Sunday, June 06, 2010

CM Gilmore compares local Greyhound relocation critics to indecorous heckler, blames MDHA, MCCC for lack of transparency

In a Friday opinion column in the Tennessean, CM Erica Gilmore responded to those constituents who have been critical of the Greyhound bus terminal relocation and the seeming lack of transparency in zoning approval and in the lease signed with the Convention Center Authority. The first thing that leaps out at me about her self-defense is her comparison of the more expressive of her own constituents to Republican U.S. Congress member Joe "You Lie" Wilson:
“You lie” are the words that rang out in our nation’s capital this year as a member of the House of Representatives heckled the president during his address to Congress. Epithets were spit on several of our representatives and senators during the passing of the health-care reform bill. Need less to say, distrust is at an all-time high while civility is at an all-time low.

So in an environment where everyone is looking for someone to blame, about two weeks ago I received a barrage of calls and e-mails sharing every type of sentiment under the sun about the relocation of the Greyhound bus terminal.
CM Gilmore starts off with patent exaggerations about the blow back Metro is getting over this relocation. Everyone is not looking for someone to blame. Overgeneralizing about legitimate concerns, questions, and comments Ms. Gilmore should listen to as an elected official will not satisfy people who feel excluded from power moves affecting their community.

Ms. Gilmore herself has sent mixed messages to alarmed constituents on what she knew when. In a May 22 letter, Ms. Gilmore told neighbors that while there was some confusing back-and-forth over whether Greyhound was going to move to Charlotte and 11th, she did have prior knowledge. That letter seemed to be written with a air of reassurance rather than defensiveness.

However, in Friday's column she refers to her prior knowledge as based on something more fleeting and cursory, a "mention in passing." Results that were a "little unclear" to Ms. Gilmore on May 22 became "shocking" the day-before yesterday, and the opinion piece seems self-defensive. In spite of her own indictments of relocation critics as blamers, she herself points the finger of blame for the artful, finessed decision at other parties: "MDHA, Music City Center Coalition [Authority?], and Greyhound."

But Erica Gilmore was not delivering the State of the Union as the American President when she drew community ire for not doing more, and relocation critics are not indecorous hecklers like Joe Wilson shouting in public that she is a liar. As an elected official she should be held accountable when Metro seals deals in her district, under her watch. And she should not try to confuse public accountability with coarse incivility. Her opinion piece is ironically disparaging toward constituents at this point.

Finally, she falsely insists that the only challenge with Greyhound is whether they keep their word that the lease is only temporary. There are a host of challenges beyond that, but let us assume for a second that every challenge with relocating to Charlotte and 11th is met and dealt with satisfactorily. There still remains one more test to pass: if they used the Downtown Code once to relocate temporarily, will they use it again to relocate permanently, perhaps farther north on Jefferson Street, closer to neighborhoods like Germantown and Salemtown? CM Gilmore has a long way to go to convince us that she is on top of affairs like this surely and critically enough to appreciate the risks to our neighborhoods.

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