Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Country Music Marathon photos: "Separation"

Country Music Marathon 2011 photos: leaders through the North End (mile 12 & mile 15)

David Kellum (7) leads near Salemtown and held on to win the men's marathon

Edwin Romero--in 2nd place through the North End--would finish 3rd

Giovanny Amador finished 4th

Tennessean Scott Wietecha would finish 2nd

Men's marathon winner David Kellum leads at the 15 mi mark on Rosa Parks

Laura Portis, who led the women through the North Nashville legs, finished 2nd

Women's marathon winner, Ruby Milena Riativa, was in 2nd place at 12 mi

Friday, April 29, 2011

North Nashville flood recovery lags: witness a "ghost town" neighborhood

Like in just about every other way, North Nashville is left behind in flood recovery as we near the 1st anniversary of the Great Nashville Flood. A story of suburban West Hamilton Drive from WPLN:

The retired firefighter has done everything he can to bring his own property back to normalcy, but the view from his front stoop is still much like it was in the weeks after the flood. “So what you do,” he says, “you just try to like–you see it but you don’t see it. You just kind of block it out your mind.”

“Some of the feelings that are brought up when you look out at a neighborhood that you truly cherish and see it’s not what it once was, that sense of loss can be reinforced.”

Photo credit: Cedric Smith
Brandon Hulette works for the United Methodist church, helping flood victims fix up their homes and rebuild their lives. Hulette says you can’t recover fully until your neighborhood does.

For background of the May 2010 flood's impact on the Bordeaux neighborhood jump back and see Betsy Phillips' personal account:

we found a neighbor's house in the road at the corner of Buena Vista and Hummingbird. Not a mobile home, an honest-to-god house that moved off its foundation and on down the street.

People were out. Some were milling around, checking in with each other. Others were already setting furniture out in the yard to dry out. The front yards on West Hamilton are full of other people's garbage, some of it probably mine.

Tucker Road doesn't go across Whites Creek anymore. At least, not for a while.

The neighborhoods Mayor

For 4 years now the Mayor's Office has been running a bait-and-switch against neighborhood organizations. In 2007 Karl Dean held a single "connecting communities" meeting, generally ignored neighborhood leaders' concerns and questions, and redirected attention to the mantra of education and schools. In 2008, the Mayor's Office in an newspaper article on neighborhood issues insisted that education and public safety were "the" neighborhood issues without reference to any other priorities. In 2009, the "Mayor's Night Out" meeting dedicated to neighborhoods was poorly communicated, and conditions that community leaders expressed as needing attention were not followed-up on. In 2010, Mayor Dean totally undermined an Antioch community task force's recommendations in order to attempt to dump Fairgrounds vendors into Hickory Hollow mall, insisting that he was helping Antioch and South Nashville neighborhoods and not the wealthy development interests behind the deal.

So, you will excuse my jadedness about the spate of "neighborhood gatherings" the Mayor has suddenly scheduled in 2011 to boost his re-election campaign and to gloss the thin veneer of grassroots. The first one was held in March in Madison under the auspices of a "food drive." Here is the Twitter exchange between me and one of the Tennessean reporters' feeds on the subject:

Michael Cass: Dean planning "neighborhood gathering" in Madison this weekend, asking supporters to bring food to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank
Me: Isn't that "neighborhood gathering" actually a fundraiser for the Dean campaign?
Cass: The announcement I saw only mentioned bringing food for Second Harvest, but I'll check.
Cass: Campaign says it's not a fundraiser; people can give if they want but aren't expected to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayor Dean chooses to burn Metro cash reserves rather than to raise taxes during his reelection year

Apparently, the boldest plan Mayor Karl Dean proposed in today's "State of Metro" agenda is to use federal funds to motivate Nashvillians to stop eating to extremes. But aside from acting the Diet Tzar over money headed in from elsewhere, the Mayor, who intends to keep his office for a second term, has no intentions of raising revenues before the election to fill the expanding chasm between income and expenses:

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is choosing to dip into the city’s reserve fund to balance next year’s budget .... to avoid a property tax hike.
“The alternative of asking our citizens to pay more in property taxes while they struggle to make their own ends meet would not have been the right thing to do. This year, our approach to the budget will be the same. We will not raise property taxes.”
Asked if the city could go another four years without a tax increase, Dean – who is running for reelection – said he wouldn’t speculate.

