Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morgan Park Greenway Spur Construction Underway

This spur between Salemtown and Germantown takes an east-to-west path through Morgan Park. It will eventually connect to the Riverfront and MetroCenter Greenways.

This One's for Roger Abramson

Aside from the outtakes, this video should convey Roger's analogies of Juvenile Court Judge Betty Adams Green to Mr. Tudball and of recently arrested Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver to Mrs. Wiggins:

CM Evans Shows Mayoral Hopefuls the Way on "No Tax Pledges"

Emily Evans holds no punches on newly launched MCD23. School is in session:
So, what is going on here [in a mass e-mail from the Bob Clement Campaign pledging no property tax raises]? Are we going to see a careful parsing of words in a couple years? "I said that I would not raise property taxes but I didn't say I would not ask the Council to raise them." Or, are we going to see major cuts? There is no question that if you wrestle some of the more difficult budget problems to the ground like the $50 million dollar subsidy for the Hospital Authority you can avoid asking for additional revenue....for a while. There is also no question that you can avoid asking for additional revenue by cutting all non-essential government services: Parks, Arts Commission, Human Relations Commission, Library, subsidies to the Mary Parrish Center, Adventure Science Center and the Symphony and fund only police, fire, health and schools.

But, if Clement thinks people leave Davidson County because of higher taxes, (They don't. They move to Williamson County for the (perceived) better schools and the wall to wall soccer fields) wait til he starts cutting the middle class perks like Parks and Library.

Perhaps these two gentlemen are the first in years who just want to be mayor for 4 years.
Thus, endeth the lesson.

Metro Council Member Launches Blog for 23

Metro Council District 23 Member Emily Evans has started her own blog for the benefit of her constituents. 23 includes the neighborhoods of Hillwood, West Meade, West Meade Park, Warner Parks Community, Belle Meade Links, Courts of Belle Meade and the satellite City of Belle Meade. The blog also contains a bulletin board of upcoming events.

Kudos to Ms. Evans for not resting on the laurels of her recent win in 23. Blogs are an important medium for communicating and for generating feedback from constituents. I have added MCD23 to my news feed.

I would like to see our new representative, Erica Gilmore, start the same sort of project for District 19. She blogged as a candidate early in the campaign.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Leisure Suits Both

Based on a study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics via NPR, we may conclude that greater equality between the sexes in the last 40 years has translated to more leisure time for all Americans, male and female. Working women are less bound to "home production" than they once were and men work less in paid employment now than previously. Sounds like a "win-win" to me.

"No Tax Pledges" Amount to Nothing Beyond Fear Mongering

I wish I could say that Mayoral Candidate Bob Clement's bold pose of taking a "No Tax Pledge" impressed me to any degree. But such pledges are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing but the message, "I will pander to voters' deepest fears about their pocketbooks in order to stampede their votes." And when a reporter conveys that no at-Large Metro Council candidate has committed to a No Tax Pledge, I am not phased in the least.

It wasn't too long ago that the Tennessee Tax Revolt secured a commitment from a single Metro Council Member to sign their No Tax Pledge. Afterwards, TTR turned a one-eighty to let the guy off the hook when he chose to support a budget option that raised taxes less than the Mayor proposed to raise taxes. It is hard to take the no-tax side seriously beyond the knee-jerk emotions they try to evoke.

But how can a No Tax Pledge fly in a town where the Community Centers shut down now on Saturdays for lack of funds, where crumbling roads are forever in need of repair, where aging sewer systems are attracting federal attention for the environmental hazards posed, and where crime has to be fought with more than just good intentions?

UPDATE: Via VV, Karl Dean pledges in his own way:

12South Neighborhood Receives Donations for Landscaping

The 12South Neighborhood Association reports receiving $2,100 in private donations for landscaping of a median at Ashwood Av. and 12th Av. S.

Donors included: 1221 Partners, LLC; The Village Fund; Alliance Construction, Inc.; Virginia Degerberg; and Alessandro Rustioni.

At-Large Candidates Should Have to Live Down Their Rash Words of the Past

I ain’t voting for nothing that’s going to keep me from eating .... That’s crazy, see, rich people can do that kind of stuff, see. They get to eat when they want to, go buy food and things. You know, they can, two, three of them, get together, spend money to buy food for 40 people. I can’t afford to do that. … That [patron-provided] meal is a thank-you from a grateful community for your service.

- - Former Council Member Ronnie Greer in 2005 on the occasion of the Metro Council's ethics initiative to end Meals for Deals

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Anti-Tygard Website Intends to "Take Out the Cat"

Unnamed "Residents of District 35" brought their "Retire Tygard" website online today as a medium for motivating people to vote against Charlie Tygard in the September 11 at-Large run-off by voting for the "4 [other at-Large] candidates who are most likely to bump Tygard out of the top 4 remaining slots." The residents call the 4 remaining candidates that the Tennessean endorsed (Megan Barry, Saletta Holloway, Jerry Maynard, and Ronnie Steine) "an excellent (progressive) group of candidates."

The website authors see Mr. Tygard's connections to wealthy land owners, developers, and builders as their motivation and they seem really peeved about his last-minute reintroduction of a long-deferred and controversial zoning bill at the final Metro Council meeting.

They also have a blog that they encourage their readers to use to share their thoughts and their "anger."

New Boating Opportunities Make Earmarks Okay, But Children's Healthcare Coverage Does Not?

U.S. Representative Jim Cooper joined U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell today on the Shelby Street Bridge to promote The Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which would pump $10 million into a study on Cumberland Riverfront Development. But the bill is going to cost a lot more than the $10 million allocated to Nashville (it still has to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President). The Congressional Budget Office's May 2007 estimate is that the entire bill--which includes earmarks for water, recreation, and transportation-related projects around the country--will cost "$8.1 billion over the 2008-2012 period and an additional $6.8 billion over the 10 years after 2012."

I do not have a problem with supporting this bill as it stands, because I think that developing the various water resources in these United States are a proper role for the federal government to play. But I think that Jim Cooper has a problem with inconsistency between his reasons for voting for this bill and those he used for voting against the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill. On the one hand, he voted against the SCHIP bill on the basis of his argument that a good project was "drowned" in unnecessary spending.

On the other hand, he voted for a water bill which itself could be and has been accused of frivolous earmarks, largely focused on studies rather than the delivery of actual services. One of the water bill earmarks is a project that Mr. Cooper himself has criticized: Alaska's "bridges to nowhere." Mr. Cooper could have easily made the case that some water bill money had more to do with beach resort development and less to do with community water projects per se. But he did not criticize and vote against the water bill's earmarks in the same way he did the SCHIP earmarks. Instead, he called the water bill "fiscally responsible."

While some boaters might appreciate Mr. Cooper's comments about "new recreational opportunities" for Middle Tennesseans, I wonder whether recreation should merit greater gravitas and support than the initiative to provide health insurance for the children of working families in spite of earmarks designated for areas outside of Middle Tennessee?

How a Democrat Did the Right Thing Against the Partisan Odds and Won

In 2004, Central Texas Democrat Chet Edwards faced a race for a U.S. House District that Texas Republicans had redrawn in the graven image of Tom Delay. Rather than triangulating on the issue of children's health insurance coverage like a few Democrats--including one of our own--are prone to do, Mr. Edwards embraced SCHIP for all the right reasons. And he embraced it in this advertisement on the real life losses of an insured child that ran before the 2004 election:

Democrats don't have to sacrifice medical coverage for the children of working class parents in order to win. This family's story resonates with many voters who look at their children and wonder how they are going to keep them healthy in the future, given the government's total abdication to private health interests.

Democrats should be hanging the health risks and the financial vulnerabilities of families with uninsured children around the necks of Republicans in the popular media from now until November 2008.

