispanic brothels ...."

The Tennessean is in part feeding uninformed racial stereotypes. Brothels and prostitution are social problems, not just cultural or racial problems. Salemtown is predominantly white and African American and we recently had blighted duplex that was being used as a brothel; and our neighborhood is full of children.

When I lived over on Blair Boulevard in the Hillsboro-Belmont area (as white a neighborhood as any could be) the police raided and closed down a brothel in an attractive rental single family house. That house stood less than a block from mine.

I remember passing nice bungalows around 12South in the 1990s and seeing traffic going in and out alley entrances with no visible signs of legitimate business and wondering if something shady was going on inside them.

People hook in neighborhoods across race and economic boundaries, and I believe that the problem should not be addressed as a Hispanic or a white or an African American or a poor or a rich one.

Friday, June 15, 2007

This the 31st Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

As many days as a month can hold have now passed since Ludye promised a community meeting in Salemtown before Tuesday's Council Meeting. Unless he plans on calling each one of us and personally inviting us over the weekend, I think that it is safe to say that he broke his promise.

Hot Times at the American Artisan Festival

Lame Duck Goes to Bat for Belmont and Attempts to Circumvent Court Order

Ludye Wallace has gone salty again, this time on a court mandate prohibiting Metro from going through with approval of Belmont University's proposed athletic builds in the Edgehill neighborhood. "Salty Papa" plans to introduce a bill on Tuesday that, if passed on three readings, will "authorize" the Metro Parks Department to "execute" the Belmont Plan. The affected neighborhood association submitted a petition to Ludye with over 300 signatures opposing Belmont's expansion, according to this morning's City Paper. Obviously, Ludye is unmoved by popular opposition.

Given Ludye's lame duck status (he is done after August 2) and the neighborhood opposition from those Ludye is supposed to be representing, I wonder what Ludye stands to gain from this in the end. This inquiring mind would like to know if there is pay back from the increasingly influential and ably lawyered Baptist university in Ludye's post-Council future. It seems to me that the court mandate should have motivated the council member to take a step back and to allow the legal process to take its course before taking sides. Even as anti-neighborhood as Ludye has been lately, I am surprised by his rather brazen contempt for a reasonable court order.

Since the bill is up for first reading, it will probably pass on consent with all of the bills on first reading; but with any luck this bill will go the way of so many other misguided resolutions under Ludye's sponsorship and die the death of deferrals. If Belmont is going to win this thing they should have to expend some legal funds rather than relying on a lame duck to beat 300 neighborhood signatures.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Backdrops of the Day Become Night Conscious

Mayoral Candidate Briley Coming Back to Germantown on June 24

It's not exactly "D" to the "A" to the "V-I-D-B, R-I-L-E-Y," but the invitation just got here:

"B" to the "A" to the "R-A-C-K": One for the "No Free Publicity is Bad Publicity" File

A crush and a catchy track. "Barack" can now be used as a verb.



HT: ACK

Scene Fails to Correct Online Article Containing False Info on Gentry

As of this morning, the Nashville Scene's erroneous anecdote on Howard Gentry's night spent with the homeless on the streets during Urban Plunge remains posted with no edits on their website. Instead, the editorial staff buried a correction at the end of the Love-Hate Mail section along with a correction of an error they previously made on an art show. As if slandering a mayoral candidate with a fabricated story posing as fact was on the same level as trifling with a social calendar.

Sean Braisted points out that the Scene's minimalist bygones do not solve the problem of being able to hit on the slanderous anecdote with a simple Google search absent any link to the correction. In all fairness, the Nashville Scene should post a correction at the beginning of the original online post in font at least as large as they use to write:


If they were really feeling apologetic and accountable, then they would strike the false bits in Jeff Woods's piece with a single thin line, too.


UPDATE

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now That I've Apologized to Mr. Gentry, I Need a Favor from Him

Well, it is not really a favor, since it concerns the quality of life in Salemtown and a codes violation on the part of one of his "longtime senior advisors." It is more of an expressed expectation than a favor.

