Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors hands almost all of this year's Metro Council committee chairs to convention center kowtows

Diane Neighbors, Karl Dean's Metro Council hammer, sent the list of her Metro Council committee chair appointments to the local news media today. Here is the list of non-boat-rockers:
Budget and Finance -- Megan Barry
Charter Revision -- Randy Foster
Codes, Fair, and Farmers Market -- Vivian Wilhoite
Convention and Tourism -- Rip Ryman
Education -- Erica Gilmore
Federal Grants Review -- Frank Harrison
Health, Hospitals and Social Services -- Jim Forkum
Parks, Library, and Recreation and Public Entertainment Facility -- Jerry Maynard
Personnel-Public Information-Human Relations-Housing -- Parker Toler
Public Safety-Beer and Regulated Beverages -- Edith Taylor Langster
Public Works -- Jim Hodge
Rules-Confirmations-Public Elections -- Greg Adkins
Transportation and Aviation -- Anna Page
All but one of these committee chairs voted yes to Mayor Karl Dean's convention center project. Looking at this list could make one wonder whether the Vice Mayor believes administration critics have the ability to lead Metro Council. Particularly noteworthy is CM Barry's appointment to the Mayor's little resolution compressor, the Council Budget and Finance Committee.

It is not just that Ms. Barry uncritically supported the Music City Center. There has been very little coming from the Mayor's Office that Megan Barry has not promoted. Along with CM Ronnie Steine, she represents the path of least resistance to Karl Dean.

Whether the foolhardy, imminently floodable placement of the West Police Precinct or the Mayor's inequitable levy of new stormwater fees favoring those who generate the most runoff or the laughable, symbolic "living wage" initiative that helped fourteen out of thousands of Metro employees, Megan Barry has uncritically carried Karl Dean's water. Now she's reaping the benefit of controlling council's most powerful committee on the Mayor's behalf.

With this bunch of kowtow committee chairs, expect more of the same inconsequential deference from Metro Council that we've grown used to for the last 3 years. Few rivals, challengers, or interrogators in the bunch. No room for independent or unflinching honesty since they will be too busy grooming their political fortunes while riding Karl Dean's coattails.

UPDATE: local Democratic Party booster Sean Braisted suggests I'm seeing black helicopters or a shooter on the grassy knoll rather than being a chastened realist about how local government works or how Megan Barry's actual service has not matched her campaign posture of being an independent voice on Metro Council. Sean's already got personal investment in fighting for certain partisans, so much of what he blogs about local Metro watchdogs like me who value independence have to be read through a Davidson-Democrat-oriented lens.

I commented a response on Sean's blog, but the reply-to-end-all-replies to Sean and other Barry boosters is, "Let's see if CM Barry finally finds her own voice as chair of the Budget and Finance committee or whether she will be as CM Steine was: an intercom for the Mayor's Office. Let's see see if she can bring herself to critique Dean policies publicly that are actually somewhat less than progressive. Or let's just see if she continues to advocate the Dean Machine line even when it is not progressive and even as she ducks accountability for her regressive votes."


  1. didnt you support and endorse Megan Barry in her run for council?

  2. I did. If I had it to do all over again I would not. I made a mistake.

  3. The smartest Councilmember, Emily Evans, is ignored again proving...

  4. The vice mayor is very busy these days. Not only is she running back and forth to the Mayor's office to get approval on these rubber stampers, word is that she is out recruiting people to run in disctricts where there are no incumbents. Busy, busy.

  5. Stay tuned for committee appointments. This should be even more telling than the chair appointments. Do trust that all the "Mayor's men" will be appointed to Budget & Finance.