Friday, February 25, 2011

North End debate on public schools seemed resistant to a third way

Last week CM Erica Gilmore sponsored a community meeting in Hope Gardens, part of which focused on parent concerns about the zoned schools in the North End. School Board members Sharon Gentry and Ed Kindall were in attendance for that discussion. It resulted in what seemed to me to be a tale of two sides who were not willing to meet in the middle.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Metro's new development tracker tool

I have added a link to Metro Planning's development tracker in the right-hand column farther down this page. Scroll down and click on the tracker map graphic to jump to find developments to locate new, pending,  active and complete developments that may be affecting your community.

Could Wedgewood-Houston SNAP to it?

According to the Nashville neighborhoods e-list, Colby Sledge (one of the leaders of South Nashville Action People, which supports the Mayor's plans to privatize the State Fairgrounds) wrote an article inviting residents of Wedgewood-Houston to a meeting:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not sure we'll see it on this side of glory

Not too long ago Jay Voorhees began preparing for the coming election season by expressing changes he would like to see in the Mayor's Office, including:

One of the great gifts of council folks is that they are forced to deal with this tension or they are quickly removed from office by their neighbors. Our current Mayor has never had to deal with this tension directly, having served only in the executive branch with little contact with the push and pull of neighborhood life, and thus has tended to lean toward the business community with less passion and concern show toward the needs of neighborhoods. The rhetoric of economic development attempts to suggest that all development is good in the pursuit of “expanding the tax base” (an argument that I question) and attempts to question that rhetoric by neighbors concerned about tradition, quality of life issues, etc. are seen as opponents getting in the way of progress. My preference is for a mayor who is willing to clearly articulate that there are indeed tensions between the business community and neighborhood concerns, and is willing to try to the best of his or her ability to provide balance between the two.

Catherine McTamaney also has suggestions for the Mayor's Office to improve their community development skills.

UPDATE: For her part long-time local blogger Aunt B would like a Mayor who is less awkwardly unctuous and smug.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nondiscrimination fallout for council member in Inglewood

If you are privy to exchanges on the Inglewood Neighborhood Association e-list concerning a poll conducted there on the council's nondiscrimination bill (passed second reading last week), you are aware that as of a couple of days ago 40 people favored the bill and 6 people opposed it.

Being observant, you also know that CM Karen Bennett, who voted against nondiscrimination and then encouraged those who asked her to oppose to express themselves on the down-low in the future, was moved to engage the poll chatter. She asked a nondiscrimination supporter whether they really thought that opponents of nondiscrimination would take the poll given the dominant support on the e-list. Me thinks she protests too much.

Flood recovery volunteer opportunity in West Nashville this weekend

The Richland Creek Watershed Alliance needs your help if you can spare it this Saturday:

Volunteers Needed at West Park for Richland Creek Flood Recovery Project
Saturday, February 26th, 8:30 to 12:00

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fairgrounds 2011: who is in charge here?

The entertainment industry's trade magazine has an interview with Rockhouse's Director of Sponsorships this week about her views on management of the Fairgrounds, and it makes me wonder how she knows so much, given that the State Fair Board has made no decisions this year. Or maybe they have made decisions without divulging them publicly:

"This year we're trying to do a joint venture with the Tennessee State Fair Association, the city government and North American Midway Entertainment carnival company," said Chrysty Fortner, a Board member for the state fair association. Organizers are renting the former fairgrounds for the event this year as they did in 2010.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Perhaps he is looking for something that the news media is not reporting

Mike Peden relates the following observations of Karl Dean's economic development director during Tuesday night's council meeting:

last night I was sitting in the gallery at the Council and [Alexia] Poe came up to [council-at-Large candidate] Ken Jakes and introduced herself. She said "I understand you have asked to see all of my emails. What are you looking for?"

