Friday, July 30, 2010

Teen suspect in recent Salemtown shooting apprehended

From the Metro Police, via the Salemtown Neighbors e-list:

July 30, 2010


Central Precinct detectives late last night arrested 14-year-old Donquise Alexander on a charge of criminal homicide for the July 8th fatal shooting of 14-year-old Vincent Lewis outside an apartment building at 1611 6th Avenue North.

Three weeks of continuous investigation by Detective Robert Anderson and his colleagues, which included numerous interviews, led to the identification of Alexander as the suspected gunman. Upon learning of last evening’s issuance of a Juvenile Court arrest order, Alexander’s mother surrendered her son to detectives at 11 p.m.

The investigation into the homicide is continuing. Robbery may have been a motive.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Senator Henry has paid campaign "volunteers"?

I noticed Douglas Henry campaign supporters distracting traffic at Hillsboro Village this morning. A few minutes ago Mike Peden e-mailed me a dispatch from further south on a similar group and some troubling background:
Senator Henry has had people at the intersection of Thompson Lane and Nolensville Rd all week, wearing blue t-shirts and waving at people with signs.

I stopped and spoke with one of them this morning. They are working through a temp service and being paid by the hour. The man I spoke with didn’t know who Mr. Henry is or what he is running for.

It seems pretty pathetic to have to pay pretend supporters ....

In these times of high unemployment, I would not begrudge people for getting paid where they can, but Senator Henry passing off relatively low-paid employees (who probably don't get benefits) as enthusiastic campaign volunteers does seem pathetic.

Monday, July 26, 2010

EPA has "no serious concerns" about petro-chemicals leaked into flood water in May

During the catastrophic floods last May I documented oil and chemicals leaked into rising flood waters in East Germantown and at Morgan Park here at Enclave and I've expressed my concerns about what I saw. EPA's latest findings seem to suggest that I shouldn't have worried so much:

it’s impossible to know how much leaked into flood water, but soil and water testing has raised no serious concerns for the EPA.

When the Cumberland River rose well above its banks, riverside industrial buildings were some of the first to go under. On Nester Street near Nashville’s MTA headquarters, first responders helped pump 25,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water out of a drainage system. Otherwise, Spurlin says the spills were minor.

“We didn’t see large releases. It essentially was either potential releases from the containers that had not spilled or minor releases of chemicals or oils that could be readily addressed without causing any long term issues.”

That being said, keep in mind that EPA estimates of dumped toxins have been contested by reputable sources in the past.

Suit: MetroCenter exec ordered employee to defy flood evacuation

Thomas Wood on a pending lawsuit in Davidson County Circuit Court:
With flood waters threatening to overwhelm the levee that protects the MetroCenter commercial district from the Cumberland River, police were ordering a complete evacuation of the 800-acre development. But on his cell phone, the president of the company Jones worked for was telling him to instruct employees to evade the cops and get to work.

Jones says he did as the cops told him to do — and that his boss responded by summarily dismissing him from his production supervisor position at Shared Hospital Services Corp.

The president of SHSC is not named in the lawsuit Jones filed against the hospital laundry service July 21 in Davidson County Circuit Court, but documents in a prior lawsuit identify him as George W. Wade, the name currently listed with the Tennessee Register of Deeds as registered agent of the company.

The legal complaint says Jones let the president know that Metro Police safety cones were blocking off access to SHSC’s Mainstream Drive facility. The boss nevertheless told Jones “to inform all employees to come to work” and to get around the traffic cones by driving through the Comcast parking lot across the street and then turning in behind the barriers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FBI raid on former Metro Council Member Pam Murray's house? [Correct: Secret Service raided Murray's home]

Last night District 5 CM J.R. Hollin tweeted that federal agents descended on the 800 block of Stockell in East Nashville. This morning I received a forwarded e-mail from a neighbor saying that "stuff, people, and cars" were confiscated from former District 5 CM Pam Murray's house by the FBI last night. Pam Murray lives at 802 Stockell. Any other information out there on what's going on with Ms. Murray?

