Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Final Days of Blogging

R. Neal takes the Tennessee media to the woodshed:
People who should know better throw the term "blogging" around as a catch-all to describe every kind of internet writing. The media does it, and even supposedly educated professionals such as lawyers (see the WBIR link above) who presumably research their cases yet still use the terms incorrectly in their arguments ....

[T]he terms "blog," "blogger," and "blogging" have been hijacked, co-opted and corrupted by idiots and some people who should know better. Blogging has taken on a negative connotation that is undeserved. Any semblance of responsibility and respectability has been lost and will never be regained.

And that's why bloggers should stop using the term. I strongly urge writers formerly known as bloggers to start using the term "new media" or "independent media" (or something -- suggestions?) instead of "blog," the term "citizen journalist" or "new/independent media reporter/writer" for "blogger," and "new/independent media publishing" or just "internet publishing" instead of "blogging."

Blogs are dead. Long live independent media writing. Or something. And thanks a lot to the creeps who killed blogging.

If at first you don't degrade, try, try again

After-hours clubs are looking to loopholes to continue to bring their gangs, hookers, and disgarded used condoms to residential neighborhoods.

While this story comes from the Tennessean, the local paper hasn't exactly been balanced when dealing with the subject of after-hours clubs in the past.

The Awesome Power of the Word "Clean"

Joel and Ethan Coen created an entertaining anti-coal ad:



UPDATE: CNN, which relies on the coal industry for advertising dollars, has refused to run the Coen ad.

May they have a percentage of your Saturday till, too?

I have it on good authority that a certain neighborhood association used the occasion of a certain street festival held last October to try and charge a restaurant a "booth fee" to remain open during the event because the adjoining street was to be closed to traffic. Got that? Some associations that have street festivals raise money by permitting with fees organizations to come in and set up booths during the festivals to promote their products and services. But the particular association in question approached an established business located in a proper structure on the festival route and suggested that they should pay a fee to stay open and conduct their usual Saturday business.

Bad form. No class. Deserved to be laughed out of the store.

Another Feel Good GOP Hypocrisy Saturday: Schwarzenegger and Jindal

Before red-state Democratic Governors deign to mimick their Republican counterparts they better consider the recent cases of two of the most notable:
  • In Caleefornia, a Schwarzenegger administration official received free tickets and meals from an energy company for her daughter to attend a Justin Timberlake concert. Not only did she charge taxpayers for a flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles, but she also stiffed them for the tickets and the meals she did not pay for even after the Governor "banned" nonessential travel.
  • Louisiana's Bobby Jindal's star is quickly shrinking on the horizon as significant elements in his response to Obama's SOTU are shown to be deceptive. Jindal's own transportation department intends to apply for some of the Obama stimulus--which Jindal called pork on Tuesday night--for a passenger rail service from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
Enjoy your After Tea Parties, Tennessee Republicans.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cooper Supports Obama's First Budget for Now

According to this morning's Wall Street Journal:
With a number of expensive bills moving through Congress this year, some Democrats, such as the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition, could become jittery. But Rep. Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.), a prominent Blue Dog, had high praise for the president's budget blueprint Thursday, saying it dispensed with the gimmicks of previous years.

Under George W. Bush, for example, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan weren't included in the budget but were paid for in so-called supplemental spending bills.

"This is more honest than any budget in many, many years," Mr. Cooper said. "That also means it's also ugly. I welcome the honesty. I think it's time for Americans to grapple with fundamental problems and not pretend that wars are free and things like that."

Democratic leaders said they would like to pass a budget resolution by April 3, an unusually rapid schedule. After they return from their spring recess, the appropriations committees will start writing the specific spending bills for next year.

Mr. Cooper, of Tennessee, also praised the administration for projecting the budget out for 10 years, providing a more complete picture. "You need an accurate diagnosis before you can have the cure," Mr. Cooper said. "It takes courage to give that diagnosis. A lot of people don't want to hear it."
We'll see how the Blue Dogs triangulate with Republican angst as the budget process goes along.

Another Strike against a New South Rising Hypothesis

The NY Times reports of blowback of jobless constituents against mostly southern group of Republican Governors plus Democrat Phil Bredesen, who are rejecting the federal unemployment benefits in Obama's stimulus bill:
unemployed workers said they were incensed to learn they were living in one of a handful of states — many of them among the poorest in the nation — that might not provide the expanded benefits.
The fact that Mr. Bredesen has joined the Republicans on this issue is further evidence that having Democrats in power in a southern state does not signal a progressive sea change in the south.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Edgefield Neighborhood Moves to Remind Metro's New Administration That Riverfront Plan Has Already Been Assessed

Michael Cass breaks the news that Historic Edgefield, Inc. is organizing to blunt any "reassessment" the Mayor's Office and MDHA might be seeking at a March 7th public forum in East Nashville. A HEI leader writes:
At a recent downtown presentation, Metro officials indicated a desire to "reassess" the plan to which we all already committed. Although thousands of Nashvillians spent over 16 months and a half a million dollars to develop this specific implementation plan and despite the commitment of the Metro Council to fund it, MDHA has yet to break ground on Phase 1.

Please be sure to come out on March 7th to encourage MDHA to COMMIT TO THE RIVERFRONT PLAN. We have waited long enough. The funding is there. The public sentiment is clear. Come make your voice heard.
I was one of those thousands of Nashvillians participating in the feedback process, and I would hate to think that my own personal time and tax dollars were wasted with a reassessment by a new Metro administration.

Neighborhoods as Hard Targets

Enclave readers may or may not know that I have been writing a regular column I call "Local Knowledge" over at The Nashville Free Press since its inception a few weeks ago.

My subject in today's edition is CM Charlie Tygard and his effort to impose light emitting diode billboards on residential neighborhoods.

The Nashville Free Press is looking for advertisers to support the progressive print alternative to the mainstream media. If you are interested in advertising let me know via e-mail.

May Town Doubles Down for a Second Downtown

How cynical is this one?

Rather than donating $400,000 to Tennessee State U. to endow a faculty chair in sustainable agriculture because sustainability is vital and because it would simply be the right thing to do, the May family and Tony Giarratana are so donating contingent on Metro approving May Town Center. Announcement of the May donation comes on the heels of news that State Senator Doug Henry has introduced a bill to the General Assembly to preserve Bells Bend from May Town's urban sprawl by converting it to Rural and Natural Resource area.

The Mays have practically bought the support of TSU, their alumni, and any state interest connected to them. They're offering TSU the chance to enter the debate, and expand westward in order to occupy an unblighted Bells Bend neighborhood under the auspices a noble cause. They're tossing out the bone of token environmentalism to get their second Downtown built, and sustainability is just punch line in the gag.

It is a sardonic, obscene, and empty display.


