Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Metro Charter already set the Fairgrounds specifically apart from other public property

CM Emily Evans responds to constituent questions about the Fairgrounds referendum at her blog:

Some have raised the rather specious argument that the question of the Fairgrounds does not rise to a level of importance necessary for inclusion in the Metro Charter. They are, of course, ignoring the fact that the reason we have a State Fair in the first place is because we are directed to do so by the Metro Charter.

Compare this to a quote that Dean supporter and McNeely Pigott & Fox spinmeister Katy Varney attributed to the son of a Metro Charter architect:

The charter was not set up to address specific issues, but rather it is the overarching instrument that sets forth the process by which decisions are made by our elected officials ....

Regardless of how we feel about the future of the fairgrounds, it is a mistake to change the charter to apply rules to one place that are not in place for any other Metro property.

Given that the Metro Charter as drafted already made specific exceptions for the Fairgrounds that it does not make for other Metro property, how is it inconsistent with the Metro Charter to amend further exceptions for the Fairgrounds into the charter? Distracting us from the merits of the Fairground referendum with a logical fallacy like an argument from authority is not just bad form, but Varney's appeal is also undermined by her own authority's argument, which is itself inaccurate at best, deceptive at worst.

Journo-a-journo on "West Town" neighborhood

Charles Maldonado, who is headed out of Nashville to write for a New Orleans publication, calls out the Tennessean's Bill Lewis for undoing the distinction between advertising and reporting in this morning's edition.

Here's how Lewis gives a leg-up to realtors and brokers who would otherwise have to pay for exposure as wide as the newspaper's readership:

Homeowners and real estate agents are holding a neighborhood-wide open house today that will showcase 15 homes for sale.

Homes range from a restored 1899 Victorian at 4800 Illinois Ave. to new construction, such as a 2006 cottage at 4906 Illinois Ave. Prices in the neighborhood range from the $90,000s to about $260,000, says Kay Hunter, a Realtor with the Realty Association. A number of vacant lots have signs promising future construction of new single-family houses ....

Potential investors overlooked the neighborhood, says Alice Walker, president of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, who helped organize the open house ....

That’s changing as momentum builds in Historic West Town and small neighborhood businesses move in along Charlotte Pike, she says.

“That’s what makes urban living so great. You have your own little neighborhood,” says Walker.

Indeed, there is very little in this article that has to do with broader issues of community development or cultural legacy. Everything is reduced to the economic development tools that Realtors and real estate brokers use to make money off neighborhood life.

Here is Maldonado's response to the Tennessean pieced together from his Twitter stream:

Okay, the Nations or Historic West Town or whatever is a perfectly fine neighborhood. No reason to be scared by it or anything .... But it still has plenty of problems. And this article which declares its "rebirth" in a nonquote, is barely distinguishable from an ad .... Furthermore, the name. Just because there's like one house from the (extreme late) 1800s, that a realtor pointed out to the paper .... That doesn't actually make this neighborhood as a whole historic. Basically it's an ordinary suburban neighborhood .... Lots of post-War tract housing. And plenty of houses wherein whatever "historic" elements there once were have been renovated into oblivion.

Isn't speculation on real estate part of what brought us a bubble and then the housing crisis of the past half decade? It seems like a contradiction of the journalistic mission for a newspaper to aid and abet wealthy special interests that inflate expectations and buying frenzy without regard to facts or local history.

Maldonado points out that this story simply gave real estate developers the benefit of the doubt without any digging behind the image that they project for the commercial purpose of selling property. Bill Lewis was helping out the privileged few more than he was doing the local community favors, especially if home values are artificially driven up with contrivances like "historic". The more influence Realtors have, the more likely they are to do what they want regardless of what's good for all West Town residents.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Canadian legal blogger observes Nashville-IQT deal was news to them, role of social media in Mayor's about-face

According to Canada's online legal magazine:

According to news coverage that developed after the shutdown, it was revealed that the City of Nashville, Tennessee, had granted IQT a US$1.6-million incentive to build a new 60,000-square-foot call centre and headquarters there to employ 900 locally. One of the conditions of receiving the grant was for IQT to explain to Nashville officials its business strategy in Canada. I guess instead of explaining their strategy to ensure the award of the grant they just decided to get rid of the “obstacle”. In addition to the abrupt shutdown of their Canadian operations, IQT Canada said they filed bankruptcy papers. However, a records search by government officials revealed no official filing of bankruptcy.

Due to the media coverage and social media attention on Facebook and Twitter, the City of Nashville has chosen to withdraw its $1.6 million promise to fund IQT Solutions’ new operation in Tennessee.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Davidson Co DA declares that Neighbors for Progress lawyer's slur of "illegal conduct" has no merit

What a monumental waste of time it must have been for the District Attorney's office to have to consider a request from the Neighbors for Progress lawyer to investigate unfounded "illegal conduct" allegations about Davidson County citizens who organized to legally leverage a referendum on Fairgrounds demolition.

From the beginning Democratic hack and former journo Colby Sledge and his NFP organization have slung mud at the intentions and the actions of those of us who supported the movement to stop Mayor Karl Dean's take-over of the planning process for the State Fairgrounds. They generated innuendo and gossip about Fairgrounds supporters coming from outside the county and being bankrolled by racers. Once it became obvious that the referendum had enough popular support to be put on the ballot, they trashed Fairgrounds supporters during the Election Commission process, and the latest false charge of "illegal conduct" was just part of the pattern of lies to stop a movement that is determined to stop Karl Dean's bulldozers.

Hence, the DA's refusal is further evidence that Neighbors for Progress's case for stopping Fairgrounds supporters never had merit and their ulterior motive has been to help Karl Dean prevail by any means necessary. But they just keep losing:

District Attorney General Torry Johnson said a review of the petitions determined that no further investigation should be conducted.

"The Election Commission is very stringent in its review of these petitions and they determined that there were more than enough qualified signatures provided that they didn't even need to rely on any of these forms the ‘Neighbors for Progress' group found questionable

Leader of the Fairgrounds referendum effort, CM Jamie Hollin, called Neighbors for Progress's latest efforts nothing but "gutter politics." That's exactly what they are conducting despite their claims to be community-based. It seems more like a party-type campaign of mud-slinging.

