Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Metro Starts Working on Salemtown's Water Run-off Problems

Metro is finally fixing one of Salemtown's more aggrevating water run-off problems at the corner of 4th and Coffee, after a couple of years of complaining (that I know of) by several residents.

I started writing about various water run-off problems here and I took the following photo in May 2005:


Here is what the corner looked like yesterday with a new sewer going in:


Progress is a wonderful thing, even when it is late in coming.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Board

Local Media Continue to Try to Influence the Outcome of the Mayor's Race

The handicapping and christening of news print's darlings and dogs continues. Might it be fun to rub Rex's unworthy nose in it should election results come out differently than the pundits prognosticate?

Tennessean Article on "Mean Streets" Focuses on Cheatham Place and Points West

Tim Gianni describes how $228,000 in federal law enforcement funding is paying the overtime for Metro Police officers who work the "Safer Streets Program." The article is gives a good overview of how the community affairs officers and special investigation teams work together in higher crime neighborhoods. Gianni focuses on the neighborhoods from Cheatham Place (9th Av N) to 23rd Av N, which include Historic Buena Vista, Jones Buena Vista, Osage, and Fisk.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Metro Council Poll Widget

I put up a poll question in the right-hand column asking, "How have on-line sources of news and information helped you pick the Metro Council candidates for whom you will vote or have voted?" It is an unscientific poll, but I am curious about any impact that internet sources might have on voters' deliberative choices. Feel free to leave a comment on this post if you would like to extrapolate your answer on the widget.

Why Bother When I Can Drink Yazoo in My Own Yard?

In deciding not to join many of you who went to the Music City Brewers' Festival yesterday, I had several reasons:

  1. It was too danged hot to justify going to an event whose only hook was beer. I assumed I could buy the same beer cheaper and bring it home to a comfortable, shady spot, and still have a view of the Downtown skyline.
  2. No good transportation system to get to SoBro. It's a made-for-Downtowners or made-for-parking-vendors kind of event.
  3. Reciting #1 in a different way: there was nothing (including unobtainable or exotic brews) that I might miss in order to make me put my plans aside and get a babysitter in order to go to the fest. Oktoberfest, it ain't.
  4. What was up with those weird open/closing hours?
Wage attended the MCBF and pretty much confirms all of my reasons, and throws in a bad ticketing system and a total inattention to First Aid to boot.

Unless they offer more incentives, I won't be going next year, either.

Coverstone Pins Papers to the Mat for Biased Campaign Coverage

Alan Coverstone takes the Tennessean (Michael Cass) and the City Paper (Bill Harless) to task for the obvious spin that they put on their ledes of the Mayoral candidates' fundraising:
If the story is about how much the campaign has to spend, then inclusion of personal money [in the form of self-donations and loans] is most appropriate, but if the question is what does fundraising show about which candidate has broader support, then [David] Briley's numbers show him solidly in second place and the more likely runoff participant when compared to any of the other non-Clement candidates.
Alan also points out that personal contributions should not count as a sign of popular support and that, in rationalizing it, the press just keeps retreading a Karl Dean talking point that he has had to spend his own money on name-recognition because he is not a "career politician." As Alan says, such a generalization is demeaning to public service and it is a denial of the fact that Mr. Dean himself held a political appointment in Metro.

Alan provides the real numbers of money raised that the press seems to be ignoring. Keep in mind that both the Tennessean and the City Paper have endorsed Karl Dean, and do not rely on them exclusively for the facts. Go see Alan's more reliable data after the jump.

Briley Judges at Charity Event; Exton Also in Attendance

Blakemore Children's Center was fortunate to have a few candidates running for office in attendance at its Brownie Bake-Off, which raises funds for the pre-school.

At-Large candidate and Enclave favorite Richard Exton was in attendance (no surprise there!).

A voter asks David Briley straight up why she should vote for him.






As a judge, Mr. Briley
helped sample
and evaluate
each of
the various donations
going
to a good cause.

Local TV station Fox 17 was present to catch Mr. Briley in action and to interview him afterwards. Tune in tonight to see if they run the story.

Remember to vote on Thursday, August 2!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Megan Barry Gets Major Play on PiTH Comment Board

In response to yesterday's invitation to commenters to name the at-Large candidates whom they endorse, almost all have mentioned Megan Barry as one of their choices.

The Local Political Blogosphere Belongs to David Briley. The Rest of Us Are Just Visiting.

Liberadio has a list of notable bloggers who have endorsed David Briley. In the comments, WKRN's political blogger, AC Kleinheider, says that he does not think that "any blogger of any kind of repute" has explicitly endorsed anyone but Mr. Briley.

I would also call your attention to two Germantown bloggers who have endorsed David Briley: Sam Davidson and Kate O'.


UPDATE: Hutchmo endorses Briley.

We Flirted with Bad Taste

Nashville's new sculpture, Ghost Ballet, won over another admirer. Knuck went from comic circumspection about the pre-construction drawings to admiration of its "cool" look up Broadway.

He also lets us in on the greater kitschy cliché that we nearly had in the form of another finalist's concept:


Imagine that staring you in the face as you came down Broadway toward the river. And then look away. It's hideous.

Metro Council District 5 Race Mud Wrestling

The mud-slinging between the Pam Murray and Sam McCullough campaigns for Metro Council is just so ugly. The fur has been flying regularly on the comments section of a post I made two weeks ago on Pam Murray's ethics problems.

Davidson County Democrats Gather at Gore Dinner

I was fortunate enough to meet up and speak with several candidates (like photographed Megan Barry) and campaign staffers last night at the DCD's Al Gore Dinner. After asking Richard Exton whom he thought I should vote for at-Large, I enjoyed a nice fare of steak and salmon and I listened to Bill Purcell pay a sweet tribute to his wife for his successes as Mayor. The very effective keynote speaker, Harold Ford, Jr., rallied the troops for the 2008 elections. I also got to talk with musician Will Kimbrough about playing gigs at Republican fundraisers and the trials of blogging. Finally, the ever resourceful, plugged-in Dem, Sean Braisted, kept our wine glasses full when bottle-bearing servers could not be found.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Neighborhood without a School; before David Briley

For those of you who clamor with me for a neighborhood school closer to the North End than the current 10-mile-drive set-up, watch this video about how there were once East Nashville residents clamoring for the opening of a school in a neighborhood with an old school building like the Fehr School Building at 5th and Garfield.

Pay particular attention to the comments about how many families felt that they had to leave Lockeland Springs before David Briley lead the initiative to open Lockeland Elementary because their education options were limited. Oh, and note the point that neighborhood schools increase property values.


Please remember to vote today, tomorrow, or on Thursday, August 2, and please consider voting for David Briley. We need more good neighborhood schools like Lockeland Elementary.

Pull an at-Large Lever for Exton

Besides Megan Barry, I have only one other at-Large endorsement to make, but not because I am trying to encourage voters to pull only two levers in the at-Large race. Instead, my reasoning is based on my perception that only two candidates have made conscious efforts to show up in the North End neighborhoods at various significant events. Hence, I can only endorse those whom I know by their presence. For your other three votes, I encourage you to check out the endorsements of others writers whom you may trust.

The other at-Large candidate whom I am endorsing today is Richard Exton. Mr. Exton has attended at least two Salemtown Neighbors meetings in the past year and I have seen him at several other functions in Germantown. To tell the truth, I have spotted him at a vast and sundry number of happenings around Nashville. He strikes me as hungry to govern and to make personal contact with every Nashvillian whom he may well represent after next week. Others attest to his progressive credentials; as a Realtor and a former President of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, he would bring balance between issues of growth and community that we need to hear from a professional perspective.