UPDATE: Isn't allowing greedy developers to build a second downtown on farmland under cover of endowments to a university to start a sustainable agriculture program kind of like expanding the coal industry so that TVA can supply more electricity to new solar panel factories in Tennessee?


UPDATE: According to the Tennessean, the Bells Bend land donated to TSU is not contingent on approval, while the endowment for the establishment of an academic program is.


UPDATE: Jack May tells WSMV that the TSU donation has nothing to do with the May Town Center development. Yeah, right. And the curious timing of the donation announcement had nothing to do with Doug Henry's introduction of a bill that could protect Bells Bend from the May family development or with giving developers more green cred.


UPDATE: Nashville Biz Journal spins the conflict too crassly, suggesting that Bells Benders do not want any change. I've heard lots of motivations for resisting May Town Place, including:
  • preservation of natural resources
  • controlling urban sprawl
  • maximizing already developed spaces around the downtown we have
  • defending the democratic process in zoning and development issues
  • respecting a neighborhood association's deliberated and long-term expectations for their community
  • saving taxpayers from expensive infrastructure and maintenance costs
  • protection of endangered species
Clearly each of those involve some level of social change. Compared to the singular drive for money of the Giarratana development team, the Bells Benders who oppose the development look a lot more nuanced and progressive than they are portrayed by business media.

Liberal Bloggers Join Others to Form Liberal PAC

According to the NY Times, several national bloggers raised $500,000 in September and brought it with them into a PAC with Moveon.org and unions with the intention of recruiting progressive candidates to run against centrist Democratic incumbents.

Gary Odom may not like this

State Senator Doug Henry looks like he is wading into the fight to shield Bells Bend from urban sprawl by proposing to convert everything from Beaman Park in the north to the Cumberland River's huge tear drop turn abutting the Charlotte Park neighborhood into a Rural and Natural Resources area. That would effectively retire the interest the May Family, Tony Giarrantana, and Democratic General Assembly Representative Gary Odom have in making Bells Bend into a "second downtown Nashville." It also defends the interests of the neighborhood association, which has opposed Metro Council and Planning attempts to rezone developers into the Bend.

Contact your State Senators and Representatives and ask them to support Senator Doug Henry's bill to turn Bells Bend into a Rural and Natural Resources area. Force the developers to choose some other already paved over part of Davidson County. The recession has driven real estate prices down everywhere, so the developers should find existing urban real estate more affordable now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No "fairness" firebreak could stop this disaster

A Michigan editorial expresses the arbitrarily leveling consequences of this recession:
In its early stages, the foreclosure crisis caught up people who got mortgages for which they wouldn’t qualify under traditional lending criteria. They took out mortgages with low introductory rates and little or no money down, then found they couldn’t sell or refinance when rates adjusted upward or a balloon payment came due. Today, the crisis is affecting millions of people who did play by the rules, who didn’t buy “too much house” or get a “too good to be true” mortgage. They bought a reasonable house and qualified for a reasonable mortgage based on their income and savings. Then they lost their job or took a big pay cut, and now the value of their home is lower than the balance on their mortgage. It’s not “fair” that hard-working people get laid off. It’s not “fair” that the value of their well-tended house shriveled. But it’s reality, and there but for the grace of God go I.

Think you really know our Governor?

The Daily Kos's benintn has the phat skinny on the recent checkered history of the Governor of this great state. It is as comprehensive as a blog post can be.

Was Cooper Spoiling Dems' Attempts to Mitigate the Bush Budget Blows?

Tennessee Blue Dog Jim Cooper was one of 20 Dems joining 178 House Republicans today to vote against post-Bush attempts reinfuse and reinvest in worthwhile domestic programs for:
  • Transit
  • Public housing
  • Development Block Grants for neighborhoods
  • Health care
  • Education grants

Global Unrest as Interfaced Local Strife

Michael Klare sees broad catastrophic patterns between incendiary conditions resulting from local anxieties about the economy and no confidence in banks or governments to solve the problems. Those with vested interest in protecting that order should be worried, especially given the strain on security forces who tamp down civil unrest.

Bredesen Hedges

Tennessee's red-state Governor, who has joined a gaggle of Republican Governors resistant to taking funds for their citizens' unemployment benefits, attempted to manage expectations and blunt criticism at The Hill:
In a statement to The Hill, Bredesen downplayed the possibility of refusing some money, while talking up the rest of the stimulus.

"I am very supportive of the stimulus package, as it will create jobs and lessen the impacts that proposed budget cuts would have created," Bredesen said. "We are looking at a very minor provision in the stimulus package that could obligate Tennessee to fund a permanent increase in unemployment benefits after the stimulus money runs out in two years.
I do not care how small the unemployment portion is. Denying funds that would help jobless Tennesseans is heartless and despicable.

The party of Beavis and Butthead vs. the party of the living dead

Economist Paul Krugman is in a free-fire zone. First, he takes on Republicans via Governor Bobby Jindal's reply to the SOTU:
Traditionally, the division between conservatives and liberals has been over the role and size of the welfare state: liberals think that the government should play a large role in sanding off the market economy’s rough edges, conservatives believe that time and chance happen to us all, and that’s that.

But both sides, I thought, agreed that the government should provide public goods — goods that are nonrival (they benefit everyone) and nonexcludable (there’s no way to restrict the benefits to people who pay.) The classic examples are things like lighthouses and national defense, but there are many others. For example, knowing when a volcano is likely to erupt can save many lives; but there’s no private incentive to spend money on monitoring, since even people who didn’t contribute to maintaining the monitoring system can still benefit from the warning. So that’s the sort of activity that should be undertaken by government.

So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.


On the heels of that attack he also takes aim at the Obama Administration's half-ass crutch for banks:
Ben Bernanke’s testimony over the past two days gives us our best clue yet about where the administration and the Fed are going with bank rescue. And the answer seems to be … nowhere ....

As long as capital injections are seen as a way to bail out the people who got us into this mess (which they are as long as the banks haven’t been put into receivership), the political system won’t, repeat, won’t be willing to come up with enough money to make the system healthy again. At most we’ll get a slow intravenous drip that’s enough to keep the banks shambling along.

Krugman is beholden to ideas, not parties.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Uncle might have said

I'm formulating a column for NashFreep two weeks from now, and I'm doing some research and kicking a couple of ideas around in my head. My browsing brought me to a 2006 post over at SayUncle's gun blog on abortion. My column isn't going to be on abortion and not directly on gun violence, gun control, or 2nd Amendment questions, but I'm just trying to find a line of attack on a separate issue.

