Holy Trinity 

A Trifecta of Complaints

A Trifecta of Complaints

Welcome to our long national nightmare. August. The temperature is at full boil, the humidity swoons, the panic level goes orange, and

the only thing we have to look forward to is the sight of 10,000 screaming Republican conventioneers sticking hot dogs in their mouths.

We got the grumps. We got a lot to complain about. Pick and choose. This is a newspaper at war.

Is that a tree? Or a poodle with a haircut?

Would Nashville Electric Service please get a life? We understand the need to save our power lines. We understand that when ice storms hit, limbs fall and power service goes kaput. But that doesn't mean our electric power utility has to reenact Sherman's march through our leafy neighborhoods and mangle, amputate, disfigure and brutalize our vegetation.

Nothing is more dreaded than the arrival of the NES tree people. As the average homeowner hears the limb shredder whir into action beside his front lawn, he lurches for the anxiety medication. Ever try to talk to an NES tree-trimming team? Communication is all but impossible. They're pleasant—they just don't speak English.

Why is NES cutting some of the trees in the shape they're cutting them? We've never seen so many sycamores look like abstract sculpture. Why did NES, for instance, remove a 75-foot hedge of bushes in one homeowner's yard? Bernard Magdal, of South Observatory Drive, told The Tennessean that an NES crew told him his hedge was in the way of NES maintenance operations. But think about it: power lines don't intersect with bushes. Will they be sawing down mailboxes next? Swing sets? Picnic benches?

Look, few people dispute the need to trim limbs here and there. But something's not working—and hasn't for years now. The utility's Vegetation Management Program, as they call it, is facing Systemic Community Breakdown and might be well served by Temporary Halt in Operations. People are running extremely scared. Somehow, some way, this thing needs to defuse.

Cease and desist

Metro Government is thinking about appealing a case it simply shouldn't. For some time, Harding Academy has been buying a bunch of nearby homes so that it can build more playing fields. When it came time for the school to tear down the homes, the neighbors fought back.

We can respect that. Reasonable people can disagree about whether the need for children to have playing fields outweighs the need for a neighborhood to remain intact. Both sides make decent arguments.

But Metro's strategy to prevent Harding from expansion was nearly totalitarian. Here's what happened: Just as Harding was preparing to tear down the homes, a Metro Council member began pushing a bill that would have effectively stopped Harding from doing so. Metro then used that proposed law to stop Harding altogether. Even though the law didn't exist and had not even been introduced into the council, Metro argued that it was about to exist and that, thus, Harding couldn't tear down the homes.

In a ruling last week, Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled that government officials can't enforce laws if they aren't in effect. As we have followed this long and disputatious saga, we have always thought Metro's argument was a stretch. We also thought it was capricious and undemocratic.

Metro is said to be considering appeal of the case. A word of advice: don't do it. Stop. Return to start. Remember: we are a nation of laws. And those laws have to exist before we abide by them.

School bored

You know, with everyone having an opinion about Pedro Garcia, the quality of our city's school system, the massive property tax increase to pay for schools improvements a couple of years back, and our system's overall test scores, something strikes us as amazing: few people have much of an interest in running for the school board.

The board has nine members. Of those, five are up for grabs this election. Only one of those races is contested. That's the race between George H. Thompson III and his Gloria M. Lewis.

To Nashville, we say this: complain no more. If you don't have the energy to try to change things, you forfeit the luxury of criticism.

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