Friday, August 30, 2013

Metro Schools pulled me into their Twitter fight against my will

For some reason, the social media persona responsible for MNPS tweets decided to pull me into the drama resulting from pro-charter school protesters at their Bransford Avenue doors. I've never myself joined in a public protest of MNPS, and I certainly wouldn't in support of charter schools. But the communications person at the district lost his composure and decided that it would be effective spin control and triangulation to compare me to their protesters. All I did was blog--in more detail than can be contained by a picket--about my honest experiences as a public school parent the past 4 years.

Here is the sequence of tweets MNPS used to issue their talking points:

To please everyone? Really?

Metro Schools made an obvious attempt in the thread to minimize and marginalize my experiences and my reasons for doing exactly what Jesse Register encourages us to do: choose between public, private, and public privatized schools.

Okay, be irritable with me if you must, but why drag me into this drama with charter school zealots? Like I am the only person who has concerns about the privatization and commodification of Nashville's public schools? Beyond the distinct probability that there are others out there who share my experience and views, the comparison of me--an individual blogging an opinion you choose to read or not--with a group of people organizing a conspicuous, disruptive demonstration is itself silly. And there are others who have other differences with MNPS based on other reasons not even counted. Trying to please everyone? Hardly.

And again, why am I lumped with noisy demonstrators unsettling the tranquility of Bransford Avenue when all I did was blog an opinion MNPS objects to?

I resist being cast by Metro Schools in some extreme juxtaposition to people who want any and all charters approved. I have argued without fail that public education should be community-based rather than corporately-based. As far as I am concerned both Metro Schools and charter school boosters reject popular determination of public education. Both are beholden to corporate dollars and to venture philanthropists. I advocate something else: money should not be allowed to buy out the democratic process. Both bureaucratic district and education reformers are bought and paid for. Both have organized money. I advocate organized people determining public education policy.

In conclusion, public school parents, the lesson here is that if you choose to express an opinion at odds with Metro Schools you might be singled out on their social media for it. You might be dragged into a war that you never intended to fight. Either take caution or throw it to the wind.

UPDATE: more background on the protesters at Pith in the Wind. They were enabled by a Washington, DC advocacy group. And one of the protesters' targets, school board member Amy Frogge responds to their criticism in the wake of yesterday's activities.

Speaking of Pith in the Wind, I found that one of their writers made specious Twitter comments on our decision to send our daughter to a parochial school (I seem to be the "he" she refers to):

Now I recall that the last time "Aunt B" was out-of-joint me was when I questioned--in the wake of a soft-pitch interview with former DC schools Chancellor, current lightning-rod, anti-teacher lobbyist Michelle Rhee--her claim that one of her fellow reporters had actually exhibited "the fix" for journalism that Phillips predicted she would. Rhee is an acknowledged public figure who plies the high-visibility media circuit making her case for education reform. All my comments about Rhee have been made in that context. Not in the context of personal decisions of what is best for her children.

If you look at my blog post, I did not disparage Michelle Rhee for being a private school parent. I criticized the reporter for allowing Rhee to frame the debate so that she is branded as a public school parent without acknowledging that she also is a private school parent. There was branding going on by a public figure and the reporter failed to critically analyze the branding. So, asking for full disclosure is disparaging now? I tried to fully disclose in my blog post our reasons for leaving MNPS, and I'm not even a public figure. Journos are supposed to reveal the information that the rest of us may not access.

As to "all the private school parents" I have allegedly disparaged: well, I don't know what she means. While I am disposed to a well-adjusting and functioning public school system, I do not bear ill-will toward private school parents. For several years I have corresponded with other parents who have faced the tough decision to move their children out of MNPS. I do not recall expressing anything beyond simpatico with their difficulties and hard decisions. If I disparaged parents in the past, I apologize.

But again, what is the big deal with our decision? I acknowledged that there are ironies, but we are acquiescing to a degree to the system of "choice" that has been handed to us by the school district. And there is nothing ironic about the fact that for four years we chose to send our kid to an urban public school near our home in a transitional neighborhood. Has "Aunt B" ever made that choice? Eventually, it was high stakes testing married to a corporate culture (maybe even the threat of austerity) that drove us out of MNPS; it was not the inner city or our predominantly African American school.

