Monday, June 13, 2011

Progress, thy dance is a two-step

The State Fair Board meets in the morning, and so, of course Neighbors for Progress/South Nashville Action People spokesperson Colby Sledge continued his media tour to discredit the Fairgrounds referendum by appearing on NewsChannel5's "Morning Line" today.

The Sledge two-step abides. When the issue was moving the flea market to Hickory Hollow, Sledge supported it. Then the issue shifted to demolishing the racetrack, and Sledge supported it. When the operation of the racetrack reasserted itself and a broadly-informed community plan was called for, Sledge trotted out a scheme to entrench NFP control over operation and plan.

This morning Sledge said that NFP has shifted again, this time to supporting "something that benefits all the neighborhoods around there as they continue to grow." Maybe he is simply shifting to attract broader support, because heaven knows NFP did not get very many signatures on their demo-the-racetrack petition. One source tells me that their online petition only has a little over 100 signatures of identifiably registered voters. Complain as he might about the legitimacy of some of the 11,000 signatures on the petitions to require 6 more council votes to demolish and build "something that benefits" NFP (if not Mayor Karl Dean), he cannot deny that his camp is outstripped petition-wise.

But in the context of every other shift Sledge has made, and given the fact that they now have a lawyer writing publicized letters to the DA trying to undermine the referendum in the run-up to August, it is hard not to see this morning's PR as just another cynical tactic to maintain desperate leverage rather than working toward a consensus on a property that belongs to all of Davidson County. It is noteworthy that CM Jamie Hollin replied over a call-in to the show that if NFP attorneys really believed they had a legitimate case to stop the referendum they would file a motion in chancellery court rather than posturing to the DA to grab media spotlight. It is also worth noting that Sledge is a former journo who likely has firsthand knowledge of bones to throw to get the mainstream media to bite.

It was priceless that on the heels of Sledge's comment that the "tone of the conversation needs to change" a NFP caller accused those of us who refuse to go along with the Mayor's redevelopment plan of participating in "big DC politics" and of bullying those who support selling off the Fairgrounds. Hell, I've been falsely accused myself of trying to drum up petition signatures for Save My Fairgrounds in Wedgewood-Houston. Change the tone? Sure. But ironic, too, that Colby Sledge works for the Tennessee Democratic Party and thus operates in machinery much closer to "big DC politics" than any of the rest of us in this debate. That won't facilitate a tone change.


  1. I live within one and a half miles of the fairgrounds, in the Belmont and 12th South neighborhood. My informal poll of approximately 100 area residents found that 4 out of 5 people want to see the flea market and fairgrounds stay put.

    When these same people are informed that the new mufflers now used at the raceway reduce sound levels to a point that the cars can not be heard even three blocks from the raceway (and this is with a full field of cars running)and then are asked if racing should stay, 3 out of 5 believe it should stay.

    The flea-market/fairgrounds question pretty much reflects all honest, city-wide polling.

    I am not aware of any official poll, based on the notion that the noise level objection is now effectively solved, asking if racing should stay. Though I think the results would be similar to my neighborhood poll.

    It is too bad that Mr. Sledge can not direct his energy towards this matter in a way that represents what most citizens really want, rather than a handful of residents who live in close proximity to the fairgrounds.

    I should add, that when taking my informal poll, nearly all those in favor of the fairgrounds thought that Metro should invest in the existing facility.

  2. I would also add, that it is my opinion, that Colby Sledge is basically a one-man show on this issue, with a handful of people in his neighborhood who have "signed on" but are not actively involved in his organization.

    It is also my opinion, that Mr. Sledge is receiving funding from an individual or small group to support his community activities. It is also my opinion, that he receives backdoor strategy support and input from Dean staff or ancillary staff.

    I doubt that Mr. George Barrett is working pro bono. If he is, I encourage his offices to let me know.

    I will add, that Mr. Sledge is doing a great job of presenting his case. And I must add, I think his intentions are honest.

    That said, I think the Dean Machine, in typical fashion, has latched onto a public relations opportunity -- they realized Colby's true intent and jounalistic skills and have taken advantage of his situation.

  3. Mike, Mr. Barner obviously thinks you re great. I'm glad you have at least one fan.