If you haven’t yet registered to vote, but want to participate in the February 5 Tennessee presidential primary (and trust Metro with your identifying info), this coming Monday, January 7, is the last day to register. Early voting starts on Wednesday, January 16, and runs through Thursday, January 31.
Looks like the former Senator and his infamous red truck will be hitting the road again. Sources say Fred Thompson will formally announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination today.
I am all for dreaming big. I support a grandiose, imaginative vision for our city, and I certainly want Nashville’s leaders to do the same. But there’s a difference between dreaming big and just being ridiculous. I saw in this morning’s City Paper that Clement wants Nashville to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Clearly, this is one idea that goes over the line.
I grew up in Atlanta, a city of close to five million people at the time of the 1996 Olympic Games. A city with a mass-transit system far superior to Nashville’s. A city with one of the top five biggest convention centers in the country. A city with an 80,000 seat indoor stadium. And on, and on, and on… And with all that, and all the resources available to a city that is more than three times the size of Nashville, the 1996 games were still botched. The bottom line is that Nashville is simply not big enough or well-prepared enough to put together anything more than a laughable bid for the Summer Olympics. And the same will still be true in 10 years, no matter who’s elected or how hard everyone in the city works. It’s just not feasible.
Please understand I am not trying to single out Bob Clement. I do support Karl Dean but I recognize that his campaign has probably put some outlandish proposals out there, too. He may have even signed onto this crazy 2020 bid idea – I don’t know. But I hope that everyone that’s planning to vote in this election can recognize crazy and worthless campaign blather when they see it.
Side note to Mayoral and At-Large Candidates: Stop calling my cell phone! Please!
The debate was on Saturday, and I attended. See Mary’s commentary for the only possible substantive commentary on the debate. Why? Here’s the thing. I like Karl Dean. Bob Clement drives me nuts. I feel that the direction Nashville will take under one differs greatly from the other. But you wouldn’t have known that from the debate. They started the debate talking about how much they differ, and then proceeded to spend most of the debate agreeing with one another. They both want to improve education (whoa nelly, slow down there, really??), they’re both in favor of the convention center, they both don’t want taxes to be raised (whatever that means). Folks, they both dove for the center so hard they’re gonna come away with a concussion.
Dean, though, at least manages to separate himself by offering actual ideas. This is what I always found so appealing about Briley — Clement (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the candidates) seem to talk about the possibility of new ideas, the theoretical possibility of future changes. Briley would get up there and rattle off ideas as fast as he could speak. Dean has picked up on this a little, and is apparently willing to, you know, actually talk about what he’s going to do. Clement, on the other hand, seems content to just give the Bob Dole thumbs up and repeat “Good to great” like a Chatty Cathy. Come on, Bob, seriously.
The questions were better than I expected, despite being vetted, typed, proofread and orchestrated for the readers (which is always a real tribute to democracy at work, right?). I got a unique birds’ eye view from the media area of this orchestration at work — it was pretty impressive, I tell you what. The funniest part of the night was probably the newschannel5 question that won, which was about the Ghost Ballet. I don’t remember the exact wording, but I think it was something like “Do you like the Ghost Ballet, or do you think it’s ugly and weird, and was it a good use of the money?” (paraphrased). Both candidates did a good job (good in the machiavellian sense, not the objective sense) of laughing off the question without really answering it. They poked fun at it a little, but then said they like it, and they support the arts. A brusque answer to a seemingly shallow question with a deeper subtext. Should the government be spending $330K on public art? Is there anything else they could have spent it on? Oh well, I guess we’ll never know.
So, all in all, it was a boring debate. I think Dean came away looking a lot better, but I’m obviously fairly biased. Angry Bob Clement was out in full force.. I am not sure if that plays well with a lot of people, but to me he just strikes me as trying a little too hard. It’s like there’s a little switch between “sugary southern Bob” and “angry little man” Bob.
Side note: They had an awesome media room for live-blogging the debate, with closed-circuit TV and wireless access. And no one was there. No one. Come to think of it, the Ingram hall auditorium was only half full. What gives? No one cares about the mayoral election, I think. Sad but true.
Richard Lawson has a great analysis of the complicated cost burden of housing the Predators at the arena.
It’s a good read. It’s also very complicated. I am going to have to read it again tonight … and maybe again after that.
Election time, that is! The Metro election is less than two days away, so by now you should know who you’re voting for – and if you don’t, you should start thinking right away! So who’s it going to be, Metbloggers? Who are you voting for and why?
I’ll start: David Briley for Mayor, because I think he has the most forward thinking ideas for our city and I think he is the most passionate, expressive and cogent candidate out there. Peter Westerholm for At-Large Council, because he’s the only one that came by to meet me and my neighbors. No opinions on the other candidates, except that I don’t want Bob Clement to win.
So who’s it gonna be, y’all? Tell us in the comments.
Time for a real Debbie Downer moment, here. I went by the predators rally yesterday, mostly just to document it for posterity’s sake. I went in for a few minutes, took some pictures, and left. I’m sorry, but honestly? I just can’t really get that motivated or excited about the future of the Predators. I like hockey, I really do. I like sports. I like going to Hockey games — they’re loads of fun. But for a variety of reasons, I don’t really find it to be that big of a deal. I think it would be bad for the city economically if they left, so to that extent I think it’s important that they stay. But I find it difficult to get too worked up about it.