UPDATE: East Nashville resident, Justin comments below:

I live around the corner on 800 block of N 2nd.

In the last two weeks, Metro PD prescence has gone crazy. Round the clock patrols, harassing anyone on the street, my neighbor (who helped Hollin get elected) was mowing my lawn and the police told him he had no business being there. Its been like a mini police state. Pam's been cruising the street ever since this has been going on, and has been behind at least some of the complaint calls to Metro. When my previously mentioned neighbors house was raided by SWAT, finding a really dangerous small bag of pot, Murray was outside watching.

UPDATE: The Tennessean has the story:
Agents were at the Stockell Street home Thursday evening, "Retrieving some items related to our investigation," said Keith Perrigan, assistant special agent in charge for the Secret Service's Nashville field office. Perrigan declined to detail the nature of the probe but said nobody had been arrested Friday.

Murray said the agents were investigating her son, who was on probation for a credit card fraud conviction out of Oklahoma. "I really think it's where my son violated his probation," she said. "His probation officer came there." Her son, Patrick Merriweather, 22, was convicted last year after he and two other men were caught in Sequoyah County, Okla., trying to use a stolen credit card at a country store. Investigators later found cash, a laptop computer, several credit cards and a credit card encoding machine in his car.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Terminal pain: CM Erica Gilmore still catching heat for her handling of community concerns about Greyhound

Downtown CM Erica Gilmore is still facing tough times with constituents over the Greyhound terminal relocation due to Music City Center construction. Local response to a recent Tennessean interview on the relocation to 11th and Charlotte generated more expression of frustration from nearby Hope Gardens.

Here is an interview excerpt:
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore said it was her understanding that Greyound [sic] would not move to its temporary location at 11th and Charlotte until a future permanent site was selected ...

“I heard they were moving into a temporary station soon, which I guess would mean they found a permanent location,” Gilmore said. “I think they did a good job of keeping their word. It’s a relief.”
A Hope Gardens leader who was involved in organizing the original community meeting with Greyhound and the Convention Center Authority, which was not organized or attended by CM Gilmore, copied me on a response that he had to her interview:
How can you simply assume, or in your words “guess” that Greyhound has secured a permanent location? Have you called Greyhound, MDHA, the Mayor’s Office, or the MCC to ensure that they have kept their assurances to our communities? Quite, in fact, Greyhound told us that there would be a public announcement of their permanent location before they moved to the temporary one. NO PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE!

Once again, I think the future of our neighborhood is too important to leave up to your “guesswork”. You may be “relieved”, but I assure you that many of your constituents are still deeply concerned. Any first hand information that you might be able to share with us in the coming days would be greatly appreciated.
Likewise, when CM Gilmore replied via e-mail to the neighborhood leader, I was CC'ed again:
Always feel free to discus [sic] any of the issues or concerns you have anytime. As it relates to Greyhound, I will forward on the information so that they can provide you with the information as it relates to the announcement.
CM Gilmore's hands-off approach to zoning issues and Metro power moves does not seem to be working with those leading constituents most affected.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CM Buddy Baker has to break out of his huddle with the lawyers tonight to pass an unpopular alley abandonment

A little later this evening Metro Council Member Buddy Baker will bring his controversial motion to abandon an alley as requested by one of his campaign donors who has also drawn up plans to industrialize residential properties by rezoning them. Many in the community believe that the abandonment is the gateway to rezoning, so they are organizing to show up in numbers tonight even though they will not be given the chance to address the council in a public hearing.

It's basically David and Goliath: The Nations neighborhood against Baker and the lobbyist lawyers who helped him take on opponents during a community meeting this week. Expect CM Baker to be as dismissive of his constituents as he was in this exchange during Saturday's meeting:
Constituent #1: Lots of neighbors are now doing neighborhood watch, dumping watch. They are pulling together as a neighborhood association and group to keep the community safe and clean.

CM Baker: I'm glad they're finally doing it!

