Monday, January 18, 2010

A news editor's formula for shilling the largest capital project in the city's history

The Nashville City Paper's anonymous "editorial voice" lays it out in its endorsement of Music City Center:

Step 1. Conceding the risk:
To state the obvious, there is risk in any major civic project, especially one where the taxpayers are the stopgap
Step 2. Resorting to cliches:
If we’re shy here and there, chances are we’ll bounce back in due course.
Step 3. Punting down denial:
[M]ost of the arguments we’ve seen against the convention center have been reductive and fear-based, which is no way to advance a world-class city.
Convention center boosters have been lapsing into denial since their spokesperson first declared that our leaders shouldn't share the downside of capital concepts with the voters. The CP editors are just warming over that argument by accusing critics of fear-mongering without any basis in reality. Anyone who has looked at the budget cuts over the last few years and watched the quality of Metro services shrivel knows that concerns about the risks are in fact reality-based. On the one hand, the Mayor's Office treats parks, libraries, and schools as if they can live with much less. On the other hand, the administration has thrown obscene amounts of money at the Music City Project even without the financing plan approved.

But the editors did not care to address the budget blunders the Dean administration has already brooked on its watch (overspending nearly $400,000 on MCC public relations in a recession). Yet another omission is more telling. Editors could freeze many wagging critical tongues by demonstrating how recent projects like the stadium and the arena are bankrolling schools and paying public services. Yet, they mention nary a word. And I suspect that they can't for the broken promises of Utopian amounts of revenues flowing in. The stadium agreement is in fact leeching Metro revenues from water services and will do so for the next 16 years. Like most MCC boosters, the editors are so infatuated with the idea they fail to focus on budget realities.

They prefer to imagine a convention center as if we all actually have equal shares in it. They would rather drink the Kool-Aid than rouse to smell the coffee. Dream on, editors, dream on.

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