Thursday, June 30, 2011

Neighborhood resists Blade Runner landscape

The Tennessean has the details on a southeast Davidson County community's attempt to defend its quality of life against Vegas-minded sign companies:

A Tygard sign grows in Salemtown

One of my Salemtown neighbors has erected a Charlie Tygard-for-council sign. I figure that any home owner in an urban neighborhood who votes for sprawl-happy, developer-friendly Charlie Tygard should have to look at an LED sign from their house, since Tygard sponsored legislation to allow the brightly lit signs in high density neighborhoods like Salemtown.

How they vote is their business, but a closely-placed LED would be karma.

A simpler explanation suffices

Dem Party blogger Braisted wrings his hands over the local service union's local endorsements and tries to portray them as conservative because they weren't embracing his candidates. He also compares them to the other unions in an attempt to single them out for their lack of conformity.

I'm not going to defend SEIU's endorsements because I don't agree with them. However, it is plain to me that the problem of a union not falling in lockstep with other unions on Metro endorsements may have more to do with the vacuum of populism among the council's social progressives, who seem more likely to ingratiate themselves to Karl Dean than represent communities. Dean's newly discovered "neighborhoods" fundraising focus will not change his autocratic, exclusive style of leadership that sucks up the rather feeble, utterly reliant leadership styles on the Metro Council.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Candidates have a habit of considering the value of privatization without counting the costs

One of the more objectionable traits of the previous Metro Council (pre-2007) was their shameless tendency to funnel Metro "infrastructure" dollars toward non-profits as a way of pandering to and exercising influence over them. Karl Dean claims that he has reformed that process, and yet he still panders and uses them for influence.

Source: Dean campaign
An example is the way he recently delivered donated supplies from his campaign meetings to Second Harvest Food Bank with re-election signs plastered on them. So, I don't believe much has changed in the present term other than the Mayor's Office cues others as to the favored non-profits to privatize public services.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Meeting report: the question of bringing complete streets to Rosa Parks Boulevard

CM Erica Gilmore recently held a community meeting with leaders from Salemtown and Werthan Lofts and members of Walk Bike Nashville on the possibility of installing bike lands on Rosa Parks Boulevard along the TDOT construction zone stretching from Germantown to MetroCenter. Presenters included TDOT construction managers and Public Works officials.

Rosa Parks is currently wide enough for four driving lanes, an impressive median and good size shoulders on  the sides. Metro is working with TDOT on three different possibilities:

Friday, June 24, 2011

The rape & pillage of Gannett continues by its own executives

While the 14 employees laid off at the Tennessean in the latest round of Gannett Corporation's "downsizing" did not approach the bloodbaths in Indianapolis and Louisville, it is no less an indicator that the reliability of traditional sources of news is also shriveling. The layoffs are the latest zulu in a war of attrition in the media connected to how they do and don't report news and to how they stage their influence with power and wealth. Those laid off are pawns who were FUBAR from the start.

Here's part of the reason Tennessean employees never stood a chance:

About those TEPid endorsements

I doubt very seriously that Tennessee Equality Project places much stock in my opinions of their political moves, but I'm thankful to have a blog to be able to note the curious logic of some of their endorsements. According to the Tennessean, they endorsed Karl Dean for Mayor (no surprise given that they held a campaign fundraiser for him long before his re-election campaign even launched). The curiosity here is that Karl Dean has made no effort to have Metro government join TEP's lawsuit against the state's suppression of the Metro non-discrimination ordinance (even more curiously, Tennessean blogger Michael Cass made it sound like the ordinance was initiated by the council under the influence of TEP when it seems to me that there were at least a couple of CMs leading the charge in the wake of Belmont).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vanderbilt study defies Stand for Children assumptions?

Stand for Children endorsed Karl Dean recently from its appointed position as "advocate" for Metro Public Schools. But a Boston educator does not endorse Stand for Children's agenda, which is not even adopted for private school kids:

The re-emergence of Stand for Children would be great news for our children if studies supported its positions, including its inequitable and ineffective teacher evaluation plan. A study by Vanderbilt University in 2010 concluded such an approach is not effective.

The educational history of Stand for Children leader Jonah Edelman is instructive. He attended the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, where President Obama sends his children. Recently, a faculty member at Sidwell Friends was quoted as saying that the school does not consider student test scores helpful in determining a teacher’s effectiveness.

