Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Salemtown Neighbors steps up game, CM Gilmore asks MDHA for streetscape report by the end of the week
Monday, August 30, 2010
CHAPMAN: ...With Gustav last year, Hurricane Gustav, and everybody was having to evacuate, and here I was up here, nothing. I called every one of my friends, offered to put them up, I’ll put you up, so forth like that.”
After surviving some 60 hurricanes over his lifetime, Chapman says it was odd not being there to help his neighbors.
CHAPMAN: “You help them board up and they come by your house and board up and maybe you go get a bite to eat together. It’s just such a different environment here, completely.”
We'll be returning to Morgan Park Community Center for this evenings Salemtown Neighbors meeting, which will start at 6pm.
Tonight, the Executive Board will propose an important series of discussions likely to take several months but critical to how our association considers and hopes to have an impact on our neighborhood. We'll be exploring ways to ensure that families of all types can feel comfortable living in Salemtown without feeling pressured to leave because of the neighborhood lacking an important resource. For families with children, these typically include safety, schools, and social outlets. For families without children, it might be as simple as ensuring that SNNA remains affirming of a diverse community, from twentysomethings to retirees. I don't think anyone on our board has expressed a desire to be exclusive, but I and others have heard concerns expressed about motivating factors for neighbors to leave Salemtown, and we'd like to begin to address these actively to the best of our ability. We hope you'll come participate in a discussion about whether this is a discussion and whether there are actions that it is appropriate for our association to become more deeply involved in.
We'll also get an update from our CAC about the community development block grant, and the Social Committee will make a recommendation about our participation in the Germantown Street Festival, among other items.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
If there is any Metro government agency that validates every conservative critic of bumbling big government, it has to be the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency.
In what seems to be a never-ending, half-decade, grit-ground crawl to the end, MDHA steadfastly refuses to bring effective closure to the Salemtown streetscape project. The project was supposed to be done 3 years ago. After helping MDHA formulate the concept for the project, which was federally funded by a community block grant, citizen advisors like myself documented and reported conditions needing MDHA attention over the past couple of years. Some of the conditions were addressed, especially when they had the potential to blow up into embarrassing dramas for the housing authority. However, MDHA left many other reported problems of the construction phase broken. These are all conditions that MDHA has promised from the beginning to fix because they happened during the construction phase.
As an elected streetscape advisor to MDHA myself, I reported a damaged traffic bulb at 5th Avenue North and Hume at a dozen meetings at least. The bulb had been damaged when first installed by a driver who likely was not accustomed to it. No problem, said our MDHA project leader. On numerous occasions she told me it would be repaired. I have yet to see it repaired, although she sent me an e-mail this asserting that private contractor, Sessions Paving, did repair it. Considering I pass by the damage several times a week, it appears to me to be a phantom patch.
Other conditions that I have been reporting for months (if not years) include elements like lampposts and signs that were built right into overhanging tree branches, some of which are not small, without any pruning being done. In my opinion the lamppost installers treated their craft with hasty heedlessness that suggested a blatant disregard for our neighborhood, transitional though it might be.
When I asked MDHA to follow once again to have the contractor trim the tree branches back to prevent damage, the project director told me that the final inspection had been done, the limbs were now considered "ongoing maintenance," and thus not MDHA's responsibility. She said an inspector had already been with a "punch list" and certified that all of the conditions (including the damaged traffic bulb!) had been met satisfactorily.
I found this response unacceptable, given that at our last meeting MDHA promised to communicate with us about solutions and we were left with the impression that inspectors would be coming around with CAC members to verify that things had been fixed. So this is where things stand now: MDHA is washing its hands of the laundry list of items that they asked Salemtown to generate for them before the end of the project. We have no paper work from them that authenticates claims that inspectors when through and made legitimate reports addressing each of the conditions they asked us to identify. Their project director is assuming the bureaucratic posture that the conditions are someone else's problem.