I would like Mr. Gentry to encourage his advisor, Brooks Parker, to attend to the upkeep of his 4 properties at the corner of 6th Av. and Hume St. The weeds and grass have grown chest high. That is a violation of the Metro Code against allowing weeds and grass to grow over a foot tall, unless they are being cultivated as part of a garden or set back from the front property line 15' in order to cultivate a "natural state."

The photo of one of Mr. Parker's properties indicates that the tall vegetation is neither part of a garden nor part of a "natural state" setback, but it is basically the result of neglect on the owner's part. There is no telling what kinds of vermin are living in that tangle.

Mr. Parker is also neglecting his properties by allowing trash and garbage to accummulate there. According to the 2005 Code, Mr. Parker is endangering the public health, safety, and welfare by ignoring these problems. I tend to assume that a Mayoral Candidate, especially one who served on the Metro Council when the grass code was passed, would be less than satisfied with an advisor basically breaking the law and endangering the health, safety, and welfare of the Salemtown neighborhood.

And, speaking of the health, safety and welfare of our neighborhood, I wonder whether you believe that a sign posted on one of Mr Parker's rental units creates safer conditions in Salemtown. The sign warns: "Intruders will be shot." Is hot lead flying around Hume Street and endangering innocent by-standers (like the dozens of children playing around the neighborhood or the increasing numbers of Werthan pedestrians walking their pooches in the vacinity) something worthy to promote by a Senior Gentry Campaign Official?

With overgrown grass, broken windows and some visible boards, it looks evacuated, but to tell you the truth, the sign alone discourages me from going up to the door to find out. Nonetheless, the last thing I want to hear in Salemtown is gunshots after we have worked so long and hard for 3 years to make gunshots a rare thing. If the house is indeed empty, then might Mr. Parker board up the premises more securely to discourage intruders?

Blogger Catches Scene Political Writer Passing on Fabrication About Gentry

First, I owe Mayoral Candidate Howard Gentry an apology. While sitting in the Sylvan Park Goldie's Deli yesterday morning, waiting for my take-out breakfast, I made the mistake of picking up last week's Nashville Scene. That was my first mistake.

Then I made my second mistake: reading Jeff Woods's anecdote about Mr. Gentry trying to use his high-profile name to get into the Nashville Rescue Mission in order to sleep during his participation in Urban Plunge after all the beds were full.

I confess to Mr. Gentry that my final mistake was forgetting my usual skepticism when reading the Nashville Scene and buying the anecdote all the way down to Mr. Gentry's warm-ups. I regret my naivete now that Sean Braisted has caught the Scene at best failing to fact check and at worst perpetuating a lie about Mr. Gentry.

Sean, bless him, even takes a swipe at the Scene's Editor


who says that she is frightened of bloggers, because they are not subject to the rigorous fact-checking of the newsroom like reporters are. Actually, I find it more frightening that someone with journalistic credentials like Jeff Woods and his "rigorous" news editors could run a false, but colorful anecdote that reached (tens of?) thousands of readers in the past week, making Mr. Gentry look pompous and self-privileged.

While we are rubbing Scene staffers' noses in the hypocrisy of criticizing bloggers for mistakes that they make themselves under the auspices of professionalism, allow me to call your attention to one other comment:

Exaggerations [by bloggers] ... are signs of overwhelming self-importance and an easy way to ruin a thirst for knowledge.
The hard-copy Gentry story was exaggerated to the nth degree. It was fabricated, and thus, even more ruinous of the thirst for knowledge (if the Scene still has a thirst for knowledge as opposed to a thirst for sensation).


UPDATE: Scene Editor-in-Chief "Name-in-Large-Font" gives the News 2 Political Blogger a lame excuse for their failure.


UPDATE

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This the 28th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

We are less than a week away from the 3rd Reading of the Salem Gardens rezoning bill that would require 3 single family homes instead of twice that number in duplexes at 6th and Garfield, and yet, Ludye Wallace has not organized a community meeting as he promised.

Discretionary Funds Gave Wallace a Chance to Provide for Park Youth Summer Programs, But He Did Not Seize It

District 19 Council Member Ludye Wallace squandered ten months of opportunities to use a portion of $48,000+ in discretionary funds to leverage summer programs for the children and adolescents living near Morgan Park. And, since the Morgan Park Community Center is closed and undergoing renovations for the next several months, there are many bored kids around here that could have used that programming to keep themselves occupied rather than getting into mischief as some already have this summer.