Mayor: Consolidated Metro Makes All the Difference in Efficiency and Lower Taxes

Mayor Bill Purcell told the Memphis Rotary Club on Saturday that Nashville is outpacing both Memphis and Knoxville in growth because of the comparative efficiency of Metro's consolidated county and city governments. He also said that consolidation makes Nashville's property tax 50% lower.

The jump will also give you access to video of Mayor Purcell's speech.

Erica Gilmore and Her Mother Featured in Tennessean

Sunday's Tennessean had a story on newly-elected District 19 Council Member Erica Gilmore and her mom, former Council Member Brenda Gilmore.

Someone expressed the wish at last night's Salemtown Neighbors meeting that our new Council Member be invited to our monthly meetings so that she can hear our concerns on a consistent basis. She had attended a couple of meetings before the election, and I hope she continues to show an interest in our meetings in the future. In fairness, though, the change in our meeting place (we have moved back to Morgan Park Community Center) was not communicated to her. I would like to see us be more intentional about inviting her with plenty of time to reserve the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 for Salemtown Neighbors.

Another Suspicious Salemtown Fire

Yesterday, as I lay sprawled on the couch in full Scorsese mode, I noticed smoke rising across our front yard. I pulled myself up to the window to see the source of the smoke: someone had lit a shirt and thrown it into my neighbor's front yard. The shirt was consumed and a ring of fire was starting to spread outward about a foot across his dry grass.

I went outside, grabbed his hose and doused the flames. I did not see anyone around, but I called the police and left a report. Looks like we may have some fire starters in our neighborhood who feel the need to take advantage of the drought to do some other damage.

By the way, Public Works did not pick up all the brush that was set aflame last week. It looks like they merely picked up some furniture that had been dumped in the same place. The brush pile, much of which is unburned, remains a tinder box waiting for the next stray cigarette or budding arsonist. According to Metro, the next round of brush pick-up does not begin until September 13. That's a long time for a big stack of dry brush to be sitting around.

Which Gave Me the Chance to Practice a Non-Rhotic Dialect and to Speak a Few Intrusive "R's"

Some kind of nasty sinus bug I've had over the weekend has rendered my writing skills useless for the past few days, but I have had the opportunity to watch The Departed (which I did not see on the big screen) on cable several times during the hiatus. As good as Goodfellas, in my opinion; although, how believable is an Irish mob boss in Boston wearing a Yankee's cap?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

T'was in the Darkest Depths of Mordor: AT&T Fingered

The Bush Administration confirms for the first time that the telecommunication corporations have played a central role in Big Brother's domestic eavesdropping program.

Those lawyers bringing the suit against AT&T intend to use this confirmation in court against big telecom.

Did anyone really believe that AT&T was not intimately involved in snooping ordinary Americans?

Salemtown Brush Fire Combusts Right in Front of Me

I was picking up trash around my backyard at the alley a little over an hour ago and turned to see a brush fire two houses down right on the alley. The brush pile was almost as tall as I am and at least 25 feet at its widest, so the flames grew within minutes to a height of about 25-30 feet in the air at their highest. The blaze also started creeping up toward the front of the property and the house.

I ran to our house and knocked on the window and told S-townWife to call 911. She saw the flames and called. I ran back to the alley, and a Channel 4 News crew, which had been at the Metro Action Commission on another story, was also on the site.

Here are some pictures I took after S-townWife brought the camera out to me (the flames had already started shrinking by the time I started snapping them):

As for how it started, my money is on a group of about six teenage boys walking by the pile no more than five minutes beforehand. At least one of them has been seen vandalizing property in the past. With school out early due to the heat, the teens around here generally seem bored and just looking for trouble.

However, in fairness to them, the brush was piled right to the edge of the alley a few weeks ago and it was a dry tender box that could have been ignited by a passing motorist throwing a cigarette out. Public Works has crews out here cleaning the mess up now.

Kill the Mockingbird, Allow the Camel, and Spare the Kangeroo

Remember the scene in "To Kill a Mockingbird" where the armed mob of white people marches to the jailhouse to lynch Tom Robinson, who was accused of raping a white woman? When the mob marches on the jail the only person standing between them and Tom is Tom's defense lawyer Atticus Finch, who risks his own life to insure Tom a fair and honest trial, sitting in a chair in front of the jalhouse door.

Contrast that Defender-vesus-Goliath image to Mayoral Candidate Bob Clements' comments about public defenders working with prosecutors to deny select people their due process as a human right during an interview with Nashville Scene Reporter Jeff Woods:
Clement: .... “You’ve got cases where certain people should not be back on the street because of their record and the number of their crimes. That’s where the public defender and the prosecutor and all should come to the table and say, ‘If this person gets out, we’re going to have trouble. This person is going to do it again, and how many more lives do they have to destroy?’ ”

Scene: “What you’re saying, Congressman, is that if a guy is bad enough, what the public defender should do is just lay down and toss in the towel? What should Dean have done?”

Clement: “Represent them, No. 1, but No. 2, be sensitive to the community. Share information with the prosecution. You’re doing the person a favor by incarcerating them rather than turning them back onto the street where they can commit horrible crimes again.”
Mr. Clement is on a real slippery slope. Declare some threats to society and that justifies ignoring the rights of any accused person.

Once the camel's nose of denying some due process is under the tent, then the whole camel will soon follow, and the rights of those guilty of less heinous crimes will be up for negotiation. Thereafter, nothing will stop lawyers from bartering the due process of anyone else away. Those of us who have never had to have a defense lawyer may want to consider what kind of problems we might face if we did need a defense lawyer who made deals with our rights behind our backs simply because our case might cause "trouble." False accusations up the ante.

I thought that the strength of our justice system was that it could try and convict actual criminals while still protecting their right to be tried and convicted fairly and with due process rather than in Clement Court. God forbid that we ever appoint prosecutors who are able to bring criminals to justice within the rule of constitutional law. We might be accused of being both honorable and effective.

A Wash Out

The distance is considerable.

When Diane Neighbors stood to defeat the Car Wash Exemption Bill on a hot August night, she addressed the facts that 99% of the mail that members had received from the public on the bill was negative, that the opposition was countywide, and that car wash developers had made no efforts whatsoever in the last six months since the bill was deferred to meet with affected Council Members (numbering no more than 2 or 3) in order to plan based on the current law.

That is far and away from the Public Hearing on the Car Wash Bill, held on a cold January night of this year. During that hearing opponents outnumbered proponents 3-to-1 even though the former were under the impression that bill was going to be deferred before the hearing started. That's also the night that a council member cozy with developers misstated that the opposition was not countywide and that it represented a small segment along White Bridge Road.

We came a long way, didn't we?

Insult to Sounds' Injury

While the Nashville Sounds were going down to their worst loss of the year (10-2) last night to the Oklahoma Redhawks, there was no solace that they were beaten by the best team OK has fielded this year. Several of the better Redhawks were in Baltimore helping their parent team, Texas, score a record setting 39 runs (30-3) and (9-7) in a doubleheader last night.

Texas broke the AL record for most runs scored in a single day. The Boston Braves own the NL record for scoring 43 runs on a day in 1894. Texas also ecclipsed the modern-day (post-1900) baseball AL record for runs scored in a game (29 by the Boston Red Sox [1950] and the Chicago White Sox [1955]). No team had scored 30 runs in one game since the Chicago Colts (who would become the Cubs) did so in 1897. The 30 runs also sets a new Major League RBI record.

With their "magic number" to win their division at 4, it may be little solace to the Sounds that they were on the margins of a historical event in baseball last night, and it probably doesn't help to know that the only run batted in of the 2 that they scored in last night's losing effort came off the bat of a former Oklahoma/Texas product, Laynce Nix.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Post UPDATE: Moyers' Director of Communications Comments on Enclave

My earlier post on Bill Moyers bidding farewell to Karl Rove has been updated to include a link left by Mr. Moyers' Director of Communications in the comments section of that post. It is a rebuttal of Mr. Rove's interview by Fox News' Chris Wallace. See it after the jump.