So, I feel it my obligation to bring someone else into it to try and persuade MDHA to live up to their responsibility to Salemtown. The day before yesterday I e-mailed CM Erica Gilmore thusly:
MDHA is claiming that they have done a final inspection of the Salemtown streetscape project and are closing it. As an elected Citizen Advisory Committee member I did not find out about this from MDHA project manager Linda Howard until I e-mailed her directly this week letting her know that some problems that I and other CAC members had identified for months still had not received a solution. Linda responded that the project was over and the solutions had already been provided. It was our understanding that MDHA would make an effort to have CAC members at the final inspection. That did not happen. We were also told there would be a final ceremony at Morgan Park. That did not happen.
Despite MDHA's unannounced closure of the project, I believe that as a CAC member I have an obligation to look at all final reports including the punch list
that Linda Howardused herselfto certify that all the problems had received solutions. Please intercede with MDHA and ask them for copies of all documented conditions and proper documentation of contractor solutions to those conditions, including Linda Howard'spunch list.
CM Gilmore responded that she has followed up with MDHA and that she will get back to me.
As their elected representative to this MDHA committee, I ask my fellow Salemtowners to back me up by contacting CM Gilmore (firstname.lastname@example.org) and asking her to intervene and help bring MDHA back to finish the project that they have poorly managed. MDHA is dumping loads of their disposable income into the huge new Downtown convention center hotel project. With all of that money floating around it seems like they could come up with the pittance to solve the Salemtown problems they said they would address and finally close this project to everyone's satisfaction.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Metro will pay $25 million next year to cover the cost of the land....That money will come from the coffers of the Metro Development and Housing Agency, where city Finance Director Rich Riebeling says it’s been waiting for a project.That is, if the project indeed generates that much money for the next 20 years. This Metro Finance Director is averse to "ifs" on capital projects. However, if it does not generate $103 million, then the General Fund used to pave roads, maintain libraries, and keep community center programming afloat will be raided to prop up the monument to the tourism industry. The Metro Council made sure that those revenues will be committed by approving the Mayor's plan without protecting the General Fund. And note that some General Funds will be obligated even with the $103 million, since the money will come "largely [but not only!]" from project revenue.
Metro will also pay another $103 million over the next 20 years. Riebeling says that money will come largely from tax revenue the project itself generates.
In defense of the national news media on the Nashville flood: they effectively triaged the tragedies
public interest in the Gulf saga may have even exceeded the level of mainstream media coverage. According to surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, often between 50% and 60% of Americans said they were following the story "very closely" during these 100 days. That surpassed the level of public interest during the most critical moments of the health care reform debate.The Nashville flood occurred less than 2 weeks into the greatest environmental disaster in history. The oil spill story dominated the news for 100 days because the public interest in it was insatiable. The flood came, receded, and recovery happened for much of Nashville. The spill just kept going for weeks and weeks into an uncertain future.
Unless we are going to be cynical and call Nashville's criticism of the national media an attempt to outflank the more important Gulf story then the criticism of diverted media focus in May was uninformed or insensitive. If we were to put ourselves in the news media position back in May and triage the tragedies, we can only conclude that national demand for Nashville news was much lower than that for word on impending disasters along the coastal communities of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Texas and within the environment itself.
