Thursday, August 27, 2015

#MayoralChatter: ‘If Anybody’s a Centrist in This Race, It’s Me’

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM

click to enlarge cover_8-27-15.jpg
This week's cover story is the Scene's interview with At-Large Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Megan Barry. 

We talked about transit, taxes, education, her attacks on David Fox, his attacks on her, and a little bit about that mysterious meeting with Bill Freeman (which is no longer a mystery). 

Here's an excerpt from my introduction to our interview:

All this plays out as the Fox campaign seeks to paint Barry as a member of the “far left,” which strikes many political observers as a bit like painting a hammer-and-sickle on a Target handbag. Her council record has been a source of interest and irritation, depending on the point of view, precisely because of the ways it has not matched that description. The irony of Fox’s attack is that ever since she was elected in 2007 as a pro-neighborhoods progressive fighter, her harshest criticism and skepticism has come from people on the left, worried that political ambition and calculation were pulling Barry to the center.

As has been chewed over many times by now, her council tenure included sponsorship of a nondiscrimination ordinance and a living wage for Metro workers — 14 of them. But she also provided a reliable yes vote for the corporate tax incentives and big downtown development projects that have bothered, among others, some of the neighborhood activists and progressives who would be Barry’s natural constituency.

But Barry has not shied away from her record in the least. At the close of our interview, she had this to say on the topic of the seeming partisan nature of the race:

I think that by saying, “Hey, look, here’s Megan and here’s all the rest of us” — all the rest of us are unions, teachers, firefighters, the business coalition, you know. And so, I think it’s kind of a false dichotomy. If anybody’s a centrist in this race, it’s me, and I’ve got the track record to prove it.

You can read the condensed version of the interview as it appears in this week's print issue here. We'll have the complete transcript on Pith tomorrow morning. 

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#MayoralChatter: We Do Not Know What To Think About This New David Fox Ad

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 12:01 PM


David Fox has a new ad. It's a spoof. And an attack. It's a spooftack? Watch it. Drink it in. Then meet us after the jump:

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Ashley Madison Users of Tennessee, Let's Talk

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 9:46 AM

Hi guys. Yes, you six guys from tn.gov who signed up for Ashley Madison with your work email, the seven guys who work for the city of Memphis, the eight guys who work for the city of Nashville, the two Chattanooga city workers, the rumored political operatives and ex-political operatives, I am talking specifically to you, but also, in general, to all men who might find this helpful.

First, if you're going to cheat on your spouse, get an email that is something other than yourname@gmail.com or yourname@tn.gov. Second, don't cheat on your wives, you dickbags. If you want some strange, tell your wife you want some strange. Give her the opportunity to divorce you before you bring home something she can't live with (or, hell, maybe she'll be cool with it; stranger things have happened). In this day and age, if you both want to stay in a relationship and want to cheat on your spouse without him or her knowing it, it's because you find titillation in seeing how close you can come to hurting your spouse. That's a gross impulse.

But here's what I really want to say to you guys: Women are people. For thousands of years, men have tried to insist that women were less than whole people, that our only jobs were to be pretty, baby-making machines that will cook and clean for you. And for thousands of years, we have disappointed you by failing to be only those things.

There's no magic place you can go—not Russia, not Asia, not Ashley Madison—where you can open your wallet, choose all the characteristics you want in a sentient sex toy, and come up with a woman who will actually care about you. You can't buy love and affection. You can only buy the appearance of love and affection.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Daily Links: Larry King, Katrina Oaks, and the Roanoke TV Murders

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The New York Times MagazineLarry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation

From The Daily BeastHow Cops Caught Roanoke’s TV Murderer

From The Marshall ProjectDoubting Jennifer Herndon: An appeals lawyer who has represented more than a half-dozen men put to death in Missouri faces questions about her competency.

From Wired: Think Like a Tree: What We Can Learn From the Oaks That Survived Katrina

From The Washington PostWhat Colin Trevorrow got right about women directors and big movie franchises

Those are the links. This is a lynx...

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS
  • PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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Quiet Night At the School Board

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Following weeks of contention on issues like charter schools and who to hire for superintendent, the Metro Nashville School Board cruised through its meeting last night without incident. 

The board unanimously approved zoning changes within the Glencliff cluster, heard a breakdown of last school year's test scores and renamed Stratford High School — which will absorb Bailey Middle School next year — as Stratford STEM Magnet School. They also talked, briefly, about wanting to lead the state in literacy growth amid a statewide lull in reading scores.

Here's a the tweet-by-tweet of last night's meeting, after the jump.

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#MayoralChatter: Megan Barry, David Fox, and the Karl Dean Problem

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 12:40 PM

Ever since the beginning of the mayoral race — which seems like decades ago at this point — Mayor Karl Dean has been something like the sun in this campaign galaxy, with varying degrees of gravitational pull on all the other candidates. Sometimes that force has been subtle, but it is increasingly less so. 

The entire field had the same essential dilemma with relation to the current mayor. None of them were selling anything all that different from Dean. And anyway, the sort of people who host big fundraisers and make up business councils have had a pretty good eight years. An overt campaign for Change wasn't likely to do so well in those relatively small, but influential circles. 

So we get Linda Eskind Rebrovick, Dean plus some gadgets, or Charles Robert Bone, Dean plus more and farther and wider and jingles. Whatever his campaign's other shortcomings, Howard Gentry might have been offering the biggest contrast from the current state of things, with his consistent focus on things like poverty — a crisis that has persisted right on through the It Storm.