You know that I perpetually preach balance. So, I encourage you to join me in voting for Richard Exton, a candidate who will help bring balance and level-headedness back to the Metro Council.

Hurray for the Little Guy

Once upon a time, in the Associated Press, a professional questioned the knowledge of a little guy:
A day after Barry Bonds called him a "little midget man who knows (nothing) about baseball," broadcaster Bob Costas said he wasn't upset with the San Francisco Giants slugger.

But the parable ends well as the professional received his comeuppance:
"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally," Costas said Thursday in a telephone interview.

The moral of this story: smack may flow up better than it flows down.

No More Deliberation. My Mind is Made Up. David Briley Should Be Our Next Mayor.


I've been holding out long enough, trying to give Karl Dean and Howard Gentry their fair chances to demonstrate a serious focus on the common interests of the over 600 neighborhood associations that now populate Metro Nashville, but the concerns of both seem to lie elsewhere. So, I'm going to vote for David Briley next week, and let me tell you why.

Every opportunity I have to talk to Mr. Briley, he makes a concerted effort to listen, to chat with me authentically, and to be accountable for what he tells me. We have not agreed on every issue and I have questioned some of his decisions, but I never had a doubt about where he stood or whether he might say one thing and do another. He was honest and forthcoming with me and I appreciate that. I have never seen him evade a difficult question put to him. Such a Mayor would be someone with whom we all could work.

I admit that I wish Mr. Briley would have come out with a stronger, more comprehensive plan for neighborhoods. What we have are more piecemeal indicators--a strong stand for LEED standards in building, a reasonable height restriction bill, and speeches promising to balance growth and infrastructure--that he is more of a "Neighborhoods Mayor" than the others currently running.

However, I did have the chance to look at unreleased plans he had for restructuring the Office of Neighborhoods. I thought that they represented a bold and exciting opportunity for neighborhood feedback on policy that went far beyond what Mayor Purcell offered in the current set-up or what Bob Clement proposed in his idea of a "Neighborhood Advisory Council". But those venturous blueprints never saw the light of publicity. I wish they had.

Nonetheless, David Briley is hands down the best and most qualified person to be our next Mayor. Whether it was the first time he asked me to sit down to lunch in order to listen to my priorities and concerns for Salemtown or the recent time that he beelined to the Council gallery--while our support for a zoning measure was being obfuscated--and asked us straight up how we wanted him to vote, David Briley has reached out to us and included us in the debates that affect us in ways that the other two candidates for whom I might have voted have not.

That is not a tribute to any leverage our local communities might have to command attention. It is a testament to who David Briley is: a consummate leader who is not simply versed in the intricacies of governing, but a man readily attuned and energized by his responsibilities to the communities that he governs.

Few have governed us as well in the last few years as David Briley. And I believe that few will govern us as well in coming few years. I am going to vote for David Briley, and I hope you will, too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Other Views of "Ghost Ballet"

The Tennessean's Jonathan Marx on the international renown of Alice Aycock:
Nashville is getting a work by one of the foremost names in contemporary American art, whose pieces can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and other venerable institutions. Aycock's public commissions include site-specific installations in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and, most recently, Kansas City, Mo.

"She's a very important artist in that she is located in history," said [Watkins College of Art's Terry Thacker], who served on the selection panel for the city's second public art project, forthcoming on the downtown Public Square. "You can open up an art history textbook, and there she is.

"She gained prominence in the late '70s, when art seemed to be at an endgame. Her 'storied machines' challenged the rigid notions of 'art for art's sake' and began to open the practice of art to the possibility of lyricism, allegory and references to specific sites and histories. Most artists assume that now, but it was a radical idea in the 1970s, and she was one of the early artists to do that."

From Saxon at the Nashville Charrette:
From [the top of the hill on Broadway at the Customs House], it has an amusement-park roller-coaster air to it, which to my mind is a perfect complement to the honky-tonk district framing the view. From the riverfront, or from the Shelby Street Bridge, it looks playful, like a stabile should (are there to be any moving parts? It would be fun if it were at least partly a mobile). Those who hate the industrial look won't like it, but I find it a perfect tribute to the days when the riverbank was a place where they made stuff; the red color matches both the nearby bridgework and the light towers of LP Field (themselves intended as a recollection of the East Bank's industrial past). Not only is it a fun piece, but I think it greatly superior to much of the representational stuff appearing in public around Nashville, such as Musica or The Recording Angel at SSC (which has the double disability of playing off a nearly obsolete technology). There's something portentous about a sculpture of the human form (perhaps because so much of such sculpture is intended to be monumental)--but, massive though it is, Ghost Ballet seems anything but.

Government-Forced Contributions to Charity Challenged in One Southern Council

The Charleston, SC Council is considering the possibility of cutting funding to non-profits in order to pay for other public projects. Metro Council needs to consider the same thing in next year's budget. Thanks to Ben Cunningham for alerting me to this.

And on this subject, I would point out that "privatization" (as "privatizing public dollars") comes from the same root as "privation" or "losing or being cut off from basic quality of life." By privatizing our taxes, the Metro Council cuts citizens off from their broader services in order to patronize a narrow set of community leaders. Funding non-profits with tax dollars should be rare and difficult to do. Council Members should have to demonstrate under rigorous tests why funding a non-profit would be more suitable than funding our public services.

Which North End Neighborhood is Most Walkable?

Here is a site where you can score your neighborhood's walkability simply by entering your address. The scoring is based on several factors: locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. (Disclaimer: the site is dependent on Google, and thus dated and in some cases erroneous on addresses; it also does not weigh all walkability factors).

I entered my address only to find out that Salemtown is on the high end of "no walkability" (48). An address 3 blocks up in Germantown has "some walkable locations" (63). Historic Buena Vista has an even higher "some" score (68). But our friends in Hope Gardens have a score (71) that makes it "possible to get by without owning a car."

Given the limitations of the scale, does this match with your experience of the neighborhoods?


Mr. Coffee Changes His Roast

The City Paper editor has stooped to showcase Enclave today, only not so much in a flattering way as he links a shadow-troll-site to my blog to do a little journalistic scoffing.

I guess scoffing at certain local bloggers who have been critical of coverage in the past is Clint Brewer's idea of good public relations and the raison d'etre of the City Paper's new blog set. Of course, we should expect attacks on neighborhood sources when drubbing for sport gets past editorial approval (if not pseudonymously written by the editor himself).

But Mr. Coffee once sang a different tune to yours truly:

"CBrewer@nashvillecitypaper.com" to me
6/27/06

Mike,

I just wanted to write and introduce myself via email. I read your blog frequently and I understand you have had - and continue to have - some issues with our news practices and coverage. I think the first issue I recall was actually before I started this job and you took exception to the "gangs" article involving your neighborhood.

I would just like to extend the offer for an open dialogue by phone, email or personal visit. Whatever you prefer. It is always my practice as an editor to seek out criticism of my newspaper, and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about our shortcomings. I would also like to learn more first hand from you about what is going on in your neighborhood. I imagine there are issues there we are missing.

I would rather our paper be a resource for engaged citizens rather than a sore spot, as long as we can agree to disagree from time to time. I think reasonable people can do that.

The signature below includes my direct line. I hope you will make contact.

Clint Brewer
Executive Editor
The City Paper
3322 West End Ave.
Suite 1050
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
(615) 301-9229
After accepting his invitation for coffee in my next-day reply, I didn't hear back from him for an entire month, so I figured that he wasn't so serious about meeting (and girls, you know what a virtual purgatory it is sitting around waiting for that special guy to call back after asking you out).