Every child has a right to the same thoughtful, creative education that Edelman received at the hands of teachers who weren’t shackled to incessant fill-in-the-bubble standardized testing. Kids deserve better from those who claim to stand for them.

Bill Schechter Brookline The writer is a retired public school teacher.

The more I consider their agenda, the more I wonder whether SFC is bent on maintaining an educational caste system.

Service to courthouse over service to community

Like Dukakis riding a tank
When Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors ran for her post in 2007 she swore to voters that she knew "how to make the Metro Council work better for all of us." Over her tenure in the last four years she's spent more time making Metro Council work better for Rich Riebeling.

Among other examples of her confined governing focus is her draconian treatment of the Industrial Development Board a couple of years ago on behalf of Courthouse autocrats like Riebeling, who himself has shown little tolerance for people who don't go his way:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Campaign spillover

I'm no fan of Tonya Jones. She is a developer / construction company owner who, when she was on the Planning Commission generally voted with developers. She organized and lobbied to kill clean energy legislation on behalf of the petroleum industry. She supported Charlie Tygard's plan to allow business-style LED signage in high-density residential neighborhoods. If Bellevue wants to hand their seat over to an anti-neighborhood tool of developers, she is it.

But Bo Mitchell was out-of-order at tonight's council meeting trying to turn a bill to deal with David Torrence's abuses of the system into a campaign debate about Tonya Jones. It looked a little desperate to me. It seems like there are more effective ways to find traction.

Bo knows but won't tell

What is the big secret? I did not understand why the identity of potential Fairgrounds developers had to be kept secret, and I don't understand Bellevue CM Bo Mitchell's lack of transparency in the run-up to consideration of a huge development resolution in Metro Council:

The Metro Council could soon pave the way toward a massive new development west of the city ....

The mixed-use development would be off Interstate 40 at exit 192, near McCrory Lane, in the district of Councilman Bo Mitchell. While Mitchell wouldn’t speak to details about who’s funding the project or how, he says they’re willing to put millions down just on roads to the site, at a time when the broader market is down.
“From my standpoint, with unemployment over 9 percent, I welcome his investment in the community, to create jobs building this, and then after it’s complete the jobs that will be in the development for our community, so I like his timing.”
Mitchell says the city would sell bonds to pay for new infrastructure at the site, which businesses setting up there would ultimately pay back.

If the CM can proclaim, "jobs, jobs, jobs!" why can't we know who is providing them?

Absence of genuine leadership: Mayor did not prepare Nashville for his Fairgrounds' future

A commenter over at the City Paper tells it exactly like it is:

Well, of course people wanting to keep the fairgrounds are upset. They went from patrons of the fairground site to obstructionist knuckle-draggers simply because the mayor proposed an abrupt change in land use, making their positions relatively obstructive. It's not the advocates of keeping the fairgrounds who have changed anything. It's the mayor who wants change and it's the mayor who needs to sell that change.

He should have begun with a fresh piece of land to develop in a better location, showing pictures and video of a proposed new fairgrounds. He should have sold us cool rides, farmer's markets and happy people. He should have then unveiled plans for a huge water park, or office complex, or movie studio, something we could not do without on the old fairgrounds.

But he did none of that because he had none of that.

Without vision the plan perished.

It tolls for thee

Let's hope Nashville won't have to go the way of Puerto Rico with "Government Goldman".

Puerto Rico raised infrastructure (toll roads) revenues by borrowing money from bondholders, coordinated by our old friend, Goldman Sachs. Puerto Rico agreed to pay Goldman a set interest rate over a defined period. The debt and interest piled up as Puerto Rico could not pay back Goldman by the end of the finance period.

So, Goldman enabled this debt issuance on tollway now slipping through Puerto Rico's grip, and who is there to pick up the pieces and provide a 40-year solution but the very same Goldman:

Doesn't the Tennessean owe us more?

The only recent news from the Tennessean on the Metropolitan Housing and Development Agency (MDHA) has nothing to do with questions raised by the Washington Post about what happened to millions of federal dollars sent to Nashville to develop a North Nashville neighborhood. Instead, their latest offering is the softest-hitting echo piece they could supply MDHA communications manager Julie Oaks, who naturally is a former journo herself once with WKRN.