- William Hostetler – Real Estate Developer
- Ronald Samuels – CEO, Avenue Bank
- Maeve McConville – Accountant
- John Dean – no address, employer, or occupation listed on disclosure, but he gave $1000
- Nathan Ridley – Attorney – Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings LLP
- Van Pond Jr – Architect
- George Anderson – CEO, Synaxis
- Kenneth Blackburn II – ATT
- Robert Joslin – Owner, Joslin Sign Company
- James Earle III – President, PC Telecom
- Peter Heidenreich – Lobbyist, Hall Strategies
- David Cooley – Lobbyist, Cooley Public Strategies
- Byron Trauger – Attorney
- Betty Anderson – Attorney, Betty Anderson Consulting
- Jeffrey Lynch – Financial Advisor
- M.D. Goetz Jr – Commissioner Department of Finance and Administration
- David Fox Jr – Consultant, McNeely Piggot Fox
- David Miles – Consultant, McNeely Piggot Fox
- John Rayburn – CPA, Rayburn, Bates, Fitzgerald
- Jane Alvis – Consultant, Alvis Company
- Ronald Gobbell – Owner, Gobbell Hayes Partners
- Lee Barfield II – Attorney, Bass Berry Simms
- Beth Fortune – Lobbyist, Vanderbilt University
Barry, Megan, Chair
Langster, Edith Taylor
Save one, all of these CMs expressed unqualified support for Mayor Dean's plan to obligate the General Fund (thus risking money to pay for anything from sidewalk repair to police protection) to subsidize convention center construction for the tourism special interests. While CM Craddock eventually voted against the plan, he has this project both ways: he joined 6 others appointed to this committee to block MCC critic and Downtown CM Mike Jameson from slowing down the convention center approval process in the wake of Mayor's McNeely Pigott & Fox/news-media-spin fiasco.
Given that this slate looks remarkably like a "Friends of Karl Dean" committee, I would say that Diane Neighbors has guaranteed the Mayor a smooth ride to re-election. It should be an elegant machine. Local wonks in the news media can no longer compare Metro Council to a cat herd. Neither can they compare it to a deliberative body that considers dissent of the minority.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
UPDATE: Art Rogue has posted his own YouTube video of rising Cumberland:
UPDATE: Here's video I took a couple of hours ago of the Cumberland rising up to the trail along our hyper-local greenway:
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors hands almost all of this year's Metro Council committee chairs to convention center kowtows
Budget and Finance -- Megan BarryAll but one of these committee chairs voted yes to Mayor Karl Dean's convention center project. Looking at this list could make one wonder whether the Vice Mayor believes administration critics have the ability to lead Metro Council. Particularly noteworthy is CM Barry's appointment to the Mayor's little resolution compressor, the Council Budget and Finance Committee.
Charter Revision -- Randy Foster
Codes, Fair, and Farmers Market -- Vivian Wilhoite
Convention and Tourism -- Rip Ryman
Education -- Erica Gilmore
Federal Grants Review -- Frank Harrison
Health, Hospitals and Social Services -- Jim Forkum
Parks, Library, and Recreation and Public Entertainment Facility -- Jerry Maynard
Personnel-Public Information-Human Relations-Housing -- Parker Toler
Public Safety-Beer and Regulated Beverages -- Edith Taylor Langster
Public Works -- Jim Hodge
Rules-Confirmations-Public Elections -- Greg Adkins
Transportation and Aviation -- Anna Page
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Greyhound Bus company will be holding an open house for Hope Gardens and the other surrounding neighborhoods. Following our public forum and demands about the operation of the temporary bus terminal, Greyhound agreed to an open house where neighbors could see the new location and address any concerns. Please plan on stopping by the open house.
Tennessee Women’s Theater Project Announces 2010-2011 Season
According to Chris, tickets for the Looby Theatre shows are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $10 for Thursday shows. For more information and reservations call 615-681-7220 or jump to www.twtp.org.Tennessee Women’s Theater Project has scheduled its 2010-2011 season of professional theater, presenting two plays new to Middle Tennessee audiences, and the return of the company’s annual Women’s Work showcase of performing and visual arts.
- October 1 through 17, 2010 - Unravelling The Ribbon. This is the US professional premiere of an acclaimed Irish play about the effects of breast cancer on three women. 7:30 pm – October 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 & 16. 2:30 pm – October 3, 10 & 17.
- February 25 through March 13, 2011 - Impressionism. This gentle romantic comedy, set in a small art gallery, shows how love can heal broken lives. 7:30 pm – February 25, 26, March 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 & 12. 2:30 pm – February 27, March 6 & 13.
- May 6 through 23, 2011 - Women’s Work 2011. Our fifth annual showcase and celebration of performing and visual arts created by women. Presenting artists to be announced. 7:30 pm – May 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 & 21
2:30 pm – May 8, 15 & 22.