Lately it looks as if he considers the NCP's past "shortcomings" to be not so short. So, don't piss Mr. Coffee off local bloggers, because now he has a blog himself and he'll link you to every troll he can find even while his publication ignores the substantive news that affects us locally (or at least they'll find a means of screwing it up when they do cover it).

Some Second Impressions of "Ghost Ballet"


This morning I attended the installation ceremony of "Ghost Ballet" on the Shelby Street Bridge overlooking the sculpture that is Nashville's first public art project. Among other speakers, Mayor Bill Purcell and the artist, Alice Aycock, addressed the decent-sized crowd sprawling on the bridge over Ghost Ballet.

The artist described the sculpture as a snapshot or a moment suspended in time appearing on the East Bank in contrast to the modern tendency to wipe the old away. She mentioned its symbolic connections to Nashville's past and its modes of transportation. But Ghost Ballet also refers to the future and to the human quest to "inject" ourselves into space.

She nodded to popular interpretations of the sculpture as a roller coaster and mentioned her own childhood memories of a Pittsburgh amusement park. Accordingly, the sculpture is meant to convey feelings of weightlessness. The irregularly-shaped, free-standing disk that sits on the ground below the statue stands for the Industrial Revolution. It is the "dynamo," according to Aycock that generated all of the other aspects symbolized in Ghost Ballet.

I was no less impres-sed by Ghost Ballet today than I was when I first saw it from Broadway. Each of the elements of the sculpture seem grounded in Nashville's history and yet some are broader and--in the case of the future--transcendent of the Nashvillian aspects. Even if the sculpture has a roller coaster quality to it, rather than garnering disdain from the masses, it ought to appeal to the "bread-and-circuses" mentality of the same. If art did not start a debate, then I guess it would not fit the label "public." This is a good piece to call our first public artwork.

Some Ideas for Buying Locally with Sustainability in Mind

Commenter PF Lynes refers to Lazzaroli Pasta and Morgan Park Place West as examples of local entrepreneurs who represent answers to the local sustainability question that I posed last week. Lazzaroli is a neighborhood pasta business and MPPW is Tennessee's first "Earth-Craft" certified and Governor's Award-winning development for building green.

I would also mention Gardens of Babylon at Farmer's Market. GOB is a local, family-owned shop that emphasizes organic, non-chemical approaches to gardening. Not only do we get most of our plants and yard supplies from GOB, but we also use their organic spraying service, which uses "worm tea," a fertilizer replacement that is generated in a centuries-old practice of straining water through earthworm casings and compost. We are satisfied with the results and with the fact that our family's exposure to chemical toxins is minimized with this service.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And Sets in the North-by-Northwest

The Pieces Start Falling Into Place

All of that nanny-our-candidate foam flying around last week makes more sense now. Translate "buzz-kill" as "scattered showers on the editor's pre-endorsement festival of roses roll-out."

Also, is there a mean-spirited "Metro Mafia" pattern developing here? Consider this and this and this. The ostensible lack of openness is troubling to me.

Ludye Wallace Breaks Another Promise to Hold a Community Meeting on Rezoning

At the end of his term and he's still salty. Oh, how Ludye's broken promises sound like a broken record in Salemtown.

Posted to the HistoricGermantown blog:
Ed Swinger, the owner of the property at the southwest corner of 7th and Taylor, is for the third time asking for a re-zoning from R6 to SP. His plan describes four single-family homes on .18 acre. At the Second Reading before the Metro Council last November, he and his sponsor, Ludyue Wallace, agreed to re-submit his plan to the Planning Commission for approval and to meet with the neighbors about the project.

To this date, he has not attempted to contact the neighborhood.

The hearing will be held Thursday, July 26 at 4p.m. at Metro Southeast Building 1417 Murfreesboro Pike in the Green Hills Conference Room.
If you can attend, please do.
If you cannot attend, will you please contact the Metro Planning Commission? or 862-7190.Planning commission meetings are listed on the Planning Commission agenda page.There, you can see the agenda [PDF] and the staff recommendations [PDF] for this meeting.
I understand that one of the reasons that Historic Germantown is working for an overlay is so that developers cannot collude with Council Members to end-around the neighborhood in such fashion, which ultimately forces neighbors to put their lives on hold last minute to exercise some influence over the planning process.

Ludye's only got one more week, folks. Keep stressing to the candidates that another Ludye is not what we need. And Salemtown: learn the lessons of the advantages that investors and developers enjoy in the planning process.

Where Was That "Progressive" Candidate When Metro Council Was Subsidizing the Church of Christ?

I've already said that I believe that she is going to trounce her opponent. A story this morning bears that out; except for the possibility that she may not have enough votes to forestall a run-off. I wonder how many more votes she could have gotten from some of us by just dropping her sponsorship of a conservative, pro-growth bill? And might those votes have made all of the difference?

And look here: nobody, but nobody, has been as watchful or as critical as I have of "slush-fund appropriation[s] to the church-of-Christ sponsored inner-city-ministry." Nobody has to preach to me the evils of certain candidates. I understand them and write about them.

But this is not simply a straight up comparison of the minor evils of one wayward bill vs. all of the ills of social conservativism that might spew forth on Nashville should one side win. It is a comparison of the main responsibility of Metro Council members (balanced planning and zoning), their accountability, and the highly visible controversies (English Only or gay/lesbian benefits) that as lightning rods have more bang than buck to them in the context of the Metro Council.

And while we are on the subject of religious-based slush funds, I have one simple, admittedly rhetorical question that dissects the whole "lesser of 2 evils" rationalization: where was Diane Neighbors' vote against, for instance, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker's bill to send over $13,000 in public funds to the Inner City Ministry? Where was her hypothesized socially progressive voice shouting her opposition then?

While we are stretching for answers on who is the lesser of two evils, bear this tally in mind; it is the list of recorded votes from the April 17 Council minutes on the bill that added to the Council's Church of Christ "slush-fund":
“Ayes” Dozier, Neighbors, Tucker, Briley, Dread, Gilmore, Isabel, Hunt, Craddock, Murray, Jameson, Cole, Hart, Forkum, Ryman, Brown, Gotto, Burch, White, Loring, Page, Greer, Pepper, Wallace, Walls, Whitmore, Evans, Summers, Shulman, Adkins, Foster, Alexander, Wilhoite, Hodge, Toler, Coleman, Duvall, Williams, Tygard (39); “Noes” (0).
The two candidates' names are right next to each other in support of this bill. My argument against some other progressives is simply that they may be as close to one another on the matter of committee appointments. We have no indication from the Neighbors campaign to the contrary. There is no "lesser evil" on that score.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tygard Donor Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges of "Impairing" Investigation of His Conduct

Albert Granier III, who donated $500 to The Friends of Charlie Tygard, pled guilty today to federal charges and he admitted gaining unauthorized access to a computer used in the conduct of his earlier business dealings with the state.

According to Charlie Tygard's financial disclosure records, Mr. Granier donated $250 to the Tygard Campaign in the cycle between August 2005 and January 2006; he also donated $250 to the campaign in the cycle between July 2006 and January 2007. The Tygard Campaign accepted both Granier donations after word of the investigation and indictment were made public.

It is bad enough that The Friends of Charlie Tygard accepted that money under those conditions, but now that Mr. Granier unequivocally pled guilty to unlawful conduct, is at-Large Candidate Tygard going to return the $500 donation? He should.