We learn the momentous news via reporter Stephanie Toone that MDHA will be working in the alley beside Whiskey Kitchen to install a new drive ramp. Further proof that mad journalism skillz will never get in the way of pandering PR at the Tennessean.

Who the hell cares about the black hole for HUD money MDHA seems to be? Nothing to see in North Nashville if the Tennessean has anything to say about it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Going Rove hyper-locally

A week ago I ventured the hypothesis that the recent moves of the group that was started to help pass the Mayor's plan to sell off the Fairgrounds, Neighbors for Progress, seemed a lot like an election campaign designed to foil council votes against the Mayor. CM Jamie Hollin looks like he might believe likewise in a City Paper article by Charles Maldonado published yesterday:

Friday, June 17, 2011

He just makes stuff up now

Under a silky-sweet headline this morning confusing the acquisitive drive with the ideal of hope, Tennessean reporter Michael Cass Becca Andrews repeats one of the Mayor's myths verbatim without doing much fact-checking himself herself:

Due to the overwhelming support from the Metro Council and our citizens, we are ready now more than ever for conventions and groups to experience our great city,” said Mayor Karl Dean.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Hooray for Karleewood!
I am aware of only two independent, scientific polls conducted on local opinion on financing and building the new convention center and hotel:

  • WSMV's 2010 poll which found that only 26% of Nashvillians supported construction and 72% wanted to hold a referendum on a new convention center.
  • SurveyUSA's 2007 poll which found that only 37% of Nashvillians supported construction.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

David Briley may be endorsing Jason Holleman and criticizing Sarah Lodge Tally, but his re-affirmation of Karl Dean sounds una corda

I have to admit that when Karl Dean's former campaign opponent David Briley came out and endorsed the Mayor for re-election quickly and then held a community gathering at his house for the Dean Team I was left wondering whether he believed more strongly than some of us that Dean was somehow vulnerable to Craddock. Otherwise, the speed with which the endorsement was made seemed illogical (short of other dynamics that might be operating beneath the public radar).

A blog post published by Briley today seems to be interpreted by the news media and spun by the Mayor's loyalists as equal parts reaffirmation of Karl Dean and endorsement of Jason Holleman (who has been attacked mercilessly by the campaign to re-elect's hired goons and stooges while Holleman's opponent Sarah Lodge Tally is getting a little help from friends of Dean). I'm not convinced the parts are as equal as either the news media or the Dean Team would like us to believe.

The Democrats went down to Salemtown

A few days ago a volunteer with the local Democratic Party came through Salemtown asking for my own volunteer support and money donations for the party in the run-up to the next election. I told him frankly that I was way more liberal than Tennessee Democrats, that I am frustrated that they do not at least attempt to include some liberal tenets beyond cheap-ass social progressivism that ignores structural exploitation, and that I've had enough of the GOP-lite rule of the Bredesen-Dean wing of the party. I told him frankly, "No."

Despite his own ardent beliefs that things are changing in the party in the wake of TNDEM's red-state abdications and the White House's capitulations to Republicans I remain unconvinced. I cannot afford to contribute to or waste my time working with surrender-monkey Democrats and indentured volunteers who only get jazzed around election time but not about everyday politics.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why does the Nashville news media largely give MDHA a pass instead of investigating stories of their waste?

It seems like the only local news media interested in investigating Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency is NewsChannel5. As I recall they were the ones who broke the story on MDHA's mishandling of the budget to pay a local PR firm to sell the Mayor's plan for a new convention center. The Tennessean certainly was slow to touch that story, and I can understand why given that they donated thousands of dollars to the Mayor's cause.

It has been a month since the Washington Post broke a story on money wasted at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sent millions to MDHA for a North Nashville development yet to be developed. After I found the story and blogged on it, my post got some hits from NewsChannel5 traffic, so I figured a broader local audience would finally see the story. This is Ben Hall's May 31 report:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Progress, thy dance is a two-step

The State Fair Board meets in the morning, and so, of course Neighbors for Progress/South Nashville Action People spokesperson Colby Sledge continued his media tour to discredit the Fairgrounds referendum by appearing on NewsChannel5's "Morning Line" today.

