Thursday, July 14, 2011

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:

“As part of our endorsement, we also want to urge Mayor Dean to be more supportive of protecting and preserving our neighborhoods in his appointments, in his policies, and in the budget,” said Gene TeSelle of the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood. “And we want to urge Vice Mayor Neighbors to ensure that neighborhood interests have balanced representation as business interests in appointments to the Planning & Zoning Committee and any special study committees of the Council.”

Not likely, Professor TeSelle. NNDF rightly refused to endorse Diane Neighbors last time around but then made the mistake of endorsing Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, who would have been her own set of nightmares visiting the council chambers. In 2007 I asked why does a refusal to endorse one candidate require the endorsement of the other? VM Neighbors is about as likely to listen to NNDF's "urges" now as she is likely to listen to mine, which is to say not very likely at all. Why even bother endorsing her? I suspect she will only get more iron-fisted, less democratic this term. And the Tucker endorsement looks like a disincentive to heed NNDF.

NNDF should have refused to endorse both Dean and Neighbors now and they should have taken a stronger stance on upbraiding both for the lack of support of neighborhoods 2007-2011, because their endorsements will not matter a hill of beans to neighborhoods 2012-2016. They should have presented more specific recommendations for planning commission appointments, including listing planning candidates who might fail to bring balance to the commission. They let Lady Di slide on her past appointments to council committees that locked any Dean critic out of influential positions. They should have tried to chart a course for the rest of us to follow in the next term to defend balanced, smart growth against the developer-friendly Courthouse.

Another curiosity in this list is the endorsement of District 1's Lonell Matthews who tried to pave over rolling green-belt neighborhoods of Scottsboro-Bells Bend with May Town Center. His relentless attempts to send sprawl across the Bend, bi-sect the Charlotte Park neighborhood with 1 of 3 proposed bridges to May Town, and erode the quality of life in Sylvan Park should have merited a vote of "no confidence" from a group that purports to "defend" neighborhoods.

Finally, they once again as in 2010 endorsed Sam Coleman, who has been somewhat less than a defender of neighborhoods particularly on the prohibition of guns in Metro parks, on easements of regulations against cell phone towers in neighborhoods, on West Nashville neighbors organized to stop a police precinct and crime lab from being placed on Richland Creek flood plain (the 2010 flood proved the neighbors right), and on the placement of brightly-lit commercial LED signs in residential neighborhoods. Coleman was on the anti-neighborhood side of each of these issues. I thought the NNDF was committed to protecting neighborhoods?

As it stands, NNDF simply continues to look weak, like a marginal player in the endorsement frenzy at election time. Just one more face in the crowd. Little sets them apart, and these endorsements do not help us.

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