I guess as I sat there in there watching the arena filled with people patting themselves on the back for buying over 700 season tickets, I couldn’t help wondering if our priorities are a little out of whack, as my thoughts turn to the various URA meetings and forums on affordable housing and homelessness I’ve attended over the last couple of weeks. We can get ourselves worked up into a fervor over the prospect of losing the Predators or gaining a baseball stadium, but the extent of our interest regarding the homeless amounts to “why don’t we just arrest them all”. There was a lot of talk about “community” and “coming together” at the rally. I dunno, the contrast of this mass hysteria to the yawning apathy at the other events was striking.
I think a lot of it has to do with Nashville’s chronic inferiority complex. A predominant theme of this latest crisis and the rally was “we’re going to show everyone that we are a hockey town.” But if our private ticket purchases and attendance are so low, you know … maybe we’re not, actually. Maybe we’re not a hockey town. Who cares? I like hockey, but not enough to make it some sort of grand civic crisis to convince the town that it’s really important that we have hockey. If we can get a private consortium to buy the team, take the reigns and pay the bills, then hey, go for it.
Do I want a hockey team in Nashville? Sure, but call me when we’ve got affordable housing for those who need it, homeless shelters that are worth a shit, public bathrooms, parks that aren’t flooded with people that have nowhere else to go. Let’s start there and work our way up. Then we can worry about hockey teams and baseball stadiums.
You may begin flaming me below:
So, if you haven’t been following Nashville’s election for Mayor, let me be the first to tell you: we have a surprisingly good bunch of candidates. I don’t always agree with most of them, and I definitely like some more than others, but they are a surprisingly well-educated group of people, and so far everyone has been capable of surprising me.I suppose to some extent, being a smaller local mayoral election, they aren’t groomed to the extent that they are in larger elections. Utterances of actual substance still have a chance of slipping out now and then. But I digress.
Tonight was the Affordable Housing Forum, at the downtown library. I won’t recap it question for question, because, essentially, every question was exactly the same. (“How do you feel about affordable housing?” “Do you think we need affordable housing?” As mayor, how would you facilitate affordable housing?” “Who would win in a fight? Jesse Ventura or Affordable Housing?” “Do u like affordable housing: check [ ] Y [ ] N?”) I’ll just try to summarize each candidates larger points. But first, some background they provided in the form of numbers, which were presented as a prelude to the forum:
Tom Wood writes a great summary of a period of Nashville’s history most would probably rather opt to forget: the rise and fall of mayor Bill Boner.
Wood concludes by summarizing Bredesen’s rise through the ashes of the imploded Boner administration:
Nashville’s old elite got comfortable with Bredesen, and the sting of its failure to mount an adequate challenge to Boner in 1987 would gradually abate. As years went by and another northern-born good-government type, Bill Purcell, took the reins of the city, there was a growing confidence that Nashvillians could henceforth be counted on to make discriminating choices in the voting booth.
I hope this is true — certainly there’s no Boner in this race, but I think this election is going to have far-reaching implications for Nashville’s future. This city is at a real turning point, and the next Mayor will have an immense voice in determining in which direction we turn..
Okay, now that I’ve had my sarcastic outburst (never blog angry, folks), I do have some more rational questions and observations:
- If we’re supposed to be taking it as a given that panhandling is a threat to our safety, where are the numbers that show this? I’ve lived in downtown Nashville for 7 years, and I can’t remember an incident of violent crime by a panhandler on a resident or tourist that I knew of.
- Probably the best point of the afternoon was made by a guy from the homeless power project, who pointed out that “aggressive pan-handling” is a meaningless distinction — for what is the difference between aggressive pan-handling and regular criminal activity (burglary, assault, etc.)? His question was dismissed, and he (and the rest of the NHPP folks) were basically ignored the rest of the night.
- One woman (apparently one of the few sane people in the room) raised her hand and said (my paraphrasal): “go home tonight and try to write a law against pan-handling without infringing on our basical constitutional freedoms. it’s not easy. Laws aren’t the answer to everything.”. Amen!
- I will give the moderator credit in that he did at least make a point to say that we were there to discuss the problem of “aggressive pan-handling” and that this was not the same as homelessness, however I think this was a distinction lost completely on most of the people in attendance.
- Then, of course, the quote of the night, as pointed out by Kate and myself already: “Homeless people don’t have rights, homeowners do.” I actually laughed out loud when she said this, because I thought she was joking, but she turned and faced me and continued. Sadly, she was serious.
- Kate asked about ways for people to make charitable contributions to agencies that are actually helping this problem rather than just trying to legislate/mandate it away. The moderator noted “17 pages” (or something?) of agencies. Does anyone know who/what is on this list? I didn’t get a chance to see it. I suppose that’s evidence in and of itself that it’s not exactly a great solution, since I don’t have a copy. Do you have a copy? Do the pan-handlers on the street have a copy?
- What does dialing 211 do? This is a serious question — I have no idea.