The Sledge two-step abides. When the issue was moving the flea market to Hickory Hollow, Sledge supported it. Then the issue shifted to demolishing the racetrack, and Sledge supported it. When the operation of the racetrack reasserted itself and a broadly-informed community plan was called for, Sledge trotted out a scheme to entrench NFP control over operation and plan.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dean doubles communications staff "to serve the needs of the media"

The pipeline leading from newsrooms to the pistons of government is alive and well in Nashville, given Karl Dean's hiring last week of Bonna Johnson as his Press Secretary. Johnson left the Tennessean last April to become a Public Relations Manager (no surprise there, since today's brand of journalism many times has more to do with spin and flackery than with critical questioning and unflinching reporting). Now she's carrying Karl Dean's message back to her former colleagues at the Tennessean who will no doubt continue the brainwashing that prompted them to make him their "Tennessean of the Year." At the same time, the Gannett kids will get someone close to the Mayor who can influence things for them if necessary. Looks like there will be a good chance for mutual back scratching.

In the meantime it is reasonable to ask: does Johnson's hiring catapult communications office expenses to unnecessary heights in this recession? Karl Dean has been burning Metro revenues with multiple hires of former employees of Phil Bredesen in an attempt to shore up his administration in preparation for a statewide run in 4 years. Given that the Mayor annually requires Metro departments to cut their budgets, why isn't he demanding the same from his own office? We know what dedicating a single staff member to fondle handle the media will mean to the Mayor's elections aspirations, but are the "needs of the media" really worth what we're going to pay Bonna Johnson to spoon feed newspeak back to us for the paycheck? I guess it beats overpaying those former journos at McNeely Pigott & Fox for shoveling us similar Pablum.

A locavore muses

The blogging maven on farmers markets considers how challenging eating locally is:

The cold hard truth is that eating locally is a lifestyle, and it’s tough. You actually have to spend some time outside in the heat and shop for your food and then you have to prepare it when you get home.  I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown out local produce that went bad just sitting in my fridge. It’s hard and it’s frustrating.

Jazz and blues fest coming soon to North End

The deets after the jump.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jason Holleman not hated by some regardless of Jeff Yarbro's fail (with Karl Dean's endorsement) against Doug Henry

Over at Just Nashville, some commenters are sharing their admiration of CM Jason Holleman:

[Sarah Bellos:] I am a very active member of the community food security and urban food movement. CM Holleman has been a tremendous supporter of our cause and in actually asking what we need, not just assuming that as a politician he has the answers to what is happening and needed in our communities and to more effectively do our work. I believe we need more Council members like him and thank him for his service during the flood all across Nashville.

[Yvonne Eaves:] I have called West Nashville home all my life. During the last council election I did not support Jason. Four years later, I can honestly say Jason has proven to be a community leader. Jason makes an appearance at many community functions. He listens with his heart, he wants to serve is community. It it apparent that he is willing to do his very best for his district. I am proud to say Jason Holleman is my council member. I am even happier to say Jason and his family are good neighbors.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Aristocratic Sarah Lodge Tally sets 100% fidelity to Karl Dean as Jason Holleman's litmus test for re-election

Sarah Lodge Tally, who hails from old Nashville money and from the top of the local pecking order of political patronage, insists to the Nashville Scene that Sylvan Park CM Jason Holleman be focused on absolute dependence on Karl Dean for determining every single one of his votes:

In terms of larger citywide issues, this district is overwhelmingly — like the city in general — supportive of the mayor and his plan for Nashville and what he's done for Nashville in the last four years .... Councilman Holleman has not been supportive of that agenda, particularly with respect to the fairgrounds and the convention center. And folks in this district are generally supportive of the mayor and his plans, so they've been unhappy to know about the lack of support from Councilman Holleman.

That's quite a command for a TNDEM d├ębutante to put on a serious CM who, though independent on a fraction of votes, generally votes with Karl Dean. Scene editor Stephen George reports that CM Holleman voted with Dean a whopping 85% of the time. Hence, to even call him "independent" is charitable and distinguishes just how meaningless the term "independent" has become in the Dean era. In fact, most of the council is abjectly Deanpendent most of the time.