Tygards of Different Stripes

Charlie Tygard seems to run his at-Large campaign one way and defend his at-Large legal case in an opposite way. One the one hand, Mr. Tygard ran for at-Large on the plea to Nashvillians to "re-elect" him (photo credit: Sean Braisted), even though he was no longer eligible to run for his 35th District seat.

On the other hand, Charlie Tygard's personal defense attorney, James Murphy, contradicted the Tygard argument for re-election during yesterday's Chancery hearing of Philip Hostettler's case for an injunction on the September 11 at-Large run-off. Mr. Murphy said several times that Mr. Tygard, J.B. Loring, and Ronnie Greer are running "for a different office" in their at-Large campaigns.

Attorney Murphy told Judge Claudia Bonnyman that Mr. Tygard was originally put in office by the "electorate of the 35th District," but that now his at-Large run is for a "clearly separate and distinct office." The differences, according to Mr. Murphy, are based on who elects the different candidates and on the residency requirement distinctions.

To top the whole thing off (in what I think is the defense's strongest argument), Mr. Murphy appealed to the idea that referendum voters did not intend to prohibit candidates from being elected to different offices in their attempt to limit candidates from being re-elected to the same offices.

Was Mr. Murphy indicting Mr. Hostettler's case or Mr. Tygard's own campaign?!

Forget School. Move Shakespeare!

In the sweltering August heat there is a lot of discussion about moving school openings to after Labor Day. That is not nearly as pressing to me as the need to move Shakespeare in the Park to start in mid-September. The idea of sitting in the Centennial Park amphitheatre outdoor sauna sweating out of every pore in August is about attractive to me as a hot Saturday afternoon spent crowded into dark, dank Exit/In to engage social media (no offense intended to those who did choose to do so).

Last Night's Roll Call Votes on the Car Wash Bill

A couple of observations on last night's 2 roll call votes on Diane Neighbors' motion to defeat the Car Wash Exemption Bill: all three of the at-Large candidates--Charlie Tygard, J.B. Loring, and Ronnie Greer--in the September 11 run-off election voted to table her motion and then voted against defeating the controversial bill.

That tells me that they are embedded in the pockets of developers and that they do not take the concerns of neighborhoods seriously. Do you really want to vote for candidates on September 11 who would vote to make it easier for car washes to be put in your neighborhood with no regard to neighborhood feedback about the development? If you are a developer who wants the absolute freedom to throw down anything in a neighborhood without any responsibility, then vote for Tygard, Loring, and Greer. If you believe that developers should be good neighbors (which includes fielding community feedback), then vote for anybody but Tygard, Loring, and Greer.

Here is the roll call vote (17-17) on the motion to table Diane Neighbors' motion to disapprove (in "AYE," returning members' names bolded; Sept. 11 run-off members italicized):


Buck Dozier
Jamie Isabel
Walter Hunt
Michael Craddock
Rip Ryman
Carl Burch
Harold White
J.B. Loring
Ronnie Greer
Ludye Wallace
Eric Crafton
Randy Foster
Jim Hodge
Parker Toler
Sam Coleman
Robert Duvall
Charlie Tygard


Diane Neighbors, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, David Briley, Adam Dread, Brenda Gilmore, Pam Murray, Mike Jameson, Eric Cole, Jim Forkum, Anna Page (run-off), Ginger Pepper, Billy Joe Walls, Emily Evans, John Summers, Jim Shulman, Vivian Wilhoite, Lynn Williams

Tie-breaking "NO" vote cast by Howard Gentry.


Here is the roll call vote (21-12) on Diane Neighbors' motion to defeat the Car Wash Exemption Bill:


Neighbors, Tucker, Briley, Dread, Gilmore, Isabel, Murray, Jameson, Cole, Forkum, Page (run-off), Pepper, Walls, Evans, Summers, Shulman, Foster, Wilhoite, Coleman, Duvall (run-off; voted to table first), Williams


Buck Dozier
Walter Hunt
Michael Craddock
Rip Ryman
Carl Burch

Harold White
J.B. Loring
Ronnie Greer
Ludye Wallace
Jim Hodge
Parker Toler

Charlie Tygard

Quarter-Truth about Howard Gentry

If the Nashville Scene story on Howard Gentry and the Urban Plunge was an untruth, this Tennessean reporter's blog post is only a quarter-truth. I've observed the Metro Council for a long time now (although, in full disclosure, not for Howard Gentry's entire 6 years), and I saw nothing extraordinary or remarkable about the way Mr. Gentry cracked the whip on disorder last night.

Indeed, Mr. Gentry has cracked the whip in the past when appropriate. And a lot of the Metro Council's control problems, in my opinion, are self-inflicted: either they do not know or they do not adhere to parliamentary procedure. Even the more savvy parliamentarian former members like Ludye Wallace were reined to order by Mr. Gentry at times.

Could Mr. Gentry have exercised a little more control of speakers in the past? Absolutely, but what chairperson could not? Could Mr. Gentry have been a bit more diplomatic in his control? Sure, but the highest virtue of herding cats is not necessarily diplomacy. To suggest that Howard Gentry saved his shepherd staff for his last Council meeting is misleading and unfair.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Car Wash Exemption Bill Defeated

Diane Neighbors' original motion to disappove the Car Wash Exemption bill was approved 21-12 by the Metro Council.

Ms. Neighbors mentioned in her response to Mr. Burch's tabling motion that she had requested disapproval months ago, but her requests were ignored.

Thank you, Diane Neighbors! (And thanks to Vice Mayor Howard Gentry for breaking the tabling tie! And thanks to the Metro Council for supporting the disapproval!)

Carl Burch Moves to Table Neighbors' Motion; Gentry Defeats It

Burch wants to give car wash developers the chance. Council votes 17-17. Gentry breaks the tie against tabling motion.

UPDATE: Before breaking the tie and killing the tabling motion, Mr. Gentry asked the buzzing Council rhetorically, "Do you think that I would vote against the Vice Mayor"? (Diane Neighbors was recognized earlier in the meeting for the purpose of expunging all previously deferred motions from the Council's Old Business hopper. The exercise seems to be the Council's liminal ritual of transitioning from one Vice Mayor to the next).

Diane Neighbors Moves for Disapproval of Car Wash Exemption Bill

She told the Council that the opposition is countywide.

Speaking of Harold White

After looking at his financial disclosure statements, I must say that voters must have really been dissatsified with him not to re-elect him, because he did not seem to be hurting on the contribution front. His May and June 2007 contributions include these:
  • $2,500 from the Nashville Business Coalition PAC
  • $2,000 from the Gaylord Entertainment PAC
  • $1,000 from Lo-Jack
  • $1,000 from a Mt. Juliet housewife
That's just a sampling. There had to have been a lot of disaffection for Mr. White among the District 14 electorate.

Amended Belmont Rose-Park Lease Bill Passes, 26-10

Finally over after an hour of debate during which Harold White got his dander elevated by Emily Evans arguing that we should not "prostitute our public parks to the highest private bidder." White, a protective Belmont alumnus, said that he was angry that she compared Belmont to a prostitute.

Salty to the End

The Councilman ... he doesn't care anything about the Edgehill Neighborhood.

- - Ludye Wallace (District 19 Council Member until the end of tonight's meeting) referring to John Summers, who moved to defer the Belmont-Rose Park Lease Bill to give the sides more time to compromise

Rose Park Bill Moved Up in the Agenda to Accommodate Packed Public Gallery; Amendment Adopted

A motion was adopted early in tonight's council meeting to move third reading of the ordinance on Metro-Belmont lease on District 19's Rose Park up on the agenda.

