Friday, November 12, 2010

Gender Curiosity

After watching a replay of Tuesday night's council fairgrounds debate, I think that the City Paper's Metro beat reporter singled out only one curiosity at the expense of a host of others:
Councilwoman Emily Evans offered the most curious line of attack last night when she referenced Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling’s former role as a commissioner on the fair board during portions of the Phil Bredesen and Bill Purcell administrations.
However, Mayor Dean's Economic and Community Development Director, Alexia Poe (who was introduced with the news that she was taking time away from her maternity leave to promote the Mayor's plan to move fairgrounds events like the flea market to Hickory Hollow mall) even more curiously brought up her maternity leave a second time in the middle of  her discussion. The manner in which she brought her personal situation into the policy discussion struck me as an insinuation that she thought the mall proposal so important that she was willing to sacrifice her right to be with her newborn.

It seems to me that maternity leave is mentioned once as a point of polite deference and respect. I do not question the nobility of sacrifice or the appropriateness of calling attention to it in the introductory remarks. But for the new mom to bring it up a second time smacks a little too much of piling on, that is, an emotional appeal that had nothing to do with the merits of the discussion about the fairgrounds.

Hence, it was most curious to me. And it was out-of-order.

I did not see the same level of curiosity that reporter Joey Garrison did in CM Evans noting that Karl Dean's Finance Director approached former Mayor Bill Purcell to lobby for privatizing the fairgrounds. Noting that Riebeling had been carrying the torch rather than responding to community priorities was evenhanded, and more importantly, it was on the subject of the merits of the proposal.

Why Garrison did not note the curiosity of Poe's reference to maternity leave in the middle of the debate is beyond me. I plan to watch the replay again on Metro 3 just in case I am missing something here. However, if my interpretation holds, I would reply to Ms. Poe that many of the people in the room were likely making personal sacrifices with respect to family members to spend 3 hours listening and discussing the fairgrounds proposal.

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