Personal attacks on private individuals (relative to public figures like Michelle Rhee) by alt-weekly writers strike me as mean, bad faith in a system of "choice" they do not themselves question.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Let's just admit that the buck for a budget crisis stops in one place

Tennessean columnist Bruce Dobie launched a provocative salvo at Metro Nashville Public Schools today. In the middle of his barrage, the charter school booster made an irresponsible judgment about our public schools:

We are on an unsustainable spending path at MNPS. Soon, the schools budget will comprise more than half of Metro’s budget.

What makes his comment irresponsible is that Dobie basically passes the buck for MNPS spending by leaving Mayor Karl Dean's accountability for unsustainbility out of the equation. I am always amazed at how the Mayor's supporters shift the blame for our budget problems, as if our charter was not set up to make the county executive the determinant force when push comes to shove on the Metro budget.

But put the charter aside. Look at the way Karl Dean has actually governed.

For 6 years, Mayor Karl Dean has made 3 priorities the defining loci of his terms in office: education, cops, and economic development. He hammered away at it his at his first community meeting with neighborhoods at the Nashville Public Library and his lackeys and shills continue to pitch those priorities right up to today whenever someone questions the budget. Regardless of the sirens of budget crisis and our fluid, ever-changing conditions, the Mayor has strapped himself to any 1 of those 3 masts like some kind of dogged mariner.

The problem is that we have run out of time. Karl Dean has not run out of time. He is term-limited, which only means he is moving up to a challenge for his next political office, maybe Governor, maybe U.S. Senator. His minions in the echo chamber will realign with him. But the rest of us are stuck with the budget mess that is starting to spill out around us.

Symbolic of Dean: a neighborhood of children
and a closed, padlocked community center
Perhaps the school budget has grown large and unwieldy because Karl Dean strapped himself to funding it at the expense of other programs. Karl Dean's budgets are shell games where money is taken from programs (like parks and libraries) to prop up the big 3 priorities. Community centers are closed and locked on summer weekends. Major drag is caused by the economic development pole in the Mayor's holy trinity. Mayor Dean hands out corporate welfare and perqs like tax-increment financing indiscriminately to relocating companies (even ill-fated, costly failures). While he collects revenue from us all and has even raised taxes, he gives tax breaks to big companies and rationalizes it by saying they will hire people, which in theory is supposed to make up for the revenue lost in attracting the companies.

Consequently, the school budget is naturally bound to outpace other Metro services with the Mayor's agenda in place. How easy it is to blame public education and ignore the Mayor's other pets. How easy it is to ignore his costly economic policies in particular.

Double standards and special favors for businesses (code-named "economic development"), shunt revenues out of the Metro budget, while the Mayor has to keep up the appearance of "fully funding" the other 2 immovable legs of his administrative stool: police and Metro schools. That is the formula that has won the Mayor enough votes to win two elections while compromising Metro services for citizens. Far be it from the columnist to ever take an unflinching look at Deanastic economics.

Despite Bruce Dobie's claim, MNPS funding is not the primary offender in unsustainable spending on Metro's spreadsheets. To lay all the blame on Metro Schools is dishonest. I read Bruce Dobie and I wonder whether he is running interference for the Mayor's Office so that they will not have to take the fall for the budget mess and so that Hizzoner can continue the transfer of public wealth to private companies, inside and outside education.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rehabilitating Brady Banks: a question I would definitely ask Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors if she ever decided to run for Mayor

Could you explain how it shows responsible leadership on your part to appoint to the position of Chair of the Metro Council Human Relations Committee a man who was arrested for and who admitted soliciting prostitution near my neighborhood and even closer to 3 Metro public schools in the same year?

Monday, August 26, 2013

I wish she had put as much energy and enthusiasm into stopping Metro Water's new toxic landfill near Germantown

CM Erica Gilmore predictably is super excited that the Mayor is finally coming out of the closet on Sulphur Dell. So super excited that spell-check eluded her:

Today, Council Lady Erica Gilmore reported the 19th  District constituents are thrilled with the idea of a proposed new Sounds stadium at Sulphur Dell. Sulphur Dell is the original home of professional baseball in Nashville, and minor league and Negro league teams played there dating back to the 1860s.

After many months and years, “I am excited the Mayor is moving forward with this proposal, stated Council Lady Gilmore.” This challenge is a tremendous opportunity for the North Nashville area. This proposal will create more jobs and will be a valuable community asset with the ability to expand economic development.

