Off Limits 

Editor's Note

Faithful readers of Desperately Seeking the News may have noticed that senior Scene writer Matt Pulle's byline has been absent from the column, and that Desperately itself has run only sporadically recently. That's because the pen-twirling Pulle has been promoted to focus on investigative projects, though readers will continue to see his byline on non-investigative stories from time to time. Meanwhile, we will continue media criticism, but with a different writer or writers (more on that soon). Also, we haven't officially welcomed aboard our new special projects editor, Carrington Fox, who's off just now celebrating her own new team member—little Mr. Julius Fox, age 7 days—and watching back-to-back episodes of Dawson's Creek on TBS. —Liz Garrigan

Treat the cause, not the symptoms

I applaud the attention being paid to the homeless population in our nation, state and in the city I live in (Cover Story, Jan. 20). It appears that a well-thought-out plan has been developed for my city that includes public-private coordination and cooperation over a 10-year period. The plan calls for the placement of the homeless in housing as well other supportive services they must have to function in society.

I am of the opinion that a good number of the homeless have alcohol, drug or mental health problems. Until these problems are treated, the homeless will not be stabilized enough so that they can function on a daily basis. They will have the much-needed housing they require, but not the job and coping skills that treatment would provide to ensure that they do not become homeless again.

Therefore, in implementing any homeless plan, the financial resources must be made available and spent to treat those homeless individuals who have alcohol, drug or mental health disorders. This must be one of the top priorities of any homeless plan. It is well documented that treatment works. Without the funding resources for this treatment, any homeless plan implemented anywhere in the state will not be as successful as it could be.

Rick Bradley

milleniumguy50@hotmail.com (Nashville)

Very punny

Your Dave Ramsey editorial ("Dave Dogs Debt," Jan. 20) was right on the money.

Collin Wade Monk

vivamonk@hotmail.com (Nashville)

Everyone's the man

Concerning your Off Limits blurb about Chris Clark telling Tennessean editor E.J. Mitchell, "You're the man, E.J." (Off Limits, Jan. 13), I'm surprised that this would shock you. I am an employee of NewsChannel 5 and on more than one occasion, Chris has told me that, indeed, I'm the man. (For the record, I am white.) He says that to a lot of people, as do many people I know. It's become a slang expression of affection and, in my opinion, has nothing to do with race.

What the hell is happening to our society? By becoming so "politically correct," we're actually moving backward instead of forward. A good example of this is the recent scrutiny over the Monday Night Football debacle involving Nicolette Sheridan and Terrell Owens. Instead of seeing this for what it is—a pro athlete being seduced by a sexy woman—the so-called race pundits immediately jump on their high horses and make it a racial issue. Just the fact that it becomes such an issue tells me that we haven't come as far as we like to think we have in terms of race relations.

NewsChannel 5 prides itself on its diversity and Chris Clark has proven this time and time again with the good work he does in and around the Nashville community. I hope someday we can pull our collective thumbs out of our butts and move on to the real issues of love and respect for each other.

Glen Weiss

GlenHWeiss@compuserve.com (White House)

440 blues

It's encouraging to read of folks gathering to envision possibilities for Nashville's future ("The Nashville to Be," Jan. 13).

Three decades ago, prior to environmental protection laws and historical preservation activists, neighbors in the Hillsboro, Belmont, West End, Radnor and Battlemont areas had a vision. The neighborhood folks, many of whom still live in the area, envisioned trucks streaming through their neighborhoods, although they were assured by Gov. Alexander's administration that 440 was a "Parkway," implying the absence of trucks. These neighbors joined together to address the impact of 440 Parkway on the environment and their neighborhoods. A 12-year lawsuit ensued. The Federal Highway Administration and TDOT had already picked the old railroad corridor for the new parkway, although no hearings were held on this issue. At the time, 440 was the most expensive highway built in the U.S., costing approximately $90 million for 10 miles of roadway.

When 440 opened in 1987, it was briefly truck-free as promised. Freight was transported via downtown until the trucking association filed a lawsuit in federal court. The ruling? Trucks were disallowed only if the state returned the $72 million in federal money provided for construction. What governor's going to return that kind of money?

Those neighborhood associations' vision has come to pass. According to studies provided at last December's Freight Forum, 73 percent of Nashville's traffic is through traffic. Trucks account for 87 percent of this through traffic.

Ms. Kreyling, author of The Plan of Nashville, is right when she says some 440 neighborhoods are upset about PON's suggestion to turn 440 into a "long-distance corridor" and close the downtown interstates.

These are challenging issues involving multiple entities. There are no easy answers, and the Civic Design Center should be applauded for wanting to revitalize the city, highlight the river and heal neighborhoods.

Just don't forget those of us in Nashville's historic neighborhoods who now live with the reminder of broken promises daily. (Contrary to the assumption made in The Fabricator on June 3, 2004, many of us have lived here long before 440 was built. We've lived here for decades.)

