Thursday, November 07, 2013

And this guy claims to be Mayor of all Nashville?

I do not think that the Mayor's Office realizes just how polarizing their justification for not planning rapid transit for North Nashville is. I do not believe that this administration grasps how their cavalier response expresses the idea that Nashville is not one city, but a fractured arena of interests competing for Hizzoner's good graces. Or maybe they get it, but they just don't care. Their cynical replies to a reporter are not even subtle in sovereign tone:

community activists and council members from North Nashville soon took up the chorus, suggesting their part of town was getting screwed yet again on a major public investment. As recently as April, state Rep. Brenda Gilmore floated the mention of a lawsuit if the route was not altered.

All were valid concerns. The problem, to the Dean administration, was that they were coming years too late. By that point, according to the mayor's office and Metro transit officials, foundational decisions about the project had been set in stone.

So, if North Nashvillians wanted bus rapid transit we should have bellied up to the trough with our power and money like the wealthy West End business interests and leveraged the Metro Transit Authority budget decisions in our favor. Never mind that it would have been more ethical for the executive branch to insure that infrastructure was distributed fairly around the city in the real absence of greater influence and wealth.

In truth, many of us who have attended these "public" meetings know that there are 1,000-and-1 ways to use meetings to mask and to misdirect. Procedural tricks are used all the time by those who have mastered rules and bylaws to allow hidden agendas under the guise of transparency with deniability intact (see the excuse, "All of the meetings were public", as if the public can attend all of the meetings along with every other public meeting Metro holds).

Now, claiming that we are too late to the party is part of the confidence game. The Mayor's Office has it both ways. This thing is only set in stone now because meetings and decisions were orchestrated to foster impenetrability. And now we are the chumps who did not see it coming. As if we ever could have.

In my opinion MTA has already pulled a fast one on us by not publicizing the alternatives analysis (and I don't mean modes of transit alternatives under consideration). Had North Nashville leaders been able to see the results for studies outside the east-west corridor, they likely would have been mobilized to fight Karl Dean's exclusive reservation of BRT for West End.

But in this administration's preconceived notion of Nashville as a social Darwinist theater of winner-take-all, such popular mobilization is discouraged.

1 comment:

  1. Just to be clear: West Nashville residents were also blindsided by being too late, as foundational decisions about the project were already made before the neighborhoods just outside 440 on West End realized what would happen to their neighborhoods. And these are active, involved, noisy, nosey residents & neighborhood associations.

    I'm not sure what, *if any*, West End businesses interests lobbied for the BRT in its infancy. Is there any contemporaneous reporting? The BRT (born East-West Connector) has long been on the MTA's to-do list. With the opportunity to grab federal funding, the BRT zoomed up the charts with a bullet, becoming Project #1.

    BRT is a default decision based on the availability of federal funds. Not the best decision that will help the most people, but the fanciest, subsidized decision.