Miffed East Nashville residents, jilted by Kroger, risk accusation of "class war" by the pinheads

When it comes to the class-based prejudices of wealth, some things never change:

Green Hills Kroger customers have applauded improved features such as a meat grilling station, beverage center and expanded seating area for Wi-Fi access, but Eastland Kroger customers view the upgrades to the grocery in one of the wealthiest parts of town as an insult.

“Kroger should make more of an investment in this thriving neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Bush, who lives on Woodland Street. “They have a vast group of folks who would shop there if they would fix the store. It doesn’t matter what your income is, you deserve fresh food” ....

The minor projects at East Nashville-area grocers still do not compete with the $1 million project that will be unveiled in a re-grand opening at the Abbott Martin Road location today, said District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson. The enduring issues with customer service, cleanliness and limited food options continue to keep a growing number of East Nashvillians away from their neighborhood store.

If East Nashville cannot siphon the channels of wealth flowing to West Nashville, economically diverse North Nashville is even farther out of the loop.

Maybe a couple of you Megan Barry supporters can help me out here

I'm a recovering supporter of Megan Barry, so I may not be able to be objective about this, but can someone remind me of how in the last 4 years CM Barry has been "protecting neighborhoods"? Defining herself primarily as beholden to business I get. But in what ways can she claim to have protected neighborhoods as she does in her campaign ad?

Whether I get a response or not, a clue to answering my query may be found in a separate ad where Barry says she is "involved" in her own neighborhood:

So, I guess she's been there for her neighborhood, but I'm still unclear as to how she has protected anyone else's neighborhood. I've documented relevant parts of her voting record at length here on Enclave and I don't see protection in her votes. And frankly, a lot of community leaders are involved in their neighborhoods but that does not set them apart as having council power to influence QOL.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The North End is saturated with magnet options, yet the Nashville Civic Design Center recommends another one

Except for one minor detail, this proposal by the Nashville Civic Design Center sounds sublime:

The Nashville Civic Design Center proposes a new magnet elementary school in the Lafayette neighborhood and a magnet arts school in the Sulphur Dell neighborhood. The schools would share an axial relationship, as their sites are flanked by 4th and 5th Avenues (Avenue of the Arts). These locations would provide the schools with close proximity to downtown art and science museums, as well as many other educational institutions throughout the city. Additionally, the locational advantage of the proposed schools addresses goals from the city’s Schools Strategic Plan, namely “to market and promote relevant and engaging extracurricular activities for students risk of dropout”, and to “select and use technology in developmentally appropriate ways to promote active learning, improve student engagement and individualize instruction.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Megan Barry's budget committee failed to vet Arriola's budget for the rest of the Council

I appreciate that you all do the marriage licenses.
-- At-Large CM and Budget Chair Megan Barry setting the tone
for last May's powder-puff budget hearing with John Arriola

NewsChannel5 investigative reporter Phil Williams has been effecitvely stalking and running down the continuing controversy of County Clerk John Arriola. His latest coverage is a tally of council members who are and are not willing to vote on a memorializing resolution (that is, a resolution that is a nonbinding expression of the council's wishes) requesting Arriola's resignation.

Some impressive multi-million dollar returns on their $10,000 investment in "Karl Dean for Mayor 2007"

Courtesy of MDHA, Tower Investments already stood to score almost $15 million for land they conveniently owned right where Mayor Dean planned to build the Music City Center. Now we know that Nashville's housing authority seriously undervalued the land for a project that was touted by McNeely, Pigott, and Fox's hired spin doctors (also overseen by MDHA) as vital to Nashville's prosperity. If only Metro could have it both ways. But they cannot: a jury judged that the market value of Tower Investment properties is double what MDHA was willing to pay.

Crane Watchdog is once again delving into the details of the deal-makers, and they show us another nice catch:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cast my ballot yesterday

Only 2 votes cast.

No real choices for Mayor and Vice Mayor and neither Dean nor Neighbors deserve my vote (I voted for Dean last time around). The at-Large incumbents have behaved like either tools or tanglefoots. The at-Large challengers have not presented any viable alternative. They look to be either cookie-cutter conservatives or selectively progressive Deanie babies. The "good enough" this time was not to waste votes on those who have not represented my interests.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Silly stuff a politically-motivated restaurateur says

Hillsboro Village godfather Randy Rayburn opened mouth and inserted foot in support of council candidate David Glasgow, who to my knowledge has not separated himself from the powerful restaurateur's pubic fallacies:

Just a reminder ...[about] a reception ... for David Glasgow who is running against Berkley Allen in District 18 ....

I would remind you that we don’t need a strident, vociferous, engineering version of Emily [Evans] on our Council opposing Mayor Dean’s policies and programs. Our business community has known for years that she equates being supportive of business and economic development programs as being anti-neighborhood interests. We know that Jason Holleman helped recruit her and lobbied to move her into District 18, as he and his Crafton/Evans cohorts have done in several other races. We don’t need a new member of the Anti-Dean Gang to slow or thwart our city’s next four years. There will be new, unanticipated challenges along the way. We need to limit their head count numbers now.

Thank you for considering your efforts to hold this seat. David was appointed by Mayor Dean in 2009 to the Tourism Board where he has become an even stronger supporter of our Mayor.

Sounds like Mr. Rayburn fancies a submissive council to the point that it informs oddball conspiratorial connections he sees between non-conforming council members who have different voting records. (Crafton and Holleman in the same boat? Really?) He was apoplectic enough in 2009 at CM Evans' criticism of the Music City Center project to try to disqualify her opinion because she had not created jobs like he said he had. The recent attack on Burkley Allen sounds like more of the same foolishness.

UPDATE: I was sent this screenshot of one of Randy Rayburn's Facebook comments to Emily Evans in 2010 where he quotes John Wilkes Booth's infamous assassination exclamation. Why?

