Thursday, November 21, 2013

The politician displayed ballpark cynicism

Since the project I started yesterday (to crowdsource a list of community meetings that Rev. Jerry Maynard claims ballpark supporters held many times over the last few years) seems to be failing miserably, I'm starting to assume that readers are just as unaware of any of these forums as I am. Maybe no neighborhood-oriented meetings were held (beyond the one I attended in 2010 that was designed to drum up support).

As regrettable as CM Maynard's claims about community meetings are, I want to skip today to something else he told council, which came across as cynical to me with a second look at the tape:

We're not doing anything we haven't done in the past .... I got to tell you, I'm troubled because, this is the fir- as council lady Gilmore said, this is the first time we've had major economic investment in North Nashville, and to pull this one when we haven't pulled anything else after all these years. I just think we need to move forward on this.

I never lose faith in CM Maynard's ability to stretch the truth beyond anything I might recognize, but once again, it is not factual that the council has not pulled any other bills on first reading after all these years. I've blogged about several times the council has pulled bills off the consent agenda on first reading. I can remember other times bills have been pulled on first reading for discussion. It is rare, but it happens. I've always assumed it remains in the by-laws because the members see its utility even in its rarity.

So, how many times does CM Maynard have to make stuff up before someone in council or in the news media calls his bluff?

But I digress from my original point: the cynicism of CM Maynard's argument in light of the fact that community meetings really have not happened much if at all. Why do I consider his comments cynical? Because I hear within them an implicit deal of "I won't pull your big capital spending bills if you don't pull my expensive pet projects." Instead of at least going through the motions of holding community meetings and bringing concerns to the council (even if disingenuously brought), CM Maynard seems to be conceding that Metro Council is not so much Nashville's representative body as they are what they have been called by others before: "40 jealous whores" fighting over turf, over influence. "You don't pull/I don't pull" comes across to me an acknowledgement that this council is more focused on whatever plums might fall from the master's table, leaving the crumbs for their constituents (who are otherwise out of sight, out of mind in these deliberations)

Playing the role of CM Maynard's enabler was Ronnie Steine, who did not particularly care for the way the council was tending to "move forward' on the ballpark bill. So, he counseled "backing up" and lectured the council about being on the same team with a united interest that he did not define. I'll have to assume that he meant the same old "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" interest they share. After he got a round of the council's applause, CM Steine launched into bill opponents for doing something he claims he always opposes, pulling bills on first reading. While he backed off his erroneous charge that opponents were breaking rules, he insinuated that they were breaking council tradition. But remember, they're on the same team:

You can call me a hypocrite on this one. I opposed pulling any bill on first reading .... I would argue whether you're for or against it that you honor this council and how we operate.

Whether or not I can call him a hypocrite may be up for debate, but calling him inaccurate is not. During one of those past moments where a fellow did indeed pull a bill off of the consent agenda during first reading, CM Steine had such a conniption that he threatened to pull every other bill off that same agenda for debate. Threatening to pull every bill on first reading to prove a point is still a contradiction of one's commitment never to pull any bill on first reading. Wouldn't the at-Large CM be better served, that is if he honestly is opposed to pulling bills off the consent agenda, by making a motion or introducing a resolution to change the by-laws and charter to prohibit pulling those bills? Even having a "consent agenda" implies that consent is freely given. If not, it's not a consent agenda, and fabricated tradition be damned.

The cynicism was on full display Monday night in the council discussion on a new ballpark for the Nashville Sounds. I guess I was expecting it, but I keep hoping for something more noble, even after all of these years.

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