Last week Ludye earmarked $22,250 out of his discretionary funds for an unstipulated MDHA project. That was his first request for public use of the funds (gathered from previously uncollected Metro property taxes) in the 10 months since Council Members started making requests. Less than half of his discretionary funds went to public services.

He spent all but approximately $6,000 of the rest on private non-profit earmarks including:
  • $5,000 to Senior Citizens, Inc. for recreational programs and dinner theatre performances (December)
  • $5,000 to Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, Inc. for an electronic records system (February)
  • $5,000 to the Interdenominational Ministers' Fellowship Peniel Initiative for salaries (March)
  • $5,000 to Bethlehem Centers of Nashville for bus maintenance (April)
I am convinced that the remaining $6,000 would also go to a patronizable non-profit if he had the chance, but he acknowledged that Council Members by and large did not manage their request for funds adequately.

I found out yesterday that $20,000 of Ludye Wallace's funds could have provided a "roving park program" that could have kept the kids who frequent the MPCC occupied for the summer. In fact, I am told that Parks officials "beg" Council Members every year for a portion of their discretionary funds for summer programs.

I also found out that earmarking the money for Parks would have been easier than the many hoops that Council Members go through to get non-profits funded. That is contrary to what I have heard Council Members claim in the past: I've heard them say that funding non-profits is easier than funding Metro Departments. However, I am also told that there are greater personal opportunities for quid pro quo when Council Members fund private organizations. The money seems to go where favors flow.

Thanks to Ludye Wallace's total lack of leadership the kids who use Morgan Park are left to pudder and to putter around here on their own with sporadic guidance, unless they have the transportation (which Metro does not provide) to go to either the Cleveland Center or the Looby Center for summer programming.

Being an effective elected community leader means anticipating when certain neighborhood services are going to be interrupted and doing what you can with the resources you are given to fill the breech until those services begin again. If the MPCC had been open, then there might not have been a need for Ludye to use his discretionary funds there. But there is a need and he should have anticipated it.

We have already had fire hydrants opened (which I am told is a felony), signs vandalized, and some folks harrassed in Morgan Park by some of the bad seeds among the teens. The better kids are finding more constructive stuff with which to occupy themselves, but some of the adults here wonder how long that can last. We can all thank Ludye for doing nothing with his funds to support us in the absence of park programs.

F-Stop F-Works

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gen Ass Moves That Much Closer to Privatizing Our Public Roadways

Yeah, they are unnecessary, but they are also the next step toward the Trans-Texas-like Trans-Tennessee Corridor. Tolls are also cover for raiding funds and for allowing our roads to rot and deteriorate. If I'm going to give my money for the upkeep of roads, I would rather send it to TDOT and have still have some control over it than I would turning it over to a private tolling industry under the lock of 50-year contracts.

Is This a Stereotype Tennessee Republicans Really Want to Promote?

Passing out a tiny number of tax breaks to a few select sympathizers instead of sitting behind a desk working on state business?

Nashville Post Has Obtained Nashville's Agenda Draft

NashPo has a draft report of Nashville's Agenda--which has been criticized by some neighborhood organizers as too close to pro-business lobbyists--and they just posted a story on-line with a link to the full text. The draft report is scheduled to be presented to the Nashville's Agenda Steering Committee tomorrow.

Gaylord Bill Will Test How Fiscally Conservative the Council's Social Conservatives Are

The large elephant in Metro Council Chambers before the August election that no one will probably talk about is Gaylord Entertainment towing their request that Metro pick up their $80 million in debt for hotel expansion. In the role of ringmaster: J.B. Loring, who has never met a corporate expansion he does not like.

I predict that Council Members will pass this quickly and quietly for the sake of the conservatives like Buck Dozier and Charlie Tygard who are running for office. Let me suggest that every vote of support for this corporate welfare bill needs to be heaped like hot coals on the heads of the council conservatives and most especially on those members running for office who do not debate it.


