Metro officials seem to be suggesting that the only toxic agent lingering at that incinerator demolition site in Germantown is sweeps.
Earlier this week, WSMV reported that the city was planning to bury debris containing toxic chemicals — including arsenic and PCBs, which have been linked to cancer in humans — on the site of a now-demolished incinerator facility near the Germantown neighborhood, just 300 yards from the Cumberland River.
But Metro officials say there's nothing to worry about.
Although none would agree to be interviewed by WSMV on camera, the station reported that "officials say everything bad is in low concentrations, except for arsenic — and even that isn't any worse than what you would find in new commercial brick from a building supply store." The Tennessean's Bobby Allyn reported similar statements from officials at Metro Water Services yesterday.
In this week's issue of The City Paper, Andrea Zelinski looks at the issue of student attrition and finds Metro schools officials and charter schools advocates doing different math to quantify the problem.
Of the district’s 81,000 students, about 5 percent of them attend one of the district’s dozen charter schools this year.
MNPS calculates that eight of those schools have some of the district’s highest student attrition rates, including Smithson Craighead Middle, Boys Prep, KIPP Academy, Drexel Prep, STEM Prep, Liberty Collegiate, East End Prep and New Vision Academy. Collectively, 387 students have left those schools this school year, about a fifth of the schools’ population.
“If you choose to go to a school, and then you choose not to go to a school, there’s a problem,” said Fred Carr, chief operating officer for MNPS, who managed the data. “Every time you change schools, you regress academically.”
But rejigger the formula based on charter school advocates’ preference, and the top eight schools for attrition instead lead with Boys Prep, Pearl-Cohn High School, Smithson Craighead, Maplewood High School, Hunters Lane High School, Gra-Mar Middle School, Whites Creek High School and Buena Vista Enhanced Option. Collectively, 1,759 students have left those schools since shortly after the beginning of the academic year, almost 33 percent of those schools’ student bodies.
Click through the jump for a look at the results the different formulas produce.
This Week In The 'Drome... we need to talk.
Ring Up vs Sit Down: Given David Poile's explanation of how it came that he fired a coach who'd been with his team for a decade via phone, this is how we suspect it went down:
"Hey, Peter. It's David. I need you to come on down to the arena."
"Oh cool. OK. Well, I'm at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, so I'll be in town later."
"Hmm, well. This is awkward."
"What do you mean? We can just meet Wednesday. Say...2 PM?"
"That's not good for me, Peter. See, here's the thing, I have something else going on then."
"What the heck else do you have going on at 2 PM on a Wednesday in late May?"
"The thing is we have a big announcement scheduled for then and...well...well, you're fired."
"Yeah. Yeah, we hired Phil Housley. So, um — sorry, pal!"
If Poile's story is true — that he called now-former associate coach Peter Horachek with the expectation that he was already in Nashville — that's a bad break. Sure, no one wants to come all the way back to work to get fired (NSFW language at that link). Even so, one feels that Poile could have handled it better.
The presumption was probably that Horachek — one of The 'Drome's favorite personalities in Nashville sports — would keep quiet, so the Preds could simultaneously announce his dismissal and the hiring of Housley (the man who guided the U.S. juniors team to a gold medal, and a coveted coach). But Horachek didn't feel like playing along.
It's another misstep in a year of them for the organization — even though they got their man in the end. Poile's convoluted explanation that this could be good for Horachek is as hollow as the team's depth chart was this season.
While it's true Horachek had been a finalist for a handful of head coaching jobs in the last several years, it's unlikely firing him as an assistant is going to result in him being hired as a head coach.
The Tennessean has a story about Chuck Mangino, who wants to stop tornadoes by shooting masers (which are like lasers, but use microwaves instead of light) ahead of the funnel clouds in order to disrupt their formation.
Listen, I think it's sweet and awesome of Mangino to want to help, and YouTube is certainly a good place to take your ideas to the public. But why did The Tennessean run this story without even finding out if it's plausible in the first place? I mean, if I put up a YouTube video saying that I was going to stop tornadoes by flinging unicorns into the funnels and 2,000 people watched it, would The Tennessean run a story about it? Can we not count on the paper to verify whether unicorns actually exist before touting my tornado-stopping unicorn plan?
Which brings me to masers. Yes, The Tennessean called a few people to try to find out if this was plausible:
A Tennessee State University professor declined comment on the video. One from Middle Tennessee State University didn't return a voicemail or emails.
“This isn’t something I’ve heard of and not something the National Weather Service is involved in,” said Nashville-based meteorologist James LaRosa. “We’re more into modeling and forecasting instead of disrupting.”
The Tennessean did not, though, google masers. If they had, they would have found that masers have been in the news a lot lately, because it was less than a year ago — in fact more recently than Mangino made his video — that a maser that could operate at room temperature (and not only at near absolute zero) was invented.
"I am looking forward to its unqualified success."
— Metro Council member Emily Evans, an outspoken opponent of the Music City Center when the idea was moving through the council, on her thoughts now that the $585 million convention center is open.