I have seen nothing to indicate that the Mayor has plans for Metro to pay what amounts to a self-loan back to the schools' rainy day fund in the future.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Charter schools: emblematic of our zero-sum culture

A relevant exchange between father and daughter in last season's HBO series "Treme," set in post-Katrina New Orleans:

Sophia:      Where'm I gonna to go to school?
Creighton:  Tulane's working on something for faculty kids. Lusher.
Sophia:       Lusher's not a high school, Daddy.
Creighton:  They're adding high school.
Sophia:       Plus it's public.
Creighton:   Not anymore, it's charter.
Sophia:       Where are they going to put the high school?
Creighton:   They're taking over Fortier.
Sophia:       What about the Fortier kids? Where are they going to go?
Creighton:   Somewhere else, I guess.
Sophia:       That's not fair.
Creighton:   Probably not. That's where we're at now. You want to go to school in New Orleans? So this is how it works. It's a zero-sum world, honey. Somebody wins. Somebody loses.

Part of the reason why I am so appalled by Democrats' support of charter schools is that it is pompous, yet poorly disguised social Darwinism that helps a fraction of the children that require help. It's a zero-sum equation packaged and branded as an opportunity for a disadvantaged generation.

Yet, because of government subsidies, a lot of Democrats (let alone Republicans) stand to make a lot of money off the charter "movement," which exploits the desperation that many parent feel about public schools. I don't know which is more despicable: Republicans, who celebrate the zero-sum game, or Democrats, who participate in under the guise of helping a tiny sliver of the truly disadvantaged for the empty symbolism and the economic opportunities.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

About Tennessee Republicans' attempt to micromanage Metro Nashville

An Enclave reader writes to express dissatisfaction with the failure of the press to draw out the hypocrisy of a Williamson County Republican's attempt to kill Metro Nashville's non-discrimination ordinance from the top-down in the General Assembly:

Did you know State Representative Glenn Cassada opposed the Metro anti-discrimination ordinance against GLBT and wants to overturn it?

Did you know Cassada doesn’t live in Davidson Co?

Did you know Cassada has worked for the Pharmacy giant Merck/Schering Plough in the animal health division of for the last 23 years?

Did you know Merck/Schering Plough has its own diversity program for both employees and suppliers (

Did you know Merck/Schering Plough celebrates it number 9th position in the Top 10 companies for GLBT employees (

Did you know the company Cassada works for has its OWN supplier diversity definitions (

If it is not bad enough that Tennessee Republicans look dishonest on this red-meat issue, the Out and About blog points out that they are on the same side of Tennessee history as the 1920s Knoxville Ku Klux Klan.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

That's cold: caught burglar breaks into Metro Action/Head Start classroom, steals computer

A message forwarded to the Salemtown elist from MAC official Cynthia Croom:

We had a break in [at the Fehr School building in Salemtown last night] and I am glad to say the individual was apprehended. It appears he took one of our classroom computers that we utilize for the [at-risk] children. The alarm system picked up the break in and Metro was dispatched.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dean's confederate Kerr to critics: STFU!

In today's edition of the local daily, columnist Gail Kerr--who once received PR coaching to support the Mayor's Office at a $2,500 cost to Metro taxpayers--is back, and her unexamined, mercenary shilling for Karl Dean is the same as it ever was.

I'm a fool to do your dirty work, oh yeah. But she seems to like doing it.

Kerr's formula is consistent with an earlier column where there were "5 or 6" Dean critics mentioned, but at least she's not suggesting this time that without this Mayor Nashville would be facing a horrible catastrophe, and at least she avoided unwarranted, apoplectic attacks on individual Dean critics by name.

At this rate, the Tennessean may award Karl Dean their Tennessean of the Year Award for the second year running. Everything Gail Kerr does to help that cause has to be appreciated at the Courthouse.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hip Hop Kids don't want to hear negativity

Remember the SNL Hip Hop Kids skit where straight questions didn't fly?

Jo-Jessica:  Yo, why'd we take a shortcut through a mine shaft in the first place?

Trey-J:        Negativity ain't helping, Jo-Jessica

Every once in a while the Justin Timberlakes of the local social networks will lob a "Haters gonna hate" at me, and I cannot help but hear: "Your negativity ain't helping, Jo-Jessica." Maybe Trey-J would rather I dance it out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nashville-based company signs Canadian conservation agreement, but did they also get permission to pollute?

CTV reports that the L-P Corporation has signed a landmark conservation agreement that allows their vendors to hold them accountable for "sustainable harvesting":

Nine companies – from newspaper and magazine publishers to office supply retailers to consumer products companies – are part of the new Boreal Business Forum. The roundtable group will meet regularly to monitor progress made by 21 member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) who signed on to the conservation deal last year.

Among the goals of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement are more sustainable harvesting practices and habitat protection for 72 million hectares of forest across the country.

FPAC companies – including .... Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. – have committed to suspending logging operations on nearly 29 million hectares and implementing conservation plans for endangered woodland caribou.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It may take a mogul to move the Mayor

I was struck by sequence of events in the process by which Mayor Karl Dean made the decision to do the right thing on nondiscrimination and Metro contractors (as unpacked in the Tennessean). Apparently, it took a mogul to help the Mayor decide:

Nashville music mogul Mike Curb and Mayor Karl Dean unexpectedly crossed paths [in February] on separate business trips to Southern California.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Campaign behind the curve?