Business logic: to bury, forget and ignore in order to promote growth

Reading this piece from Mississippi on opposition from Bay St. Louis business leaders to commemoration of the town's 2005 Katrina flood tragedy left me considering a couple of things. First, business growth evangelists will stoop to snuff out historical landmarks that people choose to commemorate in the name of a buck. The Gulf coast giants of industry want some simple state highway markers that show the high-water mark removed for fear that they discourage businesses from relocating to undeveloped properties near the markers.

Let's think this logic through for a moment. They are concerned that prospective entrepreneurs are going to make informed decisions to relocate to other areas in Bay St. Louis that would not be under the 2005 high water mark should another Katrina-like hurricane visit Mississippi. They are concerned that relocating companies may not want to take the irrational risk of catastrophic flood damage if they do not have to. They are willing to deny flood survivors the catharsis of pilgrimages to historic landmarks in the name of placing unknowing businesses in jeopardy. So, why aren't these titans of commerce relocating to the flood-prone areas themselves?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A promise Convention Center Authority PR Manager Holly McCall could not keep

This project [convention center construction] is not going over budget.
-- Music City Center Authority PR manager (former journo) Holly McCall
less than 10 months ago

Now, the Music city Center is way over budget; it'll have to pay $15 million more than it planned for this land. That cost is not in the budget of the project.
The spokesperson for the Music City Center, Holly McCall, said they'll have to do some number crunching. McCall said the Convention Center Authority will meet with the management team to assess the impact on the budget.

North End residents may recall that this is not the first time Holly McCall has failed her own word regarding convention center construction. A year ago she failed to follow through on a promise to Hope Gardens residents and other neighborhood leaders to release to the public the Metro lease for the Greyhound bus terminal, sending it instead only to CM Erica Gilmore. She had already admitted in a community meeting that she did not publicize the lease earlier to the affected community because she was not required to do so.

We've seen Ms. McCall's rather selective and convenient code of transparency when it comes to releasing information on convention center business. I have no doubt that her experience as a former journo will help her spin the budget overage such that earlier promises will appear not to be broken. And we are likely to get half-truths and carefully worded flackery that fails the nobler notion that public officials should be accountable for overspending public dollars.

Tanaka Vercher separates herself from Mayor Dean over accomplishments she did not earn

The mailer in question.

Council incumbent Duane Dominy's allegations that his opponent Tanaka Vercher and Mayor Karl Dean are taking credit for District 28 improvements have gained traction with a television news station analyzing some tapes of community meetings and observing Vercher and Dean no where to be found:

Friday, July 22, 2011

BREAKING: as of today the convention center construction project is overbudget (as expected)

At the risk of having some Dean-pandering council candidates accuse me of wanting the convention center project to fail, I intend to mark the date. Music City Center construction is officially overbudget as of today due to a jury decision against the city on land the city undervalued. Amons and Rau with the breaker via Twitter:

By the way, to get credit approval for construction, Mayor Karl Dean obligated the General Fund, which pays for sidewalks, parks, police, and the lion's share of Metro services that service us. In essence, if Metro cannot meet its obligations to creditors to serve the tourism industry, Nashvillians could suffer fewer services.

As of tonight, the Mayor acts like he has it all under control:

What? Me worry?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The images of IQT, the regressive company Governor Haslam and Mayor Dean gushed about, are getting clearer and more unflattering

It is difficult to reconcile the image of IQT in "Bob's Interview" below with the company that Bill Haslam declared on faith as "good-paying" and "high-quality". Notice in the report that the company put bankruptcy signs up on their doors the day they laid off workers even though bankruptcy has never been filed.

Mayor Dean crashes and cashes lowly district races to make Metro Council comply

Re-elect Karl Dean is working hard to shield the Mayor's Office from the embarrassing opposition he faced from council members late last term. They brought the Mayor right down the low road of at least 3 district campaign fights where CMs didn't comply with King Karl 100% of the time. Dean usually projects the high road, but this time he is wading right into the fray. Consequently, he looks a little desperate and like he is pining for votes that he cannot muster himself regardless of who sits on the council.

Fliers that Hizzoner has mailed so far:

Sarah Lodge Tally, paid for by Re-elect Karl Dean

Dean would have his way with West Nashville via a fellow blue-blood brahmin.

Page Turner, paid for by Re-elect Karl Dean

Omitted: "the Mayor ignored the Antioch community task force"

Tanaka Vercher, paid for by Re-elect Karl Dean

He tried to help Antioch by forcing a flea market they didn't want.

Any other Dean mailers out there for district candidates?

Ronnie Steine says that Mayor Dean should not be criticized for vetting failures in the IQT debacle

CM Ronnie Steine once threw a kanipshin fit in council when a bill shepherding one of the Mayor's real estate deals was pulled on first reading for discussion (bills on first reading are usually passed together without discussion on a consent agenda). How did Steine get his comeuppance? He moved to pull every other bill on first reading to prove a point.

The point I took from his stunt was that raising questions about policy is wrong in the beginning and that discussion on legislation should be limited and tightly controlled by committees that many of us who work for a living don't have time to attend. In other words, Steine's point was to discourage any probing, far-reaching or no-holds-barred discussion on an important economic development policy favored by the Davidson County executive who otherwise does what he wills, remotely detached from the citizens affected by the policy.

Four years gone and Karl Dean is now fronting neighborhoods

Karl Dean spent most of his first term evading neighborhood issues. In one of his only community meetings with neighborhoods the message was clear: neighborhood issues are swallowed by his campaign rubrics "good schools" and "public safety." Otherwise, any neighborhood issues were to be considered on a case-by-case basis. The once robust Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods shriveled to insignificance in the past 4 years.

But none of those facts have stopped the re-elect Karl Dean campaign from re-writing history in the last 9 months. Now his PR handlers have practically repackaged him as the neighborhoods Mayor. Here's the snail mail solicitation he is sending out:

This song and dance would have played better in 2007.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The reason behind the Mayor's precipitous concern about Ontario's laid off IQT workers?

Mayor Karl Dean received a letter from Ontario's Minister of Labour that we have not heard anything about here in Nashville:

To his credit Labour Minister Charles Sousa is tackling the problem from a couple of angles. The ministry is investigating IQT’s shutdown as a priority and it is helping hundreds of workers file claims with the ministry for unpaid wages.