A Curious Sequence of Events in Local Campaign History

Red flags are flapping across the following timeline.
  • June 2006 -- According to the 07/06/2006 Nashville Scene:
    Sheriff Daron Hall’s department was the direct beneficiary of more than $250,000 worth of budget shifting last week when, at the last minute, the Metro Council robbed the paltry funding of the Metro Arts Commission (it started at $2.3 million) to pad Hall’s already flush $67.8 million budget—all in the course of passing the city’s $1.5 billion budget for the new fiscal year .... Council member Charlie Tygard, who proposed the budget amendment (which narrowly passed by a 14 to 13 margin) points to the weighing needs of the Sheriff’s Office as the reason for the Peter-to-Paul fund transfer.
  • October 2006 -- The Friends of Charlie Tygard received a $500 donation from The Friends of Daron Hall (Sheriff), according to Mr. Tygard's 07/01/06-01/15/07 campaign financial disclosure forms.
If the standard that we use is not just the avoidance of unethical entanglements but the avoidance of the appearance of unethical entanglements, then the sequence of the budget transfer and the campaign donation is problematic.

There may be no connection, but the mere appearance of an improper connection should have been anticipated by Daron Hall, if not by Charlie Tygard. (An unrelated aside: Sheriff Hall had to deal with news of other ethics problems in his office in December 2006). $500 is a lot of money for one "Friends of" group to give to another at any time, let alone only 3 months after Mr. Tygard lead a $250,000 transfer of Metro funds to benefit the Sheriff's Office.

This sequence of events opens more questions about Mr. Tygard's integrity and fitness for an at-Large seat.

Republican Swift Boat Funder Leads Charlie Tygard's Campaign

Lee Beaman, auto scion and Treasurer of The Friends of Charlie Tygard, has contributed more ($1,000) to Mr. Tygard in 3 months than he did to any Democrat from 1995 to 2000 ($250). During those final years of the 20th Century, Mr. Beaman was ranked among the top "Top 15 Auto Industry Hard Money Contributors," hitting the same list with the likes of Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler for most amount of money donated to the political parties.

However, he only donated $250 of $122,781 to Democrats. The rest went to Republicans. In 2004, Mr. Beaman donated $2,500 to the "Swift Vets and POWs for Truth," a group whose primary purpose was to conduct a smear campaign in order to keep increasingly unpopular Republican President George W. Bush in office. Also in 2004, Mr. Beaman donated $15,000 to the Tennessee Forum, whose purpose was to target and to oust state Democrats from office and to advance a right-wing agenda at the Capitol.

Mr. Beaman's wife, Kelley Beaman, leads a conservative ethics group that she founded that very same year called the Tennessee Institute for Govermental and Ethics Reform (that's right: TIGER!). Ms. Beaman also contributed $1,000 to Mr. Tygard's 2007 at-Large campaign, even though Mr. Tygard's Council history seems plagued by ethical questions. Her faith in Tygard strains my faith in TIGER.

While the at-Large races are supposed to be unrelated to political parties, it is clear to me that Mr. Tygard's most lavish contributors and campaign leaders are well-connected conservative Republicans who have a partisan agenda to advance. I frankly worry about about how that would influence Mr. Tygard's leadership on behalf of all of Nashville in an at-Large position.

What This Poll Says To Me

The latest numbers tell me that the combined total of each of the 3 candidates for whom I have considered voting are supported by over half of all of Metro Nashville's likely voters. That's not good for the 2 serious contenders I have either not considered or only remotely considered. The combined total of the 3 is over 30 points ahead of Bob Clement. That is staggering to me, given Mr. Clement's name recognition and network machinery.

Tygard's Top Financial Backers: Will Big Campaign Money Usher Stranglehold Growth Should He Win?

The roster of top 20 financial donors on at-Large candidate Charlie Tygard's latest disclosure forms weighs heavily to the growth side of development against sustainability and infrastructure:
  • Gaylord PAC (Convention industry) -- $1,000
  • John Coleman Hayes (Developer, John Coleman Hayes Construction Co.) -- $1,000
  • Al McKinney (Engineer, Concord Group) -- $1,000
  • Sid Smith (Engineer, Smith, Seckman, & Reid) -- $1,000
  • Carl Neuhoff (Accountant, Hostettler, Neuhoff, & Davis Real Estate Brokers) -- $1,000
  • Lee Beaman (Auto Sales, Beaman Automotive) -- $1,000
  • Kelley Beaman (Auto Sales, Homemaker) -- $1,000
  • Ann Fussell (Homemaker) -- $1,000
  • Sandra Lee (Homemaker) -- $1,000
  • Mary Jones (Realtor, Jones Realty) -- $1,000
  • William Freeman (Developer, Freeman Webb) -- $750
  • Julia Whitson (Homemaker) -- $750
  • Mary McGrath (N/A) -- $650
  • Greater Nashville Area Realtors PAC -- $500
  • Colin Reed (Business Exec., Gaylord) -- $500
  • Cecil Branstetter (Attorney, Branstetter, Stanch, & Jennings) -- $500
  • Dewey Branstetter (Attorney, Branstetter, Stanch & Jennings) -- $500
  • James Webb, III (Developer, Freeman Webb) -- $500
  • Kevin Estes (Engineer, Dale and Associates*) -- $500
  • Mack McClung (Developer, Vastland Realty) --$500
That's a lot of money collected from a number of growth industry bosses from April 2007 to June 2007 (approximately 90% of Mr. Tygard's total of $24,770 in contributions collected during that period are from donors giving over $100). Not included in this list are two other engineers and one other Realty PAC which each gave at least $200 to the Tygard campaign.

Mr. Tygard's past voting record seems to lack any balance between growth and infrastructure, and yet there is nothing in his financial disclosure forms that should lead us to believe that he would govern with any more balance in an at-Large seat. He would seem to be beholden to big money and untrammeled growth, which could hurt neighborhood sustainability and the influence of neighborhood associations on local politics.

________________
*Dale and Associates engineered the controversial water retention tank at the Schoene Ansicht development in Salemtown. That tank is set to funnel run-off from the property into a lower-lying alley and an adjoining property (as of this date no crown has been put on the alley as recommended to the UP, LLC ownership group in order to divert the run-off). Schoene Ansicht is a neighborhood symbol of growth running roughshod over sustainability and infrastructure when money becomes more important than people.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Habitat VP Says Tygard Ad Reflects Personal Opinion of Homeowner

I e-mailed Chris Clarke, Habitat for Humanity International's Senior Vice President, in order to ask whether he was concerned that a Charlie Tygard campaign commercial displaying "Habitat for Humanity" could appear to be a political endorsement of Tygard. Here is Mr. Clarke's reply:
The homeowner [who appears in the Habitat for Humanity portion of the Tygard ad] reflected her personal opinion. Her opinion is not the opinion of Habitat as she does speak on behalf of the organization.
I do not see much concern about the Tygard ad in that reply.

Council Member/State Legislator Brenda Gilmore "Helps" Voters at the Polls

I went over to the Election Commission at lunch today to look at some records on campaign contributions. There was a small line of folks waiting to vote early. I excused myself to the front, given that I was there to look at records and not to vote.

At the front of the line standing near the Commission's front desk I noticed Council Member and State Legislator Brenda Gilmore speaking with the people at the front of the line and seeming to assist them. I did not hear her give any specific directions to the voters, but I did hear one of the poll volunteers tell Ms. Gilmore that she would not be able to go into the voting booth with the voters. I heard Ms. Gilmore say that she was not going to go in and that she was just helping them get to the polls.

Later as I was about to finish and leave, I asked one of the staffers whether it is appropriate for a Metro Council Member whose daughter is currently running for Council to be helping people in the office. The staffer told me that my question would be referred to the Commission Administrator, Ray Barrett, and he would contact me when he got back from lunch.

