Friday, November 12, 2010

Not exactly Father Christmas

One group of Nashvillians concerned about Mayor Karl Dean's plan to move fairgrounds events to Antioch's Hickory Hollow Mall is the Nashville chapter of the Pi Phi alumnae, who have organized and sponsored Christmas Village as a charitable event for half of a century. Their proceeds go to fund a number of Vanderbilt's medical services and programs of a Gatlinburg arts and crafts school.

I obtained an e-mail sent from leaders of Christmas Village to parties affected by the Mayor's proposal. That correspondence discloses that these leaders met with the Mayor in August to iterate to him that they were not a part of the preservationists with "Save the Fairgrounds," but that they were concerned about the effects of moving Christmas Village to Hickory Hollow. The e-mail describes Mayor Dean as starting "very angry" after hearing that the alumnae group was going to "wage a war in the media" if he did not meet their expectations.

The e-mail says that the leaders tried to assure the Mayor that the unnamed council member who lead him to expect a war was wrong, but that their membership was merely "very concerned about the future of the Christmas Village." They also communicated that perpetuation of their charitable cooperation required solutions "very soon." The leaders asked the Mayor to keep the Fairgrounds Expo operating until an alternative site could be developed.

Reportedly, Mayor Dean refused to discuss any other shows beyond Christmas Village with them, and he suggested that the Pi Phi alums "relax" and wait until September for more answers. On the one hand, while Mayor Dean refused to make them promises, the leaders wrote that they got the impression that he was working on a solution. On the other hand, they disclosed that they believed that Karl Dean could "suspend all efforts if he is angry about tension with council."

I must ask at this point: wouldn't it be wrong for any Mayor to throw a wrench into the plans of everyone connected with the Fairground Expo--including a charity that raises a lot of money to help people--simply out of what seems to be petty anger and retaliation? Don't we expect more from a Mayor than suspending all fairgrounds efforts for any reason short of it being in the best interest of Nashville/Davidson County as a whole to do so? Why should long-standing organizations be forced to tiptoe around the Mayor for fear of pissing him off? I know Nashville's Mayor operates as a CEO might, but the reports from this meeting do not exactly make Hizzoner sound like a benevolent dictator.

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