Council Member Ginger Pepper introduced an amendment, which would replace the existing Metro-Belmont lease with a new one. Changes (many, but not all of which were suggested by the neighborhoods affected) include:
  • Belmont is required to contribute $50,000 per year for 30 years (80% will go to Metro Parks; 20% split evenly between Rose Park & Carter Lawrence PTOs).
  • Parks cannot cut annual funding to Rose Park on the basis of Belmont's contribution.
  • No part of the Rose Park property could be sold to Belmont.
  • Adjacent public schools and park activities will be given priority in scheduling.
  • Belmont shall not schedule activities for at least 30 minutes after a public school and/or park activity ends.
  • If collegiant game tickets with a money value are issued, Belmont shall provide at least 10% to Community Center.
  • It is not the intent that any of the field should be named after Belmont University.
  • Traffic & parking study was conducted on August 1; controls recommended by that study must be made.
  • Since Belmont's construction does not begin until 2008, the 07-08 year is to be an evaluative year at Belmont's expense.
  • Parks has to complete annual reports on lease and they have to meet with the community for feedback and then present report to Council evaluating all of the other requirements.
  • Belmont will provide a full tuition scholarship & 2 half tuition scholarships annually. The boundaries will be determined by a community advisory committee.
Ms. Pepper reported that changes have been accepted by Belmont. Parks Department will decide in September. If Parks declines, the bill will move to consideration by the new Metro Council and the new Mayor.

There remained some questions about whether the community supported the amendment changes. Ms. Pepper responded that it did not satisfy all of the community, but that she felt it was the best "win-win" compromise that she could get after two community-university meetings this month.

The Pepper Amendment was adopted by voice vote. Amended bill still has to be passed at the end of debate, which is still going.

UPDATE: The City Paper reports this morning that the Pepper Amendment stipulated "8" full Belmont scholarships.

A Little Reminder to the Metro Council Before It Votes Tonight

None of the "attractive" architectural provisions proposed by the Planning Commission for the Car Wash Exemption Bill are actually in the ordinance as the co-sponsors have claimed that they would be in the past. Here are some of the Planning Commission recommendations that Council Members specifically referred to when they were selling the bill earlier this year:
8. Vacuum Equipment. Vacuum equipment must be oriented away from residential uses and shall be a minimum of 25 feet from any property zoned residential or permitting residential uses. If walls or masonry are used in the vacuum area to separate the vacuum area from adjacent properties, materials must be consistent with primary structure.

9. Signs. All on-premises signs shall be monument style signs with a maximum height of eight feet and consistent with all other provisions of table 17.32.110 for all car wash facilities, regardless of zoning.

10. Knee Wall. There shall be a physical separation from the car wash area to the street/sidewalk in the form of a knee wall with a minimum of 24 inches in height. The wall shall be constructed of concrete, stone, finished masonry or other similar material, or the wall shall consist of pillars with wrought iron or similar material between the pillars.
If the Metro Council approves the Car Wash Exemption Bill on the pretense that these provisions will be included in any future development plan, then they approve it under false pretenses.

Mayor Purcell is Currently Addressing the Metro Council

He's thanking them for their service.

The Mayor commented, "[Vice Mayor] Howard Gentry always tries to be fair and just .... I'm proud that he is my friend. The Council and the City have been well served by his leadership."

He's referring to the 20-something schools built in the last 8 years. Headstart. 106 miles of new sidewalks. New Nature Centers.

He's emphasizing the green standards. Increased safety; crime in Nashville continues to drop. Police Department got the resources they need to protect people.

Nashville was the first city to grant tax relief to senior citizens.

Ends with a nice touch: "Tonight you have my thanks and the thanks of an entire city."

Was Pam Murray Rubbing Noses in NEON?

During the "Announcement Portion" of tonight's Metro Council Meeting (which started before the 7:00 regular business session), controversial and just re-elected District 5 Member Pam Murray announced that she would continue to hold court at the North Edgefield Organized Neighbors (NEON) Community Center. Metro has asked NEON to return funds that Ms. Murray secured for them, and I would think that the last thing that Ms. Murray would want to play up would be her personal connections to NEON.

She does not show any indication of keeping her past ethics problems on the down-low.

Hostettler Injunction Denied; Court Says Metro Did Its Duty to the Voters

I just got back from the 2 hour hearing on Philip Hostettler's suit in Chancery Court to stop the run-off election (which begins with early voting in the morning at 8:00). The hearing included an adjournment for over 30 minutes, which allowed Judge Bonnyman to consider the merits of each side's arguments.

When she returned, she ruled that the at-Large run-off does not do irreparable harm to Mr. Hostettler and that his "coming late" (after the 10-day allowance to contest election results) with the injunction request did not put him in a good position to protect his own rights as a candidate, especially since he has known since May (when Charlie Tygard declared his candidacy) that he could contend the legitimacy of District Members running for at-Large openings. The judge also ruled that the Supreme Court decision regarding Knox County does not address what her court sees as two different Metro positions (District Member and at-Large Member).

In her remarks before adjourning, Judge Bonnyman stated that she had made a financial contribution to one of the at-Large campaigns in May, but that none of those involved in this law suit were the beneficiaries of that contribution. Hence, she did not believe it necessary to disqualify herself from judging this case.

Mr. Hostettler was prepared to call witnesses (which the Judge denied) and his lawyer intends to pursue a trial on the election results in the future, and future plaintiffs might involve at-Large candidates who made the run-off. No court date had been set when I left at 5:00 and paid my $10.00 admission fee to get my car out of the Courthouse parking garage.

Bush Administration Undermines States' Attempts to Increase Children's Access to Adequate Health Care

Progressive States Network is reporting that on last Friday night President Bush quietly signed new SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) restrictions on states that expand coverage to children in families earning more than $51,000 for a family of four. States have to:
  • Show they've enrolled 95% of children below 200% of poverty who are eligible for either Medicaid or SCHIP (no state has achieved 95% enrollment and, under Bush's budgets, none ever will).
  • Prevent children from leaving private coverage; the new guidelines say states should charge premiums that approximate private coverage and impose a one-year waiting period, during children children are uninsured.
  • Show that children's coverage by the private market has not decreased by more than 2% over the past five years.
In true partisan style, the restrictions fall most heavily on blue states that have tried to give their working-class children the same access to health care that middle- and upper-classes enjoy.

They won't affect us here in Tennessee, where we apparently care more about protecting the health insurance industry than our own children. Those second and third bullets should be particularly protective of private insurance corporations and deadly to many childen's well-being. Mandating private coverage is another form of subsidizing industry and sacrificing universal access to healthcare for kids, who have no control over whether they can afford treatment.

Germantown Goes Dragon to Help Scenic Rivers

"Team Lederhosen" asks for your August 25th (9:00 a.m.) support at Riverfront Park. It goes to a good cause: Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.

Chancery Court Hearing on Term-Limited Council Candidates Set for 3:00 this Afternoon

The Chancery Court Hearing for at-Large Candidate Philip Hostettler's lawsuit against Metro and Charlie Tygard, J.B. Loring, and Ronnie Greer is scheduled this afternoon for the "Part I Courtroom."

Here is the meat of the suit:
8. Section 1.07(A) of the Metropolitan Charter (Exhibit B) states:

Effective January 1, 1995, no person shall be eligible to serve in any elected office authorized or created by the Charter of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County if during the previous two (2) terms of that office, the person in question has served more than a single term ....

9. The intent of the people in approving this “term limits” requirement was to prevent persons from qualifying for office and/or pursuing election for office within the Metropolitan Government if they had already been serving within an office more than a single term during the last 2 terms. This provision does not prevent an office holder from seeking another office after he/she has “sat out” a term.

10. Plaintiff [Hostettler] has never held an elected office within the Metropolitan Government. Plaintiff qualified and was placed upon the ballot for the 2007 Metro Council “at large” election held on August 2, 2007. Plaintiff received the 10th highest vote total of 26 candidates.