UPDATE: Gaylord is apparently about to start flexing its muscle around the nation's capital, too. With a million room-nights already booked and all of that money they are pulling away from the staid DC hotels to the Potomac waterfront, why can't they pay for their own expansion in Nashville? (HT: NashPo).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Republicans Love Pelton at-Large

While at-Large candidate Dave Pelton's press release today says that winning the Davidson County Republicans at-Large Straw Poll (at $25.00 a head admission) "proves" his broad appeal, I would have to say that it proves that his red-meat, culture warrior e-mail to certain voters saying that only he could protect them from left-wing domination of the Metro Council was effective at rallying a conservative cadre of Republicans who could afford entrance to the picnic.

The comments in that e-mail are rather bizarre, but the fact that they were written in the space between endorsement by the local teachers' union (not a favorite of social conservatives) and the occasion of the Davidson Co. GOP Straw Poll gives it a certain tactical campaign logic. The e-mail should have put the torches-and-pitch-forks social conservatives at ease enough to cast a vote for Mr. Pelton.

I also heard today that Charlie Tygard came in second with the Republicans, who don't have an easy go in largely Democratic Davidson County. That would make sense since Mr. Tygard generally votes with the conservative wing of the Metro Council. Every time I hear his name, I cannot help but be reminded of him absurdly railing against the Metro Courthouse Public Square as a "monument to government."


UPDATE: Sean tells us that Buck Dozier overwhelmingly won the Republicans' Mayoral Straw Poll. No surprise there. If I were a Republican, especially a plugged-into-the-system Republican business man, I would probably vote for Dozier, too.

District 19 Now Has Two Blogging Metro Council Candidates

Erica Gilmore is now blogging her campaign for District 19 Council Member. Freda Player has also been blogging intermittently for a while.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

This the 25th Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Did you really think that he would have one? It means so much more just to tell the Council that he is going to have one. They don't follow up well.

Hope Gardens by Night; Salemtown in the Morning

Thanks to our Hope Gardens friends Brian and Marie for having us over to celebrate their dog's birthday last night. S-townWife begged out due to exhaustion, but told me that decorum required me to go to represent officially the household delegation to the HG contingent. Their deck was a great spot to watch the CM Friggin'A fireworks (as opposed to having them wake me up the night before). And the flowing Dos Perros and Margaritas did not unsteady my camera hand one bit (well, maybe just a little bit; you haven't seen all of my photos).

This morning I was up bright and early helping my 7th Avenue neighbor Stephanie pick up trash on her street, 6th Avenue, Garfield, and Hume. I recommend that more S-towners participate in periodic Saturday morning trash pick ups. Not only do they help the neighborhood look better (we picked up three bags worth of garbage from just the streets and sidewalks alone), but they help us get to know one another and they are a great way to inventory other problems and code violations, like properties with tall weeds and illegal dumping (like the chartreuse market that practically dumps its own garbage in its back parking lot). Hopefully, we can entice a few more people to participate in the future.

Friday, June 08, 2007

NashBizJ Feels Salemtown's Heat, But From the Wrong Side


I guess we "could be" a hot spot if we were actually in East Nashville. Here in North Nashville, we've been a hot spot for a while. Read article after the jump.

Overlays are Neither Demons Nor Angels

Just a few days ago real estate blogger Will Sanford was haranguing Council Member Mike Jameson as some kind of co-conspirator against neighborhood democracy itself. Now he is crowning Jameson's efforts (along with other Council Members) to rezone Gallatin Road with an SP ("Specific Plan" zoning) backed by some ambitious projects. Sanford's extreme interpretations are hyperbolic and head-spinning.

But they no doubt serve his purposes. I'm not surprised at all that Sanford is keen on SPs. As long as neighborhoods can track them and stay attuned to what is approved they can be good things. But just like any other zoning tool, they can be abused and misused. And they can be better for some than for others.

I recently spoke to Germantown leaders who were critical of SPs because of the constant attention--development-by-development, planning meeting-by-planning meeting, approval-by-approval--that they require. Unlike the developers and the investors, very few neighbors have the time to monitor every single stage of the SP approval process. That puts the neighborhoods at a distinct disadvantage, unless their Council Members (like Mike Jameson) are proactive and hands-on. How is that "forward-looking"?