At the same time, Sousa has kicked up a fuss in Nashville, Tennessee, where the company had planned to collect $1.6 million in city incentives to open a call centre there. “It is important for all governments to send a clear and strong message to companies . . . that we expect compliance with legal obligations,” he wrote in a letter to Nashville’s mayor. He specifically mentioned unpaid wages, severance and other issues.

Sousa also told Mayor Dean that he intends to make sure that the rights of workers unpaid for their labor are protected. At least somebody has kicked up a fuss with the Mayor's Office. It has generally been no fuss, no muss for Karl Dean's first term.

Dude. Sousa is member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. I cannot even imagine a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce advocating compliance and worker rights. I bet it threw Hizzoner off his game.

How things start in grassroots goodness with Stand for Children and then turn bad after the buy-in

Former Stands for Children organizer Susan Barrett joined the Oregon organization as a concerned activist parent who like many parents in Tennessee dabbling in SFC are invested with their children in public school. She asserts that SFC in Oregon started off quite differently than the organization recently exposed in Illinois (and Tennessee Stands for Children looks like it is building like Oregon's did).

She warns us not to assume SFC is astroturf, because it does build from the grassroots. The problem shes sees is that somehow the grassroots is warped and managed into a model of "corporate reform," and then suddenly volunteers are being coached to act in ways they would not otherwise:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why did Mayor Karl Dean wait until after the agreement was reached to vet IQT?

From today's Nashville Business Journal:

The city’s decision today to abruptly cancel talks with IQT Inc. came one day after Nashville’s top economic development official said the city should have further investigated the company and its founders.

The announcement came after inquiries from the Nashville Business Journal regarding IQT co-founder David A. Mortman’s previous venture that unraveled amid allegations of securities fraud and disputes with investors in the late 1990s ....

Mortman — who co-founded IQT with his son, Alex — was president and chief operating officer of Global Intellicom, a $51 million, New York-based telecommunications firm that was involved in a number of lawsuits filed between 1997 and 1999.

The Mayor's Office told the Journal that they would have raised questions if they had known of David Mortman's involvement earlier. Was it not common knowledge that the company was co-founded by David and Alex? Does the Dean Team not look before it leaps into agreements?

They also told the reporter that they did not know about the Global Intellicom history. And is that supposed to instill public confidence that Karl Dean properly vets the businesses he lures to relocate in Nashville?

Neighbors for Hypocrisy

Remember how 35 members of Neighbors for Progress stood in a Metro Council public hearing last January and stipulated that their opinions of how redevelopment should occur at the Fairgrounds count for more than those of anyone else who lived farther away?

Well, it takes a lot of nerve for Colby Sledge and his gang to go outside of the Fairgrounds area to try and influence the re-election chances of a West Nashville CM simply because he did not agree with their opinions (or maybe they realize they can't beat the referendum and they're trying to pack the council with Deaniacs like Sarah Lodge Tally):

Canadians send emails of thanks to Metro Council for end of IQT plan

From Ontario:

Your support for the IQT workers in Canada is overwhelming. Though I am not personally affected, I am appreciative nonetheless.

I can only reciprocate in kind by visiting as a tourist and will make a point of doing so.

Thank you again!

From Nova Scotia:

I read today in a Canadian paper that Nashville has canceled their grant of 1.6 million to IQT Solutions to create 900 jobs, and that this was in response to leaving 1000-1400 Canadian workers without their pay, vacation pay (required by law) and notice or severance pay. (also required by law). Bravo for worrying about the protection of your workers, and putting people first.

I am not personally affected, I live in Nova Scotia (we hang out here in the north Atlantic but it is BEAUTIFUL here and you are never more than 50 miles from the ocean), far from the locations where the workers are. . . but wanted you to know that this made me want to put Nashville in my travel plans. I will be avoiding Arizona and Wisconsin and visiting Nashville!

I can tell you that people noticed - thanks a lot for standing up for the "people", for the workers, and supporting each other - I am sure that this behavior demonstrated the type of company that IQT is, and made you think twice about doing business with them - but it still feels good to have the support. You could have just taken the jobs and said -- too bad to Canadian Workers.

So I just thought that I would send this little note of support to the City Nashville - thanks a lot.

She ain't all glitter

A screenshot of the feature page of Glitteratti online magazine:

Click on to enlarge.

HT: Genma Holmes and Mike Peden

Monday, July 18, 2011

News media in Canada confirms IQT CEO email stating that Nashville relocation "will not materialize"?

During their report on today's protests by former IQT employees Channel 12 news quotes the same email posted in the comments section on this blog yesterday indicating that IQT's CEO believes the Nashville relocation is dead:

Screenshot of today's ChexTV broadcast

UPDATE: The Deanessean is confirming that the Mayor's Office is pronouncing the Nashville deal with IQT as off, so now it must be official and true. Right?

Karl Dean and Bill Haslam offered IQT government subsidies and 1,000 working class Canadians lost their paychecks

Video footage of today's protests by former IQT workers in Canada:

It has been about a month since co-CEO Alex Mortman stood alongside Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville Chamber of Commerce big shots and economic development managers while wooing Nashville in search of "savvy" workers. A month later he has jilted Canadian workers while cheating them on what IQT owes them.

And Haslam and Dean provided Mortman the money to burn his former employees. Here is what Haslam said of IQT in June:

Most of us are unfamiliar with the company’s name, but it’s highly likely many of our sales, service and technical support questions for technology companies have been handled by the people at IQT .... I’m pleased these technically-focused, good paying jobs are being created in Tennessee. IQT is helping us make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.

That is quite a bit of exaggeration, given that IQT paid its Canadian employees $11 per hour and then took their last paychecks and did not meet severance and vacation obligations. That does not sound like a future win for Tennessee workers, Governor Haslam.

And Mayor Karl Dean was absolutely glowing:

IQT is a vibrant, technology-focused company that has found a perfect home in Nashville, a vibrant, technology-focused community .... I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome 900 new jobs for Nashvillians and another development boost for SoBro, a fast-growing downtown neighborhood.