Constituent #2: Do you know that there is an order in to get Metro Public Works to put a camera in this alley should dumping continue? And the dumping sign that's on the tree at the end of the alley which appeared this week is due to the community contacting Metro Public Works to get it done?

CM Baker: Well, 'bout time y'all done something!


Constituent #2: Why did you not consider these options instead of driving around and acting like there is nothing to be done but, "Oh, let's abandon this alley and give him the land?"

Constituent #3: I been picking up dump here for ... years.
It seems to me that CM Baker is so lead around by donors and lawyers that he feels emboldened not to work with voters in his district who disagree with him come to a win-win solution for both sides on alley maintenance and community planning.

UPDATE: According to the 43rd Avenue Rezoning Twitter feed, the Neighborhoods Defense Fund and the Historic Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association have publicly come out in opposition to alley abandonment.

UPDATE: Opposition leader Rick Bradley reported tonight on the Nashville Neighborhoods e-list that CM Baker told NewsChannel5 that he deferred abandonment at the council meeting because he did not have the votes for approval. Baker's indefinite deferral allows the bill to be put on the agenda again without much warning.

UPDATE: Buddy Baker told NewsChannel5 that he believes he had the votes to pass abandonment but it would have been close.

UPDATE: NewsChannel5's video:

It's still the economy, stupid

There continues to be 2 disparate Americas in the national consciousness according to Pew. President Obama's rather weak economic solutions have not curbed popular frustrations with a big government that protects big business first:
The public sees clear winners and losers from the economic policies the government has implemented since the recession of 2008. Most Americans say these policies have helped large banks, large corporations and the wealthy, while providing little or no help for the poor, the middle class or small businesses.

Fully 74% say that government policies over the past two years have done a great deal (53%) or a fair amount (21%) to help large banks and financial institutions. Majorities also say that large corporations (70% great deal/fair amount) and wealthy people (57% great deal/fair amount) have been helped.

By contrast, 68% say government policies have helped small businesses not at all (29%) or not too much (39%); 68% also say middle-class people have received little or no help from these policies. And about the same percentage (64%) says poor people have not been helped.
I believe Americans expected better from Democrats in charge in Washington. The latter have failed to sustain any pretense of champions of common folk.

Monday, July 19, 2010

BREAKING: Owner of "nuisance house" in Hope Gardens dies

Hope Gardens leader Alan Huffman sends news that the owner of 1010 11th Av N has died. The house the deceased owned has been a chronic center of illegal activities to the point that the Hope Gardens neighborhood association felt compelled to work with police to gather signatures for a "nuisance petition" allowed under state law to end criminal centers in communities.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Metro Council Member Buddy Baker supported and when he supported it

Via Mike Peden, a February Planning e-mail that indicates CM Buddy Baker understood an alley abandonment issue and rezoning request to be more directly connected than he claims to now:

At his community meeting on Saturday, CM Buddy Baker denied the connection between alley abandonment and rezoning. The 43rdrezoning website has video. Here's an excerpt of CM Baker's comments that contradict Metro Planning's construal of his support for rezoning:
A lot of y'all think this is a zone change. This is not a zone change. I have nothing to do with a zone change.

If it is rezoned it'd be Mr. Hunter. That would not be me .... I did not know anything about the zone change until Wednesday or the Thursday before we went to the Planning Commission. If Mr. Hunter wants a zone change that is up to Mr. Hunter. That's not up to me.
I find CM Baker's appeal to ignorance disingenuous. I've observed the planning and zoning process for some years, and I believe that council members do not bring rezoning requests forward in the face of public opposition unless they support them themselves. Rezoning does not go forward on Mr. Hunter's initiative alone. It requires CM action. And if CM Baker did find out about it last minute, why didn't he put the brakes on and plan community meetings?

Almost on cue after CM Baker mentioned Mr. Hunter, the attorney for Mr. Hunter, former Chamber of Commerce lobbyist, and Board of Zoning Appeals member, David Ewing, interrupted and took the heat of community questions off CM Baker. He insisted in spite of his client's wishes to rezone industrial that the motive behind the alley closure was to clean up the alley because "Metro is not doing that well."