11. Defendants Tygard, Loring and Greer were also candidates placed upon the ballot for the 2007 Metro Council “at large” election held on August 2, 2007. These Defendants all received more votes than Plaintiff. (Tygard-4th; Loring-7th; Greer 8th). However, all three of these Defendants are currently serving as district councilmen for over one term. As a result of the prohibition set out in Metropolitan Charter Section 1.07(A), above, these Defendants are not eligible to serve another term in the Metropolitan Council until they at least “sit out” one term ....

Plaintiff and the two persons who received the next highest total of votes in the election of August 2, 2007 should be placed on the ballot for said “run-off” election since Defendants Tygard, Loring and Greer are not eligible.
Mr. Hostettler's lawyers will base their argument on a 2007 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in Knox County. The TSC ruled that the same language in the Knox County Charter precluded candidates serving 2 terms from running for any municipal office again immediately.

SEIU Slinging Pro-Business Charges at Candidates is Hypocritical

So, the Service Employee International Union is knocking one of the mayoral candidates as "pro-business." After looking at the some of the candidates' itemized statements of contributions yesterday, I have got to tell you that SEIU is merely playing the pot to the kettle's black

For example, last month this Union contributed $1,000 to District 13's Carl Burch, who will try to follow through tonight with the pro-business, anti-democracy Car Wash Exemption Bill. SEIU matched the other contribution that Burch received in July from a car wash developer.

SEIU has no credibility and no room to criticize any candidate of being too pro-business with their own large contributions to pro-business candidates on the public record.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuesday Night's Conflict of Interest: Car Wash Bill Sponsor Burch Received $1,000 from Car Wash Developer

According to financial disclosure statements on file at the Electoral Commission, the only public proponent of the Car Wash Exemption Bill to rise and speak at the January 2, 2007 Public Hearing on the ordinance contributed $1,000 in July 2007 to the re-election campaign of District 13 Member Carl Burch.

Mr. Burch reportedly will re-introduce the controversial bill on third and final reading Tuesday night, in spite of strong neighborhood opposition to it. The $1,000 contributor, Joe Meeks, told the Metro Council in January (start media counter at 1:00) that he owns land on Murfreesboro Road with the intent of developing a car wash.

Also, according to the disclosure files, a real estate professional whose name has been associated with car wash development, John Hobbs, contributed $300 in July 2007 to the Diane Neighbors campaign and he contributed $500 the same month to the J.B. Loring campaign. Both Ms. Neighbors and Mr. Loring are Car Wash Exemption Bill co-sponsors.

Is the re-introduction of the Car Wash Bill payback for the $1,000 campaign contribution? It sure looks like a conflict of interest to me. And the mere appearance of a conflict of interest seems one more reason to oppose this bill.

UPDATE: Here we on are the day of the third reading on this bill and has there been any attempt by the local mainstream beat writers to check the campaign contributions of the co-sponsors? Not so that I could tell. They're giving "beat" a whole new meaning. If the print editors want to question bloggers again for challenging their system, I'd point them in the direction of the total lack of attention to possible connections between campaign financing and council resolutions. Just because they don't cover it doesn't mean that the conflict of interest does not exist or is not important.

UPDATE: The mainstream media blogs ain't doing much better. These alternatives look lame on this issue.

Amendment to Car Wash Bill Still Smacks of Cronyism

The advisors to the Metro Council note an amendment to the Car Wash Exemption Bill to be discussed on Tuesday:
There is a proposed amendment for this ordinance incorporating some additional conditions for car washes, such as a requirement that an attendant be on duty at all times and that the vehicular ingress and egress be gated and closed at night [that is, after 10:00 p.m.]. This would essentially prohibit any coin-operated car washes as a use permitted with conditions. Rather, coin-operated car washes would be required to be rezoned as a SP.
As arbitrary as it was to exempt car washes from the same original requirements on other businesses to meet with neighbors to get approval for their developments, so too does it seem arbitrary to exclude coin-operated car washes, unless the big car washes are trying to eliminate competition. And in the experience of some, SP zoning creates a whole new set of headaches for property owners around a development.

There continues to be one simple solution to the favoritism that seems to be shown to big car wash developers: they should submit themselves to discussing their plans with the neighborhoods, talking with the neighborhoods' council representative, and getting support from the neighborhood for their development plans. This should not be a one-size-fits-all-neighborhoods-solution. Otherwise, it continues to look like the Car Wash Exemption Bill is nothing but favoritism and cronyism that serves a select group of businesses and a select group of Council Members.

Third Reading: Sooner or Later They All Come Together at the Car Wash

Funny how getting past an election frees the Metro Council up to reconsider controversial bills.

The ethics problems of both Charlie Tygard and Diane Neighbors will be revisited Tuesday night as the car wash bill--still without the Planning Commission's promised recommendations--reanimates like a zombie that refuses to keel in the face of popular pitchforks.

According to this morning's City Paper, re-elected member Carl Burch is leading the bill this time, which makes me wonder from whom his campaign got financial contributions. We've got verification from at least two members--Emily Evans and Lynn Williams--that they will not support this bill in the face of substantial neighborhood opposition (given that co-sponsors don't seem to care to address the problem of increased traffic volume). The past performance of others is no less telling.

The car wash bill ain't no place to be if you plan on being a star.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bring in the Noise: Mainstream Backlash Against Blogs Continues

In today's LA Times op-ed section, Michael Skube criticizes what he calls "the noise" of weblogs, as opposed to "a willingness to suspect judgment and to put oneself in the background," which he sees as a trademark of journalism. He also argues that the "thorough fact-checking and verification" and "perseverance" are not something one does as a "hobby," as he insinuates blogging is.

Two responses immediately jump to my mind. One is that one of the reasons that blogs have sprung up is that journalists have failed at times to suspect their own judgment and to recede into the background. There are, of course, the obvious examples of the press going along and not questioning government policies and practices. There is also the fact that the celebrity and name-recognition of journalists seems to matter more than whether they recede into the background.

My second response is to throw up the stop sign as Skube rounds third (thinking he has hit a home run) and exclaim, "Hold your friggin' horses!" Since when did fact-checking, verification, and perseverance become the exclusive domain of journalists? Perseverance is a resolute habit that all of us should want to develop. Both fact-checking and verification have to do with the human qualities of honesty and integrity. Sure we demand those things from journalists, but there is no specialized training or higher income for persevering or being truthful.

Allow me to point out the irony in Skube's appeal to social critic Christopher Lasch to impugn bloggers in general for flooding the zone with information rather than robust debate. That appeal is, of course, full of holes, since there are bloggers who are interested in robust debate. But the irony is that a year after Lasch published his point about information overload (too early to be directed at bloggers, as Skube points out), he published the following about journalism and other professions in The True and Only Heaven:

[T]hey were all too deeply compromised by an exaggerated concern with the "bottom line" to attract people who wished simply to practice a craft or, having attracted them by some chance, to retain their ardent loyalty in the face of experiences making for their discouragement and cynicism .... it was becoming harder and harder for people to find work with self-respecting men and women who could throw themselves in with enthusiasm. The degradation of work represented the most fundamental sense in which institutions no longer commanded public confidence.
The break in public confidence is exactly the breach that many bloggers (though, granted, not all) are trying to step into. And because they may do it with enthusiasm that Lasch saw waning in journalism, Skube accuses them of merely bringing in the noise.

But Lasch himself accused journalism of giving itself too readily to the raw ambition associated with money and power. And there was a higher price to pay for that. Many bloggers see themselves as writers even when writing does not pay their bills. They may not be as motivated by the raw ambition that Lasch sees as corrosive of service and of a sense of calling, but they also don't have such corrosion standing between them and public confidence. So, bring in the noise, because when you break it down you will find robust debate in its tracks.

UPDATE: Enclave commenter, David, refers below to Talking Points Memo's response to being included in Skube's piece, even as Skube concedes that he has never read Talking Point's Memo. Another violation of the idea that journalists should know what they are writing about before they write.