However, I have tangential thoughts on the conservative blogger's opposition to outlawing abortion. SayUncle says that he is opposed to abortion, but doesn't want to invite the government into regulating people's personal lives. While I disagree with SayUncle on many things, I believe that there is a logical consistency between opposing gun control and opposing the regulation of abortion, given suspicion of government. But I was a little disappointed that SayUncle did not make the connection even stronger, given his past argument that "guns don't kill people; people kill people." It seems to me he could say the same thing about abortion.

I'm working on a line of attack on another issue using this logical framework.

How might reeling beer sales make the single-serve issue an Achilles heel?

Beer sales are down, hugely down, relative to history. I'm just wondering how to flip that downturn into a strategic advantage over blighted single serve markets in urban neighborhoods.

And by implication, Phil Bredesen can take all of it or leave all of it

New York's U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer calls bluff of Governors who maintain that they are considering rejecting unemployment benefits in the federal stimulus legislation. Schumer called unemployment benefits one of the "most efficient and cost-effective fiscal stimulus measures," and maintained that they yielded returns higher than their costs.

Tennessee's red-state Democratic Governor, Phil Bredesen, has joined Republican Governors in saying that he is considering rejecting federal stimulus dollars for unemployment because of possible future costs. The NY Times has the best response to that:
Governors ... should be worrying about how to end this recession while helping constituents feed and house their families — not about finding ways to revive tired election-year arguments about big spending versus small government.
Governor Bredesen has never struck me as exactly sensitive to families in dire circumstances.

Oh, what friends developers have in Metro

Developers already have an advantage over neighborhood leaders. Part of income depends on spending time with Metro government attending meetings and seeking approval. Generally, community leaders are not paid to be advocates for their neighborhoods. They have other jobs. They cannot always attend meetings where developers meet with other people who are also paid to deal with the development process, namely, bureaucrats.

But the bureaucrats, encouraged by the Mayor and Metro Council members Jerry Maynard and Eric Crafton (all of whom were flush with development campaign contributions in the 2007 election cycle) are moving to make it even easier for developers to come in and build as efficiently as possible. Well, democracy is often inefficient. Including people who have a stake in what developers drop into neighborhoods can eat up time if time is reduced only to money, but inclusion is at least as worthy a goal as efficiency.

So, when I read that developer-friendly elected officials are pressuring the system to be more efficient for developers, and when I see a Mayor's Office that downplays the role of neighborhood associations in civic affairs, what reason do I have to welcome that news? I'm not a developer, and I've watched my share of developers develop irresponsibly. If the system fails to make the process better for neighborhood feedback while it is becoming more efficient, how does that help me?

CM Maynard puts the changes in terms of "incentivizing infill and workforce housing in blighted urban areas." However, he says nothing about the quality of the infill or the diligence needed to build something that does not trade long-term sustainability for a short-term bump in real estate values and developer profit margins. I doubt that the campaign contributions he got from advocates of the quality and diligence rival his take from path-of-least-resistance developers.

Memphis Investment Firm Charged with Fraud, Ingratiated Itself with Charities

The editorial voice of the Commercial Appeal tells a capitalist cautionary tale.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sen. Thelma Harper Working on Tougher Sentencing Laws

State Senate Democrat Thelma Harper tells WSMV that she is writing a proposal to increase time that repeat violent offenders serve. She asserts that one barrier to the legislation is the higher cost of changing the law.

Salemtown Burglaries Drop; Police Say Crime Watch Helping

At tonight's Salemtown Neighbors meeting MNPD officers told the group that so far in February no successful burglaries had occurred in the neighborhood, after 10 happened in January. One attempted commercial burglary was foiled by neighbors who called police while witnessing a man trying to break into the Volcano Discount Tobacco market at 3:00 one morning.  Looks like that blighted single serve market should thank its neighbors for their vigilance, and be motivated to be a better neighbor itself. Police attributed their increased patrols and the hair-trigger phone calls from S-towners for the drop in crime.

How a Beggar Becomes a Chooser

Red-state Governor Phil Bredesen shows the way.

Parsimony on GITMO

Armchair Generalist paraphrases a 5-page WaPo story in less than 5 lines:
"We're going to focus on the 10 percent of Gitmo detainees who decided they can't forget what the US government did to them, instead of the 90 percent who quietly went home after spending years in confinement without trial or access to their families."

Dean the Decider?

Cities like Louisville, Boston, and Minneapolis have set up task forces to define spending priorities when federal stimulus money gets to their coffers. Are Karl Dean and his staff Nashville's Don and capo bastone on the stimulus?

Mayors Met with Obama on Friday

I can find no mention that Nashville's Karl Dean was there. Louisville's Mayor was.

WaPo pitches the stimulus as a stern test:
The stimulus package is not only a political crucible for Obama and the congressional Democrats who pushed it through; it is also the ultimate test of government's ability to deliver, from a vast array of federal agencies and departments down to state and local offices across the country.

It will be up to thousands of Cabinet undersecretaries, regional agency directors and local contracting officers to get the stimulus money out fast enough to boost the economy and to meet Obama's broader policy goals. Obama has cast his election as a repudiation of an anti-government philosophy that has been in vogue for the past three decades. The stimulus spending offers the prospect of renewing confidence in the public sector just as many are losing faith in corporate America. If done poorly, though, it could undermine Obama's longer-term vision of reaffirming the positive role of government in the lives of Americans.
No pressure there. Doesn't sound like WaPo is leaving the bureaucracy any room for error. Why don't they put the private corporations in this kind of bind?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blame the government, sure; but blame the press, too

A former Wall Street Journal writer explains how business reporters failed to report the run-up to the crisis, thus sacrificing any chance of us ultimately finding out exactly how the finance industry screwed us over. It's like a scene out of Fun with Dick and Jane:
Contrast [the Security & Exchange Commission's reporter-tipping investigations of Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, and Tyco scandals] with the most recent disasters: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac had all collapsed before the SEC had even launched an investigation. The spectacle of Lehman employees carrying out boxes of records—on television!—was too much for Jonathan Weil, a Bloomberg columnist who is known for breaking an early Enron story in 2000 while at the Journal. In a column last September, he wrote "Is there anybody left in the government with a pulse? Where's the yellow police tape? How about a cease-and-desist order to prevent document destruction? Can anyone give me a good reason why Lehman offices shouldn't be treated as a crime scene now?"

But the regulatory absence only goes so far as an excuse for the press, says Michael Hudson, who began reporting on subprimes in the 1990s at the Roanoke Times and joined the Journal in 2006. He's now with the Center for Responsible Lending. "It's true the federal regulators disappeared," Hudson says. "But there were lots of state regulators who were going after this in a big way, lots of people on the ground, lawyers, consumer advocates, scholars, who saw what was happening, and the press didn't give them much attention."
Is it arrogance or laziness that keeps the press from asking the same critical questions that others outside of journalism are?