Salemtown's only experience with SPs has been Schoene Ansicht, and if you have kept up with that saga, you have some idea of the problems we have had with a development design that probably should not have been allowed on a property of that size and of with a stormwater retention tank that, though approved by Metro, was also met with Metro's concerns about how it could flood an adjoining property and aggravate an already unacceptable surface water run-off on Hume Street.

The SP opens the door to many things for investors, developers, and real-estate types, but it can be a booger for neighborhood leaders to have influence over. If we would have known that on the front end of the planning process, the Schoene Ansicht development story probably would have been a different one.

Don't mistake my sobriety about zoning for a rejection of the Gallatin Road SP or SPs in general. They are tools, like conservation overlays, that help in some situations, but in others, not so much. Make no mistake: SPs have their own complications for neighborhood leaders and those complications are what often give the people who make the lion's share of the money in the real estate industry a clear advantage. I am thinking that such is what Sanford means by "practical, forward-looking."

Sky High Over Downtown IV


The heart of the North End is framed in sunlight. 5th & 6th Avenues are the street arteries running away from you. Germantown sits forward to the edge of the sunshine and back to Werthan Lofts (large building on the left side of the picture just above center). Salemtown sits beyond Werthan under the thicker canopy of trees. MetroCenter lies farthest away, beginning near the Mother House of St. Cecelia's (large red-roofed building in the upper left-hand corner).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

This the 23rd Day Since Councilman Ludye Wallace Declared That He Would Hold a Community Meeting in Salemtown

Less than 2 weeks to go until the third reading of the 6th and Garfield (Salem Gardens) rezoning bill that Salemtown Neighbors supported because it would require single family home zoning on 3 properties. However, we still have not heard a word on the community meeting that Ludye Wallace announced to the Metro Council that he would have with us after deferring third reading on May 15 in order to help us understand what we already understand.

CRIME ALERT: More HVACs Stolen from 6th Avenue Builds

The Salemtown Neighbors website is reporting tonight that two HVACs were stolen from 1620 6th Avenue North, A & B either last night or early this morning.

Sky High Over Downtown III

Sky High Over Downtown II

Sky High Over Downtown I

I took my first trip up to the 30th floor terrace of the L&C Building this week and got some spectacular shots on what was one of our clearer days. Thanks to grouthaus for referring me (grouthaus is also considering a move to Salemtown and has some outstanding ideas on locating higher density housing on the outskirts of Salemtown and saving the heart for more single-family homes) and thanks to the Terrazzo Sales Team for showing me around their roof-top digs (Terrazzo will be one of the few if any LEED pre-certified "Green Buildings" in the next generation of Downtown housing options).

At-Large Hopeful Megan Barry To Be in the North End on Sunday

Megan Barry will be in Germantown at 506 Monroe St. on June 10 from 4 to 6 PM. According to the invitation, she will be discussing Nashville's future with "friends and neighbors who care about our great city." I'm going to be there. Are you?

Better to Err on the Side of Inconvenience or Vice?

After sleeping on it I have a little more perspective on this tussle. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the other side is correct, and that those of us who might ever think of supporting an overlay in any situation outside of Sylvan Park have too much "religious intensity" about overlays.

What would be the worst thing that you could say about us if it were even true? That we are an inconvenient, impractical impediment? That we are irrelevant? Besides some wasted time and a few errant dollars, what is the worst damage that we cause to people (not plans) if we are irrelevant and too pie-in-the-sky?

If inconvenience is the error on our side, then what would be the extreme of the marketer's side? That they are solely driven by money? That they will tear down or build anything in any community and that they will oppose overlays everywhere in order to protect their profit margin? And isn't the worst thing that you can say about the drive for money is that it makes greedy people? And don't we all know the damage that greed causes?

So, I guess if I were forced to accept the terms of the anti-overlayers (which I don't), then the choice I face is between erring either against the most inconvenient preservationists or against the most vicious money-makers. And being lumped with the scrupulous is supposed to convince me of the soundness of the other side's cause?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

To Live and Die in Committee

The next phase in spending Salemtown's $580,000 federal community development block grant has started with my attendance along with others today of the "Salemtown Streetscape Project Request for Qualifications Review Committee."

