Members of the Metro Council are at it againcreating controversies that need not exist and ignoring their charge to make this a better community. What's the brain trust's latest crusade? Opposing the mayoral appointment of one of the city's most knowledgeable foodies to the Farmers Market Board.
Petty politicos take notebecause this one takes the cake.
Metro Council member Lynn Williams is citing journalistic ethics for why she's against Bill Purcell's appointment of Kay West, the Scene's food critic and a longtime student of farmers markets across the country. This, even though West agreed with this newspaper when we told her the appointment would mean she could no longer write about the Farmers Market. In a town this size, conflicts are bound to crop up, and such a remedy is a reasonable solutionpreserving integrity and, at the same time, allowing a citizen to volunteer her considerable expertise for the greater good (emphasis here on volunteer).
But this would be too simple. Williams simply won't be convinced: journalists, she says, should stay away from any conflict real or perceived and limit their involvements so as to remain "objective" observers. That's interesting. Because as recently as March 1, Williams didn't have a single word to say about the appointment of another Scene contributor, Joe Sweat, to a Metro board. Same goes for Hispanic media personality Eliud Trevino and Scene political writer Roger Abramson. The council unanimously approved all over the last few years on Williams' watch; all are journalists. From TV land, WTVF-Channel 5's Lelan Statom and Young Broadcasting's Deb McDermott both serve.
All that pretty much blows a hole in Williams' ostensible reasoning. So what's the real explanation for why she's being such a hard-boiled egg? In short, because Kay West wrote the council member in 1999 saying Williams had spoiled Halloween. And the council member has never forgotten it. Her opposition to West has nothing to do with journalistic ethics and everything to do with personal anger over West writing her more than five years ago opposing Williams' controversial Halloween legislation.
Williams, readers may recall, wanted Nashville kids to go trick-or-treating not on All Hallow's Eve (a school night) but on All Hallow's Eve Eve, and she managed to convince enough council members that it was a good idea. Parents and kids all over town were confused, and Nashville wound up with two nights of trick-or-treating. By almost every account, the council was meddling where it shouldn't have, and the whole thing was stickier than a Mary Jane wrapper.
We believe that Williams usually means well, but on this one she's letting a personal bitterness get in the way of her objectivity, and she's hiding her scorn inside a bunch of mumbo jumbo about "journalistic ethics."
We at the Scene encourage our writers to be productive citizens where they live, to be idea leaders, to volunteer and to be active. We don't check our citizenship rights at the door just because we're journalistsand when conflicts arise, we deal with them professionally. Just like Williams herself.
When her husband's engineering firm brought a rezoning in her district to the council a few years ago, she asked at-large council member David Briley to sponsor it. And when it came time for a vote, Williams abstained. She didn't resign from the council and vow never to vote on zoning issues again; she simply handled the isolated conflict appropriately, which is all we can and should expect from our leaders and citizens.
We're aware that there's no love lost between this council and the Scene, which published a cover story last June entitled, "Why This Is the Worst Metro Council Ever." But we frankly aren't concerned with what the council thinks about us, and none of this should be personal. What we are concerned with, and what the council should be concerned with, is a better city, one that's informed by diverse sets of smart sensibilities from people who are fully vested in this community.
So badmouth the Scene all you like, but please don't rob the rest of Nashville of Kay West. But should you ignore this pleawell, we're willing to take our chances on a West vs. Williams popularity contest any day.
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