Moyers Did Not Join in the Media's Rove Love-in

Friday night Bill Moyers dresses down the mainstream media's love affair with departing Karl Rove by putting the thing in perspective, given Rove's use of religion as "fear and loathing" and given a federal government "in shambles, paralyzed, polarized, mired in war, debt, and corruption."

UPDATE: The Director of Communications for Bill Moyers Journal left a comment below that Mr. Moyers has sent an e-mail to Fox News' Chris Wallace, who cherry-picked one sentence out of Mr. Moyers' commentary above to ask Karl Rove during an interview. Mr. Moyers' e-mail, posted on his blog at PBS, puts the sentence back into the context of the commentary, which is based on past reporting about Mr. Rove's agnosticism and cynical use of religious conservatives in spite of Mr. Roves' claims to Fox that his faith was "slandered."

So UnPC, They're PC

I appreciate challenging political correctness (and I would point out that criticisms of liberal political correctness were started not by conservatives, but by liberals criticizing fellow liberals), but I have to marvel at those posers so rigid in their hatred of PC that they would even defend the idea of chattel slavery in order to fight PC. Let's keep things in perspective, Jackson.

September War Report to be Ghost-Written by the White House

Bill Corcoran reports:
It was revealed [and confirmed by the National Security Council] this week that the White House will be writing the Iraq War surge report [General David] Petraeus will present to Congress. It was also revealed by a number of major mainstream news outlets that Petraeus will only be reading what the White House wants him to say. On the other hand, FOX News decided what the Bush White House is doing is perfectly within the framework of how a report should be given to Congress. Forget all the times in the past few months, Bush has said we are waiting for General Petraeus' report to Congress. Now it has been learned the Petraeus report will be "ghost written" by speech writers at the White House.
Corcoran goes on to say that Fox News ignored four truck bombs and a U.S. helicopter crash (which killed 5 servicemen) earlier in the week.

Might it be that the spin we are seeing floating to the surface on some blogs in the past month indicates the timed attempts elsewhere of partisan media to influence low public perceptions about the effects of the Bush Administration's troop surge as a lead up to the September report? It would not be the first time that Fox has played White House whip.

In the meantime, we should heed the advice of some 82nd Airborne troops:
The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Maybe He Should Have Titled It, "America Wins, Soldiers Lose"

One of the contributors to the newborn, tag-teamed hyperlocal effort, "Music City Bloggers," trotted out the raggedy refrain (a variation of the slander that war opponents are traitors worse than enemies) that Democrats are invested in America losing the Iraq War and that they are erroneous given trial balloons sent up that troops may return home sooner than expected.

On the contrary, some actual troops wrote an op-ed piece in this morning's NY Times, and they question whether news is truly as good as some who link might wishfully think:
As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.
Perhaps the MCB contributor should update and maintain that soldiers are also on the losing side.

Save Litter for the Adopted Ones

Little orphaned asphalt:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cavalcade of Capitalists: Scanner Site Exposes Corporate Manipulation of Wikipedia Information

According to tomorrow's NY Times, dozens of "conflict of interest" edits have been traced, via WikiScanner, to IP addresses hosted by corporate computer networks. Thanks, WikiScanner, because somebody needs to be watching abuses of popular editing of online information.

Tygard Grabs Contrary Photo Op After Metro Finance Warns that Keeping Predators Could Cost Us $5M

Did you see Chris Bundgard's story on Charlie Tygard's opposition to Metro Finance's warning that renegotiating the Nashville Predators lease could cost Nashville millions? Tygard was sitting in front of one of his large at-Large campaign signs and displaying a campaign sticker while he was arguing that Finance was wrong. Tygard has been supporting the Predators' own campaign to attract more season ticket holders.

I don't need to see Mr. Tygard trying to throw the Predators' water on a possible worst case scenario when taxpayers need to know that we might have to bail them out in order to get them to stay. It was pretty clear to me that the main reason he was doing it was for free publicity for the September at-Large election; else, he would have appeared without his campaign props.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Who Says Bloggers Don't Break Stories?

Sean Braisted gets the story ahead of the news media on at-Large candidate Philip Hostetler's retention of lawyers and plans to follow through with a legal challenge to the election results. Let's hope that Mr. Hostetler's got the "re-elected" trio of Charlie Tygard, J.B. Loring, and Ronnie Greer worried.

In Spite of the Freeze or the Heat

I joined in Kate O's discussion over at MCB regarding the pounding that area gardens are taking. Our damage is minimal relative to that which others have suffered in this drought.

Below is a picture of part of our garden. I planted everything except the green, flowerless bush in the far background before last April's unseasonably hard freeze, which they survived, only to have to weather the current hundred-degree-temp-and-drought regime that we are up against.

The red flowers in front are lantana (which in this region of the country are considered annuals), and they cannot get enough heat and sun. The only time they don't seem happy is when it rains. And they are constantly assaulted by various species of butterflies.

Does Clement Really Give a Crap About the Homeless?

Or is he just giving other groups the chance to kiss the ring?
Bob Clement has opted out of the [Nashville Homeless Power Project] forum, leaving just Karl Dean to answer questions from the group on homelessness in the city .... Clement campaign spokesman Ben Hall ... said [that] his candidate was busy trying to reach several groups before the Sept. 11 runoff election date and that Clement had already met multiple times with the Nashville Homeless Power Project.

“He’s going to treat everybody equally and fairly,” Hall said. “We really need to focus on other groups that he hasn’t been before at all.”
On a related note, Sean Braisted has some interesting observations about whether Mr. Clement ever really participated in the "Urban Plunge" as his campaign supporters lead us to believe or he simply went around speaking to various groups with few homeless people involved.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy 50th

We all jumped to the music and agreed. The purity of the road. The white line in the middle of the highway unrolled and hugged our left front tire as if glued to our groove.

- - Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 25th Anniversary Edition

One of the major books that defined the post-WWII Beat Generation turns 50. Viking commemorates the date today by issuing the original uncensored "scroll." While published in book form, Viking's "scroll" moniker is reference to the fact that Kerouac originally typed the manuscript on a long scroll of teletype paper.

Kerouac's original "roll" is about to go on display at the New York Public Library. The scroll was originally typed in 1951 in Manhattan, which means that it now is ironically coming home rather than going on the road.

UPDATE: speaking of unrolling, the medium itself howls "stream of consciousness":

UPDATE: Here is the August 19, 2007 NY Times book review on Thursday's published "scroll." The review says that the scroll was not teletype paper, but in a 1959 interview with Steve Allen, Kerouac refers to his preference for "teletype paper":

Clement's Union Support Drawn from Residential Outliers

Nashville Scene Editor wrote this yesterday about Mayoral Candidate Bob Clement's mounting union endorsements:

But consider the often overlooked reality that many of these firefighters, police officers and service workers actually live outside of Davidson County—in bedroom communities such at Mount Juliet, Smyrna and Ashland City—and can't vote in the first place.
I've pointed out before that the fact that less progressive outlying counties have more influence in this election through Bob Clement is one reason that I could not vote for him. I don't begrude anyone the choice to move out of Davidson County, but they should not have more influence via campaign contributions and union affiliation than Davidson County residents themselves.

This in itself seems like a strong warrant for public financing of campaigns.

LA Woman Murdered after Confronting Tagger

Are graffiti vandals becoming more brazen and deadly?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

North End Brown Out

The electricity was knocked out this evening around 7:15 in various parts of the North End neighborhoods due to a currently undisclosed problem at the Downtown substation. NES told me at about 8:20 that almost 1,000 people were without power.

Areas experiencing the outage included 5th Av from Bicentennial Mall to I-65, and nearly every part of Salemtown north of Garfield St. Sections of 4th Av, 6th Av, and 7th Av south of Garfield retained power. NES told me that sporadic brown outs are typical when a substation goes down. Power just came back on shortly before 9:00.

UPDATE: According to NewsChannel5 (which suffered outage), the brown out was caused by birds. WSMV reported that the brown out may have been caused by the power drain resulting from the heat.

