Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This Evening's Council Meeting: A Veritable Cacophony

Well, I have not yet heard from either Tennessee Tax Revolt or Democracy for America Nashville on my suggestions for making tonight's protests at the Council more impressive. My wife--who is not easily impressed by my shenanigans--thought that the idea of reporting aggressive horn honking to Metro's Aggressive Driving Unit was a stroke of coolness.

I did happen to get word from DFAN that they are encouraging their members to bring bells to ring to remind people that "Liberty Isn't Free" (huh?). I do not believe that Metro has an aggressive pedestrian unit, so ringing bells may be a smarter tactic than TTR's horn-honking, even if I do not understand the title of their protest (actually, liberty is free, since one of the definitions of liberty is "the condition of being free," and does DFAN really want to create the perception that they oppose freedom? However, I fail to grasp what liberty has to do with the Metro budget. Now if they would have called it "Ringing the School Bell to Call For Support of Funding Metro Schools," that would have made more sense; this whole "Liberty" slant is fuzzy-headed, but now I digress).

According to a separate e-mail I received, a third group plans to join the flying circus: Tying Nashville Together is encouraging 300 of its members to attend in order to tell council members to “support the Mayor’s proposed funding levels for Nashville General Hospital; The Bridges to Care Program for public health; Health Inspectors and public education.”

Looks like it is shaping up to be a real fine event. DFAN says they're bringing the ice cream. If TTR brings cokes, let's have floats!

06/21/2005 10:50 p.m. Update: Am I mistaken or were there more bells than horns during the protests tonight? "There's only one cure: more cowbell!"

According to my very subjective and unscientific count of speakers at the public hearing, tax increase supporters outnumbered tax increase opponents approximately 85%-15%. I'm counting increase supporters as both those who spoke in favor of the Mayors budget as is and those who spoke in opposition to the Mayor's cuts to the school board budget (and hence, in favor of higher taxes than the Mayor proposes).

The TTR spokesman was one of the few tax increase opponents. He basically reiterated TTR's point that studies show people have been outmigrating from Downtown in the past. He got really shrill in asserting that these are "not estimates, but hard numbers!" What he failed to mention is that the numbers do not explain why people outmigrated in the years those studies were done: TTR reads "higher taxes" into that blank space. The numbers may be hard, but the connection to taxes is not. As I have written before: there are many reasons why migration from cities to suburbs occurs. The ominous tone the TTR spokesman took also made it sound like Nashville was increasingly becoming a ghost town. Looking around, I'd say that's simply wrong. I noticed that one of the Chamber of Commerce leaders who rose earlier to speak in favor of the Mayor's budget shook his head "no" at the "hard-numbers" claim. If a Chamber leader is rejecting your Chicken-Little economic prognostications, your cause may be in trouble. If it would be better to live in the suburbs, what are these TTR folks hanging on to?

06/22/2005 7:00 a.m. Update: The Republican Party Chairman predictably spoke against the Mayor's budget last night. During his talk he made passing reference to the this year's higher TCAP test scores, but he didn't concede that a 10% jump is remarkable. Were the Republicans pleased that Nashville students are doing better than they thought or disappointed that they could not use lower test scores as leverage against the Mayor's budget?

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