Mr. Barrett called me back within the hour to say that if it was Ms. Gilmore who was helping voters, then she should not have been doing so at the front desk. Council Members can help voters and bring them to the polls, but they are supposed to stay back 100 feet from the front door in the middle of the Election Commission parking lot if they do so. Mr. Barrett said that he would talk to Ms. Gilmore about this incident when he sees her in the future.

Of Course It Is a Campaign Tactic

I'm sorry, but there is no such thing as an unconsidered or innocent scheduling conflict in political campaigns. Campaign strategists and advisors meet and discuss daily and in detail the best tactics for winning an election. So, did Bob Clement's Campaign believe that skipping controversial debates makes him more winnable? Of course they did. These guys are seasoned pros at marketing Bob Clement. What voters have to decide is whether those relatively tame and timid moves are causes to question whether Mr. Clement is bold enough to lead this city and daring enough to face challenges that confront him as Mayor.

Cursory Bellicosity

The Nation's Max Blumenthal goes over the top sometimes to make a point, but this video is right on target in getting to the hypocrisy of an unquestioned mantra in support of the President Bush's war and the general refusal among draft-age Republicans to volunteer to join our troops currently in Iraq. Be sure to listen to Tom Delay's jaw-dropping comments on what aborted fetuses could be doing right now if they had been born; it is a baronial and overweening theory on how to solve the illegal immigration problem.

"City" is Slippery

The Charrette is debating whether, relative to Chicago, Nashville can be called a "city." Let me suggest that that the archaic connotations of "city" and "town" are overcoming their comparative usefulness (even though they are still popular).

Even while granting Nashville's relative limitations, I would still call it a "city" and not a "town." Better comparative terms: Nashville's "Metropolis" to Chicago's "Megalopolis."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Some Initial Impressions of "Ghost Ballet"


We turned off 8th on to Broadway today and saw the new East Bank public art, "Ghost Ballet," dominating the view down Lower Broad. We were amazed at how large it looks from West Downtown. In fact, the closer we drove toward the river, the more it seemed to shrink. By the time we hit 1st, it did not look nearly so conspicuous.

We drove across the river and pulled up close to it while construction workers were busy putting it together. I noticed automatically that one side of the circular, red sculpture mimics the Shelby Street Bridge ironwork. S-townWife immediately observed that the other loop looks like the railroad tracks paralleling the river. It does look like a dance between the two lines of transport.

Pre-construction drawings of the sculpture have been getting panned and snarked on-line. The most common comparison is to a roller coaster. I was a little worried after seeing the drawings myself, but I am actually impressed by Ghost Ballet. Neither of us thought "roller coaster" when we saw it in real life and we left with favorable reviews.

Evil Empire Outslugs Red Sox Nation in Campaign Contributions

The NY Yankees may be currently chasing the BoSox in the race for the AL East pennant this year, but since 1999 the Bronx Bombers are destroying the Red Legs in campaign contributions, $619,408-$56,350. There is a Tennessee connection: the Red Sox President made a $2,100 contribution in 2006 to the Harold Ford for Senate campaign.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

McMansions Arrive in the North End

Looks like the Historic Buena Vista Neighborhood is super-sizing its scale. These huge new builds are on Arthur Av between 10th Av N and the I-65 loop near Mt. Bethel Baptist Church.


Progressive Entrepreneur Contest

The progressives at BlogPac are offering up to $5,000 grants for 5 successful proposals that intend to build "progressive infrastructure," locally, statewide, or nationally. The application deadline is next Tuesday at 9 p.m. Central.

Given recent discussions about the differences in "grassroots" and "progressive," I notice that BlogPac uses the terms interchangeably, which strikes me as being like conservatives using "libertarian" and "conservative" interchangeably.

Friday, July 20, 2007

OktoberItaliano

Dropped by Lazzaroli today for some authentic Italian take-out.

Ordered manicotti (which was picked up hot at 5:00; downed with a good Cab graciously gifted by Kate O' & Karsten). Found out about this strong recommendation in today's Tennessean.

Heard Tom L. say that they are planning a big spread right on 5th in front of the store for Oktoberfest. Dreamed of a Little Italy-type setting. Enjoyed the thought that Oktoberfest would be spilling farther down 5th toward S-town.

Sweet Liberation and a Referral

Acting on a tip from a commenter, I secured the services of Tidy Paws, which comes over weekly and cleans up our dog's poop in the back yard. Tidy Paws is owned by Brad Luther (phone: 893-9496), and their average weekly cleaning per pet is $10 + $2.50 per pet (an initial clean up fee may apply according to the amount of accumulation). Brad says that they also clean cat litter boxes.

After a year of cleaning up dog poop I feel practically liberated (did you know that dog poop takes at least a year to disintegrate?) and happy to refer him to any one else who can use the service. Brad tells me that I am his first North End customer, which seems odd to me given the number of pet owners around here.

I told Brad that there seem to be a good number of pet owners over at Werthan Lofts who bring their dogs out to relieve themselves. I also suggested that he contact the Werthan Residents Association to see if they might work out a deal for him to sweep up the poop on the grounds over there.

District 19 Candidate Freda Player in Salemtown on Sunday

One of our neighbors on 7th Avenue tells me that she is planning a meet-and-greet for Metro Council candidate Freda Player on Sunday afternoon. More details to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've Got an Honest Question for Anyone to Field

What do Nashvillians and Nashville's local businesses regularly buy that is or could be supplied locally by socially and environmentally responsible independent enterprises?

(It's not rhetorical and I don't already have the answers).


UPDATE: I actually gleaned this question from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies website. It sounds like an exciting concept, but (outside of a mention of the Social Venture Network at the Village Real Estate website) there is no Nashville extension of BALLE. It seems to me that we would have various business groups (LEED builders, Bongo Java, Nashville Urban Harvest, etc.) who might be great candidates for a BALLE group here. Thoughts?

The Money Quote of the Day

[W]e all know that the Scene doesn't acknowledge local blogs as worthwhile, much less being worth ripping off [as they appear to have done with their new "Bites" blog].

- - Nashville Knucklehead

An Arendtian Read on Bloggers (Dilettantes) vs. Journalists (Literati)

The latest debate on the relationship of journalism to blogging got me reflecting on political philosopher Hannah Arendt's division of the "life devoted to public-political matters" into three:
Labor assures ... individual survival ... [and] the life of the species. Work and its product, the human artifact, bestow a measure of permanence and durability on upon the futility of mortal life and the fleeting character of human nature. Action, in so far as it engages in founding and preserving political [broadly considered] bodies, creates the condition for remembrance, that is, for history [Source].
In these terms, I would put blogging in the sphere of action with some overlap in work. Likewise, I would put journalism in the sphere of work with some overlap in action. The overlap is disputed territory where "citizen journalism" gets defined, interrogated, and attacked. It is also the territory where professional journalism must account for its investigative choices relative to relevant public-political matters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tennessee: A Leg in the Transport Route of "Declared Chemical Weapons"

All we've got right now is a pending lawsuit and a prayer that an accident does not happen around one of our communities. Sue Sturgis warns us of the transport of a nerve agent byproduct right in our own back yard.

Nashville Area Habitat President Not Concerned about Charlie Tygard's Campaign Commercial

I spoke with the CEO of Habitat Nashville today, Chris McCarthy, who told me that after viewing at-Large candidate Charlie Tygard's TV campaign ad, she is not concerned that the title, "Habitat for Humanity" appears with a Habitat Development homeowner who endorses Mr. Tygard. She told me that she would be concerned if "Nashville Area Habitat" had appeared on the commercial, since it would have directly referred to her 501(c)3 organization. Instead, "Habitat for Humanity" is the proper name of the national organization, and thus, appearance of the name could affect the 501(c)3 status of the latter. Ms. McCarthy intends to notify her Executive Board of the commercial nonetheless.