The standard response of the Dean camp is a variation of the same theme they've used for years: the reluctant candidate. The heavy-handed Democratic Party toughs (like Will Pinkston and Dave Goetz) are working to torpedo Holleman while the Mayor can take the high road, posing like he has little knowledge of what's going on in Sylvan Park, like he's not tuned in to Sarah Lodge Tally's scrapes. As if the patricians don't associate. As if the Mayor's Office isn't drooling to control every single council vote for the next 4 years.

Is that really what you want, Sylvan Park? To turn your community into Karl's cotillion? If so, vote for Sarah Lodge Tally and hang some lace curtains. Or just sit back and watch, because this election looks bought-and-paid-for. Either way, I got your Sarah Lodge Tally campaign bumper sticker right here:

UPDATE: The Dean shill blogger and apparatchik Democrat prone to judge most local issues on whether they are good first for his buddies in the Tennessee Democratic Party cannot find fault with Jason Holleman. Further evidence that Holleman is too close to the Dean camp for Sarah Lodge Tally to snipe at his rare disloyalties. Isn't it odd that loyalty has become a cardinal virtue in the power structure of Davidson County Democrats along the same lines of the George W. Bush wing of the GOP? They'll kill off their own, if even slightly uppity, before they go after Republicans.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

CM Erica Gilmore announces community meeting

Union: Music City Center build good for outside billionaires; for Nashville workers, not so much

A crane operators' union watchdog website indicates that Karl Dean has not delivered the local "jobs, jobs, jobs!" as promised:

the $600 million convention center project – the largest public project in Tennessee history – has not been the boon to Nashville workers that Karl Dean promised. Major contracts have been awarded to out-of-state companies including Missouri-based Ceco, owned by billionaire Michael Heisley, who also owns the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. The Dean administration refuses to release data to back up their claims that the project is meeting their ever-shifting local hiring goal.

So, the re-elect Karl Dean campaign is going around promoting convention center construction as a shelter of local workers against the recession but the Mayor's Office is not being transparent with the actual hiring numbers so that voters can judge for themselves.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Been in the storm so long, children

"Don't say gay" photo credit: Jamie Hollin
First, let me say that the State of Tennessee is on the wrong side of history by foiling Metro Nashville's attempt to enforce non-discrimination and by even entertaining "Don't Say Gay" legislation to bar homosexuality from being mentioned in public school classrooms. Tennessee is expressing that which is ignoble about American history.

Those high school students who have shown up to protest the State of Tennessee at legislative plaza are not only on the right side of history (if progress still matters), but they are attempting to show the General Assembly the way to our future, when sexual orientation and gender identity will make no difference in employment in government or the private sector (save for those backwater, culturally-impoverished specks who are too needy of aliens to fight to value mutual respect with people different than them).

Ku Klux Klan attacks Freedom Rider
Having said that, I cannot agree with the way Civil Rights Movement history continues to be distorted to support the protesters in Legislative Plaza, at risk of minimizing the profound and rare sacrifice of the 1961 Freedom Rides. A few weeks ago Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr, who seems to take her editorial cues from opportunistic political insiders, started the strained analogy, comparing today's picketers with yesterday's Freedom Riders.

Last Saturday morning U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper seemed to echo Kerr in the Tennessean, “It reminds me of the Freedom Riders in the ’60s .... We haven’t had that kind of spunk and gumption displayed by a young person in Nashville in a long time, maybe half a century.” The Freedom Riders spunky? That is without a doubt as big an understatement, as huge a disservice as Rep. Cooper could pay them. They had the courage to brave beatings, police intimidation, arrests, imprisonment, abandonment and death threats. We usually don't associate these extreme conditions with "gumptious" picket lines in America's circumscribed freedom zones. My Democratic representative seems to be dumbing down the supreme costs of the radicalizing necessary to confront and expose the hatred behind discrimination.

That's not to say that today's non-discrimination protesters have no parallels with the Civil Rights Movement or any other social protest tradition in America before or after the 1960s. Like contemporary protesters, civil rights protesters marched in Nashville (Jefferson Street). Street protests and picket lines are an important part of any social protests, and they often require the gumption of youth.