There was a time in Salemtown when we were having trouble with Public Works not maintaining our alleys well. Abandonment never even entered the picture. We just assumed that if Metro wasn't doing something well, then we would work to compel Metro to take care of the alleys, which they eventually did. It seems a lawyer's trick to use poor Metro service delivery to justify privatizing an alley, which increases the probability of rezoning in the future. Metro Planning opined that themselves.

But the lawyer overplayed his hand by insisting that those who chose to participate in this community meeting could only ask questions about whether the alley should or should not be abandoned. He has a responsibility to represent his client, but he has no authority in the forum
to terminate questions about rezoning, especially when his client, the business owner, initiated the rezoning process.

Attorney Ewing also oddly declared CM Baker's community meeting closed and out-shouted a community opponent around minute 39:00. Who put him in charge? He won't be able to alter public perception that rezoning remains the long-term counterpart of short-term alley abandonment. The huddle of CM Baker with the business owners' lawyers at the end of the video is emblematic of what is wrong with the planning and zoning process. It often defies democracy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dear 58: early voting starts today and I will not be joining you

The Tennessean's local beat journo Nate Rau asked for my opinions yesterday on the state House race between Mary Pruitt and Steven Turner, some of which you can read here. I have fielded several queries on why I have not taken a stance on this election, given my expressed dissatisfaction with Ms. Pruitt and Mr. Turner's seeming embrace by local progressives. This post is my attempt at a more full explanation.

A recurring (and perhaps the strongest) argument for voting for Mr. Turner is that Ms. Pruitt has been "absent from the legislative process in any meaningful way." Indeed, the constituents of 58 have been underrepresented by Mary Pruitt. She did not give any indication that she fought for security measures on Bicentennial Mall after a Germantown woman was raped not too long ago. She showed up to the Hope Gardens' community meeting on the Greyhound bus terminal relocation, but she did not make it plain in word or deed that she would be the community advocate in the face of Metro insularity. She chooses to remain invisible.

However, Turner campaign supporters are hard-pressed to explain exactly how he would be a better option other than "anyone would be better than Mary Pruitt." Given what I have read of Mr. Turner and heard from him, I have reservations about voting for him.

Let's assume that Steven Turner would be more proactive than Ms. Pruitt and that he take leadership positions on House committees, crafting legislation. If he is proactive and prominent in working for the Democratic Party establishment and the wealthy business interests who fund their fights with Republicans, how is that an improvement for all of us in 58?

I attended the North Nashville community meeting Erica Gilmore called on the Music City Center proposal a few months ago. Mr. Turner stood at that meeting to express unqualified and enthusiastic support for building a convention center. He did not bother to acknowledge community concerns about obligating Metro's General Fund (which pays for everything from brush clean-up to adequate policing) as a safety net for construction overruns.

However, the prospect of tapping into the Metro budget to prop up a convention center exposes infrastructure like parks and street and alley maintenance to risk. Steven Turner came across as callous on an important neighborhood issue, although his passion for MCC is entirely consistent with the priorities of local business interests. Support for a convention center is not necessarily a deal-killer for me in the voting booth, but I was not mobilized by Mr. Turner's appearance. He seemed more committed to growth than to softening the blows growth makes on communities.

My concern arises from precisely that kind of appearance. Let's grant that he may be more proactive on committees, with legislation than Ms. Pruitt has been. That may be good for the Tennessee Democratic Party, but to whom will he be beholden? I have yet to find a case where Steven Turner would balance his advocacy for commercial interests with a defense of neighborhoods.

His website collapses community development into economic development while referring to local businesses and young professionals. He makes no mention of balancing growth and infrastructure and quality of life in neighborhoods.

His commitment to education refers to "modernization." I do not know what that means, but it sounds like the kind of public school privatization that Davidson County Democratic leaders like Mayor Karl Dean support.

