Sunday, January 17, 2010

Metro Council's newest member bucks Nashville's power brokers to represent his constituents

No one would have blamed CM Jamie Hollin if he had gone slow and went along with the crowd in Metro Council on contentious issues after ousting Pam Murray and taking the reigns of District 5 two months ago. But, low and behold, in advance of the council's probable approval of the Music City Center on Tuesday, CM Hollin told constituents he will not conform to this rubber-stamp council:
It is abundantly clear the overwhelming majority of you are opposed to the project. Most of you have expressed your desire to vote on this matter in a referendum, if available. If not, you asked me to follow your wishes and vote against the proposal.

Others from outside the district stated to me privately I am in the best position to understand the overall impact on Nashville and how it may improve the chances of employment opportunities for the district’s residents in spite of your opposition. I have shared this information with you and you’ve responded the jobs are too speculative in light of the extraordinary costs. I trust your intellect and judgment. Your opposition is clear. No harm in waiting you’ve said, at least until we have a hotel financing package.

My view of the job you’ve given me is to inform you of the facts, ascertain your will, and then advocate on your behalf—even if it contradicts with my own personal opinion. For me, this is the fundamental principle underlying public service. I take this to heart. Upon request, I provided you with the documents at my disposal. We may need a new convention center and hotel you’ve said, but not in the current economic recession we find ourselves. And, we shouldn’t consider them separately. I don’t disagree ....

In light of our last year, I am keenly aware of failing to represent the wishes of the constituents. It is inexcusable. My first obligation is to you ....

This puts me in a position adverse to the administration, the Chamber of Commerce, some of my friends and campaign supporters. I don’t expect all of them to understand, yet I hope they will. However, I do expect them to respect the decision. Reasonable minds often differ indeed. I work for you and will be voting against the proposal, which conforms to my personal opinion. I hope the experts and the supporters are right—the consequences are grave if they’re wrong.

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