Sunday, June 07, 2009

Vested Interests & LED Billboards

An anonymous Enclave reader observes and opines:
Tygard has his LED bill back to invade neighborhoods. Notice the bill has a new staff reviewer. Jennifer Regen has been replaced by Kathyrn Withers. We can only wonder why this is. On the staff report under Staff Recommendation there is only one sentence "Staff recommends approval." [p. 58] There is no reason why. The last staff report of this same bill stated that " the staff recommended disapproval of the bill as drafted because electronic signs would be permitted without adequately safeguarding neighborhoods.." Is the BZA now the safeguard? The citizens will once again have to attend a meeting during working hours to safeguard their neighborhoods and if Bell Newton's comments are correct great numbers of neighbors will make no difference in their decision. However, it did make a difference when neighbors and Bobby Joslin didn't want the bus station near their neighborhoods.

Has anyone questioned why neighbors and neighborhood organizations were not represented on the LED Task Force? Was Burkley Allen the only neighborhood representative that had ever really voiced her opinion before the task force was formed? Who else supposedly represented the resident citizen? Who picked them? Did neighborhood groups get to appoint a representative?

Those that Tygard did claim sit on the task force to represent neighborhoods, didn't they really have a vested interest in the signs for their employer? What about Mrs. Shepherd? Doesn't she work for the Catholic archdiocese? Don't the Catholic archdiocese have schools and churches in neighborhoods that might want a sign? Wasn't Burkley Allen the only person on the task force to vote no? Wasn't this task force set up by Tygard to rubber stamp his bill?

How does this bill really differ from the last one? If this bill passes doesn't it become harder for the average citizen to fight? Can Nashville Publc Schools afford these signs? Is this bill being passed for private schools and churches, and of course Bobby Joslin?

Ever see the sign at the church in Joslin's commercial? It was recently cited by Codes for being in violation of the law. So was the Donelson YMCA that recently gained approval for their sign through the BZA.

If you read the Planning Commission report you will find that Sam Coleman has a bill that would allow cell towers in neighborhoods. Now we can be cooked with radiation while we watch the LED sign messages change at night.


  1. I hope that someone plans to address the Planning Commission this Thursday and remind them of the makeup of Tygard's task force. Your reader is correct in reminding you that Mrs. Allen was the only real neighborhood advocate on the committee. I am really surprised that she was named at all. She is a scrapper and works hard to defend neighborhoods and communicate with neighbors.

    The other named "neighborhood advocates" have never been seen standing up for neighborhoods. Where were they before? Who appointed them to the task force? Why did they vote with Tygard? Will they show up at the Planning Commission to stand for neighborhoods at the Planning Commission meeting?

    This task force was created to put the seal of approval on Tygard's bill. There was never any intention of making this a fair fight with equal representation. Otherwise we would have seen more neighborhood leaders like Burkley Allen who were already fighting these signs. Bob Cooper, Patricia Totty, and Anna Sheherd have never publicly spoken out against LED signs in neighborhoods.

    According to the Planning Staff report, here are the members of the task force that "rubber stamped" Tygard's bill. The only NO vote was real neighborhood leader and advocate Burkley Allen.

    The task force is being co-chaired by Burkley Allen and Jane Alvis.

    Other committee members are at-large Council members Megan Barry and Charlie Tygard as well as the following:
    - Residential real estate agent John Brittle
    - Lobbyists Stewart Clifton ad Dan Haskell
    - Metro Director of Codes Terry Cobb
    - Judge Gloria Dumas
    - Debby Dale Mason, chief community action officer at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
    - Former Council member Larry McWhirter
    - Neighborhood advocates Bob Cooper, Anna Shepherd and Patricia Totty (The latter also is director of compliance for TennCare.)
    - Zoning administrator Sonny West
    - Former Council member and current BZA member Chris Whitson, who also is a member at Sherrard & Roe
    - Kathryn Withers, a Planning Department staffer

    **Ironic how Jane Alvis is not mentioned as a lobbyist for Lamar Advertising and the workplace of several others were never mentioned either.

    PART I-
    Is this whole thing a smoke and mirrors trick to get the signs into the rest of the city? Were certain members of the task force told of the trick? What if they are not in attendance at the Planning Commission because they know of the trick?

    What if the goal never was to put the signs in neighborhoods? What if the real goal was to put them everywhere else where they are currently prohibited (yet still exist)? Research might reveal some weird things. Do we even know if all of the task force members live in the city. We know Whitson lives in an area of Nashville not governed by Metro Codes.

    When they start the conversation off at the Planning Commission, look for Jim Gotto to go first to make the motion. He will have the script from which he will work. If he catches wind that people are on to him, Mr. Ponder or Ms.Jones will handle it.

    Gotto may actually try to come across as the hero of the people and make a motion to withdraw the residential piece and allow the signs everywhere else. Tygard will speak up and say he agrees.

    Joslin will get what he really wanted after all and Tygard will be back another day to finish off the neighborhoods. Council members will be able to support the bill because now their constituents are off of their backs. They all will feel safe even though they are all unknowingly players in Tygard's big performance.

    Tygard will proclaim that he and Gotto have saved the neighborhoods, thus gaining votes for their next citywide election and a nice write up in the City Paper plus their faces on every tv station in the city.

    Somewhere afterwards Tygard and Gotto will meet Bobby Joslin for cigars and liquor and a little money will be found under the seats of Joslin's sofa that must belong to Gotto and Tygard. Of course they will be wrapped unmarked bills not in sequence.

    Maybe Gotto's church in a Hermitage or Madison neighborhood or Tygard's church in a Bellevue neighborhood will even get a new big LED sign at a fabulous price?

    The other commissioners and the neighbors will leave the Planning Commission meeting wondering if something good or bad just happened. They all will be victims of the oldest shell game around.

    Bring your gas masks for the Planning Commission boys and girls. The smoke will choke you and if you blink you might miss the greatest show on earth.