We are now reviewing the qualifications of 7 design firm proposals for a Salemtown Streetscape Project based on 6 criteria:
  1. Experience of the firms
  2. Specialized expertise of firms' team members
  3. Firms' organizational capacity to complete work on time and within budget
  4. Project strategy
  5. References
  6. HUD Section 3 (employment and training of lower income residents within project area) requirements
The only other thing I can tell you is that I have a stack of notebooks to read; let's just call it my community service for the next few weeks.

Winning Ugly

Well, it looks like there are some opponents of the Sylvan Park Overlay not satisfied with just winning by forcing John Summers to capitulate last night. Such ugliness is why I felt so ambivalent about the whole debate in 2006 and why I now judge it to be one of the sorriest episodes that I have witnessed in local politics.

Some seem to be set on a more far-reaching, ideological agenda of marketing bias against overlays in general rather than treating them as pragmatic tools of benefit in some situations. In that battle, it is not the neighborhoods or the individual home owners who stand to win (although some will no doubt have some "trickle-down" benefits) because eliminating overlays on the front end means one less tool at their disposal in defense of their communities. Instead, it is the marketers and the investors who will gain the upper hand in neighborhoods, commodifying everything they can get their paws around.

Quality of life has a price, you know: it costs what they tell us it costs, and they struck a blow against overlays, so sit down and shut up.

I repeat as before: a pox on all sides of this debate.


UPDATE: A voice of reason in Sylvan Park.

Last Minute Discretionary Funds Requested As "Emergencies" Last Night

Three request to pull money from Council Infrastructure/Non-Profits Funds were passed last night. They include:
  • $20,000 to the Metro Sheriff's Office (Carl Burch)
  • $22,250 to MDHA (Ludye Wallace)
  • $20,000 to Public Works (Billy Joe Walls)
I'm trying to find exactly what the earmarks are for. It is unclear whether they can be dispersed in time for the June 30 deadline.

"We Don't Call It 'Cashin' In.' We Call It 'Deregulation.'"

$35 billion in profits over 12 months and AT&T is pressing Congress to allow them to charge people more for faster-tracked internet service, creating virtual haves and have-nots in a public right-of-way.

Dominating Last Night's Public Hearing

Plainly ignored or minimized by the mainstream print media this morning was the overwhelming opposition to the Mayor's budget regarding low-income and homeless items last night. (Perhaps the newspapers were reclining in the glow of their victory for apartment guide boxes everywhere. In the case of the City Paper, they were focused on pressing the hot button Union issue). A long line of advocates from the Homeless Power Project and from the Mary Parish Center (which accepts all domestic violence victims regardless of income) came asking for money that the Mayor did not provide.

It was heart-wrenching to hear the stories, but I came away believing more than ever that, unless local government is more committed to providing such services rather than relying strictly on non-profits, it will just be easier and easier to look the other way. Non-profits do great work and we need them and some government money should go to them. But they are also the weakest link in the service delivery chain, and the populations that they serve are the ones that get thrown overboard at budget crunch time. There is no accountability to voters when Metro funds or fails to fund non-profits, and elected officials rarely face consequences for cutting them loose because very few constituents who vote are involved.

3 Vanderbilt Area Neighborhood Associations Co-sponsor Candidates Forum, Which Includes District 19 Hopefuls

Thanks to Paige Clancy for the heads-up on a June 14 public forum to be held at Edgehill United Methodist Church (1502 Edgehill Av.) from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Reportedly, the District 19 candidates will be included with Vice Mayoral and at-Large candidates will be involved.

The Germantown and Salemtown Association Presidents are supposed to be coordinating a debate forum in our area for the District 19 candidates tentatively slated for the end of June. I have not heard a thing about that forum since the Germantown-Salemtown pow-wow two weeks ago. I hope the ball does not get dropped on that debate (Freda Player and Erica Gilmore have already committed to attend), because our community should have the opportunity to hear these candidates discuss their differences face-to-face.