Monday, July 09, 2007

Here is an Idea: When between a Rock and a Hard Place, Do Not Endorse Any

The Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund--a PAC that represents over 20 neighborhoods (including Germantown here in the North End)--has endorsed at-Large Council Member and social conservative Carolyn Baldwin Tucker over fellow at-Large Council Member Diane Neighbors for Vice Mayor. They base their endorsement more on Ms. Neighbors' support of "business interests or developers on issues opposed by the neighborhoods impacted" than on what Ms. Tucker brings to the table, according to their news release.

The NNDF cites Ms. Neighbors' sponsorship of a car wash ordinance that would have relaxed zoning requirements in affected neighborhoods as reason for their snub. They claim that she promised to withdraw the ordinance, but later moved for passage without any explanation. NNDF had filed an ethics complaint letter against Ms. Neighbors last January. A number of neighborhood associations, including Salemtown's, spoke out publicly against the ordinance.

On the one hand, I am in absolute agreement with NNDF's refusal to endorse Diane Neighbors on the basis of her drift away from supporting neighborhood-based determination of neighborhood development. Ms. Neighbors has not earned the support of neighborhood leaders. I also believe that Charlie Tygard's rather unethical promotion of the bill as its co-sponsor is a huge strike against his candidacy for an at-Large seat.

On the other hand, NNDF's endorsement of Carolyn Baldwin Tucker is a complete mystery to me. The NNDF news release makes it clear that their opposition to Diane Neighbors is partly based on her support of the Westin Hotel project on Lower Broad. And yet, Ms. Tucker stated her support for the Westin project during Council debate and she voted for it.

I object to neither Ms. Neighbors' nor Ms. Tucker's support of the Westin, because I consider Mike Jameson's bill the best that Nashville could get to provide protective historic overlay for Lower Broad and place important restrictions (like LEED certification) on the Westin plans. Hence, I believe basing an endorsement of a Vice Mayor on the Westin vote is ridiculous, especially when their chosen candidate, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, supported it.

Moveover, one of the neighborhoods represented in the NNFD, Belmont-Hillsboro, did everything they could to obtain an overlay to protect the historic façades on some of the houses in their neighborhood, including turning out a mind-numbingly long parade of residents to the Council's Public Hearing of the matter. Was Ms. Tucker impressed by the vast throngs of proponents? Nope. She sided with the only 3 residents who rose to oppose it and used the impressive proponent turn-out to lecture neighborhood leaders, and waywardly so, on the merits of protecting "minority rights."

So, outside of just opposing Ms. Neighbors, I cannot fathom NNDF's support of Ms. Tucker at all. Yes, she has supported the cause of neighborhoods on some occasions, but several times her views, like those in the example of Belmont-Hillsboro, are just plain cockamamie. Opposing Ms. Neighbors is not a good reason to endorse Ms. Tucker. I would also argue that the latter's social conservativism and especially her advocating of funding Church of Christ ministries with 19,000 public dollars last year based on her own expressed fidelity to the Church of Christ are reasons not to endorse her.

The NNDF did not do neighborhoods a service by endorsing Ms. Tucker in the absence of Ms. Neighbors. This is a race that calls for no endorsement and no vote of support whatsoever.

1 comment:

  1. You are completely right that neither candidate deserves our support; it is either the ethically-challenged (putting it mildly) or cranially-challenged, neither presenting a good option. But, which is the lesser of two weevils?