Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sidewalks, or the Lack Thereof

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 6:00 AM

I'm glad to see that the city is finally putting sidewalks on Harding Place, but this story over at WKRN irks me.

More than two years after a deadly accident put a spotlight on the need for sidewalks in south Nashville, people living in the area are finally getting them.


City leaders have spent years planning and doing research on the street, located in a busy area near retailers, restaurants and a hospital.

We live in a city. We live in a city that is going to grow a whole lot in the next decade. And we live in a city that is trying to encourage people to use more public transportation. We need sidewalks. That stretch of Harding has needed sidewalks for the past fifteen years, and probably further back than that.

Clarksville Pike needs sidewalks from the Autozone to Kings Lane. Thompson Lane before Nolensville Pike needs sidewalks. Dickerson Pike needs sidewalks. Parts of Gallatin need sidewalks. Etc. Etc. Etc.

No one should be praised for spending years planning sidewalks, because, if there's one constant, ongoing embarrassing failure in this city, it's the lack of sidewalks. If it's a street with stoplights, especially stoplights and bus stops, there should be sidewalks. No one should be taking credit for just getting around to putting in sidewalks now.

As far back as I can remember, mayors promise sidewalks and then, mostly, we get convention centers and ball fields and music venues and flood walls. And I like those things (I mean, I have some qualms about the convention center and the flood wall, but I don't hate them), but sidewalks make a huge difference to a lot of Nashvillians.

Yet they're never a priority until it becomes embarrassing that we've let them languish—like when someone dies.

Mark Pullo should not have been the human sacrifice that enticed the city to put sidewalks where it's long been obvious we needed sidewalks. And we shouldn't be patting ourselves on the back now for the city finally getting around to doing what needed to be done, when it came too late for Pullo.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Daily Links: Hip-Hop Messiahs, Elephants, and Death Row

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 5:00 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 Magazine: Notes on the Hip-Hop Messiah

From NPSO Deputies find Two Elephants keeping Eighteen Wheeler from overturning on I-49 near Powhatan

From YouTube: Rosie Perez on Soul Train for Daily Links

From Grantland: Kingdom Came: Notes on ‘Empire’ and the State of Black Television Drama

Continue reading »

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Barbic Frustrated His Former Charter is Pulling Out of Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 3:57 PM

Once a leader of Texas charter school YES Prep and familiar with people at its helm, Chris Barbic says he’s shocked the charter school network he once founded would ditch the Memphis school he wanted them to run.

But that’s what happened Tuesday, with the Houston-based group telling Barbic and the Tennessee Achievement School District superintendent that changing political climate and ASD model have led them to change their mind on taking over a Memphis middle school for the fall 2015 school year.

“This is difficult no matter who it is. It’s a little even more surprising knowing how well I know some of the leaders, and then in some ways not surprising at all because I know who some of the leaders are,” Barbic told Pith.

“It certainly adds a little bit to the drama of this, unfortunately. The main thing we’re concerned with right now is we’ve got to make sure the 80 to 100 families that were zoned to go to sixth grade Airways (Middle School) next year, that we’re making sure they’ve got really good high-quality options,” he added.

The charter organization’s leaders told Chalkbeat Wednesday that inadequate community support in Memphis, political shifts against the ASD and structural changes in the district’s model were their reasons for leaving. Attempts to reach YES Prep for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon.

Continue reading »

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#MayoralChatter: Megan Barry Leads Banner's Power Poll

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 1:09 PM

The resurrected Nashville Banner has released the results of its first Power Poll on the 2015 mayoral race and, among those who say they've decided on a candidate, Megan Barry is in the lead. Still, more than a third of the respondents said they're still undecided.

The Banner sent a two-question survey to 592 people, thought to be "the city’s thought leaders, from business and civic leaders to media and political insiders." Right about half of those people (299) responded to the poll. (I was kindly included in the group of people invited to participate in the poll, as were the Scene's Andrea Zelinski and Steve Cavendish. While we read the poll's results with great interest, and completely agree that we are among Nashville's leading thinkfluencers, we declined to participate.)

The poll results are interesting for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that its respondents likely represent a solid sample of the relatively small group of Nashvillians paying close attention to the mayor's race at this point. Secondly, it was Banner boss Bruce Dobie himself who wrote in 2013 that Barry was failing to appeal to the sort of crowd that eats at Jimmy Kelly's and participates in this sort of poll. He wrote this in a column for The Tennessean which is no longer available online because Gannett.

Anyhow, the poll's two questions were: "Whom do you intend to vote for in the Aug. 6 election for mayor?" and "List the order in which you think the candidates will finish in the election." Barry comes out ahead in both categories — 22.74 percent say they plan to vote for her, while 32.44 percent say they believe she'll win the race. In terms of whom respondents intend to vote for, David Fox came in second, selected by slightly more than 12 percent.