Apparently, IQT is not as vibrant as Mayor Dean believed them to be. There are reports of bankruptcy proceedings. Did someone in the Mayor's Office fail to properly vet this company or were they aware of the negative impact for Canadian workers all along and did not care until the story spun beyond the usual spin cycle?

The Mayor in Nashville speaks on IQT, Oshawa Mayor says he'll give Dean a call

Karl Dean is in a difficult place. News reports out of Canada say that IQT is both in bankruptcy and heading to its new home in Nashville with the payroll, severance and vacation cash it owes hundreds of Canadians it laid off. Mayor Dean has repeated economic development so much since 2007 that it is now hackneyed, but he's got to find a way to explain during his re-election campaign what to do with plans to subsidize a IQT in order to provide 900 jobs when the company just shed 1,200 jobs in Canada, where they reportedly received government subsidies too.

So, late this afternoon Hizzoner dispatched the usual talking points adjusted for the awkward situation at hand:

We were surprised and concerned to hear about the developments in Canada, and I was dismayed by the way the company treated its employees there. Rest assured, Metro taxpayers are protected. Metro’s agreements with IQT have not been finalized, and no incentive funds have been paid to the company. Consistent with my philosophy on economic development, the incentives offered to IQT are based on the company’s ability to bring jobs to Nashville. If they don’t create jobs here, they don’t get incentives. We are not moving forward on this deal unless we get answers from IQT that satisfy my concerns.

Meanwhile, back in the Great White North, the Mayor of the town IQT abandoned, angry that his constituents may not be able to pay their bills or feed their kids in the near future, intends to phone Nashville:

IQT paid its Oshawa employees $11 an hour but received incentives from the Tennessee government to move.

“How much lower can you go in terms of wages?” Ryan wondered.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry says he is going to phone the mayor of Nashville and the city’s chamber of commerce to tell them what kind of company IQT is.

“This is tragic for the community,” Henry said. “It is the direct jobs at IQT but also all the suppliers. All those people who had a working relationship with this company. Now (IQT workers) are going through the turmoil of trying to recover their money.”

It is probably difficult for even the best PR firm to market hundreds of new jobs a Mayor is going to create when news gets out that they torpedoed even more jobs and pinched wages-already-earned in someone else's community.

The Arriola and the Tahoe

Mayor's Office email: Nashville IQT agreement put on hold in wake of Canada closure and lay-offs

In an email addressed to the Metro Council's lawyer, the Mayor's Office proclaims a stoppage of the agreement with IQT, which Dean administration officials touted as bringing 900 jobs to Nashville in exchange for Metro subsidies:

Jon [Cooper], In regard to the announcement on Friday that IQT, Inc. had closed three operations centers in Canada, please be advised that the agreements between IQT, the State of Tennessee and Metro Government have not been executed. As you know this is a performance based agreement and we will not move further toward finalizing these documents until we receive further clarity on this situation. Matt Wiltshire has communicated our concerns to IQT’s Chief Executive Officer. Our office will keep the Council informed as we receive more information.

Marty Szeigis
Office of the Mayor
(615) 880-3344

News is still floating out of Canada that IQT is in bankruptcy proceedings. A commenter in a previous Enclave post said that co-CEO Alex Mortman told her over the weekend that the deal with Nashville would probably not materialize.

UPDATE: Local Canadian newscast, first 2 minutes of which are coverage of the IQT lay-offs with interviews of former employees:

Republicans and Democrats play political football with the Fairgrounds ballot

You knew this had to come. You cannot mobilize this many people to stop a Mayor's initiative dead in its tracks and leverage a referendum on the August ballot against that Mayor's wishes without a political party trying to co-opt the momentum for its own self-interests. This time it's the Davidson County Republicans, lead by CM Michael Craddock, trying to leech the momentum that the opponents of Dean redevelopment started.

Not only are the Republicans encouraging ratification of the Fairgrounds referendum, but they are using it as pretense to hawk council candidates friendlier to them than the CMs who robotically vote with Mayor Dean. It is a transparently cynical ploy that insults the intelligence of Nashville voters. Parties are parasites.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cole's cottages

An announcement on a council meeting from the Nashville neighborhood elist, which may be of interest to Salemtown since we are zoned mostly R6 (medium density residential intended for single and multi-family dwellings):

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Company the Mayor's economic development director called "great" for Nashville mass-fires Canadian workers, may be bankrupt

Karl Dean's man for growth, Matt Wiltshire, called unanimous council support for subsidies for the relocation of technology business IQT, "evidence that it's a great deal for the city." According to published reports from the Great White North, IQT has not been a good deal for Canadian workers. IQT laid off a thousand workers in Quebec and Ontario immediately on payday even though Canadian law requires employers to give two weeks notice and severance pay.

Some reports allege that IQT's actions are retribution for worker attempts to unionize. That would be ironic, given that Mayor Dean considers IQT's relocation a feather in his cap and that the Mayor has been endorsed by labor groups, which themselves may not actually be welcome at IQT headquarters on 2nd Avenue. If the move was made because Tennessee is a right-to-work state, then that might effectively make the workers hired here scabs. 900 Nashville workers forced to take whatever they can scrounge are cheaper than 1,200 Canadians with a higher standard of living.

Friday, July 15, 2011

We should move both carefully and with conviction on the question of Salemtown's Fehr School

The planned exit of the Metro Action Commission out of historic Fehr School on 5th Avenue in Salemtown has been moved back once again, this time from June to August. The building has never been suitable to dispensing to large groups of people in need of federal aid to pay utility bills, and it was a strain on MAC staff, clients (many of whom lined up in freezing cold and broiling hot temps), and the neighborhood, which was sometimes trashed by the crush of clients. Moreover, the promises to move MAC to more realistic digs elsewhere have gone unrealized for years.