And would Steven Turner lead a House fight to build 2 or 3 bridges from West Nashville neighborhoods to Bells Bend to sprawl urban developments and retail across rural greenspace? I know next to nothing about his commitments to conservation, but would he be so bold as to undermine every other neighborhood's community plan by striking blows at those of West Nashville and Scottsboro-Bells Bend under the guise of "creating more jobs" in North Nashville?

So, the idea that just putting anyone more proactive than Mary Pruitt in the 58 House seat does not motivate me to participate in the Democratic Party's primary. This primary strikes me as inside partisan baseball: should we replace an entrenched do-nothing Democrat with a Democrat who may be exclusively in the pockets of developers and corporate big shots? Either way the people who win are not the people of 58. So, I intend to exercise the grace of doing nothing during this primary.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Buddy begrudgingly bends to constituents on contested alley abandonment

CM Buddy Baker reverses his field and will hold a community meeting on the controversial plan to shut down an alley and industrialize the Nations neighborhood in his district at the behest of a campaign donor. Via Rick Bradley:
From a neighbor in the Nations. Note that we are 6 blocks from the site and received no notice, so the notification must be very selective.

"Mr. Baker has sent notice dated July 9, 2010 of a "District 20 Neighborhood Meeting" to discuss Metro Council Ordinance No. BL2010-682.

For those who did not get the letter, it reads in part: "It is not required that I hold a public meeting on an alley closure. I have followed all the rules of the Metropolitan Government as relates to alley closures. However, out of loyalty to my constituents, I am holding this meeting to provide an opportunity to allow for feedback on this issue."

The meeting is set as follows:

Saturday, July 17, 2010
4:00 p.m.
4300 Georgia Avenue"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When bloggers merely blog to repeat news, they better divide it rightly

Yesterday local content-scraper, Nashvillest, incorrectly conveyed facts concerning the relocation of the Downtown Greyhound terminal:
The 8th Avenue Greyhound bus station is finally moseying its sweet self down to a temporary location on Charlotte so that crews can get on with the Music City Center construction. The bus station was pretty much the last thing standing in the way of the construction site.
Blogger Christy Frink makes the situation sound like the terminal has the project itself in gridlock. It's been my understanding that the Greyhound terminal only blocked construction on a small corner of the Music City Center site. Other than that patch, construction has gone on as planned. I confirmed this with the City Paper editor, Stephen George. CP journo Joey Garrison gave a more accurate reporting of the scope of the delays than Nashvillest did.

Is Christy's mistake heinous? Not by any means. But popular content scrapers should be a lot more judicious about conveying the news content they are scraping. Christy's spin on the story has the potential to create the impression that slow-walk deliberation of the relocation of Greyhound throws a wrench in the MCC project wholly, not partially. Because of its large following, Nashvillest has a long reach and can multiply misperception.

The lineage of Nashvillest posts on Greyhound terminal relocation hints that they are positively disposed to moving it anywhere but the Music City Center site. Along the way they have seemed displeased with delays. The bloggers are entitled to their opinions on this, but this reader wishes that they would not let their predisposition cloud the facts in this news. It is not too much to ask that the content scrapers be as detached to the relocation story as they were to the news that North End neighbors were upset about the furtive moves to spirit the blighted terminal closer to us.

UPDATE: Salemtown's Hutch points out that the Nashvillest coverage of the Greyhound move is also misleading insofar as the bloggers insinuate that Greyhound was lolly-gagging.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greyhound terminal moves north on Wednesday; permanent location announced

Joey Garrison reports that the Music City Center's relocation of the Downtown Greyhound bus station to a point proximate to Hope Gardens is immanent. And they now have a permanent location elsewhere:
Come Wednesday, the company will operate its Nashville terminal at the former Hansen Chrysler location at 1022 Charlotte Ave. ....

Greyhound secured the temporary bus terminal site in May. The move stalled because Greyhound and Metro Development Agency officials had failed to land a permanent site for the company’s long-term relocation.

