Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Metro Services in 2008

Because of the limits that following the TVA disaster has placed on my disposable research and writing time, I am not able in 2008 to pour the usual amount of effort into Enclave's Annual Best and Worst of Metro Services. So, I am going with a concise format of what I found to be the good, the bad and the ugly in Metropolitan Nashville governance. If you are a devoted Deaniac, you should stop reading here because if I were doing the regular format, the things I hit on below would have sunk the Mayor's Office to the bottom of the worst Metro services this year (even though Mayor Dean did make a laudable effort to fight English Only).
  • January
    • The good: Metro Police caught the thief of the Metro Election Commission laptops and located the hard drives at "rave-type" coffee bar, effectively dispelling a Wachenhut-contracted security guard's claims that the computers were stolen before he was on Christmas Eve duty.
    • The bad: Mayor Karl Dean singled out Metro ITS for the heist of Election Commission and promised security changes without any reference to culpability in either his office or former Mayor Bill Purcell's regarding a building alarm and camera system that was turned off on Christmas Eve 2007.
    • The ugly: Metro Legal lead with a wrist slap on Wachenhut. CM Charlie Tygard intended to go where Buck Dozier failed to go before: LEDland. Metro's computer chief had laptop stolen from his own car during Metro's IT security audit.
  • February
    • The good: Metro Parks says Morgan Park will get a playground by summer.
    • The bad: Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver wanted Metro to buy him a new car! CM Tygard's LED bill passes first reading with no debate, thanks to Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors' new iron-fist of order.
    • The ugly: CM Tygard blamed former Mayor Bill Purcell for Metro's budget problems a year after the council was spending discretionary funds furiously on pet non-profits.
  • March
    • The good: Council members paid attention to flood of neighborhood emails opposing Tygard's LED bill. Metro Public Works responded to traffic complaints in Salemtown.
    • The bad: Zoning Administrator Sonny West ignored popular opposition to the LED bill.
    • The ugly: government haters kept angling for Metro government jobs.
  • April
    • The good: CM Megan Barry called upon Vice Mayor to appoint a representative LED task force to study the LED proposal.
    • The bad: Tygard appointed his own task force to rubber stamp LED recommendations.
    • The ugly: Mayor Karl Dean appointed pro-development darling of the conservative Nashville Business Coalition, Chris Whitson, to Metro's Board of Zoning Appeals.
  • May
    • The good: CM Mike Jameson showed himself to be the only CM with the backbone to stand up and counter-punch the Dean administration's pro-development leanings.
    • The bad: Metro Police called to Salemtown to deal with drunken party brawls and indecent exposures across various properties only to excuse the law-breakers as part of a "Meharry Medical graduation party."
    • The ugly: Mayor Karl Dean rumored to eliminate pro-neighborhood Metro leaders on behalf of developers.
  • June
    • The good: Metro Planning Commission disapproved 7th & Garfield development and asked developer to get all of his ducks in a row before coming back.
    • The bad: Metro Council meeting again turned into a bash-Purcell-fest, and yet, usually iron-fisted Vice Mayor Neighbors did not lift a finger to rule it out of order.
    • The ugly: Metro Council followed "Developers Playbook" and scheduled planning and rezoning public hearings just before a major travel holiday.
  • July
    • The good: CM Emily Evans challenged fabrications of the May Town Center developers.
    • The bad: Metro Planning Department moved May Town Center proposal to the Planning Commission for a vote on the strength of the developers' studies because they lacked the funds to conduct their own economic impact study.
    • The ugly: Mayor Karl Dean allowed without objection the local media to write his role as Metro Legal chief out of the narrative on why the Bush Justice Department was investigating a council rezoning issue.
  • August
    • The good: Metro Parks met with Sylvan Park neighbors of Richland Park to consider expansion, including an amphitheatre.
    • The bad: summer ended without Metro Parks fulfilling its February promise to install a playground at Morgan Park.
    • The ugly: I received an icy monologue from Sylvan Park CM Jason Holleman comparing the property values in Sylvan Park to Morgan Park Place condos rather than to anything in Salemtown, which also borders on Morgan Park and which has never even asked for an amphitheatre.
  • September
    • The good: at least we did not have to live with Williamson Co. Republicans.
    • The bad: because of snafus, Metro Police and Metro Youth Services delayed sending detectives to Salemtown to investigate a teenage shooting, failing to support Mayor Karl Dean's central campaign promise to deal effectively with youth crime.
    • The ugly: based on the narrative of Tennessean reporter Janell Ross, Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas asserted that "all too often" suspicious person calls are racist calls.
  • October
    • The good: you fill in the blank ____________.
    • The bad: Metro Youth Services Detectives still had not followed up with the teen victim of a Salemtown shooting.
    • The ugly: CM Jim Gotto resurrected the perennial empty patriotic gesture of introducing a memorializing resolution to put cheap yellow ribbons on poles at the Courthouse Square because he got a nod that the Dean Administration would make Parks follow through this time.
  • November
    • The good: somewhere Tony Orlando is smiling.
    • The bad: Metro Police were clearly the only ones responding to crime in after hours bars.
    • The ugly: while the press pounced on Metro Council attempts to deal with after hours crime, Mayor Karl Dean, who had run for office on the promise of dealing with youth and gang crime did nothing.
  • December
    • The good: the war on Christmas nonsense seemed to stay away from Metro this year.
    • The bad: Metro Public works was "unresponsive" to Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors and CM Keith Durbin.
    • The ugly: Mayor Dean promised CM Erica Gilmore that installation Morgan Park playground equipment is still going to happen.

Happy New Year, everyone! And we still deserve a better year from Metro than we got the last one.

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