Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Metro Council Member Megan Barry Bails And Fails

A year or so ago when CM at-Large Megan Barry was still remotely interested in this constituent's opinion about developments that affect neighborhoods she asked for my response to Charlie Tygard's unabashed bid to bring LED signs to neighborhoods. I told her over the phone that I see a profound difference between putting an LED in a high-density urban neighborhood where the bright lights would be right on top of neighbors and putting one in a suburb like Bellevue, which is where all of Tygard's misfit ideas seem to start. I told her that the more pragmatic and winnable solution was to let density determine placement of LED signs, effectively drawing the line at urban neighborhoods.

Her response to me was that she believed that all neighborhoods should resist LEDs and she encouraged me not to draw the line between urban and suburban on the LED issue. She said that she intended to fight LEDs in all neighborhoods and that LED opponents needed to hang together to win. So, I abandoned my pragmatic solution of drawing a line at neighborhoods like mine and got on the bandwagon of opposing LEDs altogether because I trusted Megan Barry.

I won't do that again, because CM Barry's statements in today's City Paper indicate that she is in retreat on LEDs. Not only is she no longer standing up to CM Tygard in the press, but she voted to support the latest LED task force proposal that will create conditions in any precinct where we live to erect light emitting diode billboards without the consent of the impacted neighborhoods; many churches that can have these billboards do not draw from the hyper-local communities in which they sit, and thus, do not have any obligation to them.

Here is Nate Rau's account of Barry's eroded, hedged, and triangulated position on LED billboards:
Fellow at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry reiterated her concerns about sign ordinance enforcement by the Codes Department, although she voted in favor of the task force’s recommendations.

“I think it gives the Council some opportunity to have some discussion about what they want to see go forward,” Barry said. “I do agree that… we may have created a bat to kill a gnat and that’s a concern. It’s definitely a concern for all the neighborhoods because they don’t want to see these things in their neighborhoods. The reality may be that they’re not going to see them, I don’t know. We need to have a good discussion on Council.”
That is one feeble and runny response compared to the stiff bravado that Megan Barry expressed to me when CM Tygard began playing the advocate of the sign lobby. Whether CM Barry played or betrayed this constituent is up in the air. All I know is I will be less likely to jettison my pragmatism next time around, and I'm going to once again advocate drawing the line at high density neighborhoods, which may fit the Nashville Business Coalition's interest of dividing and conquering sign opponents.

However, don't lay the blame at any neighborhood leader on that score. Megan Barry is failing neighborhood opponents on LED signage. She is the one choosing not to lead. Guys like me are just trying to keep LEDs as far away from our homes as possible.


  1. I wonder who at Lamar Advertising got to Megan Barry.

    I hate LED signs, anywhere, any kind. I hate them off the interstate. I hate them in retail shopping districts. I hate them on West End and I certainly hate them in residential areas.

    They are too bright and too distracting. I can't even bear to look at them, they hurt my eyes. I won't look at them, therefore I have no idea who even advertises on them.

    I live next door to a church and while I doubt they will erect an LED sign, knowing they could does not make me happy. This is a bone-headed idea from start to finish.

    The only people who want LED signs at all are Lamar Advertising.

  2. ...and Bobby Joslin.

  3. Megan has turned out not to be the neighborhood candidate we all thought she would be. She must be thinking about running for a higher office, thus needs to make the business community happy.

  4. The gig changes people and Megan Barry has changed. Her decisions are about political reality and not her constiuents at this point. Of course she'll deny that, and that's part of the change. I'm sure she really believes it.

    And it's not better to have LED in the burbs - you know - where we can actually (at this point) still see stars at night in our own backyards? LED will ruin that for many.

  5. What was the final vote on the Task Force's recommendation? I would like to know if anybody stood up for neighborhoods. Weren't there several citizens chosen to represent neighborhoods?

  6. The vote was 13 for, 1 abstaining, and 1 no.

    Neighborhood leader Burkley Allen was the only one with the smarts to see through Tygard's master plan to get his LED signs everywhere, and the only one with the guts to stand up to him and vote NO.

    This task force was stacked from the get-go. It did not represent the citizens of this city. The neighborhoods didn't even get to select their own representatives. They were hand picked by Tygard and Neighbors and now we see why. Didn't anyone ever wonder why the meetings were not televised or taped? On a decision with as much impact as this, citizens as well as council members were left in the dark if they could not meet downtown at 4pm when most people were still at work.

    The task force was a charade created to give the illusion that the citizens gave their input regarding the issue and that they had a part in an unbiased decision making process. It was nothing more than great theatre with the final script written before the show ever started.

    The recommendation from this task force should have no bearing on the decision that the Council makes regarding LED signs.

    Considering this task force's recommendation as fair representation of the citizensof Nashville would be asking AIG executives to make a recommendation on the bailout money.

    The citizens need to email all council members and tell them, "We do not want anymore LED signs period, and especially not near our neighborhoods."

    Our council members need to have the courage to stand up for their constituents and vote on their behalf, not on behalf of a hand- picked group led by Tygard and sign industry executives.