Bluegrass Republican Volunteers for Justice's Death Watch

So, I'm perusing the Louisville Courier-Journal to see how are northern neighbor is going to spend their bailout funds, and I came across this unrelated nugget from the U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning:
U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges "and that's going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg … has cancer."

"Bad cancer. The kind that you don't get better from," he told a crowd of about 100 at the old State Theater.
Bunning also started a charitable foundation that has paid him $180,000 of the total $504,000 it has raised since 1996. Reportedly, he worked for something like an hour a week. Less than 25% has actually gone to charity.

This guy is a circling shark.

The appearance of hat-in-hand publishing

Atlanta Journal-Constitution publisher rolls out the paper's plans for stripped-down, hard-luck redesign with the hook that this time they're really listening to readers. He even went Buddy Miles; as if the "free" press operates unbeholden to the powers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ford's Usefulness to Steele's Cred

NPR blogger John Ridley maintains that GOP Chair Michael Steele should stop trying so hard to target the urban hip-hop generation and instead should take cues from President Barack Obama and Tennessee son, Harold Ford, Jr.:
Steele's view seems oddly contrary to those people of color who are in fact ascending (or have ascended) in politics. Barack Obama's resonance with the populace was hardly based on any hip-hop cred. The same could be said for Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, and Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman who sought a Senate seat in Tennessee. They campaigned on issues, rather than disguising a dearth of ideas with faux "urban-suburban" hippness.

Yet Steele's entire interview with the Times is laced with an odd argot. His new PR campaign is going to be "off the hook." Steele "don't do 'cutting-edge.' " He does "beyond cutting-edge." His critics can "stuff it" ... ya dig? Rather than a politician with fresh ideas, he sounds more like somebody's uncle trying to be hip while playing some blacktop hoops with 16-year-olds.
Maybe Harold Ford did not try to be tragically hip like Steele is, but during the 2006 campaign, Ford made what appeared to me to be a cynical pander to churches by overreaching at events like "Faith Night at the Polls."

After 8 years of failed voluntary self-regulation, why do they deserve 1 more day?

The Obama Administration is giving the meat industry another chance to adopt stricter package label guidelines on their product before forcing them to reform. I'm trying to understand what makes Tom Vilsack assume that the past decade of soft GOP voluntarism has not been enough of an opportunity.

Parenting an Interracial Family

ZZ Packer has a thought-provoking article in the March 2009 edition of Wondertime magazine based on her experience as an African American mom of an interracial son. Here's an exerpt:
The problem, as I see it, is that people still segregate their minds, even as the neighborhoods and social circles grow more integrated. Whereas I truthfully say that I don't experience overt racism when I go to get my daily nonfat latte here in the San Francisco Bay area, I do experience another level of curiosity and wonderment when I do so with Donovan. Something elemental in people seems to assume that despite the baby's father being one race and the mother another, the baby will always come out looking like the parent standing right in front of them ....

A friend of mine, who is Korean American and engaged to a half-Moroccan, half-Irish British national said, "It's hard to believe he came out of you!" Not so hard to believe if you tried to push all 7 pounds 7 ounces out for hours nonstop, until he arrived a bloody mess, hoisted to your breast before you had time to ask for more ice chips.

Perhaps most interesting is the reaction of black folks. A simple trip to the supermarket with my son in his Baby Bj√∂rn became an invitation for black men to stare.  So, you gave up on the brothers did you? Or black women to touch his straight hair and declare, "It's good hair now, but it'll nap up before you know it" ....

I always thought it strange how many old-line black folks in the South praised kids with light skin and straight hair as "beautiful," only as long as the kid was "black," meaning that neither parent was fully white. No one wants to think about a white parent being in the mix.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rogue Salemtown Association Online Member List Goes Global

When a neighborhood association's last non-Egyptian, non-Dutch online forum update was in September 2007, isn't it time to retool this online thing?



Never mind that the association by-laws stipulate that members must pay dues and either own property or live in Salemtown. It's bad enough there are still active members on this list who haven't paid dues in two years. Apparently, the Netherlands and Egypt are representin' without any requirement whatsoever.

I have nothing against globalism, but I would say it is time for Salemtown Neighbors to lay claim to a new autonomous website under its own control. Kick this one to the curb.


UPDATE:  Okay, I lied. I have a couple of things against globalism.

That must put me somewhere near "neither ... nor"

In the span of 4 days, I have been both accused by a tabloid editor of being a yuppie gentrifier and maligned by an "urban pioneer" for trash-talking yuppie gentrifiers. No worries here.

Factchecking Punky

Sean Braisted matches maintreamer Jeff Woods' anonymous source--on the question of whether Dems with congressional power will assist the state party--with his own contradicting anonymous source.

Let's see. Do I believe a connected-to-the-party blogger or do I believe a journalist in whom I see a demonstrable lack of objectivity and who gets paid to dig dirt and cover his sources? I'm choosing the former.  At the very least, they cancel one another out.

Besides, Sean had previously busted Woods for failing to verify allegations that a mayoral candidate was attempted to cheat "Urban Plunge" during the last campaign.  The fallout included the Scene correcting Woods' allegations. Track records matter.

But you know? The lesson in the latest war of sources is that you don't have to be a professional journalist to channel anonymous sources. And don't hand me "Woodward and Bernstein" as a counterargument.  Woods writes like neither, and the Scene ain't WaPo.



UPDATE: Sean is also holding court over at Kleinheider's place. He's doing an admirable job holding his own against the comments of Jeff Woods, Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, etc.

Thurston Howell, the Third, indeed. That one drew a few laughs here.


UPDATE:  Heh.  More Sean:
I write a story, you guys ask me to confirm with the Congressional office, I confirm with the Congressional office, you guys say, “of course they are going to confirm”.
The trolls are always outguessing all of you tools. They're so much smarter. That's why they're anonymous. We couldn't behold their true identities and live to tell of it.

Mainstream media gets it both ways through the Google News looking glass

I spend a good deal of time doing various searches on Google News and one thing that I have noticed is a blurring of the lines between bona fide mainstream "news results" and the alternative "blog results." Given the mainstream media's penchant for downplaying the impact of blogs on news cycles, that blurring seems a convenience for the MSM and a disadvantage for social media blogs.

Here's an example.  This morning I performed a search on Google News using "Corker." Under the bona fide results blog posts showed up, but only those from MSM blogs, like PiTW, where Jeff Woods calls Bob Corker "a loon" today. No alternative social media showed up, which is fine because my view is that bloggers are not necessarily journalists.  However, when I conducted the blog search for "Corker," not only did mainstream media blogs show up, but conventional news story links outnumbered those of cottage-industry-level bloggers.