After Nashville's season finale last night, Adam Gold has the story of the real cliffhanger in this week's Scene.
"I just didn't see how you could [shoot the show outside Nashville]," creator and executive producer Callie Khouri told the Scene before the series premiered last fall. "Nashville really bent over backwards to give us the tax credits and make it possible for us to do it here."
Some might say the city bent over forward. The show ultimately scored a 17 percent tax credit from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and a 15 percent refundable tax credit from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. As a result, the show reportedly recouped 32 percent of its hefty production costs in its first season.
Now, though, the city and state might not be able to bend over quite as far, as state law now imposes a 25 percent cap on reimbursements. Consequently, Lionsgate is reportedly threatening to relocate the show — perhaps to L.A., where many on the cast and crew are based, or perhaps to somewhere like Georgia, which is quickly becoming the Studio City of the South.
Fresh off the grand opening of the Music City Center, Nashville Convention and Visitors
Bureau Corp president and CEO Butch Spyridon even says his organization would throw in some cash to keep the show in town.
Metro is apparently planning to bury the toxic remains of an old incinerator complex troublingly close to the Germantown neighborhood and the Cumberland River.
An investigation by WSMV finds that after demolishing the facility, the city seems to be violating its own codes by simply burying the rubble on site. That apparent hypocrisy is compounded by health concerns — the I-Team reports that the rubble contains toxic chemicals including arsenic and PCBs, which have since been banned by the U.S. government and have been linked to cancer in humans.
Buzz about the story quickly made its way to last night's Metro Council meeting, where members of Mayor Karl Dean's administration could be seen pulling it up on their iPads. And look who happens to be right in the middle of the mucky tale:
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tennessee is in court right now arguing that the billboard Berry College put up here in Middle Tennessee is the equivalent of "operating a physical campus in the state," and thus "under Tennessee law, the out-of-state college needed to register as an educational institution in Tennessee — paying a hefty fee in the process — or face stiff fines."
I almost don't know what to say in the face of this, because it's so hilariously stupid. I'm just imagining the lawyer who has to argue for the state that a billboard is the same as a campus. How does he look himself in the mirror?
Berry College is arguing that Tennessee is limiting its speech by trying to charge it $20,000 a year for the "privilege" of having its billboard "campus" in our state and that Tennessee is violating the commerce clause. Meanwhile, Berry insinuates it's racking up $500 a day in fines.
But I'd like to invite Berry College to embrace the "billboard as campus" standard. For one, now Berry can say that it's got a campus of 26,000 contiguous acres and a satellite campus here. Shoot, they could go ahead and ask for brave volunteers to attend classes on the billboard. They could attach themselves to the billboard with safety rigging.
Now, Berry is a Christian school, so I certainly wouldn't suggest that they hang, say, blown-up stills from The Human Centipede in the Film Studies class that could meet at their Billboard Campus. But I would suggest Tennessee think about what kinds of things a private university can do on its campus that the state can't regulate and then ask itself whether it wants those things done on a billboard. If there are some things we might not want done on a billboard, maybe we ought not treat it as the equivalent of a college campus.
You know when you're playing euchre and one of your opponents leads the hand with the right bower? You know that's to flush out whatever other trump cards people have. The smart play is to throw the lowest trump card. And, sure, sometimes, your lowest trump card is the left bower — the second highest card in the deck. If you have to throw it, you have to throw it.
But if you've played euchre long enough, you know there's always some doofus who will throw that left bower and then sit back in his or her chair, triumphantly. And then you all have to sit there uncomfortably waiting for him or her to remember that hearts is trump this hand, not diamonds, and so that jack of diamonds can't take the jack of hearts.
Sadly, it turns out that Tennessee Congressman Stephen Fincher is our doofus. In the great euchre game of politics, he threw the left bower when the right bower was already on the table and he doesn't seem to realize it.
During contentious debate over the Farm Bill, which funds food stamps, in the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., invoked the Book of Matthew as he noted his opposition to the cuts.
“[Jesus] says how you treat the least among us, the least of our brothers, that’s how you treat him,” Vargas, adding that Jesus specifically mentions the importance of feeding the hungry.
Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who supports cuts to the program, had his own Bible verse from the Book of Thessalonians to quote back to Vargas: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.
Mayor Karl Dean gave his State of Metro address from the brand new Music City Center yesterday, after cutting the ribbon on his signature mayoral accomplishment.
From The City Paper:
“Today we open the doors of this great, new Music City Center to welcome visitors and tourists from all over the world,” he said. “Now it is time to open the doors of our city for all. For the bright and the talented; for those like us and not like us; for the lost and the struggling; and for the young who are filled with so much possibility.”
In a 45-minute speech, Dean reiterated his support for charter schools and “school choice” and delivered a pitch for The Amp, his proposed bus rapid transit project along the West End corridor.
He also announced the establishment of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, “which will allow Metro government to take a more active role in creating affordable housing, encouraging rehabilitation of existing homes, maintaining affordability and building mixed-use, mixed-income developments.
Read the whole text of the speech here.
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