I guess she considers transparency in government overrated

Today I received a forwarded letter from CM Karen Bennett to her District 8 constituents explaining why she voted against the council's bill to prohibit businesses that contract with Metro from discriminating because of sexual orientation last night. She said that she voted against nondiscrimination because she received more e-mails from them against the bill than e-mails for it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reviving Browns Creek requires a larger vision

I truly wish that groups like South Nashville's Neighbors for Progress (and behind them South Nashville Action People) would have made the restoration of Browns Creek their major cause rather than simply using the waterway as pretense for closing down the Fairgrounds and demolishing the racetrack. However, to do so would require a much larger focus than the Fairgrounds question. It would have needed a broader coordinated effort across the entire watershed of all of the Browns Creek forks that lie upstream from the Fairgrounds.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In one grand Friday news dump the Nashville Chamber of Commerce perhaps torpedoes nondiscrimination bill and gives Mayor Dean cover to support

That title expresses how I interpreted the peculiar sequence of Tennessean tweets that occurred within the same hour late on a Friday afternoon:

Fairgrounds Fixed to Fail

Enclave commenter fleamarketmom has been reading the Fairgrounds e-mails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, posted at Google Docs. She discovers more indications of how the Fairgrounds was set up for failure:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Council member makes direct appeal to Nashville Chamber of Commerce members

CM Jamie Hollin is concerned that the Chamber of Commerce leadership asked council to defer his co-sponsored nondiscrimination bill based on the feedback of a fraction of the CoC membership. So he went around the former in an open letter to the latter at his blog:

Friday, February 11, 2011

CM Erica Gilmore's announcement of a community meeting

A strong win at the Board of Zoning Appeals against LED billboards in neighborhoods

West Mead neighborhood leader Mina Johnson attended last week's meeting of Board of Zoning Appeals, which considers requests for changes or exceptions to zoning codes and rules. Mina has been among those leading the charge against LED billboards in residential neighborhoods for the past few years. She went to the meeting to speak against request for variance to allow an LED billboard 125 feet from residential properties around Lebanon Pike.

Her dispatch is notable because it reports an important win for neighborhood advocates and it gives us some helpful clues on how the murky process of zoning appeals work:

I am happy to report that the request to allow LED Billboard was denied.

There were 3 people from nearby neighborhood association and CM [Phil] Claiborne besides myself. I learned that BZA handle [their] meeting very differently from Planning Commission. They will give 15 minutes to applicant to present the case and 15 minutes for the opponent no matter how many people pack the room. During 15 minutes, the commissioners can stop the clock to ask questions to whomever presenting the case.

In our case, they asked,
  • Why don't you want LED in residential area?
  • What make you think having LED billboard nearby will affect the property value?
  • The applicant is suggesting to lower the height and dim it at night, will you reconsider your opposition?

It made me wonder if some of the commissioners, namely David Ewing and David Harper, want to promote LED sign in residential area.

At the end, the decision was easily made based on "No hardship was presented to grant the variance" The applicant, Jim Godsey appeared to be he was just testing the water if he could change existing billboard to LED. Though I must add he was very considerate of surrounding neighborhood. He said he did not want to upset neighbors and that the last thing he want. Commissioner Rebecca Lynford asked if he would withdraw it. He replied that what you all to decide. The request to deny the variance was the most desirable outcome for us and he was not upset.

Sincere thanks to Mina for being a strong advocate for neighborhoods and representing us well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paying one part-time Bredesenista burns a lot of Metro snow-plow weeks

East Nashville community leader Catherine McTamaney works the math on how much Mayor Karl Dean's $64,000 hiring of recently unemployed state administrator Jim Fyke -- once with Governor Bredesen -- costs Davidson County in actual services.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Metro Legal dismisses Fairgrounds opponent's complaint against CM Emily Evans

Two weeks ago I blogged that I would be shocked and suspicious if Metro Legal found anything of merit in Nancy McCune's bizarre complaints against CM Emily Evans.

Earlier tonight Tennessean reporter Michael Cass reported on Twitter that the law department dismissed McCune's complaint.

That confirms what I already suspected: the only wrong here has been done by the accuser against a council member who has a spotless and honorable record of service.

UPDATE: From Metro Legal's evaluation.

Underscore that "if true" part. steals local content, refuses to rightfully attribute to local authors

Whoever runs says that they do so to "amplify" Nashville voices. But by scraping the content off local blogs without citing the authors or linking back to the original, they are simply plagiarizing the hard work of others while restricting rights to other people's work as if they produced it themselves (according to their footer: Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved).

I have no clue who runs because they do not identify actual website owners or contact information on their unpersonalized "About" page, so I left requests in about a half-dozen of the comment sections under my purloined posts asking them to stop posting my writing without attribution or linkage. Comments at are moderated, so I figured someone would have to look at my request.

I took this screen shot before my comment was moderated off

I was not going to post anything here on this matter until I saw that my comments were no longer awaiting approval and yet did not appear in the comments section. It is reasonable to assume that they deleted my comments and blew off my requests.