This seems rather bizarre and one-sided to me. I'm not expecting bloggers to show up on the news results side.  Hell, I don't even think Woods's "loon" blog post should be hitting on that side. (An aside: in the run-up to January's English Only vote, whenever I did news searches on Eric Crafton, the bona fide side continuously offered up those inane PiTW Photoshops of Eric Crafton as Che, Eric Crafton as Rambo, etc. Why did Google count reporter play time as legitimate news?) But I also do not think that Google is doing bloggers a service by posting mostly mainstream media results on the blog searches. It only allows the mainstream media to continue to assimilate and mute critical blogger culture. Why even bother to distinguish explicitly between bona fide and blogs in Google News when the actual results fail to do so?

Placating Corker

Cornell faculty says if GM sheds upstate New York powertrain assembly jobs "to placate Tennessee's Bob Corker," tens of thousands of other jobs would also be hit.

Between TVA's Christmas spillage and Corker's bailout rampage, red-state Tennessee cannot be getting much love around the country.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More jive than notorious

Yo, yo.  Don't want to be no playa hayta, but going after the urban hip-hop culture ought to go over real well with the theo-con/social-con wing of the GOP.

And I'm sorry, but a 51-year-old dude talking about making a naked play for the culture of younger set just looks awkward.  Ask my eye-rolling teenager.

If Michael Steele were to outreach in the urban vernacular, isn't this how his old school generation would have him roll?

Salemtown, Hope Gardens, & Historic Buena Vista Might Beg to Differ

Village Real Estate spokesman Chad Sain perpetuates a myth of "Urban Oasis" Germantown: that it is the only urban neighborhood not cut off by a major interstate or the Cumberland River. This is a bad medicine show for adjoining neighborhoods inside the loop that are just as "walkable." If Germantown is being pitched as a "true urban neighborhood," what does that make the rest of us?



Maybe he meant, "Germantown is the only urban neighborhood not cut off that really matters." Or maybe the other North End neighborhoods are marketed as nothing more than G-town's I-65 sound buffer.

A Dispatch from Foreclosure Ground Zero on the Bail Out

Scrapping to stay right-side-up.

Under Pressure

Will the Obama Administration cave to pressure from lobbyists to extract executive pay limits from the stimulus bill by issuing a Bushesque signing statement or by delaying a year before releasing the rules? Or will it show some backbone, ignore the industry's "brain-drain" histrionics, and keep pay limits in place as proper discipline for an elite who did their part to bring the malaise?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

District 18 Candidates Embrace Progressive Initiatives

In the last few days I have received news releases from the campaigns of candidates for the empty District 18 Metro Council seat. It is awesome to see potential council members vigorously embracing progressive initiatives, like the movement to kill English Only.

Kristine LaLonde claims one of the leaders of Nashville for All of Us on her campaign committee:
Community activist, professor, and school volunteer Kristine LaLonde officially entered the race as a candidate for District 18 of the Metro Council today. The election commission has validated the signatures of her neighbors and supporters, and her name will appear on the March 26 ballot.

"While this is only the first step," LaLonde said, "it would not have been possible without the support of friends and neighbors throughout District 18, and I thank each and every one of them for helping move this city toward a better education system, a more transparent government, and the progressive leadership our city deserves."

Today, LaLonde also announced her Campaign Steering Committee. Its members include longtime neighborhood activists and key leaders from the larger community ....

The Committee includes neighborhood activists Tom Grooms, Gary Shockley, and Maria Smith; PTO leader Lloyd Hannon; Nashville for All of Us leader Gregg Ramos; and Obama for America Tennessee coordinator Jennifer Buck Wallace ....

Committee members support LaLonde's message of progressive leadership and were drawn to the campaign because of LaLonde's previous work improving our public schools, fighting the English Only initiative, and electing President Barack Obama.

John Ray Clemmons mentions his opposition to English Only to segue into a promise to restore slashed funds to the Adult Literacy Program:
In January, the citizens of Nashville went to the polls and rejected the notorious English Only amendment to the Metro Charter. It was a huge step forward for this community. But now, through bureaucratic bungling and foggy decision-making, Nashville’s only adult literacy program has effectively been eradicated. I actively opposed the English Only Amendment, and I actively oppose this absurd budget cut which strikes a severe blow to the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

I will take whatever actions are necessary to restore this program to full funding.

The Volunteer Literacy Program appears to be a victim of the decision to eliminate Community Education. I understand that half the adults served by this program are native-born Americans who, because they dropped out of school or encountered other challenges in life, need remedial help with literacy. The other half of the people served by the program are immigrants who are making the effort to learn English as a second language.

Judging by the last election, it is safe to say that more than half of Nashville’s electorate does not want to discriminate against Nashvillians who do not speak English as their native language, and less than half of the electorate apparently wants everyone to speak English. Therefore, it logically follows that EVERYONE supports adult literacy in English.

This is a bad decision that must be reversed. It is not clear who decided to cut the pitiable amount of money from Metro’s coffers, approximately $44,000, necessary to keep the program alive. Whoever made this decision failed to recognize the huge returns for our community from such a small investment.

I can tell you this. As the next Metro Councilman from the 18th District, I will lead the effort to restore this contribution to adult literacy in Nashville, and I will fight to restore this program.

Lawyers & Planners Seminar on Signage & Citizen Rights

Given the Craddock/Tygard LED billboard issue coming to a head, this announcement from Scenic Tennessee published on the District 17 e-mail list is timely:
The Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association will present a signage-law seminar on Thursday, February 26, 2009, from 8 a.m. to noon (central time) at the Franklin Marriott at Cool Springs (just off I-65, south of Nashville). See attached files for details about the seminar and related activities. Registration ($75) is through the TMAA website, www.tmaa.us

The primary panelist is Bill Brinton, a nationally known attorney from Jacksonville, Fla., and one of the country's foremost authorities on signage issues, especially with regard to public rights and citizen involvement. 

Readers of Scenic Tennessee's Viewpointsmay recall hearing about Mr. Brinton's efforts in 2006 to stop a Florida outdoor advertiser from removing dozens of crape myrtles, palm trees and other plantings along Highway 192 in Osceola County. The company charged that the vegetation, much of it planted with taxpayer dollars, violated Florida's 500-foot "viewing zone" around their billboards. The public outcry was deafening, and most of the trees were spared. You can read about it at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2436/t/3413/

This is a rare opportunity for sign-control advocates to hear stories like this while also gaining solid information on ordinances, trends in the billboard industry, defense of constitutional challenges and so on.   

If you have questions, please contact Dennis Huffer, TMAA executive director, at HufferD@tennessee.edu.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

That recurring Crafton pattern comes back around again

This has been done before.

After Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed Eric Crafton's English Only bill in 2007 and Crafton vowed to entertain a public referendum, he went on a string of introductions of non-binding memorializing resolutions in Metro Council asking various parties to do various things. That was before 2008 brought him the opportunity and the Metro tax dollars to take English Only to the voters. Now that English Only has received the ultimate veto from the voters, it looks like CM Crafton is back to introducing memorializing resolutions.