She also emphasized to me that the $50,000 is a very small percentage of Habitat Nashville's total donations, and she underscored the benefits to Metro of the Habitat's Nashville development: increased property taxes, a widened road, and a donated $300,000 public park.

We should not totally ban non-profit earmarks, for the very reasons that Ms. McCarthy gave us. But they should be rare and Mr. Tygard should not use them inappropriately to advance his own campaign, especially at the risk of endangering the organization's non-profit status.

This is Precisely My Issue-with-a-Capital-'I' with the Mainstream Media

They let the candidates off the hook by telling the rest of us in the audience (who don't necessarily have a salaried interest in killing certain questions) when the time for certain questions is "done and over." Jump to the alt-weakly debate.

Good Article on How Renegade Blogger Power-Flexing May Diffuse Southern Baptist Influence

Bloggers have become the new Baptist bogeymen. For non-Baptists, their ascendance may well mean that the voice of the Southern Baptist Convention, a potent political force for decades, will become more diffuse, less able to coordinate its attacks on secular culture, and less powerful in national politics.

- - Michael Erard, Texas Observer, July 13, 2007

If you read no other piece on bloggers or Southern Baptists this week, click on the link above and read the Texas Observer's latest cover story. Bloggers and the SBC are merely the tip of the iceberg of what seems to be a deeper shift in American power politics, hopefully leading to weaker partisan arm-twisting by the conservative evangelicals.

Erard interviews Nashville-based Richard Land, Head "Just War" Cheerleader for the Bush Administration's Iraq Junket, who utters the usual irrelevant and disparaging mantras about bloggers:
I never read the blogs ... I have staff people who monitor them, and if they think there’s something I really need to read, I read it, but I’m too busy. I have a job to do, and I’m way too busy. I can’t read as fast as they blog. I have a full-time job.
So, while his job may not allow monitoring blogs, he gives a staff full-time jobs to monitor them.

Gang-Related Homicide of a Teen in South Nashville

The Tennessean has the details.

Karl Dean Has Blown Me off on the Rack Question

A full week has passed since I e-mailed the Dean Campaign with a couple of simple questions on whether he would veto the news rack bill as Mayor Purcell had. Particularly troubling to me: his Press Secretary Janel Lacey seems to have strung me along for a couple of days last week promising an answer, but failing to deliver. I guess their chosen silence leaves me to draw my own conclusions on how they might treat an Average-Joe-Voter (to compliment the Average-Jane-Voters) like me were they to assume control of Metro. I apparently have no access to this Metro Mafia.

The big media boys seem to matter more to Mr. Dean. Ms. Lacey did find time this week to reply to the "center-right," error-prone Nashville City Paper, and she did continue to advance "Dean's Defense" of rifling the Metro Budget "building contingency" line item to pay for education, which (as I have pointed out) would be nullified by increased fees in other departments resulting from the need for someone to pay for empty building up-keep (if Metro Lawyers are to be believed; wait, wasn't Karl Dean once a Metro Lawyer?).

Election-Year Patronage: Watchdogging Charlie Tygard's 06-07 Private Organization Earmarks

Besides the $50,000 that at-Large candidate Charlie Tygard leveraged out of the Mayor's June 2006 Budget for Habitat for Humanity (now paying PR dividends), between June 2006 and June 2007, he had around $48,000 in discretionary funds to request for either public services or private non-profit organizations. His discretionary record indicates an overwhelming preference for non-profit earmarks: he secured over two-thirds of the $43,710 that he requested for private organizations.

With the latest ethical problems concerning non-profit patronage to help Charlie Tygard with his election campaign, we need to keep an eye out for other private associations that benefited from Mr. Tygard's discretionary funds just in case other unethical endorsements (or the appearance thereof) surface before the polls close on August 2.

Here is the list of tax dollars to non-profit organizations that Mr. Tygard leveraged (all were approved by the Metro Council with no debate--with the exception to the Bellevue Exchange Club request, which was delayed for several months after Metro Finance learned that Mr. Tygard was an officer of the club--and signed by the Mayor):

  • $1,000 to the YMCA

  • $10,000 to the Bellevue Exchange Club

  • $1,460 to the Nashville Child Advocacy Center

  • $9,000 to the YMCA (Bellevue)

  • $1,000 to the Nashville Humane Association

  • $1,000 for Youth, Inc.

  • $2,500 for Operation Stand Down Nashville

  • $5,000 for the Jewish Community Center
The most fortunate beneficiaries of our tax dollars were the Bellevue Exchange Club and the YMCA, each of whom received $10,000 from Mr. Tygard (the Bellevue YMCA also received $9,000 from Mr. Tygard's fellow Bellevue Council Member, Eric Crafton, who co-sponsored the discretionary resolution with Mr. Tygard).

Only as one of his final earmarks did Mr. Tygard designate funds for a public service: $12,750 to Metro Parks. That small amount constitutes less than one-third of the total disposable tax dollars that Mr. Tygard earmarked. If you count the $50,000 that he leveraged for Habitat Nashville, then the $12,750 is less than one-seventh of the spent funds over which Mr. Tygard had some control. I am left to wonder whether such a relatively piddling percentage is due to the fact that ethics ordinances prohibit and bureaucratic situation limits Metro Parks from helping Mr. Tygard pitch his campaign for an at-Large seat on Metro Council to voters.

Non-profit earmarks are a powerful tool in an election year, and we should watch very closely whether the tax dollars that Charlie Tygard made available for the private sector help promote his campaign.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Non-Profit Nepotism Used to Promote Charlie Tygard for Council

V-Squared has the scoop on Charlie Tygard's latest patronage peccadillo with a non-profit organization to aid his campaign for one of five empty at-Large council seats. This time, Mr. Tygard's brother, who is President of West Nashville Sport League Inc., sent out an e-mail to dues-paying league parents encouraging them to vote for Mr. Tygard on August 2. He also promised to provide recommendations in the future for voting for specific Mayoral candidates. Some league parents are steaming mad about the e-mail.

As V-Squared's AC Kleinheider points out, the Sport League is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Hence, it is not allowed to endorse specific candidates as was done by Mr. Tygard's brother. ACK has the brother's interesting response when he asked him to comment on that violation.

Mr. Tygard has already been airing a commercial that suggests that a Habitat for Humanity (also a not-for-profit) beneficiary of Metro Funds that he procured is endorsing him.

Ludye Wallace Attempted to Cut Parks and Schools Further on Behalf of Funding a Non-Profit

With all of the recent dust-up over the Metro Council cuts to Metro Parks and the Public School District, did you know that on June 26 District 19's Ludye Wallace attempted to slash $60,000 from each in an amendment that would have sent $120,000 to the private Hadley Park tennis charity to which Metro has already sent thousands of dollars? His amendment did not ever really seem to stand a chance as it appeared that he could only muster around 10 other members to vote with him.

However, with the Morgan Park Community Center closed this summer, with no help forthcoming from Ludye's discretionary funds, and with the Parks Department making good on their threat to close the community centers on Saturdays, it feels like a slap in the face here in Salemtown for our elected representative to attempt to slash funding that could affect Morgan Park and to put it into a private tennis program focused exclusively on another neighborhood.

Ludye's patronage of that tennis charity and their overreliance on public funds really discourages me from ever considering contributing to it. His reputation has stained their reputation as far as I am concerned.

Farewell and Adieu, Ye Ladies of Spain

I have dispatched Channel 2's Nashville Is Talking blog from its long-time place on my Google Reader. Its "tea times" won't be missed, and if you want to see how far the mighty have fallen, you won't get a link from me.