What Does "Dishonor" Even Mean in This Context?

Charlie Tygard, who promises to load up with defense lawyers in the event that the at-Large race is legally contested, told Nashville Public Radio:

The election commission is going to be printing ballots for absentee votes and those type of things have to be done soon. The worst thing for Nashville would be to throw this whole election into such uncertainty that it brings dishonor to the city.
The uncertainty would arise from the unchallenged assumption that term-limited council members can get around term limits by running for "re-election" (quoting the Tygard Campaign) to one of the at-Large seats. Someone seems to think a lot of himself to translate legal challenges to his election results as "dishonor" to the entire city.

I would not feel dishonored. Would you?

Cavalcade of Capitalists: Toy Makers Don't Need Regulation in Order to Poison Our Kids

This Johnny Space Commander mask here is a pure fantasy toy. I mean, you know, kids can have a lot of fun with a toy like this, you know? Let me show you.. [puts the plastic bag over his head, then wraps the rubber band around it] "Hello, hello, this is Johnny Space Commander. I'm in deep space, I'm gonna land the rocket now!" You see what I mean? [takes off the plastic bag] You see what I mean? It's a pure fantasy toy!

One wonders in the recent Mattel meltdown whether the idea of free trade is returning us to the pre-consumer-protection days when toy companies could trot out any old dangerous play thing that would sell free from government regulation. Mattel did not regulate itself on the front end; it took a "British authority" and/or a "European retailer" discovering lead paint on a toy for the maker to start a recall. Yet, the free traders would have us believe that the free market will work the kinks out and that quite naturally, almost metaphysically, dangerous toys won't sell because they are dangerous.

It's called "self-correction," which is the Shining-like twin of "self-regulation." The problem in waiting for self-correction from the parental side is this: how many of our children equal the exchange price paid to allow random and unregulated free trade to work? To paraphrase Fyodor Dostoyevsky: should the sum of sufferings of these children go to pay for the arbitrary freedom of morally relative toy corporations to do whatever they will until the fickle winds of demand force them to change course? And should the foundation of an irresponsible market be built on the slightest suffering of even one innocent child, Alyosha?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

About Last Night

So last night around this time Salemtown was being circled by a police helicopter with a search light, and police cruisers were coming and going around the streets. I called dispatch to find out what was going on and they told me that the cops were looking for a suspect and that I should stay inside our house with the doors locked. I'm waiting for our Community Affairs Officer to get back with us with more details. But that whirlybird circled and searched the neighborhood for at least 45 minutes.

UPDATE: Suspect was reportedly suicidal.

"Urban Heat Island" Effect the Back Half of Deadly One-Two Punch

NPR cites sprawling pavement and buildings as heat-generating causes of deaths and as supplements to rising global temperatures. It's the "urban heat island" effect.

At-Large Coverage: Black Eye at the City Paper?

Sean Braisted is on top of the City Paper's coverage of the at-Large race and issues of race:
Yesterday I contacted [NCP] reporter Bill Harless, the author of Monday's article, who said he tried to contact all of the candidates for his story on Friday [highlighting only the white at-Large candidates], but was only able to get in contact with (before deadline) the four candidates who were listed. He said that Salleta Holloway was the only one to return his call, but that was after the deadline.

I spoke last night with some of these candidates, and according to Jerry Maynard he did not receive a call. Salleta Holloway's campaign manager Quenton White was at the forum last night, and according to him Salleta never would've called without contacting him first, and she never did that. Luvenia Butler did get a message, and called Monday, obviously past the deadline. Ronnie Greer also received a message, but according to him he has more important things to do than talk to the press.
Ever the diplomat, Sean asks some nonetheless pointed questions about media coverage of race. With less diplomacy, I would also ask whether deadlines become an excuse not to make sure there is balance and fairness in reporting? I have had reporters call me a day away from deadlines. That seems to be cutting it close and thus risking that issues like bias are read in or into the story.

Salemtown Block Grant Committee Meets Tonight

The MDHA-sponsored Citizen Advisory Committee will be meeting tonight at 6:30 at the Randee Rogers Training Center (1419 8th Av N--across from Werthan). The agenda includes an update on the selection of a design consultant for the neighborhood block grant ($589,000) project and planning of the September 13 Annual Meeting to elect new committee members for the upcoming year. Tonight's CAC meeting is open to all Salemtown residents and property owners.

Salemtown's Own Freddie O' Reports

Our newest Salemtown neighbor, Freddie O'Connell (Producer and Co-Host of Liberadio) tells me that Public Works tells him that they will be coming out to cut back some of the bush that has grown over sidewalks and they will be repaving Coffee St. and 3rd Av N between Coffee and Buchanan.

$20M State Community Enhancement Grant Receives $50M in Requests

A Tennessee Grant program--which was originally slated as discretionary funds for each state legislator, but now is in the hands of the Secretary of State--has received 1,100 applications from entities, including non-profit groups. Non-profit Nashville Public Radio reports and discloses that it is one of those applying entities.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Aging-in-Place Villages" Latest Grassroots Trend

According to the NY Times, many elderly boomers are organizing to be mainstreamed in mixed and well-connected self-help neighborhoods.


David Briley Endorses Neither Mayoral Candidate

Part of David Briley's August 13 press release:

After meeting with both of the candidates, I have made the decision not to formally endorse either candidate in the race. I spent considerable time talking with both Bob and Karl about their visions for the city, especially as it relates to the environment and sustainability. I was particularly encouraged with Bobs willingness to have an Office of Sustainability that reports directly to the Mayor. In the end, I came to the conclusion that both of the candidates intend to pursue some elements of the platform I spoke out about throughout this campaign and that Nashville will see progress on the environment soon.

He goes on to offer his assistance to both campaigns and he encourages his supporters to choose one or the other based on "independent judgment."

UPDATE from V-Squared:
Speculation regarding Briley’s leanings were sparked on Saturday after a (joint?) appearance by David Briley and Bob Clement at the East Nashville Tomato Festival and the coziness between the two suggested by an accompanying press release sent out by the Clement campaign.

The Briley campaign was not advised of the weekend presser before it’s release. The Clement folks have been advised that before future releases go out bearing the Briley name that a courtesy call would be preferred.

UPDATE: ACK at V-Squared revised the original post in the update above and requested the same changes be made to his quote here.

Harold Ford, Jr. vs. Daily Kos Founder on Meet the Press

UPDATE: During Liberado's podcast on this battle, Mary Mancini points out that Harold Ford's zinger against dKos about anti-semitism was unfair because it was based on something written on the comments board of the blog rather than being based on something a dKos contributor wrote themselves (discussion is during the second half of the podcast). Mary compares Mr. Ford's tactics to Bill O'Reilly's on Fox News.

She also refers us to Moulitsas's main points that have been ignored:

UPDATE: dKos weighs in:
If ... [Harold] Ford really knew anything about Daily Kos, he’d know that Cindy Sheehan did in fact post an announcement that she was pondering a run against Nancy Pelosi—something that ... Ford shares in common with Cindy Sheehan, since he ran unsuccessfully against the Speaker when she was up for Minority Leader in 2003—and that the reaction was much less positive than she apparently expected. If he was familiar with Daily Kos, he might also know that a few days after that diary, Ms. Sheehan posted this diary, in which she (mistakenly) claimed that she had been prohibited from posting at Daily Kos.

Furthermore, if he were really familiar enough to have found anti-Semitic comments on Daily Kos on his own, he would know that they are extremely rare and almost always rebutted vigorously and usually troll-rated from sight.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Greater Tribute to Merv

Never mind Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The mod 1974 Merv Griffin set forever ensconced in cynical 1990's pop culture:

Judge Upholds Farmers' Market Reseller Evictions

I stopped by the Farmers' Market booth at East Nashville's Tomato Fest yesterday and I found out from Director Jeff Themm that his eviction of the resellers from their front line booths in order to make room for actual farmers was upheld in court on Friday. Five farmers appeared in court to testify that they would use the booths if they were made available to them.