MRs serve a constructive purpose except when one goes back to that well too many times and appears to be grandstanding rather than authoring significant ordinances, bills, and binding resolutions. Why am I so cynical to see tonight's Crafton MR as grandstanding? Because not only did CM Crafton a little over two years ago attempt to limit the number of MRs that could be introduced by requesting an unsuccessful rules change, but he responded to an English First MR offered as a non-binding, broadly-supported alternative to English Only by arguing that the MR would not do anything. Au contraire. If nothing else, MRs keep a CM's name in the public eye: witness today's City Paper coverage. Then again, the City Paper had its own problems in 2007 grasping the difference between the English Only resolution and the English-affirming MR.

Time will tell whether we will see even more MRs from CM Crafton leading to whatever his next big thing is. But I would bet on us seeing more.

First Southern Neighborhood to Receive LEED Certification is in Nashville

Christian Grantham passes on news that the Gulch sets the environmental standard for neighborhoods in the south.

If a 15-foot sign, then why not a bright, flashing, animated 15-foot sign that stays on all night?

There are no existing codes on LED signs. Metro Planning Director attested to that himself in a meeting last year on the LED issue.

There are no existing codes on LED signs. That explains why a big flashing billboard can occupy a driver's field of vision on West End near Ted's Montana Grill and why a humongous Vegas-style streaming LED billboard can blind northbound traffic at the I-65/I-40 on the southwest corner of Downtown (although, these signs could also already be illegal).

There are no existing codes for LED signs. Any LED billboard, large or small is capable of static or animated, monochrome or multi-colored displays.

There are no existing codes for LED signs. And there are none in Michael Craddock's bill to permit Goodpasture Christian School its own commercialized LED billboard, which means that upon approval the school may display whatever it wants, whenever it wants, as brightly as it wants even though to do so may violate existing municipal laws.

Viva, Las Madison.

With the current depression, political scientists have their revenge

Contraction has finally trickled up to the private and academic markets for economists, and no one is hiring them.  But let's face it.  How many "shovel ready" projects are there out there in crises for garden-variety apologists of banal inequities posing as game theorists?

Deep Thought

I've got a 10 sq. ft. sliver of my front yard that I could try to zone commercially just in case tall, vertical, amber LED signs that display house addresses ever become vogue.

Republicans Voted against Rebuilding Military Infrastructure, Too

Jason Sigger points out that in voting against the Obama stimulus bill, the GOP voting bloc also voted against DoD needs to construct and renovate military base infrastructure:
Now the defense cut of the pie is only about 1.5%, but it's all "shovel-ready" projects. It's all well-spent, if it goes to building new facilities or repairing current facilities on military bases. Base operating funds have been raped over the last five years or so in order to push money into Middle East combat operations. Nothing for the major defense acquisition programs, how sad. But why would the Republicans vote against funding these important defense projects? Why? I just don't understand. It's as if the Repubs would rather be blatent obstructionists against rebuilding the crumbling defense infrastructure instead of being bipartisan members of Congress, interested in helping America get back on its feet.
Look, if it ain't as sexy as the blood and guts posture that sends our fighting men and women into some Middle East buzzsaw, then the Republicans will not assume it. Renovating a base day care for military families ain't sexy, but it is solid.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Michael Craddock Appears to Be Spot Zoning for an LED Billboard at Goodpasture Christian School

Some Enclave commenters bring up a bill that CM Michael Craddock is sponsoring to rezone a .05 acre sliver of Goodpasture Christian School property as a thinly veiled attempt to "spot zone" for a 15-foot LED billboard for the private school. One of the arguments that Charlie Tygard and other LED proponents have made against specific rezoning for the Bellevue Southern Baptist church that prompted him to introduce a one-size-fits-all sign ordinance is that spot zoning is inappropriate. Now Craddock, who tends to support Tygard, is relying on the same notion of spot zoning that LED ordinance proponents reject in other cases.

Here is one commenter's dispatch from last Thursday night's Planning Commission Meeting discussion of the religious school's billboard request beginning with the person of Jim Gotto, who is the Council representative on the Planning Commission:
Someone from Hermitage needs to ask their Councilman Jim Gotto what in the world he thinking Thursday night at the Metro Planning Commission meeting.

Goodpasture Christian School came before the MPC asking to rezone a small sliver of their property CS in order to get an electronic LED sign on their property. Councilman Michael Craddock [Goodpasture's council rep.] came and spoke in favor.

Councilman Gotto, who serves on the MPC, made a motion to deny the CS zoning but instead give them SP zoning on this tiny part of their property for an LED sign.

Commissioner Andree LeQuire had strong concerns stating that the MPC needed to let the LED sign task force make their recommendation before ruling on such a sign. Commissioner Stewart Clifton, who also serves on the task force, stated that the task force had one more meeting and a recommendation would be made. He reminded the commissioners that there were signs all over town that were illegal now that no one was policing.

Gotto tried to tell the group that the task force might take a year to 18 months. Gotto's motion was amended by Commissioner Phil Ponder to allow the sign to be 110% of what it is now and be LED. Goodpasture is one step closer to getting an LED sign that is 15 foot tall with no restrictions. Even if there is a change in LED law, will they be grandfathered in?

The vote was 6-2 in favor. I am sorry commissioners, isn't this spot zoning? Where was Mr. Bernhardt? He always speaks up reminding the commissioners that SP is not for spot zoning. Has he been gagged by his budget cuts? Has he chosen to be quiet in order to try and get the council to put more money back in his budget? He did mention that at the end of the meeting.

If the whole LED sign bill was to get the Bellevue Church a sign, why didn't they just use spot zoning? That too was a scam to get Bobby Joslin the law changed to pad his pockets with cash.

The whole thing tonight looked like a setup. Why do citizens waste their time on a task force when people like Gotto, Craddock and their buddy Charlie Tygard do whatever they damn well please?

The good ole boys have worked their magic on this one. Now everybody and their brother will be at the Planning Commission asking for spot zoning to get them an LED sign, even if they are illegal.

The best part, Gotto suggested that Craddock sponsor the SP so that Goodpasture doesn't have to pay the $6000 SP fee. I thought the city was broke? Why are we giving away $6000 that would go to the city while we break the law Mr. Gotto?

It seems ludicrous enough that Craddock was seeking commercial zoning on a 2,000 ft sq. plot just large enough for a billboard. Churches don't have to pay taxes, and Gotto is trying to loophole a charitable, church-based school so they have no financial obligation to the community on whom they are imposing whatsoever. If they're going to get government handouts, then they should have to pay taxes on their assets.