You can dig through more of the results here.

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News You Can Use! Campaign Finance Disclosures and Budget Hearings

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 9:18 AM

A couple of items to help you stay informed about your city government and the people hoping to be elected into it.

Finally, after years of whining from political observers and reporters like us, Metro campaign finance disclosures are available online. Disclosures from the quarter that ended in January are there now, while the next round is due April 10. You might notice some Metro Council candidates missing from the list, because they appointed treasurers for their campaigns after the last fundraising deadline. Those candidates will be required to file a disclosure next month.

Secondly, the mayor's annual budget hearings with Metro departments begin next week. Mayor Karl Dean and some of his top aides will hear from presentations from department heads starting Monday morning and running through Thursday. An extended hearing with the Metro school board will be held April 6.

The full schedule is here. The hearings will also be broadcast on Metro 3. On that front, here's this info from a release by the mayor's office:

All of the meetings are open to the public and will be broadcast live by Metro 3 on Comcast cable channel 3 and on AT&T U-verse channel 99, as well as online through streaming video at Budget hearings will be archived on Metro Nashville’s YouTube channel at

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Frogge Wants Legal Advice on BEP Battle

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 8:14 AM

In the shortest meeting the Metro Nashville School Board has had in years, Amy Frogge announced she wants the board to hire a lawyer to wade through the legal debate over education funding.

Metro Schools has so far shied away from joining other large school districts in exploring their legal options to milk more education money from the state — which has been cited by a state-level review committee for shorting school districts in money for teachers and using the old Basic Education Program funding formula.

“Basically, I think we need legal advice,” Frogge said. “We need to be well-informed as to whether we should join the lawsuit.”

A day after superintendents met with Gov. Bill Haslam’s office and joined hands in collaboration over finding ways to plug more money into education funding across the state, the Hamilton County School Board and neighboring boards of education filed suit against the state Tuesday.

Register, once a proponent of a BEP challenge, has been something of a loner opposing a lawsuit as of late. After he threw cold water on joining other large school districts in exploring legal action earlier this month, the Metro School Board backed off voting to evaluate its own legal options. Frogge says it’s time to assess the district’s choices and understand how a lawsuit might impact students and teachers.

Board Chairwoman Sharon Gentry agreed that soliciting legal advice is a good move to make, but officially joining a lawsuit should be the worst case scenario.

Continue reading »

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Wow, Rich People Make Out Like Bandits in Tennessee

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 6:00 AM


WalletHub has this really interesting analysis of how much of a percentage of people's income goes to taxes in various states. Tennessee is the 4th best state to be a rich person in, apparently, because rich people only devote 4.97% of their income to taxes, while chumpster poor people are dishing out a dime for every dollar they make.

Connecticut is the worst place to be a rich person, by this measure.

But, somehow, low, low taxes on rich people here in Tennessee isn't driving them to abandon Connecticut, so I guess "best" and "worst" are somewhat subjective.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Clemmons Is Lone Ranger in Today's Abortion Debate on the Hill

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 6:01 PM


On March 10, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee held their lobby day on Capitol Hill. More than 100 volunteers — most clad in pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts — attended meetings at Legislative Plaza, speaking face-to-face with their elected officials regarding proposed abortion legislation. At the time, multiple bills involving abortion regulation had already been introduced in the state House and Senate, which was not a huge surprise after the November passage of Amendment 1.

These meetings primarily involved discussions around three areas of interest — mandatory waiting periods, scripted informed consent, and licensing of abortion-providing facilities as ambulatory surgical treatment centers — all of which would restrict access to safe, legal abortion in the state of Tennessee.

The House Health Subcommittee didn't tackle any abortion-related bills on Planned Parenthood's lobby day, but chair Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) told the Scene that he was among the legislators who met with constituents about the proposed legislation.

"I look forward to the dialogue," Williams said on March 10. "I think most of the bills that have been filed so far are a byproduct of Yes on One, the Amendment that passed last year. It will be interesting to see as the Tennesseans have voiced what they want to do with Amendment 1. We'll get the opportunity for the General Assembly and the legislators who represent those people to talk about these topics, so it will be interesting to hear the debate."

Well, today, with a packed agenda of 46 bills up for discussion, Williams didn't seem so keen on dragging out the dialogue about abortion. But this didn't stop Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) from relentlessly questioning Reps. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) when they addressed the committee about the details of the bills they're carrying.

Continue reading »

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The Daily Links: Facebook, Scientology, and The X-Files

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 5:00 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 Atlantic: Why Facebook's Offer to Host News Is So Terrifying

From the Tampa Bay Times: Dreams deferred for a migrant worker in Plant City's strawberry fields

From Grantland: ‘Clear’ As Mud: HBO’s Riveting Scientology Documentary

From The Intercept: Documents Reveal Canada's Secret Hacking Tactics

Continue reading »

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