MAC client lines
Even though we are facing another delay, at least the Metro gears seem to be moving this time and MAC is talking seriously about the move when they attend Salemtown association meetings each month. So, the next item on the agenda for Salemtown is to make sure that the Fehr School Building, which was one of the foci of Nashville's famous civil rights history does not undergo any radical structural changes. Salemtown Neighbors has already approved an initiative for a petition to protect the old school. And at our June business meeting MAC mentioned that the building is already protected as historic property, including a plaque that will be posted. They told the association that the historic 5th Avenue side will not be altered, but that a 4th Avenue entrance will be created.

I conducted a search of the federal and state registers for the preservation designation that MAC talked about, but I could not find any record of it. I followed up with MAC officials who told me that someone in Metro General Services had told them. MAC also conjectured that the historical register for Fehr may still be in progress. They also told me that they would follow up to confirm and then get back to me. That was over two weeks ago, and I have yet to receive any confirmation.

About the same time, CM Erica Gilmore responded to Salemtown queries about Fehr by promising her support for historic preservation of the school building and she notified Tim Walker at the Metro Historical Commission. This was excellent news and we hope that CM Gilmore is vigorously pursuing this, although we have not heard back from her yet either.

Another wrinkle in these events is mention in yesterday's Tennessean that some Germantown parents, disgruntled by recent redistricting that knocked them out of wildly popular Eakin Elementary's bailiwick in West Nashville are now spying Fehr as an alternative to sending the kids to one of several other options in around the North End area (full disclosure: our 7-year-old attends Jones Paideia Magnet, one of those options):

Some Germantown residents hoped the city would consider converting the Metro Action Commission building at 1624 Fifth Ave. N. into a magnet school when a portion of the agency relocates downtown next month. But many of the agency’s departments, including one of its Head Start locations, will remain there.

[School board member Ed] Kindall says he’s open to discussing the issues with concerned parents and advises neighborhood groups to come up with a plan and make a recommendation to the Metro School Board.

For years on this blog I have advocated the preservation and the re-purposing of Fehr for education. But let's keep first things are first. We need to make sure that this living museum to school desegregation is historically protected from drastic alterations to the exterior and from the wrecking ball. Getting it on the historic register ought to be the number one goal now. Despite being a vigorous advocate of re-purposing the building as a school over the years, I frankly worry that if these Germantown parents move too fast it will be flipped into a privatized charter school or an objectionable group like Stand for Children will sweep in and take power away from the community in determining the educational needs of our children.

As someone who has been pushing for these changes at Fehr for 6 years, I would encourage the community to move a step-at-a-time on the building. Let's leverage protection, and then discuss re-purposing as a public school, including making sure that Head Start (which will stay at Fehr and is after all an education program) will continue to be welcome in our area. Salemtown is Fehr School's home, and we are one of the more economically and racially diverse neighborhoods in the North End. We should commit ourselves to the goal of converting Fehr into a place that invites diversity, remains open to all, and honors its history of desegregation. It should not become a shelter for mostly white, middle class gentrifiers with kids.

CRIME ALERT: Stranger staking out home in Germantown near Salemtown

A Germantown resident reports on Facebook this morning that she observed a stranger leaning on her car and "staking out" her home. Here is her description of the suspect:

Tall (maybe 6'0" or 6'1"), slim but muscular black male, maybe 25-35 (didn't get a close look), maybe with short braids (although I wouldn't swear to that), wearing a white tank top and colorful shorts.

Central Precinct police were called and reportedly they are increasing patrols in the North End, including in Hope Gardens.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

That ingratiating Tennessean formula

John Arriola's misuse of Metro revenues is maddening enough, but news that paid PR firms and Nashville's local daily were in on the marketing of Arriola is beyond stupid. Witness an excerpt of the email correspondence from Amanda Virgillito Saad, Andrews Agency PR flack, to Clerk Arriola via NewsChannel5, which seems to perpetually kick Gannett butt on stories that embarrass Metro government bureaucrats:

l'm happy to report that the Tennesean does plan to cover the office move with a positive story. Right now the plan is a news story plus a great column from Gail Kerr. l'm still waiting for further details, but l'd love to go over talking points in advance.

Another year of prosaic Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund endorsements

Apparently the NNDF lobby group founded by former CM John Summers has decided to kiss the mayoral ring this year and give Karl Dean their endorsement rather than rocking the boat. And outside of their Burkley Allen endorsement, there really is not much in this slate that is inspired. The Mayor and Vice Mayor tabs leave me underwhelmed. Even NNDF's "urge" to the Mayor seems insipid even as it is devoid of any realism about this administration:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dealing with more rubbish from the Tennessean newspaper

The Tennessean circulation department has been littering Salemtown sidewalks and private yards with their "free" Wednesday edition off and on for years. In the past they've only stopped delivering their ad garbage to our home when I created a stink with them, including returning their litter to 1100 Broadway. So, it was no surprise to retrieve rolled up Gannett trash laying around my street this morning once again.

The plastic cover on today's issue has contact information that it swears I can use if I want to stop delivery. However, given that I've demanded that they stop delivery at least a half-dozen times in the past, you should not assume that you can rely on these instructions to stop deliveries to you. Take my word for it. They really do not seem to care.

Don't believe what you read, except that part about choking hazard.

Hey, West Nashville, do you know what Sarah Lodge Tally meant?

Jeremy Kane did a bang-up job of live tweeting the debate between CM Jason Holleman and Bredesenista challenger Sarah Lodge Tally last night. At one point in the debate, Kane quoted Tally as saying of the West Nashville Community Plan, "Tally wants reasonableness and balance. Focused on collaboration." Does anybody know what she meant? Is there an unreasonableness or imbalance in the community plan?

The West Nashville Community Plan has been used by neighborhood leaders to resist building major bridges across the Cumberland to May Town Center sprawl slicing up and rendering communities in Sylvan Park and Charlotte Park pass-through neighborhoods. And the plan has been used to fight flipping a residential zone along 43rd Avenue North into an industrial one to expand blight a business had already created.

Sarah Lodge Tally is a product of the Bredesen mentality, a mentality which gave preferential option to industry rather than striking a balance between community and economic development. I just wonder what her notion of balance on the community plan would be. What would the implications for sprawl and industrial expansion through neighborhoods be if she had her way with the West Nashville Community Plan? Jason Holleman was specific about his planning concerns about the bridges for May Town in 2009. Is Sarah Lodge Tally going to be specific, too?