But I digress. As another Enclave commenter pointed out, the Metro Planning Department strongly recommended against any spot zoning change for Goodpasture's billboard in no uncertain terms:
"The applicant has stated that the purpose of of the zoning request is to allow an electronic sign, which is not allowed in the OR20 district. It is inappropriate to rezone property to a zoning district that is not consistent with policy, or the surrounding zoning to allow a use that is prohibited in the existing zoning district. It sets a bad precedent, and is not consistent with the community planning process, which has identified this area as non-commercial. It would be more appropriate to look at the sign ordinance and make any necessary changes."

It is increasingly clear to me that LED proponents are going to use any argument that benefits their business patrons and parochial organizations regardless of the interests of neighborhoods. They'll reject spot zoning when it doesn't serve them. When they want to leverage imbalanced and inconsistent growth, they'll spot zone. And you know what? Charlie Tygard's LED ordinance will not do a thing to stop spot zoning whenever a council member wants to force an LED billboard on a community. The whole argument for a law that creates exceptions for LEDs in certain conditions is a sham. I believe it is a bait and switch designed not to restrict LEDs but to provide one more mechanism in league with spot zoning to erect more LEDs with less resistance in residential areas.

The Texts: the LED Task Force Bill vs. the Original Deferred LED Bill

The two proposals to allow light emitting diode billboards in neighborhoods are quoted verbatim below. I don't see many substantive differences, and I am left to wonder whether Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors simply appointed the Task Force as an empty formality to rubber stamp the basic framework of Charlie Tygard's original bill. Amber colors and monument-style signs do not count as substantive.

The draft of the current LED Task Force bill:

WHEREAS, Ordinance No. BL2008-152 (as amended), which was deferred indefinitely by the Council in March 2008, would allow LED message boards in residential zoning districts for schools, churches, recreation centers and cultural centers on collector and arterial streets; and


WHEREAS, as a result of the discussion surrounding Ordinance No. BL2008-152, the Council adopted Resolution No. RS2008-319 requesting the Vice Mayor to appoint a task force to study Metro’s existing sign ordinance; and


WHEREAS, in response to the Council’s request, the Vice Mayor appointed the Sign Ordinance Task Force, which has met for several months to discuss revisions to the sign ordinance; and


WHEREAS, the Sign Ordinance Task Force has submitted its recommendations to the Metropolitan Council; and


WHEREAS, the Council now desires to implement certain recommendations of the Sign Ordinance Task Force as it relates to electronic display signs in residential areas.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:


Section 1. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.04.060 by adding the following definition as a subcategory under the definition of “Sign”:


Electronic display sign” means an on-premises sign, or portion thereof, that displays electronic, static images, static graphics or static pictures, with or without textual information. Such a sign has the capability of being changed or altered by electronic means on a fixed display screen composed of a series of lights including light emitting diodes (LED’s), fiber optics, lights bulbs, or other illumination devices within the display area where the message is displayed. Each message displayed shall remain static for a minimum of eight seconds, and the change sequence shall be accomplished instantaneously. Electronic display signs include computer programmable, microprocessor controlled electronic or digital displays. Electronic display signs shall not include animated images or graphics, audio components, scrolling messages, or video moving images similar to television images, provided that signs with video moving images shall be permitted within the commercial attraction (CA) zoning district.


Section 2. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.08.030, District Land Use Tables, by adding the use “electronic display sign” as a special exception (SE) use in the AG, AR2a, R, RS, RM, MUN, MUL, MUG, MUI, ON, OL, OG, ORI, OR20, OR40, CN, CL, SCC and SCN districts, and as a permitted (P) use in the CA, CS, CF, CC, SCR, IWD, IR and IG districts.


Section 3. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.16.230 by adding the following as subsection A.:


A. Electronic display signs.

  1. The board of zoning appeals shall only grant a special exception use permit for an electronic display sign that is either replacing an existing sign on the property or is the first sign to be installed for a newly constructed building. No more than one electronic sign shall be permitted on a given lot for each street frontage.

  2. Eligibility for electronic display sign. For property located within the AG, AR2a, R, RM and RS districts, community education facilities, cultural centers, recreation centers, and religious institutions are eligible to be considered by the board of zoning appeals for the installation of an electronic display sign, provided the following requirements of this subsection are satisfied. For property located within the MUN, MUL, MUG, MUI, ON, OL, OG, ORI, OR20, OR40, CN, CL, SCC and SCN districts, all nonresidential uses permitted in such districts are eligible to be considered by the board of zoning appeals for the installation of an electronic display sign, provided the following requirements of this subsection are satisfied.

  3. Spacing. Electronic display signs shall be spaced a minimum of 500 feet from any other electronic display sign and shall be setback at least 250 feet from an existing residence.

  4. Duration. All portions of the message must have a minimum duration of eight seconds and must be a static display. There shall be no appearance of a visual dissolve or fading, in which any part of one message, image or display appears simultaneously with any part of a second message, image or display. Further, there shall be no appearance of flashing or sudden bursts of light, and no appearance of video motion, animation, movement, or flow of the message, image or display.

  5. Color. All portions of the message must use an amber color.

  6. Intensity and contrast. The intensity and contrast of light levels shall remain constant throughout the sign face. Each electronic display sign shall shut off between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and shall use automatic day/night dimming software to reduce the illumination intensity of the sign to 500 nits from dusk until 10:00 p.m. The sign shall not exceed 5,000 nits during daytime hours.

  7. Sign size, design and setback.

    1. Electronic display signs shall have a maximum electronic display surface area of thirty-two square feet and shall be integrated into a brick, stone or wood monument-style sign.

    2. The minimum street setback shall be fifteen feet and the electronic display sign shall not encroach upon the required side setbacks of the base zoning district.

    3. The maximum height of the sign shall be eight feet. The overall size of the sign structure in residential districts shall conform to the size limitations applicable to the ON district pursuant to chapter 17.32 of the metropolitan code. The overall sign structure for all other districts shall be based upon the sign standards for the base zoning district as provided in chapter 17.32 of the metropolitan code.”


Section 4. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.32.050 by adding the phrase “unless a special exception use permit has been granted by the metropolitan board of zoning appeals for such sign as an electronic display sign” at the end of subsection H.2.


Section 5. That this Ordinance shall take effect five (5) days from and after its passage and such change be published in a newspaper of general circulation, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.