According to sources, an announcement for Greyhound’s eventual move to property at Lafayette Street and Fifth Avenue is expected in the coming weeks.
I suppose that those of us who were affected by clandestine moves that Metro took to spirit the blighted terminal out of Downtown and closer to residential neighborhoods in the north can breathe a sign of relief that it will not be permanent. Hopefully locals understand the lengths to which the Mayor's Office will go to accommodate the business interests Downtown. We also witnessed the limitations of our council member to speak up for us against the powers that be. Knowing what Ms. Gilmore cannot or will not do gives us a head start next time.

Now at about those local crime statistics

Click to jump:

Why did Nashville Mayor Karl Dean single out Ronal Serpas on stats when Murfreesboro PD had the same problems?

Friday, July 09, 2010

14-year-old shot dead in Salemtown in what police call a "rare" criminal act

According to NewsChannel5:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro police are working to find the person or people responsible for shooting and killing a 14-year-old boy in downtown Nashville. The teenager has been identified as Vincent Lewis.

Police said a maintenance worker found Lewis' around 3:15 p.m. in the fenced backyard of a house at 1611 6th Ave North. They believed the body had been there for a couple of hours.

Police reported he had been shot in the stomach and head.

Dozens of police officers and several detectives knocked on doors to figure out what exactly happened.

6th Avenue was shut down while they investigated. Police say shootings are rare in that area.

Anyone who has information about Vincent's murder is urged to contact Central Precinct detectives at 862-7049 or Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.
This is a particularly jarring event for our local community, but the media deserves praise for not sensationalizing this shooting, which word on the street says is gang-related. NewsChannel5 underscored the rarity of the crime, as did the Tennessean, which reported that such a shooting has not happened in at least a year. It wasn't long ago that the local media reported gang-related issues in North Nashville (if reported at all) with a stereotypical sensationalism that did not serve to enhance public safety.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Police work with Hope Gardens on serving nuisance document on residence that was site of drive-by shooting

Jason Powell to the Hope Gardens neighborhood social media website:
There was a drive by shooting again late Tuesday night on 11th Avenue North. The shooting was related to the ongoing problems at 1010 11th Avenue North. Commander Huggins has asked us to have a petition signed ASAP in order to move forward on ending this nuisance. This is the next step as a follow-up to the letters everyone signed earlier in the year.

Below is a police description and some correspondence from Commander Huggins:

Shooting, 1010 11th Ave North (10-577710), this is a reoccurring 10-78 location. A small gold/gray vehicle drove by the location and fired multiple shots at the residence. A female victim was on the porch and was grazed on her lower leg by one of the rounds. A neighbor approached officers and gave a partial tag of a similar vehicle that sped off from the area running a red light. ID was called to recover shell casings and some possible rounds in the residence, Precinct detectives were notified. The victim was treated at the scene by MNFD.

Here is Commander Huggins latest messages about the nuisance ordinance:

"Please gather the signature documents from community members. I would like to get what you have. This latest incident may be critical in the application of the nuisance document that we are wanting to attempt on this residence.

Please remind everyone that this is very rarely used and not tested in all aspects and will be a first in many regards to its application. It will may take some time to get everything into place; if it can be applied here.

There has been some recent legislation on civil actions by governments to restrict certain activities in certain areas that may support this now as well.

We will be working on it.

* (Council lady Gilmore has also signed and sent to me a waiver supporting any civil nuisance action we take at this location as well.)"

Then this message:

"I do not want to be too optimistic, but I think we may have everything lined up right on this to make it happen.

You should also see an increase in our police activity as we want to avoid or try to prevent any retaliatory actions. Please have everyone be on the lookout for any suspicious activity and report to us at 862-8600 or 911 as needed."

Thank you for your assistance. The bottom line is that our neighborhood association will stop at nothing to remove this problem as quickly as possible.

