Thursday, May 26, 2011

11,000 Nashvillians leverage August referendum that could check Mayor's power to demolish Fairgrounds

Supporters of a measure that would require any plan to demolish the Fairgrounds to get a supermajority of council member votes (27) got the minimum number of petition signatures needed to leverage an August referendum (6,700), according to the Metro Election Commission. And then some.

Not only did Save My Fairgrounds almost double the required number of signatures by turning in 11,000, but they got 22 times the number of petition signatures that Neighbors for Progress got on their petition in support of Karl Dean's demo plans. NFP, captained by former Tennessean reporter Colby Sledge, has a lawyer and appears to be posturing toward a court challenge. But their previous claims that Nashvillians do not care that the Mayor intends to tear down and sell off public property look embarrassingly false and stupid now. And their argument that the opposition, which turned out 3,000 people for a public hearing a few months ago, comes largely from outside of Davidson County was also an utter fabrication.

So, Neighbors for Progress (and behind the South Nashville Action People) are big losers in the MEC decision.

The other losers are the council members who ignored the 3,000 at the public hearing, especially CM at-Large Megan Barry, who passionately (sometimes irrationally) led the Mayor's initiative against popular opposition. Sometimes a principled stand against popular opposition generates a feeling of respect for the leader taking a stand; but this was not the issue against which to take a principled stand.

The third loser arising from the petition qualification is the blogging crew at SouthComm (especially editor Stephen George) who occasionally tried to spin the preservationists as undemocratic and anti-community. George went so far as to call Fairgrounds community organizing "black arts" run by PR specialists rather than generated at the grassroots. 11,000 legit Nashville signatures render George's claims silly now.

For my part, I'm pleased to have an incentive to go to the polls in August now. I was a petition signer for the sole reason that I believe that the community needs to be broadly involved in the Fairgrounds decision regardless of whether it leads to demolition or not. I will be voting in favor of requiring a council supermajority to approve any demolition.


  1. A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with CM Megan Barry. We both live in District 18. I've known Megan for years and I voted for her.

    Our talk was mostly about the fairgrounds and raceway. I've lived in the Belmont area since 1986. I'm a fan of both facilities.

    Our talk was primarily about the raceway. I asked her what her primary objection to the raceway was. She told me "the noise." She also stated that she felt we didn't need a raceway in our "urban core."

    I then asked, "If the noise were not an issue, would you be cool with the raceway?" She told me, "Yes."

    I attended the race this past Saturday. Within the race grounds, noise level were so redeced that hardly anyone wore earplugs. I left the race early while 25 cars were racing. I pulled over five blocks from the track. I barely heard a hum.

    Noise is no longer an issue with the raceway.

    I told Megan that I was taking her at her word with regard to her being ok with the raceway if noise levels were reduced.

    I hope she sticks to it.

    As an aside:

    Today was the 100th running of the Indy 500. If Karl Dean were mayor of Indy, I bet he'd have been at the race.

    Karl, maybe you should be present at the next Fairgrounds Speedway race.

    That's what mayors do.

  2. Curb racing and winner of the Indy 500 have nashville ties. Why can't Dean wake up? That track is part of our town. Lets keep it and make something part of our town. We got vandy footbsll, baseball, preds, sounds and more. Dean, help the track.

    A lot of those folks coming to the new convention center woul dig it. They hit a race then go downtown.