Council Lady Gilmore stated, “We are grateful that Sulfur Dell is being considered in District 19 and know this will be a Homerun for the North Nashville area.” [sic]

I am glad CM Gilmore broke with her seeming indifference in the past about planning quality and smart growth at the intersection of Jefferson and Rosa Parks (given that she was willing to welcome a predatory lender and bid farewell to the National Museum of African American Music).

On the contrary, she expresses no interest in or insight on transit questions which plague the idea of building a ballpark at Sulphur Dell. Would not bus rapid transit from downtown be a perfect compliment to a new ballpark? But, oh, she has already gone all in on the Mayor's bus rapid transit connector between East and West Nashville; the plan that leaves North Nashville out of the transit equation. What a squander.

Dean: "at some point" the neighborhoods most affected by a new ballpark will be brought into ballpark planning

I distinctly recall that in the days when a previous ballpark proposal was under consideration under a previous Mayor, community meetings were held for feedback on location and other considerations well in advance of the legislative debate beginning. Not going to happen under Karl Dean:

crucially, the mayor did say, at least during his time left in office, there would be a new park in Sulphur Dell or there'd be no new park at all, quashing once and for all any hopes of a stadium at the old Thermal Plant site in SoBro or at the foot of the Korean Veterans Bridge on the East Bank. The former was all-but a done deal in 2008 and the latter was briefly considered a frontrunner as late as last year.

Indeed, the Sounds — and even former Nashville Vols who actually played at the original Sulphur Dell — were on the record, in the past, as being unenthused about the prospect of moving to North Nashville.

Sticking with the theme that all of this is very early — the mayor wouldn't commit to any "hard timeline" on the project — Dean said at some point the area's neighborhood associations would be brought into the discussion, though he said "this is a project for the whole city."

I guess under this "strong executive" form of county government, the Mayor unlike other mayors need not be a "neighborhoods mayor". However, the peculiar hypocrisy of saying the interests of proximate neighborhoods should take a backseat to the city is obvious to those of us who watched the theatrics of the Mayor's plan to sell the State Fairgrounds to private developers.

First, I recall a gaggle of residents from South Nashville neighborhoods around the Fairgrounds supporting the Mayor's plan and arguing repeatedly that even though the Fairgrounds is public property, their communities should have more say over demolition and planning than anyone who did not live nearby. Second, when Karl Dean introduced his Fairgrounds sell-off plan, he greased the skids at the first council committee meeting considering his plan by showing a video of neighborhood association president Keith Moorman promoting Fairgrounds demolition/redevelopment to the Chamber of Commerce and the news media. South Nashville Action People, the association representing the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood, got their own exclusive public hearing before the council during which Mr. Moorman pitched the Mayor's Fairgrounds plan. No opponents were allowed to speak at this committee meeting. Instead, they had to wait until council's public hearing. Further, the Mayor's SNAP supporters even insinuated that they were entitled to their own public hearing later in the council process, as if Mr. Moorman had not been given one in the first place.

And one more note. The land on which a new Sulphur Dell would sit belongs to the state. By Hizzoner's own logic, a new Sulphur Dell ought to be "a project for the whole state" with the city brought in "at some point".

Straight from jump this Mayor has consistently shown benign neglect toward North Nashville. He merely perpetuates that neglect by not affording our neighborhoods the same influence over a major capital project (in this case a ballpark) that he grants others. My interpretation of "the point" at which Mayor Dean will bring North Nashville communities into the process is basically when, if ever, it is safe for him to.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Germantown's Swaffles sells its last waffle today

If you have been meaning to go down to 5th and Madison for chicken and waffles, you only have a few hours left. I was told by the Swaffles owner that his store was just bought out by local bakery Flour, Sugar, Eggs. According to the Flour, Sugar, Eggs website, chef and owner Gina Olds offers quiches, croissants, and scones on her menu. The folks at Swaffles told me that the bakery will keep all of the kitchen equipment, including the espresso machine, which is good news for coffee drinkers like me.

I am sad to see Swaffles leave Germantown. They knew just how this regular liked his breakfast choices. And the coffee I got there was as good as anywhere else in Nashville. Going to have to train a whole new crew now, but joking aside I do look forward to trying out the new selections at Flour, Sugar, Eggs.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Was the Nashville Civic Design Center contest on ballpark designs a process of imagining or of realization?