Cussing in parking garages and webisodes for the tech-savvy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Founder of organization that "partners" with Metro Schools says Stand for Children pays for political influence

Stand for Children has endorsed Karl Dean for Mayor, and it benefits from a partnership with the Mayor's Office, the Metro Nashville Public School District, and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce under the boundary-obfuscating umbrella, "One Nashville." Questions have been raised here about SFC's role in local politics, and SFC has defended itself against those questions.

I'm not sure that the local office can as easily deflect news that their national CEO admitted to an audience a few days ago that SFC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a handful of Illinois state races and backed down labor unions (the latter statement he has apologized for). The video that includes Stand for Children CEO Jonathan Edelman selling a Colorado audience on how his organization was boss in Illinois:

So, the logical questions at this point for Nashvillians include: will Stand for Children Tennessee and the Nashville branch itself be using "the best insider and minority lobbyists" to "jam their proposals down our throats"? Will SFC use the networks of students and parents it has been organizing under the pretense of fully funding schools and improving public education to check teacher unions and push agendas that benefit the Nashville Chamber of Commerce or Karl Dean?
Nashville's "single portal" for public schools promotes SFC
Will Stand for Children attempt to "go to war" here rather than work collaboratively on education legislation that promotes the common good? Will they be threatening to go out and find candidates to bankroll who support their legislative steamrolls?

Asking these questions is not accusing the Nashville chapter of guilt by association. Edelman is the CEO of Stand for Children. He is the guy who prompts their mission, develops their strategy and gives them their marching orders. Stand for Children endorsed Karl Dean, who is running practically unopposed, and in so doing they endorsed his commitments to building a school system in service to big business and his commitments to privatizing public education. Would they go as far as Edelman did to realize the Dean vision for public schools?

As a public school PTO member, I intend to keep an eye on how Stand for Children reps engage our organization. I intend to pay attention to what they prompt us to do and to whether they listen to feedback. I have concerns that their partnership with the Mayor's Office and the Chamber may dictate and filter community feedback they are open to. I also have concerns that they may pay to play school board and council members. I do not trust the notion of education policy developed through a single portal constructed by the Courthouse elite. And I intend to protest loud and long at the slightest whiff of what SFC's CEO pulled in Illinois.

In Memphis, SFC is holding a workshop "to help people (ages 13-18) become leaders in their schools." The devil is in the details of what their brand of leadership entails. Let's hope that it is not an Edelman model of leadership. In Nashville, SFC lobbies us to vote them up in rankings for a quarter of a million dollars under the auspices of "children having their very own community organizer for better schools":

Getting more money may or may not provide our kids their own community organizer. But it will definitely give SFC even more influence than they have as a partner in One Nashville and as a strong player on the political scene.

Briley's advice to the outgoing Metro Council regarding David Torrence

Former CM at-Large David Briley is concerned about the council's replacement of a clerk so close to the last meeting of this council's term before a new council takes over:

So, how does the city figure out who will take the job seriously when it replaces the Criminal Court Clerk? Making sure the process is open to everyone interested is essential. Having the Bar associations review the applicants is a good step. Appointing an independent group to establish some desirable qualifications, then review and rank the applicants could help. There’s probably no single answer to this question but there are plenty of ways to subject the process to more than just political deal making.

As it currently stands, the Council is on a path to select a replacement for the Criminal Court Clerk about 30 days after his anticipated resignation. That Council election could occur on the last scheduled meeting of this Council’s term. At least 15 of the Council Members voting at that meeting will not be returning for the next term. If history is any indicator, the number will be greater. None of these departing Council Members will have to justify their vote to a constituent. They will all have moved on if there is a problem. Having the Metro Council select a replacement for the Criminal Court Clerk on its last meeting of a term is a dangerous, political thing to do.

Briley also provides a checklist of suggestions after the jump. It bears noting that while the departing CMs do not have to be accountable for their vote to constituents, they also do not have to pander in order to keep their seats.

Hot buttoning the council candidates for office

Thinking back over what a useful resource the "Hot Button" voting record spreadsheet (linked in the previous post) is, I wondered if it would be possible to create one relaying the non-incumbent council challengers' stances on the issues. Also prompting my musing over this is that a couple of months ago I asked District 8 candidate Nancy VanReece to list a couple of issues she would oppose Mayor Karl Dean on. She balked at giving me an answer other than that I should not question whether she would be independent. I thought her reply was a cop-out, but I wished I had the time to attend her public appearances and document the issues she advocated to see if any of them would represent a hint of a break with the Mayor's Office.

So, I'm wondering now whether it might be feasible to set up a public spreadsheet on Google Docs and to "crowdsource" the publicly stated positions on various hot button issues of all of the challengers for the open council seats. Would it be feasible for those who have followed the campaigns and debates to help curate such a list so that voters can understand where the candidates stand? Or much like VanReece's response to me, are the positions that the candidates take in public so vague and noncommittal (some community organizers might call them "wishy-washy") that such a project would not be helpful and would be improbable?

One indication to me that such a project might be feasible is if the comment section below starts to grow with personal anecdotes on what voters who attended campaign events have heard candidates say. Anyone have anything to share? Keep in mind that anonymous comments may not be given the same benefit of the doubt as those made by people who share their real identities.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How they cast their votes

Gathered data so you don't have to
Neighborhood leaders Charlotte Cooper and Mina Johnson combed the Metro Council voting record for the last four years, and they culled the data into a comprehensive spreadsheet, which they published publicly on Google Docs. Jump to the spreadsheet to score your own council members and to help you decide whether they deserve your vote.

Thank you, Charlotte and Mina.

Serializing with a CM

CM Jamie Hollin was kind enough to invite me to participate in his project to discuss Nashville politics, "inside baseball". This is the first installment of our ongoing chat. It was fun:

The news media has passed word of this project along, but it seems like the outlets covering are using it as an excuse to re-warm an intern's smart phone video of cussing in a parking garage.