- Warriors Don’t Cry on tour 2010-11 – we’re taking our celebrated one-woman show, based on the memoir of Little Rock Nine member Melba Pattillo Beals, on tour to schools and other organizations, including some two dozen free performances in Metro Nashville high schools.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
For city parks to be successful, they need great water features. Yet it takes money to maintain them, and neglecting such facilities can make a real negative impression on visitors and residents.A fountain installed last year at Morgan Park--later than originally planned--worked well for the October 2009 opening ceremony, attended by council members, Vice Mayor, and German dignitaries. It functioned normally for a few weeks after that.
I'm not really sure why our state didn't finish higher in the latest Gallup poll measuring strongly self-identifying conservatives by state, given the quality of red-state politics in Tennessee. But Tennesseans apparently can't stand even appearing to be more liberal than states like Texas.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
North Nashville neighborhoods were overlooked by local volunteer groups early after the May floods while most of the focus went to West Nashville neighborhoods, Downtown, and the Opryland Hotel. The group North Nashville Flood Relief organized to fill the gaps that other Nashville volunteer groups were leaving in service to disaster relief in our part of town.
A proposal was made recently to Salemtown Neighbors neighborhood association to get more involved with North Nashville Flood Relief either through donations or volunteer aid, but I've not seen any response from the association to the recommendation.
It is heartening to know that the good work of restoring our community goes on regardless.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
In a suit filed late yesterday in Davidson County Circuit Court, Pamela Murray, who represented District 5 from 2003 to 2009, accuses current Councilman Jamie Hollin of making false statements on a website and in various media about where she lived and worked in an effort to unseat her. The suit also names 11 other members she says were part of Hollin’s “We the People of District 5” groupFor his part CM Hollin expressed sadness to the news media that Murray would sue her constituents after an election. On his district blog he expresses his gratitude that the lawsuit is not affecting the co-defendants' participation in community meetings:
I am especially proud of the attendance by those individuals recently named as defendants in a lawsuit recently filed by my predecessor. It is indeed gratifying to know that such a frivolous act had NO impact on their participation in the political process, their service to community and the City of Nashville. Clearly, one can inference to be drawn from the lawsuit was that it seeks to prevent citizen participation in the democratic process. That goal failed miserably, which makes me very happy. My hat is off to you!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Rule change takes Metro Council a step away from the community rabble, social protest, and democratic process
I am curious as to what past events precipitated the change in council rules to limit citizen events in the Courthouse and to disallow broadcasts from those events? Could you please e-mail me the minutes from the executive committee meeting where these rule changes are being considered? Who is sponsoring this rules change? Am I correct in concluding that the media will no longer be allowed to broadcast citizen views of pending council action from inside the Courthouse if these rules are approved? Is it fair to say that the media would be limited to live broadcasting only council member opinions on council meeting nights given that the mezzanine would be off limits?
No Council rules have been amended to disallow broadcasts or limit citizen events on Council meeting nights. The discussion that occurred was focused on activities on the 2nd floor mezzanine of the Courthouse, which is the space between the Metropolitan Clerk's Office/Council Chamber on the east end of the Historic Courthouse and the Council Office on the west end of the floor on the second floor .... The purpose of the discussion was to address safety, security, and disruption factors in that second floor area.
Inasmuch as the acoustics in that space are improved only minimally with amplification and loud amplification (such as used for tax sales) can be very distracting, it was recommended that no amplification be allowed at any time in the mezzanine area. Further, on Council meeting nights, because the Council convenes 30 minutes in advance of its start time for Councilmember announcements , it was recommended that all such events on the mezzanine conclude at least 30 minutes prior to the Council meeting start time.
There was no suggestion that interviews, either with the public or Councilmembers, could not occur in the Metropolitan Courthouse. Whether or not it would be beneficial to have a convenient, designated area for interviews was mentioned, but more thought will be given to this idea before any recommendation is considered.