According to a specialist on local governments and economic development, outsourcing government functions (a.k.a. "public/private partnerships") does not live up to the cost savings promised and is actually the wave of the past, not the future:

Privatization peaked among local governments in 1997. From 1992 to 1997 new outsourcing contracts accounted for 18 percent of all service delivery, while in-sourcing was 11 percent. The ratios shifted in the 1997-2002 period with in-sourcing exceeding new contracts out by 50 percent. From 2002 to 2007 the rates were about equal (new contracts out were 11 percent, contracting back in was 12 percent). So the pendulum swings.

So, is this tweeted talking point pushing the envelope or falling behind the curve?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What community input?

From a curious article announcing but not explaining "community input" on a proposed Nashville ballpark for the Sounds:

Nashville is seeking community input regarding alternative ballpark locations for the Nashville Sounds ..., providing a breath of fresh air to the proceedings ....

the city is taking a more deliberative approach to the new-ballpark issue. The former Sulphur Dell site has been mentioned prominently as the potential new-ballpark site, though there are plenty of issues (parking, state of the surrounding neighborhood) with that site as well, nostalgia aside ....

Last fall the Sounds started working with University of Tennessee College of Architecture graduate students and the Nashville Civic Design Center on alternative ballpark sites. The results of that work is now on display at the Center, and officials there are hoping the proposals will spur further discussions about potential ballpark sites.

I have seen no reports of open community events sponsored by city officials soliciting community feedback.

I have seen Friends of Sulphur Dell, a coordinated, on-message group of unqualified ballpark supporters, dedicated to shaping public opinion to a new ballpark in the Bicentennial Mall area.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Land Trust for Tennessee webpage focuses on private, gated park that thrives on "exclusivity"

I find it interesting that the Land Trust for Tennessee is promoting a belated announcement of "Nashville's Open Space Plan" Thursday morning with Mayor Karl Dean. It is interesting enough that a high profile Bredesenista was brought in to get this project back on track. But even more interesting to me is the tension between the concept of open space promoted at the Land Trust's website with a picture of Adelicia Park, a gated park only accessible by residents of Midtown's swanky high-rise, "The Adelicia." Celebrity and penthouse luminary Taylor Swift has access to the park, and The Adelicia promotes its "open" space as their residents' own "idyllic escape" and a private space of "exclusivity."

Erica Gilmore leads on nondiscrimination requirement for Metro contractors but likely to no avail

CM Gilmore quarterbacked the nondiscrimination bill to passage last week over the opposition of conservative CMs:

Jim "Judgment Day" Gotto
What the report does not show is conservative Jim Gotto--who is also a Republican state representative in the Assembly--suggesting that a nondiscrimination requirement might have lead Metro to avoid hiring the highly specialized water filtering services of a company during last May's flood. That's right. Mr. Gotto insinuated that our very access to clean water in a catastrophic flood depends on Metro not having an apocalyptic ordinance that would require city contractors to include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

You can observe the Nashville flood anniversary by celebrating a re-election campaign

The Dean for Mayor re-election campaign refuses to let any solemn observance of a 1,000-year flood event distract from its mission to put its candidate back in the Courthouse for a second term. Today the Dean for Mayor shop sent an email blast from the Mayor's Office announcing the May flood observance with a campaign flair. The Dean team has been confounding campaign and Mayor's Office as highlighted below for a long time:

Click on image to enlarge

Tennessean reporter Michael Cass contacted the Mayor's Office, which as usual minimized the dilemmas caused by their behavior, and they even tried to credit the campaign as a service to save taxpayer money with the email blast.  Cass also noted that Karl Dean's original campaign kicked off at the very Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge where the campaign continues on May 2, 2011.

I might be overreacting to a coincidence of the flood being linked to re-election aspirations, unless I'm not.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

About those journalistic double standards that render the journo part of the story

Here's your difficult truth: Your guy [referring to Darden Copeland] is as much a part of the "elite" you rail against as [James] Weaver or anyone else. Sorry, dude.

I've got to hand it to George. At least he was willing to put his name by his uncorroborated comments. Typically when I get accused of being a tool (or, in George's words, "angling" online writing in coordination with PR firms and lobbyists) it is the anonymous trolls spouting bottomless conjecture they wouldn't sign their name to. But Stephen George incorrectly tweeted that the PR specialist hired to mobilize the movement to preserve the Fairgrounds was "my guy," which indicated to me that I was among the unnamed whom George speculated Darden Copeland "harnessed."

Friday, April 08, 2011

After being swallowed up by chatter on Sulphur Dell ballpark, the question of long-planned African American culture museum resurfaces

Last month I openly questioned why top-down discussions about a proposed ballpark at Sulphur Dell--generated mostly by a campaigning CM Jerry Maynard--have mowed down older plans for building the Museum of African American Music, Art, and Culture at the corner of Jefferson Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard.

