Thursday, May 19, 2011

Improbable odds and double standards

  • Save My Fairgrounds, the preservationist group, was required to turn in almost 16,000 petition signatures from registered Davidson County voters to leverage a referendum on a charter provision that would simply increase approval for any demolition by half-a-dozen CM votes.
  • News reports a week ago said that SMF had collected over 10,000 signatures in a matter of weeks. They maintained last Monday that they have more than the required number.
  • Last December South Nashville Action People set a goal of 2,000 signatures on a petition expressing support for the Mayor's plan to start Fairgrounds demolition in order to motivate the council to vote to demo.
  • According to SNAP leaders a few weeks later, they had only collected 500 signatures while bound by no limitations, rules, or deadlines. Nonetheless, they lost the council vote to demo by a whisker.
  • SNAP announced this week the "hiring" of a lawyer to challenge the authenticity of SMF petition signatures, alleging that SMF brought in "disruptive" agitators to influence local politics. 
  • The SNAP petition's legitimacy and authenticity never faced the same doubt or scrutiny that SMF's is. Despite the fact that SNAP never produced large public demonstrations or held transparent meetings, they received the benefit of the doubt in most cases, and very nearly pulled out a council win.

There is no way the preservationists should still be in the fight. The bar has always been set higher for them than for the South Nashville organization. In fact, the bar has been in perpetual motion, lofted higher every time SMF scratches out a victory.

The greater petition requirement is only the latest inequity. Assuming they got 10,000 signatures, they collected 20x more sigs than SNAP did. If they have enough to leverage a referendum they will have collected 30x more sigs than SNAP did.

But I tend to believe some other obstacle will be hoisted should they eek out another accomplishment. The small group on the other side shows no willingness to compromise and they have friends in high places.


  1. Great piece.Im still blown away by the true numbers concerning the Fairgrounds issue.I mean,how can such a small group as the SNAP organization oppress the over riding majority in this city?.I would hate to have seen ,if this group had an ethical and a intellectually honest mayor on their side!.Instead,we got lucky and SNAP teamed up with one Karl Dean!

  2. Moving the goal post has been a theme for the Fairgrounds debacle.

    First it was noise. A reasonable concern.

    Then it was the SNAP organization getting fully behind the Mayor concerning the relocation of the Flea Market and Expo events.

    As soon as that was defeated and "Time out" was called by the Mayor, The Mayor and SNAP went headlong after the track.
    This divide and conquer move was met with even larger numbers taking up the battle cry to Save the Fairgrounds.
    The race community, who like the neighbors themselves, have a voice in policy for the very first time.
    The Race community reached out and tried to open dialog with Colby Sledge and SNAP.
    Month after month we tried to open communications. A meeting was not granted until former Fair?board Chairman James Weaver mandated a meeting concerning the track and noise abatement.

    After hundreds of hours of homework and many,many phone calls with industry leaders in sound abatement, the day to showcase sound abatement finally arrived.
    The sound was cut from 80dba to 64dba. A very large reduction in sound. Every 10dba the sound is reduced=the sound being cut in half.
    The test proved an 80% reduction in sound from the cars. SUCCESS!!!! Not so fast....
    When interviewed by local TV news crews, Snap Co-Chair and member of the media team for the State Democratic Caucus, Colby Sledge Shrugged his shoulders and said the cars were a little quieter but, noise wasn't the only issue. Traffic in the area and light pollution were also concerns.
    Really, Colby?
    A thank You to the race community for listening to the neighbors concerns and working to find an answer to the problem would have gone a long way in the SNAP organization gaining respect from all of Nashville.
    Instead, They moved the goal post, again!
    Colby and SNAP do not have ANY complaints about the 74 home games for the Nashville Sounds. 74 home games, 62 at night, and 22 Fireworks displays rattling the windows of the neighborhood.
    Funny how 5 night races are a huge concern regarding traffic impact and light pollution yet, the above Sounds games are no concern at all to this small, vocal minority of the neighborhood.

    Colby has gone as far as stating that there is no dialog between the groups in a TV statement on Monday.
    Their is no dialog because SNAP doesn't want to sit down and work it out.
    The Fairgrounds preservationists and race community have worked hard to be better neighbors and will continue to do so. Snap could take a lesson or two from this group. After all, being a good neighbor is a two way street. Constantly moving the goal post is not considered neighborly.
    The money is approved for the park to be built. TSMP is willing to begin the planning process for mitigation of Browns creek.That's right folks, TSMP can and will mitigate Browns Creek with the track in place. In fact, their initial planning was done with the track being there in mind.
    Both neighborhood/Fairgrounds beautification projects are just waiting on the Mayor to give the go ahead.
    My guess is, he is holding them hostage in attempt to continue driving a wedge between the Fairgrounds preservationists and the neighbors.
    Both parties deserve better.
    The creek and lower land are both in flood plane and can never be developed. even though a "Master" plan for the area from Lafayette to 440 and 65 to 24 is underway, the park could still move forward and help the Fairgrounds and neighbors.
    I have said it many times over, if the neighbors would join forces with the Fairgrounds preservationists, we would be a much stronger group and could put pressure on the Mayor to begin improvements on the Fairgrounds property.
    The neighbors and the 1.2 Million visitors to the Fairgrounds annually deserve to have the area beautified!
    Karl doesn't want that. He wants drama and battle lines.
    Time for a new Mayor.

  3. SNashvilleLife Jen Trail
    Listening to the fireworks from the Sounds game. I think I'll miss it a bit if they move from Greer.