Live broadcast of radio or television programs from within the Courthouse, during the progress of a Council meeting was discussed. Again, this was not referring to interviews, but to live broadcasts of programs. The Sheriff, who now oversees Courthouse security, will be drafting a policy regarding this, from the standpoint of safety and security issues, as there has been concern about the crowded area on the east end of the mezzanine, including the space at the top of a long flight of marble stairs where traffic backs up , both before and during Council meetings. To my knowledge, no policy has yet been issued.
The group that assembled for this discussion was persons involved with the Council and with Courthouse safety and security. Among those present were Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, Council attorney Jon Cooper, Sheriff Daron Hall, Metropolitan Clerk Marilyn Swing, representatives of Metro3, and support staff. The meeting was convened at this time because of the concerns stated and so that policies could be considered and, if necessary, put in place before any specific requests for future event scheduling are received.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Salemtown frustrations with neighborhood-based social services continue to be misplaced on Metro Action
The Metro business owner who wants Metro property in order to stop dumping continues to permit dumping himself
----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Peden
Sent: Saturday, August 07, 2010 6:43 PM
Subject: Emailing: P1017960
CM Baker - can you please advise your friend Mr. Hunter that his property is not zoned as an open dump site.
I have attached a photo of his property taken this morning.
The new no dumping signs have been installed in the alley, and the rules apply to Mr. Hunter as well.
Also, the grass needs cutting on his vacant lots. I have notified Codes and Public Works.
I am sure you are as interested as I am in keeping the neigborhood clean and free of illegal dumping.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Berry Hill cop testified his dashboard camera wasn't working during arrest of pregnant Mexican woman, but it was
Friday, August 06, 2010
- State House District 58 Rep Mary Pruitt can and probably will be beat the next election (assuming she runs). While Steven Turner did not get nearly as many votes as Pruitt's previous challenger, Jason Powell, he did eat into her win margin. Pruitt's base is shrinking and she has no one but herself to blame.
- Steven Turner was no stronger than Jason Powell as a challenger. There is no evidence that I can see that Turner's GOTV was stronger than Powell's. 2006 and 2010 races were Pruitt's to lose.
- Turner's enthusiastic support of the Music City Center may not have hurt him, but it sure didn't help him in a district that expressed ambivalence about MCC. In this case, what didn't help him get around 200 votes hurt him.
- Turner should have been as mum on the MCC lightning rod as he was on May Town Center. Or at least he should have muted the zeal, given North Nashville's concerns about MCC.
- Future challengers have got to develop the same GOTV machine that Pruitt has built. A little more diversity might help: incorporate the interests of poor and working class people beyond the paternalistic mantra "jobs, jobs, jobs," maybe? Diversity is not merely a matter of ethnicity.
- Future challengers should increase their reach beyond the factions of Democratic Party regulars who (con)descend to act as if they understand everything about local politics.
- Blaming voters is not the best way to defeat Mary Pruitt in the future.
- Future challengers should stop running on what Mary Pruitt doesn't do for the district. Go negative when you have to, but don't make it central to the campaign.
- Beating or leveraging Mary Pruitt starts today, not at the beginning of the next election cycle. Resign yourself to neglect until the next election, and Pruitt will definitely neglect us.
- Morning 100-degree heat and severe afternoon lightning storms may have kept many typical voters at home. However, Turner's more energetic base could be expected to go to the polls regardless of conditions. Would Pruitt's win have been bigger but for the elements?
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Three property owners had private information exposed on the county web site, according to the Assessor's office. Rooker said he was first made aware of the information being posted by the Metro Legal Department this morning. As originally reported Dozens of flood victims seeking property tax relief may have had personal documents like checks [to pay for repairs] posted for public view on the Davidson County Assessor’s web site.This is at least the 5th data breach of Davidson County citizen information since 2007, when laptops containing personal voter information where stolen from the Metro Election Commission. A Metro computer security laptop was stolen from a car shortly after that. Another incident involving exposure of 18,000 Metro Public School students' and 6,000 parents' personal information on Google occurred last year. Earlier this year an employee with Policy Studies, Inc. was given access to private Metro child support records with information like Social Security numbers, which he promptly attempted to sell.