This week CM Erica Gilmore's Office sent out an e-mail that includes an update on the museum:

Community Meeting

Goodwill Industries
1000 Herman Street
Nashville, TN 37208

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Update and Renderings from the African American Museum, Director Paula Roberts

Let's hope the focus on development gets back on the long-term and older commitments instead of chasing election-year dreams of a ballpark that help sweeten campaigns but don't help our North Nashville community at this point. Local news media still hasn't touched the question of the museum in a long time.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Newspaper repeats: TDOT says that stopping noise they make possible is Salemtown's task

I was wondering when this story was going to show up. Given that this project started almost a year ago, the Tennessean seems to be playing catch-up at a very late stage. Reporter Nancy DeVille sort of portrays some of the frustrations Salemtown residents have expressed with TDOT:

Enclave was first to break this news in February confirmed today: Dean hires another Bredesenista while pressing for department budget cuts

Press release from the Mayor's Office confirms news I broke February 7:

Former Bredesen Staff Member Appointed Chief Administrative Officer
in the Mayor’s Office

Mayor Dean keeps CM Gilmore close-hauled on regs on businesses subsidized by Metro

From this morning's Nashville Business Journal:

Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore withdrew a bill Tuesday that would have required companies receiving economic development incentives to disclose internal demographic information, such as race and gender.

The bill was up for second reading, and would have required passage Tuesday and one more time before going before Mayor Karl Dean. Gilmore said after speaking to Dean and business representatives that she’d decided the bill was “a little restrictive.”

I supported our CM's bill before withdrawal because it is the right thing to do and not an onerous requirement, given that these businesses would benefit from the public dole. They would not apply to just any business. I am disappointed that CM Gilmore bowed to the Mayor's tendency to overreact to any requirements that do not come directly from Finance Director Rich Riebeling's little camarilla of influence.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A long time coming and going

MAC's new home come June
After listening to the Director of Metro General Services tell the Mayor during budget hearings last week that the administration of the Metro Action Commission would be moving from their long-time Salemtown home at the historic, but service-delivery-challenged Fehr School building, I grew concerned. My worry was that Metro might be splitting the executives and keeping the services here, which would not solve the problems that MAC and Salemtown have had with dumping utility assistance delivery to needy families in a small school building with inadequate parking.

April storm takes down large Salemtown trees

One of those large trees was ours, which a neighbor reports was hit by lightning yesterday afternoon. So far estimated damages to property are over $1,000. And that's just the fence damage. There was some exterior house damage and tree damage that have yet to be estimated.

There is also a large tree down across 7th Avenue, North totally blocking the road.

UPDATE: A pro arborist told me today the tree was not hit by lightning but was blown down. Estimated costs of damages up to around $3,500.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Gruhn challenges Tennessean reporter's story

Fairgrounds preservationists sent out an email blast tonight that included a letter to the editor from well-known and reputable local businessman George Gruhn on a local organization's latest terms for the Fairgrounds:
The top of the page headline in the Local News section of the Sunday April 3 Tennessean entitled Neighbors Offer Racing Deal states "The South Nashville Action People neighborhood group has reached an agreement with fair board chairman James Weaver that would allow five racing weekends in both 2011 and 2012." implies in no uncertain terms that a final deal has been reached when in fact any such decision needs to be made by the full fair board which does not meet until April 5 and later in the same article it is mentioned that Weaver stated that he didn't know if the full board would support this so-called compromise he had worked out without consultation with other board members.

The South Nashville Action People group comprises a small minority of neighborhood residents. There has been no vote giving SNAP authority to represent people who live in this area. Furthermore it should be noted that the fairgrounds are a publicly owned facility belonging the citizens of Davidson County as a whole rather than the local neighborhood. The Metro Council has already passed legislation keeping the fairgrounds open and approving racing as well as other activities currently held at the facility.

SNAP makes third unilateral move against the Fairgrounds

There they go again.

First, the South Nashville Action People organization supported Mayor Karl Dean's plan to exile the State Fairgrounds Expo's fleamarket to Hickory Hollow mall and sell off the property to private developers. After the exile scheme crashed and burned, SNAP backed the Mayor's plan to keep the fleamarket for a short time but demolish the racetrack. Then that pitch was crushed by an opposition whose scale dwarfed the handful of SNAP reps we've actually seen.

A few days ago SNAP leaders made its third unilateral attempt to dictate its terms without direct negotiation with Fairgrounds supporters in Davidson County. Yesterday I obtained a copy of the SNAP document called "Community/Neighborhood Terms for a 2011-2012 Race Track Lease," which I posted at Google Docs. Look over the document and give your feedback in the comments section.