In 2011, I emailed Gary Gaston, the head honcho of the Nashville Civic Design Center, and I asked him about an event they were holding that April (co-sponsored by the Friends of Sulphur Dell, a group boostering a new North End ballpark) that would include University of Tennessee student renderings of ballparks for the Sulphur Dell area near Bicentennial Mall State Park along with commentary by Professor Mark Schimmenti. I was particularly concerned as to whether the students, who had visited various ballparks for ideas, had also attended 2010 North Nashville Community Plan meetings in order to learn more about local community character.

Mr. Gaston replied to me:

This is not a public meeting on the topic of a ballpark - these are student projects, theoretical exercises .... Student projects are wonderful ways to explore imaginative visionary solutions for sites - they are not meant to be grounded in the practical (otherwise we would be asking them to limit their creativity).

The NCDC has been all over the rapidly unfolding disclosure that indeed, Karl Dean favors a ballpark for Sulphur Dell (news that had been on the street for years) and, when they promoted it on their Facebook page this week, an official with their partner, the UT College of Architecture and Design commented:

This is incredible! Fantastic to see the work of Professor Schimmenti, our students, and the NCDC realized.

I don't understand. Was the purpose of the 2011 NCDC workshop to help expand our imaginations without regard to practicality or to help practically realize Mayor Karl Dean's plan to build a ballpark at Sulphur Dell?

UPDATE:  I went back over my posts from 2011. A commenter to one of those posts had the following observation to put after attending the meeting:

Someone asked why the NCDC and UTK did not study the Thermal Site, to which the UTK professor replied that the real planning should be left to the experts and a "professional" study will need to be undertaken. Further proof this was a sloppy PR move by the powers that want the Sulpher Dell site (or should I say, the powers that want the Thermal Site for something other than baseball), but had very little to do with actually advancing the planning debate.

Again, the purpose of the design contest is muddied by the question of whether it was supposed to have practical effect even as now NCDC and UTK are celebrating practical effects of the contest.

The aspirations of Megan Barry: how has being a cautious progressive helped her?

I am a recovering supporter of Megan Barry, so I took some interest in a recent Tennessean editorial on her bid to woo the business class kingmakers over at their reportedly favorite watering hole. First, erstwhile journo Bruce Dobie claims that the suits are fretting about their choices next time for Mayor. Before droning on about Barry, I have to point out that there is a certain irony in Dobie maintaining that these are the people who actually do the choosing of executives to run county government--votes be damned--and yet, their own system has left them without a candidate to run county government.

But I digress:

Second, progressive goo-goo [a.k.a., "good-government"] front-runner Megan Barry makes them nervous.

Barry, a Metro Councilwoman, has been the most public and out-front candidate to date. A resident of the not-so-mean streets of Belmont-Hillsboro, Nashville’s ground zero for left-leaning politics, Barry is known for successfully sponsoring a workplace anti-discrimination measure for the city’s gay and lesbian communities. She also was the force behind the proposal for Metro Government workers to receive a “living wage.”

Such accomplishments have prompted the Jimmy Kelly’s biz crowd to order a second martini and continue the search.

Dobie goes on to compare CM Barry to blast-from-the-past Betty Nixon because both appear to have the same genitalia as well as interest in being Mayor (in the interest of fairness, why didn't Dobie bring up a "youthful" mayoral candidate from the past to compare to Jeremy Kane?).

Without fail, Dobie falls back on that dated label of "goo-goo" to compare the two. Of course, he has in past columns mentioned Ludye Wallace as a favorite of good-government types, a claim that is a laugh riot to some of us "goo-goos" who have actually been Ludye's constituents. Dobie's dependency on a twenty-year-old term, as Ms. Nixon pointed out this week, is practically archaic. It also may show that he is more in touch with the bar at Jimmy Kelly's than he is with politics unfolding on the ground in Nashville.

While I am not cynical enough to label CM Barry's initiatives as symbolically liberal, they do strike this observer as incremental at best. Her living wage plan upset some council conservatives, but it did not help more than a dozen folks who work for Metro government. What about the many who were not as lucky as those few? Likewise, she hammered home demands of nondiscrimination against Metro employees, but she was barely a blip on the radar when the question turned to nondiscrimination for private companies contracting with Metro government.