Mary Pruitt will still do nothing for 58 or anyone else. Steven Turner may have all the energy in the world, but if it exclusively helps wealthy donors and developers who finance the county party, what good is that, broadly considered, for local communities? Some local Democrats would have you believe bread crumb economics is good for all of us. I say better to have done nothing at all.
Both Pruitt and Turner spoke to the last Salemtown Neighbors business meeting. Neither one said anything to make me think either would be in tune with neighborhood issues and balanced growth. Mr. Turner continued to court the geeks by emphasizing broadband and internet access (without regard to campaign donors who would profit from virtual expansion), and the rest of his talk was straight out off website memes on economic development. Ms. Pruitt failed to answer a simple question on how she would act as an advocate for neighborhood concerns about an expanding state highway bordering Salemtown, dodging by saying in effect that she would listen to any concerns we had.
My only litmus test in the 58 primary has been that either candidate show me how they stand for neighborhoods in their district over self-interest and moneyed influence. Both have failed.
I would not discourage anyone in this House district from going to the polls today if they see it their civic or patriotic duty. I would encourage them not to delude themselves into thinking that things could get better just because anyone is better than Mary Pruitt.
- Mary Pruitt -- 1,308
- Steven Turner -- 1,158
- Mary Pruitt -- 2,012
- Jason Powell -- 1,414
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Janeen Griffin, of Fourth Avenue North in Salemtown, said the night was about “rallying around the community and really creating a safer community where we are truly connected … where we look out for one another, keep each other informed and really try to tackle any bad elements that may arise.”
Griffin said the drop in the Central Precinct’s overall crime is a reflection of the neighborhoods’ being proactive in reaching for the phones when they suspect criminal activity.
[Cmdr. Damien] Huggins told The City Paper the National Night Out was more than anything about promoting interaction and communication among the different neighborhood and public safety groups.
Looking at the crowd — about 30 or so neighbors most of them in their mid-30s, several with children — gathered for the evening, Huggins said when that many extra people are dedicated to watching over their community and don’t hesitate to call police over any suspicion it’s like adding so many sets of eyes and ears to the police force.
Hopefully, readers will like the design changes I made (and will make in coming weeks).
In the meantime, good-bye old design, I will miss you:
Details emerged during a Wednesday hearing for the teenage boy arrested in the July 8 slaying of Vincent Lewis Jr.Up until this shooting, the teen gang problems of Salemtown's past has been receding over time. It is worth noting that the suspected perp is a runaway and the victim lived in East Nashville. The crime in this case came in from outside.
A 13-year-old witness testified in Juvenile Court that the teen was a member of the Crips gang, had run away from home and planned to rob Lewis, a member of the Bloods, who sold marijuana.
As a group of boys smoked marijuana, the 14-year-old pulled a 22-caliber rifle on Lewis, told him "come out of your pockets" and hit him over the head with the gun, the witness said.
The witness, also a member of the Bloods, said that although they all were members of different gangs, they were friends, and the suspect did not intend to kill Lewis.
Metro Police Detective Deniz Ismailovic said Lewis was shot 10 times in the leg, stomach, hand and head. Police found the gun nearby, wrapped in a Titans blanket, beneath cinder blocks.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Nashville celebrity draws international attention to continuing Haitian plight, but she can't generate local interest
Nashvillian film star Nicole Kidman was in Haiti this week as a UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador trying to draw attention to the plight of Haitian women and children in shelters since last January's earthquake. However, you would not know it from any the local media, who have remained mum on the goodwill effort. Despite her best attempts to bring attention to the forgotten tragedy, Nashville is not paying attention as far as I know.
Kidman, who won an Oscar for 2002's The Hours, says philanthropy is a big part of her life. "I'm just constantly trying to give a voice to the women around the world, women everywhere, who are in need of help. If there's anything to be had from having worked for 23 to 25 years of my life, I'm so glad to now be able to do this. I don't mind being used like that," she says.