Friday, January 21, 2011

Green Hills neighborhood leader's dispatch on double standards during last Tuesday night's Fairground public hearing

Charlotte Cooper sent me the following message the day after she went to the Courthouse to observe Metro Council consideration of the Mayor's Fairgrounds plan. She pointed out some important and unbalanced power dynamics that I missed from my live-blogging perspective while watching it on Metro 3.

Charlotte is a long-time advocate for her Green Hills neighborhood, so she is attuned to local politics and offers a simultaneously significant and troubling point-of-view:

I was in attendance, in the council chamber. One thing I did not see in your "live blog" was how the red shirt [opponents of Mayor's plan] speakers were treated. The yellow shirts [supporters of Mayor's plan] were allowed to line up their speakers in any fashion they wanted. When it was time for the opponents (red shirts) to speak [Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors] announced a change in lining up - starting with the back row of the chamber.
Photo credit: CM Jamie Hollin
It was pointed out neighbors of the Fairgrounds were lined up in the hall to speak, but VM Neighbors said no, security had requested they start with the back row and work their way up. So who runs the public hearing - VM or security? By the time we got half way up the rows, Save My Fairgrounds leadership knew we had the votes to win with the [Jason] Holleman amendment [to remove Mayor's prohibition against racing], so they asked that we close down the public hearing and get on with the voting. Most of the individuals who did speak were racers, but rest assured there were many others (including a number of neighbors) who had perspectives for saving all of the Fairgrounds other than just the racing perspective. I really hate that the members and public did not get to hear us, but if the public hearing had gone on for another hour or two, we ran the risk that one or two council members might have left before the vote, taking their vote with them.

I just wanted you to have the facts; I expect there will be spin about the number of "red shirt" speakers versus "yellow shirt" speakers.

Regardless of how the results of this public hearing are spun into dominant narratives by the Mayor's supporters or by the Dean-friendly local media, contrasting perspectives like Charlotte's still need to be publicized and passed on for the sake of fact-checking the narrative. There were a significant number of Davidson County neighborhood leaders attending to speak against the Mayor's plan, despite the spin that the Mayor is supporting the neighborhoods with his Fairgrounds plan.


  1. Thank you Ms. Cooper, you hit the nail on the head. We have been treated this way from the very beginning. It's ashame that we get treated this way everytime that we go before the council but, I think the majority is starting to see us for what we really are. We are honest, hard working, dedicated famlies that all have this one thing in common. Shame on those who judge a book by it's cover.

  2. When the District-17 and long-term Davidson County "red shirts" tried to enter the room to speak - Diane Neighbors WOULDN'T LET THEM IN. Ostensibly for security purposes.

    She told the "red shirts" the order they had to speak in. And she didn't start with the front row of the Chamber. She didn't start with the people who came early so they could get a front-row seat & speak first. No, Diane Neighbors ORDERED the "red shirt" speakers to start with the back row of the chamber room.

    MANY Fairgrounds supporters from DISTRICT 17 were lined up to speak outside the door. Behind them were MANY long-time Davidson County residents were lined up - ready to speak. Behind them were many Davidson County residents, and behind them were many out-of-county supporters. You did not eventually hear them all because, in deference to the Council, the public speaking portion of the meeting was cut short.

    The "yellow shirts" were allowed to queue up the way they wanted. Leading with old ladies who were reading carefully-worded scripts. I believe the "yellow" shirts were part of SNAP - residents of South Nashville - not necessarily from District 17.

  3. FYI, Yellow Shirts were told to put people sitting in the Chamber in line first by Fire Marshall. Since there were not as many yellow shirts in the chamber, there was no need to go row by row. Fire Marshall was constantly telling yellow shirts to keep people from going passed the concrete pillar in the chamber. They also were trying to keep a walk way clear from the podium to the Exit. Fire Marshall had a tough job, glad I didn't have to do it.