Mr. Themm told me that he did not think that the decision got mainstream media coverage because the press is "tired" of the issue. The reseller may still appeal the judges decision, but it will cost them because apparently they are required to pay a year's lease in exchange for filing an appeal.

In related news, Historic Germantown's President, Stacy Mosley, sent a letter in support of Mr. Themm's initiative to make room for farmers and for organic produce. I wish Salemtown Neighbors would do likewise.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Know It's Hot When Even Butterflies Sit in the Sprinkler

That Which Proceeds from a Lack of Balance and Diversity in Housing

The lack of COMPS (recent sales of similar properties in nearby areas, which help determine the market value of one's property) leads to low appraisals.

Chew on This Condition for a While

The point then is not that there is a lack of public admiration for poetry and philosophy in the modern world, but that such admiration does not constitute a space in which things are saved from destruction by time. The futility of public admiration, which daily is consumed in ever greater qualities, on the contrary, is such that monetary reward, one of the most futile things there is, can become more "objective" and more real.

As distinguished from this "objectivity," whose only basis is money as a common denominator for the fulfilment of all needs, the reality of the public realm relies on the simultaneous presence of innumerable perspectives and aspects in which the common world presents itself and for which no common measurement or denominator can ever be devised .... Being seen and being heard by others derive their significance from the fact that everybody sees and hears from a different position. This is the meaning of public life, compared to which even the richest and most satisfying family life can offer only the prolongation and multiplication of one's own position.

- - Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Monarch of the Yard

Friday, August 10, 2007

Enclave to Donate $100 to Friends of the Nashville Farmers' Market

My discussion with the Director of the Nashville Farmers' Market earlier this week left me with the positive impression that the Market is fighting to bring in actual area farmers. He also convinced me that the separate non-profit organization, Friends of the Nashville Farmers' Market, plays a supportive role in that fight and that they are committed to the goal of putting farmers in the market.

In keeping with my past practice of donating proceeds I make from clicked Google Ads to North End area non-profits (past donations have been sent to Friends of Bicentennial Mall and the Nashville Jazz Workshop), I am pledging to donate the next $100 check I receive from Google to FOTNFM. I would encourage anyone who reads this to make their own donation or show their support by joining this worthwhile organization (membership fees are $25/$35). Let's work together to help speed these improvements in our community.

Yellow Ribbons--Like Car Magnets--Have Nothing to Do With Actually Caring for the Safety of Our Troops

Tie a shallow ribbon 'round the old oak tree. Some Metro Council Members once more have misplaced priorities and they show themselves committed to empty gestures that have more salving, stupor-inducing affects at home and little or no real impact on our troops in Iraq.

The City Paper reports that some members are stooping to the new low of attacking the patriotism of Park Board Members. The NCP does not finger the specific demogoging Council Members, but the fact that they would attack fellow Americans over colored pieces of fabric that do not appear instantly at their rather easy command is shameful.

Another Mexico-U.S. Trade Corridor Challenged by Local Townships

Besides the controversy over the "Trans-Texas Corridor" (which is planned to extend through West Tennessee), there is a fight brewing over the "La Entrada al Pacifico" which currently slices from Mexico's west coast with tentative plans to extend across the border, through the wild country of the Big Bend, including two Texas towns, which are organizing to oppose.

West Texas residents, bolstered by the Sierra Club, are concerned that the huge truck traffic and pollution increases should the corridor be built with government money and boostered by a private trade organization in Midland-Odessa, TX (George W. Bush's childhood home). Opponents started a website with a blog.

There is a dark side of "free trade" that deserves to be watched. It may not directly affect Tennesseans now, but the outcome of this battle will probably affect us down the line.

Market Question to the Mayoral Candidates

Here is a question (hoping it's an "undead" one) I just sent to the Karl Dean and Bob Clement campaigns:
Does your candidate support the Farmers' Market administration's eviction of produce resellers in order to reserve prime stalls for local farmers and organic produce?
I'll keep you posted if and when I hear back from them.

Farmers Market in Court Today to Evict Produce Resellers

Jeff Themm, the Director of the Nashville Farmers' Market, told me earlier this week that the Market will be in court today asking for enforcement of eviction notices that they have served to 3 long-time vendors who are not actual farmers and who refuse to give up their stalls to actual farmers. Market Administration is attempting to take it in a different direction based on a recent large deficits and on greater customer demands for actual farmers and organic produce.

It would be a good thing for our community if the Market receives the court's support to evict the middle-man cartel in order to make room for real farmers. After 50 years and changes in their customer demand, it is time for them to go.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Greenway Access to Morgan Park Will Be Breaking Ground Soon

Hutchmo spills more details on Mayor Bill Purcell's disclosures to Salemtown walkers the other night, including the impending groundbreaking of North End's greenway extensions.

Below is a sketch of part of the approved greenway, which will eventually stretch from downtown to MetroCenter with a spur off of Morgan Park.

Award-winning Ashworth Environmental Design is working on the "Morgan Park Greenway Interpertation and Gardens" portion of the greenway extension.

An Illness away from Ruin: What's Wrong with America and What Will They Do To Change It?

During the AFL CIO Debate one of the Democratic candidates mentioned inviting the health insurance companies to the bargaining table when reforms are made. That's rather like inviting the Mad Hatter to the tea party, is it not?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This Guy Is Talking Against Dems Like Bob Clement and Jim Cooper

Paul Waldman has an outstanding article at American Prospect on the fundamental differences between conservatives and progressives on the issues of insurance programs for uninsured kids (SCHIP) and maintenance of our deteriorating infrastructure.

Is Waldman not referring to Dems like Mr. Clement and Mr. Cooper (who just voted against SCHIP)?
There is a whole generation of Democrats -- politicians, congressional staff, political consultants, and party functionaries -- who either started their careers or matured during the Clinton years, when the dominant Democratic strategy was one of triangulation, long before it was given that name. They spent their time worrying not about how to contrast themselves with Republicans, but how to contrast themselves with other Democrats.
Waldman argues that the Democrats are going to squander all the public's readiness to hear how government can actually work (as it does with SCHIP and how it should with adequate infrastructure financing) and find themselves on the defensive if they do not make the case for constructive programs of uplift and repair.

The difference between progressives and conservatives in 2007 could not be more stark:
Progressives believe we're all in it together, while conservatives say we're all on our own and we're all out for ourselves. Progressives think government has to do the things markets can't do -- and when it does them, it ought to do them well. Conservatives are so blinded by their antigovernment ideology that when they get hold of government they turn it into a corroded mess of cronyism, corruption, and incompetence, a dilapidated whorehouse where the plumbing doesn't work, the paint is peeling off the walls, and everything is for sale.
You should read this article just to see how Waldman shows how a junior high debater could "rip apart" Rudi Giuliani's abstract appeals that SCHIP is "socialized medicine."

At Large Candidate Hostettler Mulling a Legal Challenge to the Election Results

From Mr. Hostettler's Friday Press Release:
Philip Hostettler, a Metro Council at Large candidate for the 2007 election, is quickly working through the details and paperwork for the purposes of applying the law regarding Term Limits. The People of Nashville and Davidson County, by a referendum election in November of 1994, voted for Term Limits, effective January 1, 1995. Incumbent candidates Charlie Tygard, J.B. Loring, Ronnie Greer, and John Summers, are finishing up with their two consecutive terms in the Council and under Article 1, General Provisions of the Metropolitan Charter, may have been ineligible to run for office again and blocked Hostettler from making the runoff. Hostettler received numerous calls on Friday August 3rd, one day after the election, ranging from first time candidates to former council members, about challenging the opinion of one former Metro Law Department Director, James Murphy, III [who ruled that two-term district candidates may run in at-Large races].
I hope he goes for it and wins.