I will not recommend to you because I believe that they are acting unethically and that they are not amplifying anyone but themselves. I do not include links to in as encouragement to visit their site. Instead, my intention in linking multiple times is to enhance the odds searches for will include links to this criticism of

UPDATE: Scrape this.


UPDATE: Nashville blogger Kay Brooks finds some evidence to suggest that my attempt above to undermine content-theft may be working: good title.

UPDATE: As Michael Silence already announced in the comments below, his Sunday, February 13 column in the Knoxville News Sentinel included a write up on this post:

BLOG BUSTING: Ripping off blog content, one's writing, is a continuing problem, but a Tennessee blogger has found an interesting way of dealing with it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

More previously unpublished Fairgrounds/Dozier e-mails are up on Google Docs for your crowdsourcing pleasure

In January I uploaded 700 pages of Metro e-mails regarding the Fairgrounds released under the Freedom of Information Act, and got some great feedback and tips from readers, both in e-mails and in Enclave comments.

Today I received 500 more pages of Fairgrounds e-mails from earlier in 2010 than the previous batch. If you are interested in reading and analyzing them, then jump to The images in the latest release make the size of the .pdf too large to read in Google Docs preview, but they can be downloaded. I will again blog feedback I get back on the e-mails.

Monday, February 07, 2011

How many more former Bredesenistas will Karl Dean be employing in these times of economic downturn and budget austerity?

The Mayor's Office has cut 435 Metro employees and slashed millions of dollars from Metro services in the past 3 years. In anticipation of next year's budget, Karl Dean asked Metro departments across the board to cut 3% more.

Such a dire financial situation of cash flow in full retreat did not stop Mayor Dean from unapologetically hiring Jim Fyke fresh off his stint with Governor Phil Bredesen for a vague part-time position with a payout of $60,000.

And I'm hearing that the Mayor is planning on hiring more former Bredesen big shots for indeterminate part-time positions, some of whom may enjoy some sweet Metro pensions from previous Metro employment:

  • Tam Gordon (Bredesen Special Assistant) is said to be slated for the Mayor's Office "doing some stuff"
  • Gerald Nicely (Bredesen Deputy) is said to be slated to work in the Mayor's Office
  • Emmett Turner (Bredesen fire prevention official) is said to be slated to work in Metro Beautification
  • Janie Conyers (Bredesen Administrative Chief)

What a stark contrast between these part-time hires for the increasingly top heavy Mayor's Office and the hundreds of public school custodians at the lower end of the Metro pecking order who lost their jobs in 2010 due to outsourcing. I think my tax dollars were better spent at the lower end.

And what a contrast to the desperate tone Karl Dean set in 2008 when he ordered a Metro hiring freeze and declared, "We have to manage within the resources we have available and everybody, every family in Nashville, every business in Nashville are doing the same thing."

How many struggling families or small businesses would consider loading up with career bureaucrats and Bredesen insiders to shore up their strained budgets?

UPDATE: City Paper confirms Tam Gordon hire.

UPDATE: In a release sent out earlier today [Tuesday], the Mayor's Office vaguely addresses where the money is going to come from to pay Tam Gordon:

Gordon started work with Metro this week and was hired within the existing budget for the Mayor’s Office. Dean said other recent changes in staff and fiscal management made the funds for her position available.

Does that sound accountable enough for you, taxpayers? I'm still stunned at how staff and fiscal management changes can free up money to pay for heavy-hitters from state government when the previous message was that Metro could not possibly afford to pay custodians or hire any other Metro workers. Granted, those messages did not come during election years.

UPDATE: In a press release just out Tuesday afternoon, Save My Fairgrounds looks at the probable hiring of Gerald Nicely by Mayor Dean and sees the handwriting on the wall for their cause:

Statement on the Hiring of Gerald Nicely
Nicely Rumored to Head the “Fairgrounds Issue” Despite Mayor’s “Time Out”

Save My Fairgrounds is surprised to learn reports of Gerald Nicely’s pending hire with the Mayor’s office .... Nicely spent nearly 40 years on the government payroll, including nearly 20 years at MDHA, whose office building now bears his name ....

Mayor Dean said he supports the Council’s decision to conduct a master planning process for the Fairgrounds and surrounding neighborhoods. Dean has repeatedly suggested he is “taking a time out” on redeveloping the Fairgrounds, but with the addition of Nicely, he appears ready to shift into over-drive by circumventing the Council and Fair Board.

