Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Nashville Post failed to verify developer's claims

Last week I referred you to an article by real estate reporter William Williams in the Nashville Post that constituted a friendly little pitch for developer Mike Kenner (MiKen Development), who is seeking Erica Gilmore's support for rezoning for "Salemtown Cottages". On Friday, I pointed out the problem of date change in the following paragraph (correction and emphasis added by me):

Kenner said the next step in the process is an April 10 [has been changed to April 17] community meeting (one has already been held) at Morgan Park Community Center. Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, within whose district the proposed development would sit, is expected to attend.

As of this morning, neither Williams nor Nashville Post editors have corrected the misinformation, which may cause some to assume mistakenly that a meeting is being held tomorrow at Morgan Park.

If that were not irresponsible enough, I just found out that the "community meeting" that Mike Kenner told the Nashville Post "has already been held" was actually a gathering of 8 to 10 people in a home near the proposed rezoning parcels at Morgan Park. There was no general announcement sent out to the Salemtown community (Salemtown Neighbors neighborhood association did not even send anything out). It was announced on the private social network website, Nextdoor, to people who subscribe to Nextdoor (I do not subscribe to Nextdoor, so I did not receive an announcement).

In my opinion, someone either stretched the truth in reporting a community meeting or failed to follow up with others beyond the developer in order to verify that the meeting included the community.

CM Erica Gilmore did not attend that meeting. I requested minutes from the owner of the home where it was held Mike Kenner's Nextdoor communicator and I was told there are no minutes.

No council member. No minutes. No invitation to the entire community.

How does what looks like a small social network meet-up remotely resemble a "community meeting" for informed decision-making? How do we know this was not an attempt to get the developers' supporters organized to begin leveraging rezoning absent honest questions? And how does the Nashville Post (self-described as "Nashville's Premier Business Publication") get away with reporting a "community meeting" where one does not seem to exist? What's to stop me from questioning the legitimacy of this meeting in any future public hearing on Salemtown Cottages after the developer tries to claim to have had it?

UPDATE:  A local Realtor's blog not only transmits the Nashville Post's bogus date for the upcoming community meeting, but also posts a screaming headline and lede that make approval for Mike Kenner's rezoning request seem like a foregone conclusion; the screenshot below:

Really? Why even bother with community meetings?!

Again, I cannot emphasize enough that a proposed "specific plan" invites community feedback and influence more than any other form of rezoning. Easy approval with no changes should not be assumed a foregone conclusion. Approval in 90 days should not be a foregone conclusion, either.

CORRECTION: The Nextdoor subscriber who communicated Mike Kenner's meeting plans emailed to say that I was wrong for placing the meeting at her house above. Instead, she says it was held at Morgan Park Community Center. Consequently, I corrected above with strikethroughs.


  1. Mike
    I don't know where you get your information, but I held a meeting at morgan park community. I gave Freddie and Mark 2 weeks notice and if you bothered to fact check anything you would know that 15-20 people showed up. Please Next time you report on me please make sure it is not biased and un-factual.
    Mike Kenner

  2. Mr. Kenner:

    Both Freddie and Lindsey told me that 8-10 people showed up for the meeting. I also emailed CM Gilmore to see if she had any info she could share with me about your "community" meeting. I've emailed you in the past on other issues and not gotten response. But I'll correct about the numbers if you have a sign-in sheet.

    Lindsey already emailed me to say that the meeting happened at Morgan Park, which I corrected above.

    In my experience, bloggers correct errors much quicker than journalists (when the latter even bother). I have a track record of doing so. Of course, I wish you had shown this much concern that the Nashville Post correct its own errors since readers usually grant journalists more authority than they do bloggers. But NP did afford you unquestioning PR, which is not exactly what this blog is about.

    IMO, everything could have been clear had you been more open in your own communication with the neighborhood. Next time you might consider paying for some flyers and going door-to-door.

  3. Mike,

    Many of your posts are spot on. But your hostility in this one is very misdirected. This developer wants to develop and improve the property he owns. He has involved the neighborhood, although it seems like there has been inadvertent miscommunication. You created a blog post that was almost entirely incorrect. you should probably make another admitting as much.

    Not everything is about racism. These developers are attempting to improve your neighborhood, which is one of the hottest markets in town. Lose the attitude and people will respect your opinions a lot more.

  4. Which parts were incorrect again? That there was no council member present, that there were no minutes recorded, or that there was no general announcement to the neighborhood? Maybe the part about the upcoming meeting not being held on April 10 as the Nashville Post reported?

    Racism? Where does that even figure into this post?

    The developer is not being deterred from developing and improving the property, but an SP request allows the community to influence the developers' plan. The developer can always choose to ignore the neighborhood and then take his chances with dissent when his request is up for public hearing, which he does not own. A blog is not going to alter any of that.

    BTW, I tend to take anonymous commenters' insinuations about speaking for "people" with a grain of salt.

    1. 13 April

      The Nashville Branch of the NAACP and BURNT are holding a panel "Environmental Justice Earth Day" on Monday 22 April at the Hadley Park Community Center from 6 pm--8 pm. The Water Sewer Treatment Plant and North American galvanizing are perfect examples of pollution in inner cities which would never be tolerated in Belle Meade, Bellevue, or suburbs.

      We would like to involve these sources of pollution

      Thank you

      Bruce Wood