Any credit she might get from me for taking boldish stands on strictly social-progressive issues is overwhelmed by my memories of her support of the conservative growth policies of Karl Dean. She voted for the new regressive stormwater fee structure that charged property owners who created less stormwater (mostly residential) more than those who generated more stormwater (mostly business). After going through the motions of holding a couple of community meetings on the proposed Music City Convention Center, she supported the largest capital project in Metro history without making any demands on the Mayor or leveraging progressive perimeters for the project. She supported Hizzoner's bid to tear down the State Fairgrounds and to sell all but a sliver off to wealthy private developers, which would have had the double-barreled effect of eradicating a working class entertainment venue and of making some potential campaign donors even more wealth. Megan Barry has mimicked, over and over, Karl Dean's market-driven habits of governance.

And where has it all brought her now that she is facing down the Jimmy Kelly's deciders? They still do not trust her.

Megan Barry has never remotely resembled a populist progressive concerned about class disparities, quality employment, equal opportunities for working people or the alienating effects of unfettered gentrification in urban areas. She has never even taken a stand as a "loyal opponent" of the Dean administration. She stays close to the social issues that are stylish among Nashville top-shelf progressives: the rights of women, equality for gays and lesbians, immigration opportunities. Granted, those kinds of issues do not risk the primary flow of money and power in Nashville; or at least they are not as risky as are unflinching looks at unequal growth, environmental justice, power imbalances in land development and class inequities. In my opinion, any future Nashville mayor worth her salt has to have taken some risks toward the left. I do not see that level of boldness in CM Barry's resume.

I don't know if Megan Barry would have been able to pull together a coalition giving her higher levels of popular votes to offset any donation losses she might have experienced by being even a part-time populist. I do see that being a full-time social progressive in lock-step with Karl Dean is not pulling her any closer to the Mayor's Office she covets. As conservative as she has been, she is still not conservative enough for the suits.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CM Duane Dominy overcomes popular dissent with an assist from a progressively challenged Metro Council

That sound you hear from Metro
Council? It's the sound of inevitability.
You should have seen this coming March 2012 when the Metro Council handed conservative CM Duane Dominy a 22-15 2nd reading win--in spite of strong community opposition--on a bill that protected the big real estate investment of Hickory MC Investments, which plans to build a new asphalt plant on the doorstep of an Antioch subdivision. Even an indefinite deferral a few weeks later only bought the wealthy property owner's lobbyist Thomas White more time to erode opposition from the generally spineless Metro Council.

Emboldened over the summer, CM Dominy rehatched his bill to permit the new asphalt plant. He brought it back for third and final reading. The community opposition Facebook page reported insider info a few days ago that "the lobbyists for the asphalt plant have been working hard for 4 months" and that those lobbyists "told the council that we had basically gotten used to the idea and are no longer opposed." Gotten used to the idea of exposing susceptible neighborhood kids to cancer and asthma risks? Gotten used to endangering the preservation of fragile wildlife and the watershed? What would be council progressives' defense for supporting the blacktop mongers? That their convenient greenness does not encompass environmental and health jeopardy outside their own districts?

Predictably, weak-kneed and campaign-financed Metro Council voted with Dominy and the lobbyists tonight, 30-4. The minority of 4 were CMs from districts near the proposed plant. Naturally.

UPDATE: the tweet I linked in last paragraph above was originally from CM Fabian Bedne's account. According to Twitter it no longer exists. I wish now I would have made a screenshot of it before it was taken down. But CM Bedne did tweet that evening that the 4 CMs voting against the plant were those from near the plant. In the future, I will screenshot his tweets whenever I link them here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Already protected, Salemtown's Fehr School now visibly commemorated

The Metro Historical Commission installed a commemorative plaque recently at historic Fehr School. I spent a lot of time and energy over the years trying to help leverage a preservation overlay to protect this living Civil Rights museum from demolition or substantial alteration, including using this blog for community awareness.

Seeing the new plaque for the first time today is like a nice little ribbon on the gift of preservation we had already enjoyed for some time. The school is a source of pride for this neighborhood.

What is Metro Parks thinking? (UPDATED)

In the past few weeks a tall metal object with the words "On Air" (pictured above) was constructed at Morgan Park near the playground and in front of the community center. It is obviously an homage to Nashville's broadcast past.