UPDATE: Channel 4's Nancy Amons confirmed on Tuesday night's 10:00 broadcast that Emmett Turner is accepting one of the "high-paid, unadvertised" openings in the Dean administration.

UPDATE: Tiny Cat Pants ponders how convenient it was to find money for these particular unemployed bureaucrats:

Forget why Dean would do this. Clearly, he has his reasons and eventually the city will pay a PR team to tell them to Gail Kerr, who will tell them to us.

What I want to know is who would take these jobs?! Even if you’re a great candidate, even if you think the city needs really talented people, what kind of person would not see red-flags from this? If the city needs someone to helm, say, a “poverty initiative,” why not advertise for the job and see who’s interested? Maybe the best candidate is Tam Gordon, in which case, great! But maybe there’s someone else who’d be better. We’ll never know because these jobs weren’t posted. They’re not even defined. People became available and jobs were made up for them.

Friday, February 04, 2011

You made this relief donation possible

I have a long-standing practice at Enclave of donating any Google Ad revenue checks I get in the mail to worthwhile local non-profits who give so much back to the community. This week I received the thank you letter below from NNFRG for an Enclave donation to assist with flood recovery in North Nashville.

I'm posting it to pass the thanks on to the readers of this blog who made the donation possible by clicking on the ads. Kudos and gratitude to you.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Very little serious planning went into the plan for a new South Nashville park

Christine Kreyling underscores just how impetuous and regressive the plan for a new park at the old Fairgrounds was. We can sympathize with neighborhoods who want more green space at the Fairgrounds, but the desperate logic that any design is better than current conditions seems to produce more risk than benefit:

Tim Netch, Metro Parks' planning superintendent, confirms, "We will not proceed with the current park design [as requested by Mayor Karl Dean's office]."

This is good news, because the prospectus for the park-only plan could have produced a questionable result. For starters, the budget for design and construction was $2 million. That works out to 87 cents per square foot — a laughably low sum.

In addition, designers would have had to start planning while lacking key site information. No environmental, archaeological or geotechnical subsurface studies, no soil analyses, no searches for hazardous materials have been conducted for the property.

Under these circumstances, the joke circulating within the local design community was that the finalist firms should pray they'd lose.

All of this raises the question: Why didn't Mayor Dean initiate a master plan for the entire fairgrounds himself, rather than wait for Metro Council to do so?

....wouldn't it be nice for the Decider to have some objective basis for his decisions? The belief that scraping a site and starting over will necessarily produce positive results was the faith of urban renewal. Cities across America are still trying to recover from its effects.

Did it ever occur to any local journalists to interrupt the "racers-vs-neighborhoods" meme long enough to disclose these important planning details earlier than after their defeat in Metro Council?

One thing that Kreyling did not touch on was the risk of a new park to the Metro Parks budget that faces mayoral demands for cuts on an annual basis. I guess higher risks explain Metro Finance low-balling the cost of design and construction. If Metro cannot fund an existing park system toward growth rather than contraction, is it really responsible leadership for Mayor Karl Dean to propose a new, inadequately planned park that might further drain revenues that he is unwilling to raise?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Word to your Mayor

Tonight the Metro Council passed on third and final reading the Fairgrounds bill that requires the Fair Board to come up with a master plan for development of the property. CM Sandra Moore made a last minute attempt to suspend the rules to add an amendment, but her bid was defeated by two objections.

Now that the Fairgrounds development issue is back to where it should have started--within the community planning process rather than as a unilateral move by Karl Dean--a sage word for him who would lead us through a more inclusive, communicative process comes from Catherine McTamaney, who took the high road on her Facebook page after the 2nd reading on this bill:

good leadership is more like the steering a big ship than driving a steamroller. You move slowly, you get people feeling ok about the direction you're headed, and you keep the queasiness to a minimum, even in rough waters.

He needs to bring people along, even those with questions, by allowing them a sense of ownership of plans for public property.

Buena Vista elementary student attacks a fellow student with a pocketknife

Buena Vista Elementary Enhanced Option School is in the Buena Vista neighborhood on 9th Avenue, North:

Final estimates on public turnout for the last Fairgrounds public hearing are much larger than first reported

A local news media walk-back of early estimates closer to 1,000: