Monday, December 14, 2009

The unbearable lightness of informed consent in the convention center debate

The City Paper provides a broad survey of where council members are on the convention center this morning. One looming concern for CMs is the lack of independent study of public opinion toward the Mayor's "signature" project:
Council members have been left to gauge support on their own.

Councilman Sam Coleman, who said he’s undecided, estimated half of his constituents in his Antioch district support the project.

Meanwhile, [Mike] Jameson, who lives in East Nashville, says he senses that “the average guy on the street is at best skeptical of this.”

Even Metro Councilman Rip Ryman, a supporter, says public input to the Council is overwhelmingly opposed.

Between now and the final January vote, many Council members are scheduled to hold community meetings to bring the case to their constituents to measure support.

The City Paper has confirmed at least five such meetings, most to be held jointly by several members.
If District 19 CM Erica Gilmore has scheduled any community meetings on the convention center project, I'm not aware of any communication from her office to that effect. It would be a real disservice to constituents not to hold at least one public forum to inform and to gauge public opinion in the 19th.

But leave it to the Mayor's loyal aide-de-camp Ronnie Steine to exaggerate our opinions on the matter:
“If you, on the other hand, are just generally skeptical of all numbers and have at least a skeptical view of Nashville’s future and our ability to grow and to continue to generate interest and visitors, then you would naturally be skeptical of all this,” Steine said. “That’s just two basic fundamental points of view about the future of our city.”
So, if we declare our concerns about (let alone our opposition to) the new convention center project in this configuration we are skeptical about Nashville's future? I started out as lukewarm but open to the idea of a new convention center. I was non-committal. But the design, community impact issues, exclusion of public input, and budget mismanagement issues have made me a more vocal critic of the Mayor's plan. And I've become a critic because I care about Nashville's future and the economic hit Metro budget could take in that future. So, when CM Steine characterizes honest questioners like me as "skeptical of Nashville's future," he only shows how he betrays his own independence, objectivity, and yes, honesty.

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