Beaten when FBI gave the Klan 15 mins on a bus
But the scope, commitment, and discipline of the 1961 movement were much larger than today's protests. The Freedom Riders had spent months in trainings sponsored by movement halfway houses like Highlander Folk School, which coordinated meetings in Monteagle, TN and locally at Fisk University. The legendary Rosa Parks was trained at Highlander. Vanderbilt Divinity student James Lawson started organizing students across Nashville in 1959, training them in nonviolent tactics and organizing lunch-counter sit-ins in the face of humiliating and dangerous conditions. For his part, Lawson was expelled from Vanderbilt, and wrong not made right until 2006 when Vandy apologized and hired him.

So, when compared to the Civil Rights Movement, today's protests would have to be considered a first step in a long process rather than full-blown reincarnation. The Freedom Rides were not a spontaneous reaction to a single piece of legislation. They were inspired by an earlier 1947 staging designed to desegregate interstate travel. Then they were incubated and developed over years in places like Nashville by young, savvy students who committed to the discipline of nonviolent civil disobedience and who trained, drilled, and practiced as if they were conducting a war. It was that discipline that prepared Freedom Riders to endure the state-sponsored intimidation and imprisonment that I have yet to witness today's protesters face.

No doubt legislators like Stacy "Don't Say Gay" Campfield are on the wrong side of history. They are on the side of discrimination. Tennessee Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) are not much different that the pre-Civil Rights generation of Tennessee leaders who allowed or encouraged segregation. Jim Cooper's own father, former Governor Prentice Cooper, presided over a "separate-but-equal" school system that staked whites to an advantage over African Americans.
Fisk student John Lewis & other Riders
Republicans like Campfield are gearing the education system against GLBT students in the same way now. And students should be applauded and supported for protesting and attempting to change that.

But if they are going to follow the Freedom Riders, they need to be aware of the true costs: in discipline over time, in perseverance across a long arc of history, and in the risk that they may face harm and ill treatment rather than the mere inconvenience of choosing the picket line over the everyday diversions of youth. In the words of the old slave spiritual and freedom song, the riders were in the storm so long. Jim Cooper does not do these students a service by suggesting that they have attained the stature to which they may aspire. He should have called them to something even higher.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Non-profit leader pleads guilty to being in gang and using facility for gang meetings

An East Nashville 501(c)(3)'s leader confessed to criminal activity with a youth gang last week:

A man who publicly fought to keep kids out of gangs admitted in court Tuesday he also did the gang's dirty work behind closed doors.

Lonnie Greenlee pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to being a part of the Bloods gang and even holding Bloods meetings at the headquarters of the gang prevention group Galaxy Star.

Some background from last year:

Galaxy Star officials told New 2 Friday they are shocked by a federal indictment naming one of the group's founding members as part of the Bloods gang.

In the indictment, Lonnie Greenlee and his son, Lonnie Newsome, are accused of using Galaxy Star as a meeting place for illegal gang activity, as well as providing phony documents for other gang members to show proof of court ordered community service hours.

The indictment comes as a big shock to the organization, because Greenlee is the brother of the group's current president, Clemmie Greenlee.

Tennessee Republicans don't even bother to couch the carnage behind fake jargon like "education reform"

At least with Republicans it's clear who the enemy is. They're the destroyer of worlds:

Tennessee teachers are losing their collective bargaining powers while corporations can now contribute directly to state and local political campaigns under two GOP bills signed into law Wednesday by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam ....

The Tennessee bill abolishes collective bargaining now conducted in 92 of 136 school districts .... It replaces traditional bargaining by affiliates of the Tennessee Education Association with a concept Republicans called “collaborative conferencing.”

Under the plan, school boards would be required to meet with teacher representatives approved by local educators. They could only strike limited agreements on some wage and benefit issues ....

But local school boards are under no obligation to agree to enter such agreements.

“The more we dig into the actual contents of this legislation, the less we like it,” said Jerry Winters, chief lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association. “I think there’s more politics behind this than education reform.”

So, we rescue effective teachers from the execution-style politics of Republicans only to hand them over instead to the slow twisting-in-the-wind of Tennessee Democrats' "education reform"? Neither party is going to save good teachers or public education. But maybe the extremist TNGOP will hasten a more revolutionary organizing from the grassroots to beat back the partisan hooks.

