Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Metro Health Department flip flops on Occupy Nashville citation

First, Metro Nashville cited Occupy Nashville for feeding the homeless and told them to close down their kitchen. Then, according to an ON supporter, Metro Nashville told the local media that their kitchen shouldn't have been cited:

According to [Metro Health] spokesperson Brian Todd, Occupy Nashville can feed anybody they want to, as long as they aren't selling food. He denied that the kitchen had been shut down and compared it all to tailgating for the Titans and said the only issue was whether or not the food was being sold. Since food has never been sold by Occupy Nashville, there should be no problem, right?

Except, Occupy Nashville still has the problem of the official citation, the one with the box checked that reads, "Your permit to operate a food establishment in Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County is suspended effective this date," so today Occupy Nashville representatives tried once again to determine what it all meant and what they could do and not do in order to avoid more citations or even arrests or eviction of the entire occupation. By the end of the day, a curious story would emerge from Metro's Director of Public Food Safety, Todd Crozier.

It seems there should never have been a citation issued in the first place. According to the explanation given to Occupy Nashville today, "somebody, possibly the state of Tennessee," filed a complaint and requested an inspection. The inspector sent was new on the job and wrote the citation based on standing regulations, unaware that Occupy Nashville has been granted an exception to the requirement that they only feed members of their own group.

The blogger goes on to say that she believes the Governor's office is behind the citation, but even if that is true, Metro Nashville officials are still responsible for assigning an inspector and citing the camp. And it looks fishy to me that Metro bureaucrats are responding to these concerns in the news media rather than corresponding with ON directly to fix these problems. Even if Bill Haslam himself filed a complaint, the Metro Department of Health is culpable for following up, including deciding on the front end that the complaint bears no merit and releasing ON instead of leaving them confused, hanging on and holding the citation.

The simplest explanation here is not that Governor Haslam is able to manipulate Metro machinery even to the fine point of sending a noob prone to cite Occupy Nashville. The simplest explanation is that Metro Nashville screwed this inspection up and then launched damage control and spin in the Tennessean. That fits the Dean Administration MO.

However, anyone bent on seeing a conspiracy here should consider the possibility that part of Mayor Karl Dean's aspiration for an-office-higher-than-Mayor may include pinning the rap for his own boner on a Republican administration. Occupy Nashville should avoid the appearance of partisanship by perpetually focusing too exclusively on Bill Haslam when Karl Dean's administration is in play.

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