Loring, Not Jameson, is the Face of Gaylord in Metro Government


So can someone with the Nashville City Paper explain how Council Member Mike Jameson's face was plastered up next to a story headlining convention center donations? I am just dying to hear the editors' rationalizations of the mismatch, given that the lion's share of the convention lobby's donations have gone to JB Loring, who has also consistently been Gaylord's Go-fer on the Metro Council and in the Planning Commission.

Everyone knows the true face of the Gaylord Corporation in City Hall:


He would give "at-Large" a whole new corporate, Donelson-based meaning.

Using Kay Brooks as Your Litmus Test for Electing Council Members

For those who prefer an issue checklist to help make voting decisions and for those who consider the 2006 Kay Brooks fiasco a litmus test for either voting or not voting for certain candidates, I give you the Metro Council's roll call vote that put Ms. Brooks on the School Board in May 2006 over the heads and the wishes of the school district that she was installed to represent.

Here are the names of those currently running for office and who voted to plug Kay Brooks in the only open public school board seat she will probably ever occupy (unless some future Metro Council repeats this Council's mistake):
  • Buck Dozier (Mayoral candidate)
  • Michael Craddock (Council candidate)
  • Rip Ryman (Council candidate)
  • Carl Burch (Council candidate)
  • Harold White (Council candidate)
  • JB Loring (at-Large candidate)
  • Eric Crafton (Council candidate)
  • Randy Foster (Council candidate)
  • Parker Toler (Council candidate)
  • Charlie Tygard (at-Large candidate)

Here are the names of those current candidates who voted for Ms. Brooks' opponent, who was months later elected popularly in the more legitimate race for the open school board seat:
  • Diane Neighbors (Vice Mayoral candidate)
  • Carolyn Baldwin Tucker (Vice Mayoral candidate)
  • David Briley (Mayoral candidate)
  • Pam Murray (Council candidate)
  • Mike Jameson (Council candidate)
  • Ronnie Greer (at-Large candidate)
  • Billy Joe Walls (Council candidate)
  • John Summers (at-Large candidate)
  • Vivian Wilhoite (Council candidate)
  • Sam Coleman (Council candidate)

As I pointed out before, Kay Brooks blogs more and more like the church lady every day. In her latest installment of screeds against council members who did not vote for her in May 2006, she compares squeaky clean District 6 Member Mike Jameson to the Tennessee Waltz convicts. She refers to Mr. Jameson x3 using the word "special," which is further proof of her resemblance to the church lady. Of course, she is also prone to overblown and faulty comparisons: she once compared public education to slavery, so I do not put much stock in her linking Jameson to the Tennessee Waltz infamy.

But what is so patently ridiculous about her swipes at Mr. Jameson is that she totally ignores information from the same article that several Council candidates who voted for her in May 2006 have received nearly $10,000 in campaign contributions from convention center lobby groups. More than half of those contributions went from Gaylord to JB Loring and $1,000 went from Gaylord to Charlie Tygard.

A little money may certainly corrupt, but more money corrupts more absolutely. And when a candidate has been generally above reproach like Mike Jameson, he deserves a better fate than to be mentioned in the same breath with those properly convicted in a bribery scandal.

Monday, July 16, 2007

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

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

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

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

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


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

Why Karl Dean's Proposed "Contingency Space" Cuts to Fund Education Probably Will Not Work

Karl Dean's alternative funding answer to the Nashville Scene of cutting building space contingency funds (when they asked him about finding part of the $4.4 million cuts to public education that Metro Council passed) would actually cause increases in fees to other Metro Departments.

His idea is not original; Council Member Vivian Wilhoite proposed cutting $50,000 in building space contingency--which is the budgeted money that pays for the utilities and maintenance of empty Metro properties (like Downtown's Ben West Library building)--in her failed attempt to fund a local domestic violence non-profit program on June 26. When Ms. Wilhoite maintained that cutting the funds of empty buildings would hurt no one, the Metro Council lawyer advised her that decreasing the contingency funds would require that fees be levied against Metro Departments "across the board" (go to 7:25 on the tape counter) for the upkeep of the buildings.

So, it is clear that the cuts that Mr. Dean is suggesting would have to be offset with increases in other departments. The money to pay for contingencies would have to come from somewhere. Doesn't that fact basically nullify his option? Aren't we back at square one with the question: exactly what services would he cut to cover the $4.4 million from schools?

Karl Dean's Message Was Heard, But I'm Still Waiting for an Answer

On the way to drop our little one at her day school this morning, I heard Karl Dean's new "negative" campaign radio ad saying that if he had been in the other candidates' position on Metro Council, he would not have cut $4.4 million from the school budget (which has $6 million in reserve) as they did.

Now that I know what he would have done as a council member I am still waiting to hear what he would have done if he had been Mayor when the newsrack regulation bill crossed his desk. Which is it, Mr. Dean? Would you veto or not veto the regulation of newsracks in our neighborhoods?


UPDATE: PiTW has got some clarifications on what Mr. Dean would have cut instead of the school budget:
The former Metro law director told the Scene he would have targeted other budget line items such as utility and building space contingency funds, but he concedes that would have amounted to only about half what the council was looking for.


UPDATE after the jump.

My District 19 Endorsement

Picking the right candidate to represent us post-Ludye Wallace is so very important and I did not want to rush into a decision for fear of a repeat Council District 19 performance of the last few years.

Deciding between 3 of the 5 candidates who are running has been difficult. I have been torn between the idea of voting for Erica Gilmore, Freda Player, and David Shaw. They are all strong candidates with outstanding ideas for District 19 and for the North End; as Germantown developer Skip Lawrence put it the other night at the area candidates forum, we would be lucky to have any one of them representing us. Each has made special efforts to reach out to Salemtown and they have attended our association meetings and sat with us on our porches and talked about their ideas.

After the candidates forum I was able to narrow the field to 2: Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Player, both of whom distinguished themselves strongly from the rest of the pack. Ms. Gilmore in particular showed that she is a very capable public speaker who can connect with her audience from the podium.

But I am not allowed to vote for both, and since I must choose one, I have decided to vote for Freda Player, and to encourage others likewise. What sets her apart is that she is able to communicate to me that she sees the specific problems we have at the street level: our ugly highway interchanges, the sight and odor pollution around the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, the diamond-in-the-rough that 100-year-old Morgan Park is.

Ms. Player also hit the ground running over the last few months: she consulted some Metro Departments to see what options the person sitting in the District 19 seat would have. That seems above-and-beyond proactivity on her part. We expect platitudes about education and safety from municipal candidates, but I was taken by surprise by the length to which Ms. Player went to hunt down answers without having even been elected yet.

She strikes me as genuinely hungry to make our community a better place with practical solutions and an energetic will. Whenever I interact with Ms. Player she leaves me with the impression that she will fight the good fight when necessary, even if it is with the strong executive branch.

I realize that I am cutting against some considerable grain in the North End in choosing Ms. Player over Ms. Gilmore, who had campaign signs up and big contributions coming in from these environs early on. But the conventional decisions and established ties of the past few years have not been working for all of us here.

A new vision for our neighborhoods means seeing with new eyes; it means thinking outside of the boxes of inevitability. I have sought and I have thought, and now I believe that the candidate best qualified to defy convention is Freda Player. She has my full and unqualified support.


UPDATE: Salem's Lots seconds that e-motion.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Parks Follows Though on Threat to Close and Contends for Worst 2007 Metro Service

Metro Parks now has to be considered a nominee for 2007 Worst Metro Services. They are going to follow through with their threat to the Metro Council to close community centers, including Morgan Park's, on Saturdays after not getting the budget they wanted.