    Amazing! The Fireworks a MUCH LOUDER than the race cars but, SNAP member and SouthNashvilleLife blogger Jen Trail doesn't seem to be bothered by the window shaking Fireworks. I guess lots of noise is ok if you like the noise, or,is it the sparklies that go with them?
    I love Fireworks and yes, I love the sound of a race car. I love the sparklies of the Fireworks and I love the way a fast moving race car sparkles under the lights.
    Maybe if Jen comes to a few night races, she will be able to see both from the grandstands at the same time.
    By the way, I have been standing in the middle of the infield on many occasions and have been able to see and hear the fireworks over the cars. With the new mufflers in place, the Fireworks will be even more audible at the races. A win-win in my mind.


  4. I'm a new reader. Thanks for covering the issues you do.

  5. Anon, Welcome!
    I have been following this Blog for about 9 months now.
    I believe you will find Mike's writing to be well thought out, intelligent, well stated, and accurate.

    If you want to know what the real deal is concerning subjects important to Nashvillian's, You are in the right place.

  6. I agree,this blog is in tune with the actual pulse rates(so to speak) on this issue..I have been following Mike's writings as well and I think, he might just have a future as,keep up the good work!

  7. Get a grip, Smiley. The fireworks last 20 minutes, not 4 - 6 hours at a time, and are nowhere near as loud as the race cars - definitely not "window shaking." And there have ALWAYS been many issues re: racetrack outside of noise, the noise concern was just always the one the news wanted to report on. Noise, traffic, drunk driving through our neighborhood after races (absolutly), and mostly - A WASTE OF SPACE for the majority of the year. Shut it down.

  8. Seriously, Anonymous, does it not matter to you that my statcounter shows you commenting from "Metropolitan Government of Nashville"? This is the second time today you've done this.

  9. So what? Metro employs a lot of people. I don't hold public office nor do I work for anyone who does.* I live in Wedgewood-Houston, and I can speak to the noise of the fireworks vs. the racecars, as well as the other issues.

    *disclaimer - technically, Mayor Dean is at the top of the Metro org chart, so I guess all of the hundreds of thousands of Metro employees do actually "report" to him. Again, so what?

  10. Anon, Or should I say, Mr. Mayor, Hester, Riebeling, or other Mayor employee, While it is correct that the races run for a longer period of time, I feel pretty confident in the Fireworks being louder than the cars.
    We knew the Fireworks were going off because we heard them, not because we could see them.

    Window shaking as a description for the Fireworks is an accurate statement.

    As for noise only being what the news wanted to report, No, Noise is the complaint from the neighbors. A complaint that has been addressed by the race community. The noise from the cars has been reduced by nearly 80%.
    Thru this process, the neighbors and competitors have had a say in policy at the beloved Fairgrounds for the very first time. For this, we thank you!
    If the Fair?board had done its job in the past, sound abatement would have taken place many years ago.
    The Fair?board had the ability to get together with Mattioli and work out the issue many years ago.
    O.K., Mattioli already had a lease with no sound abatement measures in place. That lease was not renewed. Yet, 3 more leases were signed with no real mention of sound abatement in two of them. The lease with Mr. Denson had some language pertaining to sound abatement but regretfully, wasn't carried thru. The whole issue of sound is a management issue. The Fair?board and the past lease holders did not do their job in listening to the concerns of neighbors.
    Obviously, we are past that know. A successful sound abatement program is in place with a major reduction in the impact of noise from the cars.
    In fact, after this weekends practice, the complaint from the neighbors wasn't about the track at all but, about the music from another cultural event.
    I understand Colby had an issue with the sound from 1 division. Yet, his observation of the sound from this particular division was from his seat in the grand stands at the track, not from his front porch.

    As for traffic, I hear no complaints from neighbors in regards to the 74 home games at Greer Stadium this year. 62 at night, 22 Fireworks displays.
    Last time I checked, they serve beer at baseball, hockey, and football games as well.
    I do not drink. I am against drunk driving. But for you to complain about traffic at the Fairgrounds and not at other sporting events in this city, is absurd!
    As for a waste of space, many of us disagree with you.
    I for one feel another vacant office space in this city is a waste of space.
    The Fairgrounds is our place to gather. A space for the citizens of Nashville to get together, compete, develop small business, be educated, and be entertained. No other property in the County is as diverse. The best use for the property is just what it is now.
    I have just learned, this issue will be on the ballot Aug 4th. The people will decide.
    One thing is very clear from your post. "Fair"ness in this issue and comparing the events to other similar events in Nashville, are not in your message. Rest assured, The truth will be out there no matter how hard you try to cover it up.
    Good day.

  11. I lost count hundreds of posts ago of the number of anonymous commenters who claim to be someone close to situations on which I post. Anybody can claim anything under the anonymous banner whether its true or not. By the same token those who choose to stay anonymous allow the rest of us to fill in the blank slate. You want me to believe that you're from Wedgewood-Houston? Put a real identity with your claims. Otherwise, you're just a Mayor's Office mercenary likely hired to sell his policies and discourage opposition.

  12. Anon, So you are spending tax payer time posting about a personal issue? You are not being paid to to campaign for an issue in your neighborhood, or are you? Get back to work!

  13. Ha, right, I am mayor Dean himself, and I have nothing better to do with my time than comment on blogs and Tennessean articles. Don't flatter yourself. And I can assure you that I absolutely live in We-Ho, I love my neighborhood and my neighbors and I don't care if you believe me or not. I have nothing to prove to any of you.