Content from Metro Inside Baseball and feedback can also be found on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

While public school infrastructure crumbles, Karl Dean drops a cool $10 million on KIPP

Was the lack of transparency in Alan Coverstone's recent charter school selection process due to the fact that one of the schools, KIPP Academy, enjoys an obscene amount of corporate sponsorship, and thus, was never really going to be declined? Jim Horn at the School Matters blog lists KIPP's corporate sponsors and he explains how Mayor Karl Dean is committing large sums of Metro revenues to the private academy and to the corporate order of things:

Friday, July 08, 2011

Nashville's ranking is suited to donut suburbia outside Nashville

The reason the news media keeps heaping various rankings on our brains is that they get promoted. Whether it's due to the innate human penchant for ordering and serializing or because of some ingrained competitive need we have for comparing and contrasting self to others, the demand for "best of" and "worst of" lists is real. Thus, the media keeps up the onslaught. And large segments of their audience pass it on as gospel truth, even when warned about taking rankings with a grain of salt.

Hence, the latest rankings putting Nashville high on the list of the "next big boom towns" is getting a lot of play in the local news media and with the candidates running for office:

Thursday, July 07, 2011

NAACP release: public forum next week for community to question Metro Council candidates and 1 mayoral candidate

Scroll document down to see candidates who have agreed to participate in this public forum:

It might not be Karl Dean's kind of forum.

Council candidates ardently welcome conservative business group's endorsements

During a chat with Megan Barry soon after her 2007 election over coffee, she told me that a star-chamber-like panel of members of the Nashville Business Coalition had called candidates in one-by-one to grill them with litmus test questions about allowing unregulated LED advertisement signs in neighborhoods. I had not paid much attention to them, but I came away from our chat with the impression that NBC is the extremist wing of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, which itself is not exactly averse to opposing regulation of business.

Some of NBC's tests for local candidates include the latter's preferential option for untrammeled business growth:

Tennessean ramps up the "rant" again about CM Hollin, insinuates that he could be punished when he cannot be

Tennessean headline on Hollin story. And it was all yellow.

Yesterday the editors at the Tennessean changed their original headline on CM Jamie Hollin's tongue-lashing of CMs Jim Gotto and Phil Claiborne from "rant" to "curses at", which seems to me closer to the idea of journalistic objectivity. This morning, they are back to sensationalizing the story like those kids you may remember from elementary school who would not just watch a fight, but would run up and down yelling "Fight! Fight!" to pull more kids into the audience as if they were aspiring promoters.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Popped up on the stat counter during today's "Ask Obama" twitter session

Enclave has had visits from various and sundry federal government entities before, but this is a first:

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tennessean defines CM "rant" against council conservatives at the Courthouse

CM Jamie Hollin took it to CM Jim Gotto and CM Phil Claiborne on their killing of his resolution honoring teenagers who protested the General Assembly's "Don't Say Gay" bill after tonight's council meeting:

Outside of the chambers, Hollin confronted Claiborne, cursing at him and accusing him of objecting to the resolution on biblical grounds ....

Hollin then went to the parking garage, where he waited for the councilmen.

East coast blogger asks Crystal Bridges official why museum enabling Fisk art sale

O'Keeffe donated collection to Fisk in 1949
The day was a day that will live in infamy almost 6 years ago when news broke that North Nashville's Fisk University was trying to sell art pieces in its renowned Stieglitz Collection to pay its bills. Thanks to baffling of the school's more recent attempts to sell to the Wal-Mart Empire heiress, who has been busy scoring art from other places, the demand for Steiglitz seems to be waning, according to art blogger Lee Rosenbaum. She hits a museum official with a hard set of questions:

Q: The point is that [Association of Art Museum Directors] was directing its comment at Fisk, over which it has no leverage. And the place where it does have leverage is the place that desires membership in AAMD. My question is: How do you justify in your mind being the other side of a transaction that has been condemned by the leading professional organization in your field?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Vanderbilt University accused of bankrolling African land grab and exploitation of farmers

When I was a university student, one of the prominent movements of our time was the one to pressure universities to divest from South Africa over apartheid. Now there appears to be a new form of exploitation of Africans and once again universities are invested and show no indication of divesting themselves without organized pressure from within their community. One of those institutions is Vanderbilt:

Saturday, July 02, 2011

In honor of today's U2 concert in Nashville

Hear the crickets?
Oh, what could have been if the Titans had been in a giving-back-to-Nashville kind of mood about tonight's big event last year:

It was a golden opportunity for the Tennessee Titans to demonstrate that they can return money to Metro Nashville coffers and have the positive PR of hosting one of the great international pop bands. But instead they denied a request by U2 to play at LP Field next July. According to the Tennessean, LP field would have afforded 28,000 more seats than Vanderbilt Stadium (where the concert will happen), which could have translated to that many more sales taxes for the city.
Vanderbilt's gain.
But each U2 ticket for an LP Field concert would have included a $2 user fee, which would have gone to fund stadium maintenance and upgrades. This loss needs to be thrown back in the Titans face when they come demanding upgrades in the future, which you can bet they will.

LP Field needs to be used every time it can be so that it can pay for itself.

Friday, July 01, 2011

What council redistricting is doing for voters

Late local election changes for your inconvenience:

Davidson County Election Commission
Updates Voter Database for Redistricting

At 1:00 pm today, July 1, 2011, the new Metropolitan Council districts and School Board districts were uploaded into the Election Commission’s computerized database of registered voters in Davidson County. This comes after weeks of preparation involving staff from the Election Commission, Planning and IT Departments. This step will allow the Election Commission to proceed with the following:

$157,000 is a lot of lettuce if the Mayor's Office already favored Sulphur Dell before the feasibility study even begins

Seriously. Is Karl Dean just going through the motions on this one? His administration is the catalyst for all of the chatter about Sulphur Dell, and I have no doubt that he intends either to build a stadium near Bicentennial Mall on his terms or leverage concessions from the Nashville Sounds ball club on a location somewhere else. So, why waste $157,000 that could be going to pay for summer youth programming at community centers or keeping libraries open a little longer or extending a greenway?