The bill that Charlie Tygard and others submitted a year ago in the face of public outcry as amended last March (with links to commentary on related events):

WHEREAS, the sign provisions of the Zoning Code, Chapter 17.32 of the Metropolitan Code, have remained basically unchanged since adoption in 1992; and

WHEREAS, technology in the sign industry has evolved in the last 15 years as to electronics; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee General Assembly adopted legislation permitting changeable message signs with digital displays on April 19, 2007; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with guidance from the Federal Highway Administration, has adopted regulations for the use of digital displays on billboards in Tennessee; and

WHEREAS, businesses in Metro are asking to use LED message boards in certain areas where they are now prohibited; and

WHEREAS, certain community facilities such as schools, churches, YMCA facilities, etc., are also seeking permission for LED message boards; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate that the Metropolitan Code provision pertaining to digital and LED signs be updated to reflect the technological advancements in the sign industry.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.32.050 by deleting subsection G. in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following new subsection G.:

“G. Signs with any copy, graphics, or digital displays that change messages by electronic or mechanical means, where the copy, graphics, or digital display does not remain fixed, static, motionless, and nonflashing for a period of eight (8) seconds with a change time of less than two (2) seconds. Digital display billboards less than two thousand (2,000) feet apart are also prohibited.”

Section 2. That the codification of Title 17 of the Code of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Zoning Regulations, be and the same is hereby amended by amending Section 17.32.050 by deleting subsection H. in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following new subsections H.1. and H.2.:

“H.1. Video, continuous scrolling messages, and animation signs, except in the commercial attraction (CA) district.
2. LED message boards in residential zone districts except
on collector or arterial streets.”

Section 3. That this Ordinance shall take effect five (5) days from and after its passage and such change be published in a newspaper of general circulation, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Charlie Tygard, Buddy Baker, Parker Toler, Jim Hodge

Amendment No. 1
To
Ordinance No. BL2008-152

Madam President:

I move to amend Ordinance No. BL2008-152 as follows:
1. By amending Section 1 by deleting the last sentence of the new subsection G., and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

“Digital display billboards less than two thousand (2,000) feet apart, and digital billboards that are not in compliance with the provisions of section 17.32.150, are also prohibited.”

2. By amending Section 2 by deleting subsection H.2., and substituting in lieu thereof the following new subsection H.2.:

“2. LED message boards in residential zoning districts. Notwithstanding the foregoing, LED message boards shall be allowed for community education facilities, cultural centers, recreation centers, and religious institutions located on collector or arterial streets in residential zoning districts."

Sponsored by: Charlie Tygard

12South Leader Encourages Citizens to Demand Dissolution of the Council's LED Task Force

With the prospect of Charlie Tygard's LED sign bill coming out of the LED Task Force and back on to the floor of Metro Council, Treasurer of the 12South Neighborhood Association Ken Winter pens an editorial for the District 17 e-mail list describing problems that mar the committee's legitimacy:
In response to the Council’s request, the Vice Mayor appointed the Sign Ordinance Task Force, which has met for several months to discuss revisions to the Sign Ordinance.

The membership of the committee did not reflect a balanced and potentially fruitful collaboration between, on the one hand, legitimate business and public users of signs and, on the other, authentic representatives of beautification and safety interests.

The Vice Mayor’s appointees included instead, as co-chair and members respectively, an attorney in the employ of a national sign purveyor and other known spokespersons of the sign industry.

The sign industries and representatives had a clear and substantial financial interest in the outcome of the committee’s deliberations.

The committee, influenced primarily by sign company representatives, restricted its deliberations to the single issue of static LED signs.

The Committee did not substantively discuss or investigate the successes many communities across the nation have had in controlling obtrusive and other deleterious signage while promoting an innovative, productive and contextual advertising.
Winter also argues that a new more representative task force should take the place of this one.

The most disappointing aspect of this task force is that no progress past Charlie Tygard's industry-friendly solutions has been made. My own hopes that the presence of progressive Council Member Megan Barry might afford some balance have been dashed, because from what I have seen so far, the formulations have excluded the voices of LED opponents. I agree with Ken that this LED Task Force has too many vested financial interests and it is an abject failure in coming to a broad consensus that reflects the interests of the whole Nashville community. I am not sure that we can afford to wait for help from many council members. If Megan Barry (at-Large) could not make a difference, then what member will?

Are U.S. bankers wusses?

According to TPM:
A British politician is now calling for bonuses at bailed-out banks to be limited to £2,000, the amount typically received by low-level bank tellers.

At current exchange rates this is equal to $2,854.30 -- less than 1% of the cap that Claire McCaskill has advocated over here, and for which she's been either praised or reviled as a populist lefty.
It seems like every time someone suggests exacting a fraction of the pain common Americans experience on the bankers who got us into this mess, industry defenders scream foul and attack reformers as left-wing extremists. I'd like to test just how Anglophile some Americans are by taking the same kind of scalpel to our banks that Britain is taking to theirs. Let's see just how tough otherwise protected and pampered bankers can be.

Typing can be risky business. Ask Max.

He may be overlooking the idea that a type is supposed to be purely a fiction and has no reality in itself.

Weaker Prospect of Endowed Watchdog Newspapers Results from a Lack of Will

DMIblogger Karin Dryhurst points out that newspaper owners won't consider making their publications non-profit not because the endowment model has been tried and failed, but because they continue to reach for different business models in the for-profit world.

A local case of reaching:  the Nashville Scene, which continues to abdicate any pretense of being a watchdog in order to compete in the social media market. So, now the reporters are blogging more (while they taunt bloggers for blogging), and now staffers are getting paid to play with Photoshop (nice work if you can get it). We'll see if it all amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Here is an independent non-profit that serves the San Diego community. An LA Times columnist writes that the Voice of San Diego is on the cutting edge of the new newsroom:
A local news site can flourish on charitable donations. It helps to have one big benefactor to get things started. It makes more sense to cover a few topics well, rather than a lot poorly.
It seems to me that the idea of an endowed, independent media is an underestimated niche, given the growth of possible foundation money that could occur in the future.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Is the appearance of a Bush-lite banking plan actually an unstated test for partial bank nationalization?

Bush Broke It, We Just Keep Buying It

The cost of the Iraq War just keeps growing and growing with the VA's proposed GI Bill:
Under the new GI Bill, which goes into effect in August, eligible veterans can get their tuition covered up to the cost at the most expensive public college in the state, based on undergraduate resident tuition and fees, in addition to receiving housing and book stipends. The estimated price-tag for the legislation is high: $28.1 billion over the first five years and $78.1 billion through 2018. But some worry whether the cost will rise even higher if the preliminary rates published online by the VA stand ....

“Essentially, what it looks like they’ve done is they’ve taken the highest charge per credit hour of a particular institution and then they found the highest fee amount at an institution, but they could be two completely different institutions. And then you put those together to come up with the amount that a student would be eligible for under the new GI Bill in that particular state,”
While the maximum charge per credit hour in Tennessee is no where close to the highest (Texas), Tennessee blows away the rest of the states in maximum total fees per term at a whopping $15,130 (an undergrad flight training program at MTSU is the culprit for that number).

I wonder if the Bushies support our troops strongly enough to demand that the next couple of generations of Americans pay these bills.