Either they are callous toward urban neighborhoods or they simply fail to understand the dynamics of bored urban youth on weekends.

Campaign Strategy Has a Place and This Is Not It

The entire electorate of the metropolitan government shall elect the five (5) councilmen-at-large ....
- - Metro Charter, Article 3, Sec. 3.01

The Charter does not prohibit voters from choosing any number of no more than 5 at-Large Council Members from the field of candidates on August 2. The savvy voters who hold flames for specific candidates will realize that voting for less than 5 makes the votes given to the favorites statistically "stronger," since winners are determined by percentages of the total votes cast.

While some voters will figure this out, others are being coached by one at-Large candidate to make their votes "stronger." An e-mail sent out by Charlie Tygard's campaign for an at-Large Council seat contained these instructions:
Each voter may vote for up to 5 candidates out of the 26 candidates in the Council-at-Large race. Often times many voters choose to vote for fewer than five candidates for strategic reasons.

Since the winner of the Council-at-Large race is based on a percentage (%) of the total number of votes cast, to help the candidate(s) of your choice win, vote for only those candidates you feel strongest about.

This technique makes each vote you cast more meaningful for the candidate(s) of your choice.
I do not see anything illegal with these instructions. However, they do seem sleazy coming from one of the candidates to a general audience.

It is one thing to coordinate a strategy inside a campaign. It is quite another for a candidate to fail to bracket strategy publicly in order to encourage people to do their civic duty and vote period.

Mr. Tygard should be advancing the merits of his ideas alone and not coordinating voter strategy with naked opportunism and with little sense of honor or duty. The Charter does not prohibit voting for less than 5 candidates for "strategic reasons," but its spirit is democratic, not strategic.

As a community leader, Mr. Tygard should be rising to meet that spirit rather than abandoning the high road in order to pad his percentages. Leave the low road to his campaign lackeys.

Nashville's Gang Problem Hits the NY Times

And the story is not about the stereotypical inner-city, lower-class, slacker gangs. It focuses on the growth of a Nolensville Pike gang, which is suburban, middle-class, and inclined to a strong work ethic.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is Bob Clement Failing to Live by a Promise?

Mary Mancini points out that GOP sweetheart for Mayor, Bob Clement has not followed through on his commitment to take the Urban Plunge. Maybe those Republican donors just are not impressed enough by any attempt to take a fearless and searching look at gritty life on Nashville's streets to motivate Mr. Clement to live by his promise. Or maybe this is a sign of a candidate who blows smoke up skirts to get elected.


UPDATE: Wonderful to see from the comments below and from the Tennessean blog that Mr. Clement did take the Urban Plunge on Saturday night, several hours after Mary asked the question. That's one less thing voters have to worry about.

The Republicans' Clementine Cash Cow

To whom Bob Clement will be beholden if elected Mayor next month?
Former Democratic Congressman Bob Clement’s mayoral campaign raised more than $150,000 during a fundraiser last night at the home of local businessman and Republican fundraiser Ted Welch.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dean's Organization Does Not Endorse Dean

Liberadio tells us that the national Democracy for America (chaired by Jim Dean, brother of Howard Dean, who started DFA) has endorsed David Briley for Mayor over fellow progressive Karl Dean. Here is the DFA article and text of Jim Dean's letter:

David Briley Earns Democracy for America's Endorsement
by Sheri Divers
Promoted Friday, 07/13/07 @ 3:00 pm. Published Friday, 07/13/07 @ 2:31 pm

This year Nashville has the chance to elect a mayor that will build a sustainable future. David Briley spent seven years on Nashville's Metro City Council working to raise environmental standards and improve public schools ....

A Nashville native, David is committed to public service. Now he's earned Democracy for America's endorsement in the 2007 mayoral race. Please help David in any way you can:

http://www.davidbriley.com/

Members of Democracy for Tennessee have worked hard to build a progressive powerhouse across the state. They've worked to elect grassroots progressive candidates in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and everywhere in between. Join Democracy for America and Democracy for Tennessee in supporting David Briley to be the next mayor of Nashville!

Sincerely,
Jim Dean
Chair

P.S. Today is the first day of early voting. Please go out and vote!

Compare and Contrast: Conservatives, English Only, and Immigration in the Mayor's Race

[Council Member Eric] Crafton also said the [English Only/First] bill has nothing to do with illegal immigration and that its purpose is simply to reinforce English as the traditional language of our government.

- - Bill Harless conveying Eric Crafton's defense of English Only in the December 5, 2006 City Paper


[Mayoral candidate David] Briley's rhetoric just doesn't match up to his record in the council of being soft on immigration of ALL types. Until now, David Briley NEVER made a distinction about legel [sic] -vs- illegal immigration... in fact, Briley could not even agree that English ought to be the language of the land, and he voted against doing so.

- - "jzcrispgop" (Jon Crisp, Davidson Co. Republican Party Chair) in the comments section of today's City Paper

Waiting on Dean

Here are some questions I posed to the Karl Dean Mayoral Campaign two days ago:
How would Mr. Dean have responded to the Metro Council's news rack regulation bill if he had been Mayor? Would he have vetoed it as Mayor Purcell did? Why or why not?
I am still waiting for answers.

Council Member Pam Murray Is "Exhibit A" in What Is Wrong with the Council's Discretionary Spending

Back in May when the Metro Council's non-profit spending was chugging merrily along, I did not call particular attention to Pam Murray's Resolution No. RS2007-2007 to give $35,750 to a group called NEON (North Edgefield Organized Neighbors), because it was one of a high number of late requests for non-profit spending. Now it appears that, amidst the mud-slinging of the District 5 race reported by Channel 4, Ms. Murray's resolution is classic good-ole-girl patronage, of which I have been warning since the council started spending public discretionary funds on non-profits.

Ms. Murray's close friend, Joyce Stallworth, is on the NEON Board. Ms. Stallworth is reportedly the Secretary of the group. Even if Ms. Murray did not secure the funds based on their friendship, she did not avoid the appearance of impropriety. $35,750 is a lot of money to send to a non-profit, particularly one to which the council member is personally connected. It just does not pass the ethics smell test, in my opinion.

It all stinks. And Ms. Murray's only response to Channel 4 about the ties that brought NEON $35,750 in public tax dollars was to say that she is not using those ties to win the campaign; as if giving $35,750 to one's own pet organization is not problematic in itself.

By the way, Ms. Murray sponsored a passed resolution in 2005 that sent $56,666.66 to NEON. Ms. Murray's current opponent, Sam McCullough was Executive Director of NEON in 2005. Also, there were other Council Members currently running for office who co-sponsored Ms. Murray's NEON largess: in 2005, current Vice Mayoral candidate Diane Neighbors co-sponsored the $56,666 resolution; in 2007, current Council 10 incumbent Rip Ryman co-sponsored the $35,750 resolution. With all of the tax-money going to support a private organization, I would think that NEON ought to be doing well for itself and it need never worry about fund-raising.

City Paper Update on Germantown Overlay

NCP says that Metro Council could consider the historic overlay in the fall.

Charlie Tygard's Latest Ethics Dilemma

Sean Braisted notes that Mr. Tygard, who is currently a term-limited district council member, has decided to run for "re-election" as an at-Large council member on his campaign signs. That is fairly clear campaign misrepresentation.

Charlie Tygard is the same at-Large candidate who issued a letter to the press promising to keep campaign signs out of the public right-of-way and off "school, church, or park properties." I am keeping my eyes peeled to see if his campaign is living by that pledge. If you spot a Tygard campaign sign on a public right-of-way, take a photo of it and send it to me. If it clearly violates his pledge, I'll post your photo here on Enclave.