And now we find ourselves in the runoff, with two candidates who aren't all that different from Dean, nor as different from each other as they're straining to appear. So we get a discussion chock full of inherent contradictions and cop outs.

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ICYMI Every Other Time: TDOC Commissioner Insists All Is Well

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 10:19 AM

Remember the old saying about repeating something so many times that you (and maybe other people around you) start to believe it's true?

It seems the Tennessee Department of Corrections just might be suffering from that ailment.

At a two and a half hour meeting with the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators Tuesday, TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield hit all the same notes he's hit here, here and here.

Don't worry about how a new schedule may have contributed to a staffing shortage, or about safety concerns from corrections officers, or that vacancy numbers reported about the department diverge from officer rosters.

Basically, just trust him: The prisons are fiiiiine.

In fact, so fine that when Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, asks whether prisons are overcrowded, Schofield decides they are not.

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Why Don't We Give Poor People the Incentives?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 7:04 AM

Over at the Nashville Business Journal, Adam Sichko has a really interesting interview with former mayoral candidate, Bill Freeman. It's mostly about Freeman's fight with the Chamber of Commerce, which is fairly uninteresting.

But eventually Freeman gets around to talking about affordable housing. He says:

I've seen that legislation the council passed [in pursuit of new zoning that would set a goal of making 14 percent of new units qualify as "affordable" and "work force"]. That is a terrible idea. It's well-intentioned, but that's not the way to attack the problem.

We need to make it attractive to develop affordable housing, not mandatory. Incentives will do that. And it needs to have a timeline, maybe a 10-year lifecycle, where after that point, the developer could rent those units at market rates. I am confident you could get several thousand units online, and then of course you'd have other projects come along later with their own 10-year requirements. I think that's fair because it is not something short-term, but we also wouldn't be requiring developers to do it for a lifetime, either.


I find myself somewhat agreeing with Freeman, in that it does seem strange to tell developers what they can charge for space. I'm also not convinced that people who are some of the best paid people in the state are the right people to decide what's "affordable" housing.

But I'm struck by this "incentives" idea. Because, if I'm reading this correctly, Freeman thinks we should pay developers to build affordable housing and then, after a decade, let them make the housing unaffordable. Under this plan, if you are a poor person and you rent, don't get too attached to your home, because you'll have to move at least once a decade, assuming that you are fortunate enough to get into one of these incentivized affordable homes right when it opens. We then end up with a situation where not just the poorest of our poor are in a constant hunt for housing, but where all poor people have to be. That seems shitty.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#MayoralChatter: Republican Party Largely Watches, Stays Away from Mayoral Race

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Along with a crowd of conservatives downing beans and BBQ while rallying around presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, mayoral hopeful David Fox swung through a Republican fundraiser in Williamson County Sunday night. When it was all over he had a public endorsement from a state legislator. 

“I didn’t think it’d be that big of a deal that I’m supporting David Fox. I still don’t think it is,” said Sen. Jack Johnson, a Williamson County Republican who announced his support at the ninth annual "Boots and Jeans, BBQ and Beans" fundraiser at That Factory in Franklin Sunday night.

The race in the county to the North sparked his interest after a voter-approved referendum in the August election required contractors hire local residents to work 40 percent of the construction hours on most Metro-funded projects, he said. Despite high-profile opposition from the business community and Mayor Karl Dean, voters overwhelmingly approved the change, although the next mayor will have a hand in how to implement it. 

“We’re talking about not just the major metropolitan area or the city of Nashville. We’re talking about greater Middle Tennessee. And it’s also our capital city, so what happens there has a tremendous impact,” said Johnson who said he is opposed to Amendment 3 and may challenge it at the state level. “When you look at the mayors we had over the last 20 years or so with Phil Bredesen, Bill Purcell, Karl Dean, all of them are Democrats, but they were reasonable, common sense. They were pro-business. That’s what we need in Nashville and that’s one of the reasons Nashville is really doing well. I just think that David Fox would be a continuation of that.”

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First Amendment Buff Calls Foul on New TDOC Media Access Policy

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 8:30 AM

A Nashville-based First Amendment advocate is calling into question a recent tightening on media access policies within the Tennessee Department of Corrections. As well he should.

This reporter found — after sending requests for inmate interviews — that the TDOC media access policy changed as of July 1 of this year.

What exactly changed, you might ask?

Well, the department has almost entirely stricken the previous policy and added an amendment to the end that reads as follows:

PROVISION OF INFORMATION AND ACCESS TO THE MEDIA AND PUBLIC POLICY CHANGE NOTICE 15-20 INSTRUCTIONS:

Please add the following new subsection to Section VI.(B) to read as follows:

“11. Live broadcasts (television, radio, telephone, or other electronic or communicative method) from inside the perimeter of an institution are not permitted without prior written authorization from the Commissioner or his designee.”

Please change Section VI.(C) in its entirety to read as follows and delete subsections 1-14: “C. Interviews-Incarcerated Offender:

1. Except as provided in subsection (2) below, face to face news media interviews with offenders are not permitted. Telephone interviews with media on institutional phone lines will not be permitted. Inmates who wish to place the names an numbers of individual media representatives on their ITS calling lists may do so in accordance with Policy #503.08. Inmates may correspond in writing with media representatives in accordance with Policy #507.02.

2. News media members may request an interview with an unspecified inmate on a specific department program or topic. If deemed appropriate the Communications Director will attempt to provide inmates appropriate for interview on such programs or topics.

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