Please, please do attend tonight, this is critical! If you can't make it then email me at and I will email you the document to print and sign and make arrangements to pick it up from you.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tennessean journo links body to rezoning issue

Reporter Juanita Cousins chose last week not to lead with the commercial potential of industrialization of residential 43rd Avenue in West Nashville. Instead she simply repeated the talking point of local developers and CM Buddy Baker that crime is the reason they are seeking a road and alley closure.

After getting interview responses from abandonment critics on crime, she linked the rezoning proposal to the disturbing find not on 43rd itself, but a block away in CM Edith Langster's district.
"Problems could be solved through neighborhood watch and better coordination with Metro Police. If they can successfully coordinate with police department, then they can make this a safer area, but closing the alley will not solve this."

A school bus driver found the dead body of Montgomery Bell Academy custodian Malith Wiek, 33, propped against a fence near 42nd Avenue North and Indiana Avenue on April 21. He had been shot multiple times.
There is no indication that CM Langster is trying to close down 42nd in response to this crime, so why is CM Baker using it as pretext to help a campaign donor consolidate his commercial real estate? Because this really has less to do with crime and more to do with investment opportunity.

It is not too much to expect reporter Cousins to be more neutral and to avoid adding to the spin that CM Baker has already put on abandonment.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Nashville business located on flood plain wants to move Richland Creek regardless of environment, neighborhood impact

Same players who tried to force English Only on Nashville try to flip residential neighborhood industrial

After CM Buddy Baker refused to hold any community meetings on his sponsorship of a controversial plan to close an alley and a road and convert residential zoning to industrial for a campaign contributor and developer, Rick Bradley stepped in and held a meeting on July 1. Bradley has been leading the fight against industrialization, including maintaining a website.

Bradley also presented the case against Baker's proposal at the community meeting, and he has now placed that presentation on line. The part of the presentation that leaped out at me was the section where Bradley connects the dots between 43rd Avenue rezoning, the developers, and Eric Crafton's English First. Remarkably, one of the development companies was incorporated at the listed address of English First.

CM Baker supported English First with votes. CM Eric Crafton not only supports industrializing 43rd Avenue, but ran down neighborhood opponents, saying that they do not understand "simple road abandonment." Developers have both in their back pockets. Abandonment opponents face a tough challenge, but they have the West Nashville plan and popular sentiment on their side. If you would like to add your support to their cause, you can sign their petition here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

One day the fairgrounds may be called "Deaneapolis"

A local preservation group wants to know why Mayor Karl Dean is passing on the $8,000 bill from a local nonprofit he enlisted to lead the task force he assigned to consider options for future uses of the fairgrounds. Here is part of the press release the group sent to the Nashville neighborhoods e-list:
The invoice in question is from the Civic Design Center, who the mayor hired to run the meetings. Apparently no one on the Metro staff is capable of the task, so it was outsourced.

The CDC, apparently also entered into the job with the understanding that it was the mayor's task force, and sent their invoice to Alexia Poe at the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development, who forwarded it to the fair board's office for payment.

Additionally, a look at past Fair Board meeting minutes indicates that this project has not been presented to, nor approved by, the Fair Board of Commissioners.

This seems to be another part of the on-going effort to drain the profits of the Fairgrounds operation. Put this in the same category as other "service fees" that Metro charges to the Fairgrounds, such as the $300,000 annual "Personal, professional and legal fees" or the "Indirect LOCAP expense" of $157,000 or over $8,000 per year for "Vehicle Maintenance" (among others).
I have been slow to take sides in the debate over what to do about the fairgrounds, but it is hard not to pull for the underdogs in the latest episode of mayoral melodrama. The preservationists do not seem to stand a ghost of a chance. However, it is pathetic that Mayor Dean passed on the costs for a task force that was his idea to the trustees of the fairgrounds. It looks like a gambit to saddle the fairgrounds spreadsheet with random expenses so that later someone in Metro Finance might be enlisted to ride in and save the fairgrounds from skyrocketing costs. I cannot see it saved for anyone beyond some wealthy developers to convert into private property.