While the mainstream news media continued to spin Colby Sledge et al. as a neighborhood group, I continued to insist that NFP looked like an extension of Davidson County Democrats who had a financial interest in selling the Fairgrounds to private developers. While their website promoted a community-based movement committed to installing a park, in a pinch they were getting help from very powerful people including a lawyer last minute to try and derail their opponents before the referendum.
|Not even handing out t-shirts could make them grassroots|
Campaign efforts of the fairgrounds area organization Neighbors for Progress aren’t funded by actual fairgrounds neighbors.
Rather, the group’s modest amount of money has come from former Mayor Karl Dean strategist Will Pinkston, investor John Cooper and a political action committee dubbed Building Nashville Together, financial reports submitted to the Davidson County Election Commission last week reveal.
The organization, which supports Dean’s vision for redeveloping the 117-acre property, has made only one political play during Metro’s election season: issuing a negative campaign mail-piece against District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman, who is trying to fend off challenger Sarah Lodge Tally and her army of pro-Dean supporters. Holleman has questioned the mayor’s handling of the fairgrounds issue.
“I think the disclosure demonstrates that Neighbors for Progress was a political attack operation, not any kind of neighborhood organization,” Holleman said.
Pinkston, a former aide to Gov. Phil Bredesen who briefly worked on Dean’s re-election team, contributed $1,000 to Neighbors for Progress. Cooper donated $700. Building Nashville Together contributed $1,500.
Neighbors for Progress is not very effective at organizing people so they have to rely on organized money given by some very powerful people in the Democratic Party, many of whom have ties to Mayor Karl Dean. Colby Sledge admitted to the City Paper that they cannot muster any influence without the help of these partisan sources. That admission does not allay my perceptions about NFP.
By the way, Building Nashville Together is a 527 organization whose chair is a former campaign manager for Jeff Yarbro, who is closely tied to Karl Dean, too. BNT has been paying people to canvass neighborhoods for Dean-friendly candidates for Metro Council, no doubt to grease the wheels on future projects like the Mayor's Fairgrounds "redevelopment" scheme.
|Paid out $10,000 helping Deaniacs like Tanaka Vercher and CM Anna Page|
If you can't organize people to help you at the grassroots you can always buy some influence to mobilize the voters you believe you need. And money spent now may just flip future council votes to Karl Dean.