But is it meant to be a climbable jungle gym for kids?

If so, I'm not sure what the design wizards at Metro Parks was thinking. Unlike the playground equipment, which is set on top of a cushioned, rubberized surface that softens falls, the radio tower (or microphone?) is set in cement. And look closely at yellow electric bolts attached to the upper rings. The sharpened metal plates are exposed. I could very easily see a climber horribly impaled on them after a misstep.

This strikes me as one huge design fail.

UPDATE: thanks to a tip in the comments below I searched the Metro Arts website and discovered that this sharp-pronged metal tower is actually a bike rack that Metro Arts (managed by Jennifer Cole, wife of former CM Erik Cole) commissioned in 2010. That explains the concrete pad it is sitting on. Now, how are they going to keep the little tykes who frequent the community center and Morgan Park playground from climbing "Steelskin Studio On Air" and either falling on hard concrete or getting speared on those cutlass-like steel bolts atop the pylon? Is public art in a public park really "public" if it is not kid-friendly? How could Metro Parks approve installation of this design? Why couldn't Morgan Park get safer public art, like the "handlebar mustache bike rack"?

UPDATE: Metro Arts responded to questions raised about the new Morgan Park bike rack on Twitter.

Of course, no one was impugning their program. In fact, if they had bothered to look back in the Enclave archives, Metro Arts officials would have seen that I am largely supportive of the program of public art, especially against the demagoguery of conservatives.

But this post is plainly not an attack on their program. It merely questions whether installing a tall monkeybars-like feature with hazardous sheet metal elements near a playground is a wise practice, even under the auspices of "art".

One more thing. I think it is awesome that Metro wants to encourage more kids to bike. The problem is: how does a sculpture that does not even come across as a bike rack on first impression to average people encourage more kids to bike?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

CRIME ALERT: Salemtown & Germantown cars broken into

I am receiving messages from social media that say anywhere from 6 to 15 cars were broken into overnight in the North End. Damage includes broken windows. I have not been stat counting, but it seems to me that crime has recently spiked in our neighborhoods.

UPDATE: according to a crime alert that went out from Metro Police a week ago, perps of "a majority" of the car break-ins and thefts (which had been increasing in the area to that point) are a gang from outside Salemtown called "Rolling 40 Crips". That report stated that the suspected leader of the gang had been arrested for stealing an iPad and a shot gun from a car on Hume Street, but that he bonded out of jail. No confirmation from MNPD yet on whether the Rolling 40 Crips are suspected of last night's rash of car break-ins.

I want to add to the update that we learned a long time ago, when we lived in the Historic Edgefield neighborhood in East Nashville, to remove all valuables from our cars and not to leave our cars locked. We agree with the police that removing valuables is important. We disagree with them about locking our cars. Locks and car alarms are not going to stop anyone on the street who wants to rifle through our cars. We would rather not have to pay a lot of money to repair busted windows on top of the indignity of the rifling. Removing valuables is sufficient for us.

UPDATE: curious cruising behavior from Metro Police Saturday night, as they drove up and down my street slowly with blue lights flashing 4-5 times over a 45 min span after 10:00p. I have never seen that before, and I do not know what the purpose of it was. They were not doing it hours later. How effective can it be as a deterrent if they do not do so continuously? And do they assume that criminals cannot see their blue lights coming up the street from blocks away? Was it intended to give residents a temporary sense of security? Or did it occur because some residents have reached out to the news media about the crime problem?

Friday, August 16, 2013

East Nashvillians to Hizzoner: "Karl Dean. This is your mess."

A property owner erected a sign (photograph at Pith in the Wind) suggesting that Mayor Dean did not do due diligence in dealing with 2010 flood repairs on their side of town. I find the fact that the Mayor sanctions shifting millions in federal funds away from community recovery toward developments for touristy Downtown difficult to swallow myself. Karl Dean will run for future office on the proposition that he brought Nashville back from a once-in-a-thousand-years catastrophe. I doubt we will see in those campaigns reality as it actually occurs on the ground in town.

