Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright -- Updated with Ham & Biscuits

I just watched some of the replay of the Council's August 8 Budget & Finance Committee hearings involving the Parks Department and the Capital Budget. Lordy, it was quite a sight. Member Charlie Tygard had a meltdown and blew a couple of gaskets at the Historical Commission representative who was speaking on behalf of renovations to the historic City Cemetery's deteriorating stonework. He interrupted her with more shrill venom than I've ever heard in a Council proceeding, and he launched into a tirade (or is that "a tyrade"?).

To paraphrase: he is miffed that the courthouse renovations and public plaza construction are overbudget, even as he can't get drainage ditches or other flooding problems in his district taken care of or get libraries built in west Nashville. What his temper-tantrum proved I cannot tell you. He seemed like a loose cannon firing volleys at any soul remotely associated with Parks. I understand that he's pissed at Parks about the public square, but why take it out on the poor woman representing the Historical Commission? She had nothing to do with the courthouse renovations problems and, as member Ginger Hauser pointed out later, she has absolutely no control over the courthouse budget.

Rather than taking the opportunity that Hauser provided him to apologize, Tygard buzzed in again and seemed to divert by saying that many of the e-mail complaints that he gets about the Cemetery concern overgrown weeds rather than deteriorating stones. (He did concede that he had never been in the City Cemetery to do his own research). A Parks Department representative deftly handled Tygard's question by saying that maintenance crews were instructed not to use weed-eaters too close to historic, crumbling stones in the event that they would do more damage.

Apparently, Charlie is not going to let the fact that he has no first-hand knowledge of problems in the City Cemetery stop him from grinding his axe about the Capital Budget and trying to bully Department Heads whom he thinks have have failed his bidding, even if innocently so. The Chair should have thrown a bucket of water on the guy to put out his flames.

08/11/2006, 1:00 p.m. "Ham & Biscuits" Update: Just watched the tape again. I should add that the Historical Commission official, Director Ann Roberts, handled herself well in the face of the "tyrade." When Tygard started "scolding" her (in his words), she told him that she invited Council members to the City Cemetery on a number occasions without any response. She said that she even personally made ham and biscuits for them on one occasion, but it wasn't enough to get them there! After Charlie tore into her about the courthouse, she actually apologized to him for not warning him "loud enough" about cemetery problems. However, she said, the cemetery does not seem to get Council attention until things get "desparate."

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