Washington blogger describes Stand for Children as propped up by wealthy, union-busting elites

According to Bellevue, Washington blogger thushara wijeratna the local chapter of Stand for Children is lobbying his state's legislature to make it easier for administrators to fire senior teachers without any due process. It's the easy route: teachers with seniority cost more, so call them "inept" and then cut them loose.

The blogger also reports that they get public support with deceptively worded polls, but otherwise SFC is not grassroots as advertised. Nashville Stand for Children has a pivotal role as the "advocacy" arm of a powerful friends-of-public-schools organization, but wijeratna's analysis would suggest that SFC's top-down structure is astroturf:

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Slop jar politics*: how an advocacy non-profit has a sweet role with Metro Schools and can endorse Karl Dean

Since blogging on the Stand for Children organization's endorsement of Karl Dean for Mayor after having enjoyed their political advocacy assignment with One Nashville, I received some questions from readers on whether nonprofits are allowed to endorse candidates. Nonprofits, of course, enjoy tax-exempt status, which gives them a financial advantage in the political arena if they are allowed to lobby and influence.

If there were just one legal category of non-profits this would all be a simple matter. But there are more than one. Stand for Children is actually two distinct nonprofit organizations (or I guess you may call it one organization with two distinct faces). It is structured as both a 501(c)(3) organization and a 501(c)(4). The 501(c)(3) goes by the name "Stand for Children Leadership Center." That organization (or sub-organization?) may not legally endorse Karl Dean:

Mutual patronage

Last December pro ethicist and incumbent CM at-Large Megan Barry failed to address the unethical conflict of interest former State Fair Board Chair James Weaver had, given that he was also employed by the company slated to benefit from moving the Fairgrounds flea market to Hickory Hollow Mall. Moreover, CM Barry co-sponsored the unsuccessful bill to authorize the Hickory Hollow lease for the flea market.

Last February, James Weaver donated $250 to the campaign to re-elect Megan Barry.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Nashville is also one of Goldman Sachs' clients thanks to convention center construction

It does not help local consumer confidence to know that there is a chance a major Metro financier could be designing things to enable its own profits while its clients lose:

A prosecutor in New York has subpoenaed Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs for information related to the financial crisis, a person familiar with the development said Thursday.

The broad request from the Manhattan district attorney, issued last month, stems from an April report by Senate investigators that accused Goldman Sachs of abusive behavior, according to the source.

The report said Goldman Sachs contributed to the financial crisis, partly by designing mortgage-related investments that enabled the firm to profit while its clients lost money.

We do have Rich Riebeling's word that Goldman would never do to convention center-related investments what it did to mortgage-related investments. Is that good enough for you?

In the North End and got $50-$5,000 to burn? The unfettered Re-elect Dean campaign will take it off your hands tonight at Werthan

If you really want to pay more Dean party bills
I keep receiving this email blast from CM Erica Gilmore and Democrat Steve Turner.

Karl Dean has half-a-million dollars in campaign donations.

$500,000 on hand to burn against 4 obscure, no-name candidates.

And yet, people are still raising money for him, not questioning if he should have more to stock his obscene war chest.

He is already throwing a self-aggrandizing party Saturday to burn some of that half mil. So, if you pine to fund another Summer of Dean fete in a few weeks, Werthan is the place to be tonight.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Maybe Danny Gokey is kind of a big deal and can't be cancelled

Martha O'Bryan needs volunteers via C. McTamaney (click on)
A local blogger seems appalled that Re-elect Karl Dean plans to burn money it doesn't need this weekend on a campaign event just because it can, and he has an idea for authentically supporting the city and a local non-profit:

it feel[s] like another case of folks in the administration having no clear sense of what is happening in the city beyond those things that they are involved in creating. It doesn’t seem like much to have a person in the office who checks the community calendars and keeps the office informed on what is happening in the city. Perhaps Billy Fields, the Office of Neighborhoods Director (someone I like very much) could take that on. But somewhere, somehow, folks are so tunnel visioned that there is little awareness of what’s going on out their own window, let alone throughout the city.

