Who says government’s not responsive? Since its official opening in December, the Nashville Arena has hosted big-time events such as the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and two Amy Grant concerts. One of those monster truck shows is scheduled for the future, as are dozens of national conventions.
So far, however, the arena hasn’t been used for many community events. But Mayor Phil Bredesen may have changed that last week, when he made a personal phone call that paved the way for the McGavock High School Class of ’97 to become the first high school seniors to hold their graduation in the new downtown arena.
Appearing on WTVF-Channel 5’s cable program Morningline last week, Bredesen was asked by host Larry Brinton why the McGavock seniors had been told they could use the arena only if they could fork over a $17,000 rental fee. By contrast, the graduating class of 450 could have had the Municipal Auditorium, an admittedly less appealing venue, for approximately $2,500.
Bredesen said he wasn’t aware of the problem, but he insisted that the arena was intended to be available to the community and not just for large events, concerts, and conventions from out-of-town.
After an hour-long interview that touched on a variety of issues, Bredesen left the studio as scheduled. But he called into the show half an hour later to say, on the air, that he had straightened things out, that McGavock could hold its graduation at the arena for a community rate of $3,500, plus the cost of hiring staff for the facility. Assuming dates could be worked out, Bredesen said, any other high school could also hold its graduation there for the same rate.
As it turns out, McGavock High School may not actually use the arena for its graduation because it has already booked a date at Municipal Auditorium. But what Bredesen did in making the arena accessible to the community is precisely the kind of detail people accuse him of ignoring.
He should get credit where it’s due.
Head of state
A recent San Francisco Examiner piece on beleaguered Vice President Al Gore was a relief from the reams of stories about Gore’s fund-raising tactics. Instead of detailing new developments in the continually unfolding story about campaign finance, the Examiner humorously tried to draw a connection between the fund-raising debacle and the vice president’s conspicuously expanding bald spot.
The headline, “Feeling Bill’s Pain, and Al’s Rogaine,” pretty much caught the flavor of the article, which began by saying, “Never mind the First Knee. The Second Scalp is in worse shape. It could be hair-in-a-can for the veep man.”
The Examiner went on to say that, when Gore visited Sacramento, Calif., last Thursday, his aides “discreetly tried to keep photographers from shooting his bald spot. The expanding hole in Gore’s ozone layer may explain why he does so much fund-raising on the phone nowadays.”
The bald-spot coverage was a play on the insanely intense news coverage of President Bill Clinton’s torn knee tendon.
Since Metro finance director Joe Huddleston quit a few months ago to make more money by doing less work as a lobbyist for the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, Gene Nolan, assistant director of finance, has been filling in as acting director.
A cautious and able manager, Nolan has held the acting director title many times before when directors have flown the coop, but he may take the permanent post soon. Bredesen says he has asked Nolan, a career Metro employee, to take over what is arguably the second most important position in Metro. The finance department prepares Metro’s annual budget and manages the various city funds.
Nolan is carefully considering the idea of taking over the department’s permanent leadership, although he must weigh his 20-plus years in Metro government against the uncertainty of taking a job that’s not protected by civil service status. The job he has now is protected, but the director’s post is one of the few in Metro that is not. Any Metro mayor has discretion in hiring his own finance director.
If a new director is appointed under the next mayor, Nolan’s career with Metro would be over. That’s why he’s trying to work out an arrangement that would allow him to return to the No. 2 position if a new director were to be appointed by the incoming mayor. Nolan may wind up taking a leave of absence from the assistant director’s job before assuming the boss’s job on a permanent basis.
As is so often the case in Metro government, it seems like Nolan is having to jump through an unnecessary hoop. But Metro would be well served to have Nolan managing its money.
Reach Liz at 244-7989, ext. 406, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tears in my eyes, Donna. Merry Christmas to you, too.
I'm aware it intends to be comprehensive, including food (which is included post-K) and medical/dental…
There are too many pressing problems in this world for me to get upset about…
The hypocrisy on both sides of this kerfuffle is astounding.
fork, you sound as if you don't know what the additional interventions Head Start brings…