Dawn Kirk

Jcdk123456@aol.com (Nashville)

And Oscar For Best Actor Goes To...Tara Reid. The Rogers Group, a 96-year-old construction company with questionable ethics, won the—you guessed it—Tennessee American Business Ethics Award in the mid-size category. Sucks for you, if you lost to these guys. At the end of last year, WTVF-Channel 5's Phil Williams uncovered internal documents from the Rogers Group that revealed its shameless strategy for avoiding open bids, part of what it creepily refers to as its "Big Hairy Audacious Goal." One document called for the company to locate quarries in markets where the company has a "strong commercial and political understanding." According to Williams' reporting, the group has lobbied the state to make it difficult for rivals to issue competing bids. Company documents also make clear that the Rogers Group wants both to supply the rock that goes into the roads and build the roads themselves. This has shut out smaller, less politically entangled construction companies from state projects, bullying behavior that the statewide business community apparently deems worthy of tribute.

He's Got 99 Problems...But the, Well, You Know. On the subject of sleazy Tennessee institutions, Memphis state Sen. John Ford is in the news again, but this time nationally. He testified during a recent Juvenile Court hearing that he keeps two separate homes for the two women in his life. Ford said that sometimes he stays with ex-wife Tamara Mitchell-Ford and their three children. Other times, he lives with girlfriend Connie Matthews and their two children. Three years ago, when the Fords divorced, Mitchell-Ford wound up in jail after she drove her car through Matthews' home. Now she's exacting a more painful measure of revenge, telling reporters that she is pregnant with, yep, Ford's baby. A third woman, meanwhile, wants Ford to pay more child support for the 10-year-old girl he fathered. This all reads like a bad soap opera, with one ugly leading man. But on a more serious note, Ford sits on a Senate committee that guides the state's child welfare policies. Recently, he's been trying to make it easier for fathers to lower court-ordered child support. Evidence that he's looking out for one of his more prolific constituents.

Harold White's Favorite Employee. Metro finance director David Manning found himself this week calling down finance employee Lori Lazo-Bell, who forwarded an anti-Muslim e-mail that eventually found its way to a West Virginia man who alerted Mayor Purcell's office about how this employee was spending her free time. Lazo-Bell later penned a weepy mea culpa to Manning, claiming that she only skimmed the e-mail. "It's never been my nature to stereotype religious groups," she wrote. Which makes us wonder: if she only skimmed the e-mail, what made her decide to forward it?

Waller Begins New Letter Writing Campaign. Reason 666 why Wal-Mart hates America: Chattanooga Times Free Press reported last week that the retail behemoth has more employees on TennCare than any other business in the state. Really, does this surprise anyone? Anyone? According to the story, Wal-Mart has nearly 10,000 employees whose health care is subsidized by Tennessee taxpayers, something to think about the next time you buy a shower curtain there for seven bucks—or, for that matter, if you receive a letter from a Waller Lansden attorney. At a Monday press conference, Gov. Phil Bredesen admitted there wasn't much to discourage Wal-Mart and other big businesses from exploiting the state's rapidly shrinking teet, but he plans to at least talk to them. "I certainly feel like I can say to those employers, 'you have a responsibility to provide more than jobs.' "

Hair Care. On Sunday morning, as the rest of the city was timidly peeking out the window at the previous night's skimpy snowdrifts, patrons were gathering at Gwanyca's Hair Gallery in East Nashville. The occasion: owner/proprietor Gwanyca Vaden and friends volunteered the day's proceeds to help victims of the devastating East Asia tsunami. It was cold outside but warm inside, and Vaden says her girlfriends made it warmer by hanging out, laughing, talking and snacking on the RoTel dip and cookies she brought to feed everyone. At the end of the day, the salon had raised more than $500 for people a world away. "People just come together in time of need," Vaden says. Especially when RoTel dip is involved.

Waller Begins New Letter Writing Campaign. Reason 666 why Wal-Mart hates America: Chattanooga Times Free Press reported last week that the retail behemoth has more employees on TennCare than any other business in the state. Really, does this surprise anyone? Anyone? According to the story, Wal-Mart has nearly 10,000 employees whose health care is subsidized by Tennessee taxpayers, something to think about the next time you buy a shower curtain there for seven bucks—or, for that matter, if you receive a letter from a Waller Lansden attorney. At a Monday press conference, Gov. Phil Bredesen admitted there wasn't much to discourage Wal-Mart and other big businesses from exploiting the state's rapidly shrinking teet, but he plans to at least talk to them. "I certainly feel like I can say to those employers, 'you have a responsibility to provide more than jobs.' "

Hair Care. On Sunday morning, as the rest of the city was timidly peeking out the window at the previous night's skimpy snowdrifts, patrons were gathering at Gwanyca's Hair Gallery in East Nashville. The occasion: owner/proprietor Gwanyca Vaden and friends volunteered the day's proceeds to help victims of the devastating East Asia tsunami. It was cold outside but warm inside, and Vaden says her girlfriends made it warmer by hanging out, laughing, talking and snacking on the RoTel dip and cookies she brought to feed everyone. At the end of the day, the salon had raised more than $500 for people a world away. "People just come together in time of need," Vaden says. Especially when RoTel dip is involved.

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