The Dean Machine expands with nonprofit advocacy organization's endorsement

The Nashville Chapter of Stand for Children, which describes itself as a "grassroots advocacy" organization for public schools, announced its endorsement of Karl Dean for Mayor saying:

Mayor Dean has demonstrated amazing commitment to our public schools. During one of the most economically trying times in our history, Mayor Dean has fully funded the schools budget every year since he has been in office. He listens to community and parent input

Except that the statement is somewhat disingenuous as the Nashville City Paper recently pointed out regarding 300 teacher displacements and the loss of federal funds:

the positions of 334 teachers — covering Metro elementary, middle and high schools — have been eliminated prior to next school year, with district officials hoping to relocate affected teachers to other schools. But there’s no guarantee that will happen — it boils down to a still-unknown number of openings elsewhere ....

The reality of eliminated teaching positions has gone largely underreported in Nashville, perhaps in part because Mayor Karl Dean has announced intentions to fully fund Metro schools.

Dean’s budget proposal for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which awaits Metro Council approval, supports schools financially to the level requested by the Metro Nashville Board of Education. However, the mayor and school board’s plan does not cover more than $30 million in depleted federal stimulus monies and approximately $10 million in vanishing federal-jobs program dollars. Official have known this day was coming, and it’s resulting in more than 300 terminated positions.

So, stating it as "fully-funded" is overstating the case, but this is an election year and organizations are jockeying for positions of influence on Karl Dean's coattails.

Has Metro's charter school review committee violated open meeting laws in their selection process?

A few months ago I worried about the lack of transparency in Metro's charter school selection process. Last weekend I received an email from an Enclave reader with concerns that the Metro charter school review committee may have violated open meetings laws in April and May by holding multiple meetings without publicizing the time and place beforehand. The consequences of these secret deliberations were only communicated on May 25 with news coverage of the school board meeting where the committee's recommendations were made.

Knowledge Academy, a LEAD Academy clone for South Nashville, and KIPP Academy were all given the green light without public consideration of how the committee reached its conclusions on sending them public resources. This administration has a track record of meetings that evade the public radar, and it is disconcerting that more Nashvillians are not concerned about decisions made behind closed doors.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Portlandia Mayor frames economic development with a community-based focus

Wouldn't it be refreshing to even hear this once in a while in a growth and budget strategy outside of election year politics?

The Neighborhood Economic Development (NED) Strategy—developed by the Portland Development Commission and the community partners on the project advisory committee—outlines how community partners, business leadership and public partners can use focused neighborhood-level actions to collectively foster economic opportunity and neighborhood vitality throughout Portland. The strategy adds significant depth and direction to the Neighborhood Business Vitality component of the City of Portland’s Five-Year Economic Development Strategy.
“This strategy is about prosperous, complete, healthy and equitable neighborhoods—key components of the Portland Plan,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “Now it is time for implementation. We’re going to get it done. We’re determined, and it’s within our potential to achieve this strategy’s goals” ....

Preventing crime with wireless doorbells

From a police report published this afternoon on the Salemtown Neighbors elist:

May 31, 2011

Three would-be burglars rang the wrong doorbell Monday when they were casing a home in the 5000 block of Cherrywood Drive.

The wireless doorbell system actually rang at the home of a man who lived across the street. He quickly surmised what was happening when he saw three men kicking in the front door of his neighbor’s house and contacted police. The suspects fled in a black 1991 Honda Accord that had already been identified by South Precinct detectives as being involved in home break-ins.

Illegal dumping mushrooms if neighbors do not collectively leverage Metro response to them

Illegal dumping of furniture, tires, demolition debris, etc. is something we used to have to deal with much more in Salemtown a few years ago, but we still get it periodically on vacant lots and near alleys. Much has changed with the improvement of quality of life here and because of the coordinated efforts of the associations.

A South Nashville blogger is dealing with the problem to a more chronic degree and reminds us that action coordination matters:

Campaign event designed to pimp flood recovery for re-election vs. charity event for Martha O'Bryan to empower the impoverished

Rev. Jay Voorhees has some constructive criticism for Karl Dean's caddy:

did anyone in the mayor's office notice that there was already a big __ party/fundraiser scheduled IN FRONT OF THE COURTHOUSE on that same day? The Taste of Music City event to benefit the Martha O'Bryan Center is the same day, and will likely draw from the same pool of participants. Are you telling me that no one could look at the community calendar and figure out that this date was already taken?

So bail on the mayor and support an organization that is actually bringing forth real change in the lives of Nashvillians.