One of my problems with Karl Dean's administration is that he has spent his last two terms harping on how fat and chain-smoking and sedentary we are in Nashville and how we need to get out and exercise, as if we are all just a bunch of Xbox-addicted, reefer-mad preteens who eschew the playground for the couch-potato lifestyle. As if he were the model of physically fit BMI for the rest of us. As if he did not have other things he could be fixing, like say, unresponsive Metro government. Instead, of embracing the grueling decisions of governance that fall on those strong leaders whom we admire, Karl Dean has allowed corporate donors to fill in his agenda while he has embraced the easy rule of the "bully pulpit" while morally browbeating the personal shortcomings of individual Nashvillians. Guilt trips are working diversions from the challenges of running a metropolitan government.
If you read the rest of Dr. Bill Paul's May 31st Tennessean editorial (beyond the first sentence quoted above) you will see that it is another Deanastic lecture against personal choices to smoke and the lack of a personal choice in second-hand exposure to smoking. However, the first sentence could also apply to the recent risk that Metro Water services puts on surrounding communities by generating a new landfill to dump PCBs, lead, arsenic and petroleum, polluting the watershed and raising cancer risks. Plain and simple: it is a Metro agency's willingness to expose us to risk we did not choose on Mayor Karl Dean's watch. But while the Deaniacs make no bones about prompting individuals to feel guilty over personal responsibility in health issues, the Mayor's Office never, ever bullies agencies, organizations or businesses who behave irresponsibly in endangering public health.
I wonder what Dr. Bill Paul has to say about exposure to toxins and carcinogens where no smokers are present? The newspaper that carried Dr. Paul's op-ed never defies the will of the Dean administration. So, I'm not holding my breath for a Tennessean opinion piece by Dr. Paul or any of the editors against landfilling carcinogens in high-density urban neighborhoods, because they have Hizzoner to appease.
But Dr. Paul should know that I can imagine quite vividly the very distinct possibility that my neighbor's toxic waste might seep into my home as well as the homes of a lot of people around here.