Monday, January 15, 2007

Telling Moments from the Car Wash Exemption Debate on January 2

You should do yourself a favor and watch the two specific video files in the council archives that show the car wash exemption bill public hearing and the ensuing council debate. You should see these highlights for yourself:

  • There was only one proponent to speak in favor of the car wash exemption during the Public Hearing. His name is Joe Meeks and he is one of the property owners intending to build a car wash. After his speaking time ended, Ludye Wallace (Dist. 19) came up to him, said something, and shook his hand. That may or may not be significant, but Ludye failed to show opponents such partiality.
  • Mayoral candidate Buck Dozier (at Large) attempted to end Council debate on the car wash exemption bill immediately after the bill's two co-sponsors, Diane Neighbors and Charlie Tygard responded to the Public Hearing feedback. Dozier called for "the previous question"--which effectively ends deliberations and prompts a vote on the bill--before any bill opponents had the chance to speak. When the council voted on Dozier's motion, there were enough "no" votes to kill it and keep deliberations going. Buck Dozier has not yet disclosed any ties to car wash developers, even though he has built a substantial campaign war chest in his run for Mayor. Given his attempt to cut off debate, I am bound to ask whether Dozier is as committed as original sponsor Amanda McClendon to a "full and honest" debate. If we ever do find out his financial ties, this vote might hang like an albatross around his mayoral hopes.
  • During council debate car wash exemption proponents kept referring to the Planning Commission's approval of their bill. However, when Ludye Wallace asked a Planning official whether he thought Tygard's defense of the bill was "true," the Planning official did not exactly leap forward with a glowing endorsement. He brushed Wallace off and he stated that the bill lacked conditions that the Planning Commission had recommended, including one "to address the needs for parking restrictions on automatic car washes." That official said he was in the middle of e-mailing Tygard about that omission when Ludye called on him. What a futile attempt to get rubber stamped that proved to be.
  • Despite the fact that during the Public Hearing opponents of the exemption bill outnumbered proponents 3-to-1, Harold White (Dist. 14) barked to his fellows, "I do not believe that one group of two people coming from White Bridge Road to be against [the exemption bill] represents all of Davidson County." And one self-interested car wash developer does represent the County, Mr. White?
  • John Summers (Dist. 24) cut to the chase in his opposing comments:
    [The car wash exemption] bill is here because there are some people that want to be able to put in a car wash where they want to put in a car wash. And rather than sitting down and working with you as the district Council Member and working with neighbors ... and working with other property owners and trying to find a compromise, they just want to be able to go down to Codes and get their permit.

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