Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Kerr errs on Amp opposition

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the hoop-like excuse that Metro Transit apparatchiks may have held "public hearings" before they settled on "the AMP" (east-west bus rapid transit connector) is no reason to believe that those hearings were effectively conducted for the public. Tennessean Gail Kerr comments this morning, "There were early public hearings on whether we should build a bus route at all, but there were sparse details at that point." This may seem minor to some, but it confirms my view that the process is more rigged to keep the public uninformed and destablized so that stronger trump cards can be laid later. The public hearings were designed to keep us guessing, not to bring us on board to reach a consensual decision in which everyone won a little of something.

The only other interesting point in Ms. Kerr's column is the ironic encouragement of people to attend public hearings now, as if the process is substantively different than it was. She seems to be merely saying of the latest hoops, "It's real this time around." I suspect that what is real is the opposition the Mayor is facing from the neighborhoods down low and from Tennessee Republicans up high. Four late-called community meetings seeking input looks like a mad scramble to lend legitimacy to a limping bus line.

Otherwise, Kerr's column is unadulterated garbage. She calls those of us who advocate a northward leg "snooty" because she alleges we believe that buses should serve mostly "lower-income people". Nope. I advocate a northward leg because it would serve mostly people. Not corporations. Not tourism. Not wealthy campaign donors. Not property owners with maximized property values. Nope. I believe that mostly average folks of various incomes are whom a Charlotte Avenue line would serve. Her preconceived notions about who lives in North Nashville may make her the "snooty" one.

But what ultimately makes Ms. Kerr's hard copy not even worthy of chucking into the compost heap is that she expects opponents of the AMP not to differ in their motivations and in their strategies for expressing dissent to an east-west connector. She bases her assumptions about the resistance on an email thread "obtained" by a couple of reporters. That's right. An email thread. One of the more mercurial, fluid and volatile forms of communication; an email thread. She relies on that to opine that opponents are not unified, to insist that we are "disjointed".

But Ms. Kerr is confusing her snapshot of a lack of consensus on how to respond to the Mayor's next gambit with a lack of purpose or a lack of solidarity. And keep this in mind: Ms. Kerr herself was coached by a PR firm in the past to flip talking points to Tennessean op-ed. By such flack standards, democratic consensus may appear to be "disjointed" and lacking in a common goal. It is not the failing of opponents of the AMP that they have different views on how to get to the shared purpose of defeating an east-west connector. It is Ms. Kerr's own failing to step outside of a world where coordinated selling points are spoon-fed to journalists.


  1. I purposefully avoided reading that column, and I try to read all things Amp. Thanks for the confirmation that I did the right thing.

  2. I attended on of those early meetings at the downtown library. It was well attened, questions were asked-time allowing and one repeated concern about the route by business owners was addressed: they changed the route.

    I would prefer a BRT Lite bus like the one on Gallatin Rd, this would allow enough money for BRT Lite on West End AND Charlotte and maybe more but push com to shove I'lll take the Amp as a start to more and better bus service.

    It sems to me that much of the opposition is from folks in weathy enclaves who don't want the riff-raff in "thier" part of town.

  3. The neighborhoods along the Amp line past 440 are hardly "enclaves." They and their inhabitants are integral parts of the city itself, and the neighborhoods are open to all and there are all sorts of people living there (granted median income is probably pretty high).

    Being an open part of the community, of course, is part of the problem - Whitland, Cherokee and Richland West End fear cut-through traffic and even more West End traffic. As far as riff-raff - you are right: we don't you speeding down our streets or parking in front of our houses all day (much like those who live near burgeoning retail or restaurant areas).

    Most people I have discussed this with are not afraid of riff-raff taking the Amp to their neighborhood to go on a crime spree, then taking the Amp back home, if that's what you thought.

    Now, if you mean "enclave" to mean that there are expensive houses, you should have just said "expensive houses." But I suspect you were playing the class warfare card.

    1. I used the term "enclave" to mean homogenous and separate, not as a "gated community" or such.
      The Amp is intended to lower traffic on West End.

      Also I used it as a play on the name of this blog. Did you miss that?

  4. I am tired, tired, tired of hearing people in west Nashville maligned because they don't want the equivalent of a bus freeway installed down the middle of the major artery that serves their part of town, especially since the AMP will attract only 63 new bus riders west of 440. The fact that this project is being seriously entertained by ANYONE is a testament to the power of Hizzoner (and to the amount of PR and the number of bogus polls he can buy with public $).

    As planned, the AMP will require widening West End 40% to 50% from St. Thomas to 440. This amount of road work for 63 incremental riders is insane.

    As for homogenous, maybe Anon 1 needs to spend more time in the West Nashville neighborhoods on the AMP route. It's the neighborhoods further on out West End that are more homogenous. Which may be why Hizzoner's AMP plan stops at St. Thomas. White Bridge Road would have definitely been the AMP's Waterloo.


  5. Since the council just lowered the price for limo service in the city, it would be more cost effective to shuttle the 63 riders in a limo than to bankrupt what's left of the city's budget for the next 50 years. Who wants this really? I have heard it was Martha Ingram's vision. Let's use her money and her neighborhood.