You know? I would not mind seeing this sign pop up over at Metro Water's new toxic landfill in North Nashville.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Metro government continues to forget North Nashville in flood recovery

The day before yesterday, Whites Creek in Bordeaux rose above flood stage and a number of residents were evacuated. I wonder whether the latest catastrophic miseries back up against the neglect with which some North Nashvillians charge Mayor Karl Dean's administration, even as late as last May.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

AMPlifire: Hizzoner lumps concerned opponents of his westward-friendly BRT line with people who do not care for the environment or mass transit

Now there's going to be people who disagree. There are going to be people who are against change, who aren't interested in the environment, who aren't interested in other people being able to move around. That's fine. But I think most Nashvillians are.
--Mayor Karl Dean to Channel 4 News

Yeah? Well, if Mayor Dean cared about the environment in North Nashville, why would he permit Metro Water to dump toxins and contaminants into a new riverside landfill near Salemtown? If he cared about moving North Nashvillians around, why wouldn't his AMP proposal include us?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

RIP, Ernest Campbell, civil rights academic and long-time Germantown preservationist

I just learned that the former Vanderbilt sociologist who contributed so much to North End preservation died last Sunday at his Germantown home. This is sad news about a man who was a catalyst in our community, a professor who cut a figure in US civil rights history:

While at UNC, the Campbells welcomed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to their home when the civil rights leader visited Chapel Hill. Campbell studied the educational aspirations of white and black students in North Carolina in the early 1960s and received a call from the U.S. Office of Education asking him to serve as co-director of a project resulting from a mandate in the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 to study the effects of discrimination on race, sex and religion.

The scholars focused on education achievement and race, and the resulting large-scale study of nearly 800,000 students documented huge differences in test scores and achievement by race. The research additionally documented that the Southern region lagged significantly behind the rest of the nation in terms of education, especially in regard to race. The resulting study was dubbed the “Coleman Report” after its principal author, James S. Coleman, and was published in 1966.

Germantown has changed drastically in the decades since Ernest and Berdelle Campbell launched the preservation initiatives there. Those of us who live around them enjoy the fruits of their legacy, and rest assured that some here will not fail to recall their contributions to and influence in North Nashville.

Thank you, Ernest, and goodbye.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Dominance, not transparency, the high note in the Mayor's Office

Steven Hale writing at the Nashville Scene:

Greg Hinote in the blue shirt
Little of what Hinote does as deputy mayor is done publicly. And because he's so allergic to the spotlight, in the absence of any cultivated public profile, a vague reputation has coalesced around him — that of the mayor's behind-the-scenes enforcer, dispatched whenever the Dean administration needs to bring down the hammer.

Without prompting, two sources independently pointed the Scene to the same example. And for once, the nail — in this case, former Metro Parks Director Roy Wilson — is more than happy to go on the record.

Wilson left his Metro post in December 2009 under a cloud of controversy, following seven-figure budget overruns that he said the Dean administration knew were coming. At a hearing prior to his departure, which one source recalls as a "public shaming," several council members defended him against what they saw as excessive punishment for a sin other departments committed frequently.

Two-and-a-half years later, Wilson — now director of the Dekalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Department in Decatur, Ga. — says he was "railroaded and treated terribly unfairly."

"And it had a lot to do with Greg Hinote," he says....

Now, Wilson says, the only word he can think of for Hinote is "evil." He still believes the deputy mayor was the anonymous source behind critical coverage of him in The Tennessean and the Scene.

Not the first time we have read rumblings of unprincipled actions among Karl Dean's men.

I followed the unfolding Roy Wilson drama in 2009 and blogged several times on it myself here.

It would be nice to find out about community meetings on important developments more than 24 hours in advance

Council member Erica Gilmore sent this MDHA announcement via email 22 hours ago:

As you might be aware, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) has recently started planning for the development of a multi-family residential community on historic Jefferson Street. MDHA is in the very early stages of planning this project and is holding a community meeting with neighbors and neighborhood partners to discuss this exciting new project and answer questions ....

What: A public meeting to discuss preliminary plans to build a multifamily residential community on Jefferson and 16th Street Who: Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA)
When: Thursday, August 1st at 5pm
Where: Matthew Walker Health Center Ingram Community Room 1035 14th Avenue North Nashville, Tennessee 37208

Does MDHA really want the community to attend their feedback events when they fail to give us enough time to put aside other plans in order to attend?

Because of a previously planned commitment this evening I cannot go, so let me know what happens if you do.