Too smart for her own good
Belle Meade Councilwoman Emily Evans got the royal treatment in Sunday's Tennessean. Reporter Michael Cass explored how Evans has become Mayor Karl Dean's Enemy No. 1. Basically, it boils down to this: She asks good, tough questions of those in charge.
Evans, along with Councilman Jason Holleman, was one of the leading proponents of an equitable storm-water fee amendment that failed in council last month. Now she's taking the lead in questioning financing for the proposed convention center, a natural role for someone with 20 years' experience in municipal bonds. But not everyone's thrilled with Evans' approach.
"Evans sometimes looks like she wants to prove she's the smartest person in the room," Councilman Charlie Tygard told the paper. The article went on to say that "at a convention center meeting last week, Evans was quizzing David Levy, a Goldman Sachs investment banker who is advising the administration on financing. She said she would 'go pull the OS' to look up a detail."
The story goes on to say that "the use of that shorthand for 'official statement,' a legal document describing a bond issue, caused one official working on the project to whisper to a colleague that Evans was showing off."
Which led Tygard to wonder, "Is the goal to sway the council or to embarrass the finance director? Sometimes it comes off like she's trying to embarrass the finance director."
Of course, slipping into the shorthand of a profession that occupied two decades of your life is not exactly grandstanding. But lost in the petty quibbling is the substance of Evans' questioning—namely, that she was the only one to parse Levy's testimony.
In his statements, the Goldman Sachs rep essentially admitted that most cities don't fund their convention centers without the backing of public money. This would fly in the face of the official administration line, peddled by Dean and finance director Rich Riebeling, which has stated time and time again that the bonds used to pay for the Music City Center will not put Davidson County taxpayers at risk.
The swipes taken by Tygard and anonymous officials (who very well may be people working for the city) are attempts to discredit Evans. Riebeling told Pith just last week that we shouldn't be relying on someone who retired 15 years ago for our advice on bonds. He'd prefer we rely on his supposedly conflict-free assessments. But there are a couple of problems.
First, no one else on the council can come up with a comprehensive set of questions like the ones she's posing. Moreover, Evans retired in 2001. And judging by the way she can extemporaneously ruminate on complicated financials like credit-default swaps, she hasn't exactly been resting on her laurels.
So just to review: Asking questions makes you a showoff. Consider yourself warned. – Caleb Hannan
Nursing home involved in murder
At the behest of National HealthCare Corp., and the Tennessee nursing home lobby, legislators are attempting to put a $300,000 cap on punitive damages in nursing home abuse cases. That would include cases like the one the Scene recently found at NHC's facility in Bristol, where employees accused a colleague of molesting elderly residents over a seven-year period, while management ignored repeated complaints ("Did an NHC nursing home let a serial molester run free for seven years?" April 8).
But here's something certain lawmakers—ahem, cough, Sen. Jim Tracy, Rep. Jason Mumpower, etc.—should know before kowtowing to NHC and the handsome checkbook of the nursing home lobby. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death of a woman at the Hillcrest North home in Knoxville. Investigators were tipped off that something was amiss when the medical examiner declared the cause of death was homicide due to poor treatment.
Linda Darlene Carter was only 47 when she died March 27 last year after a nine-day stay at the nursing home, according to the News Sentinel. The autopsy report said she "died of dehydration due to inadequate care following multiple blunt force injuries due to an automobile accident." Her son and daughter have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
In essence, she died because Hillcrest North didn't give her enough fluids—neglect so egregious that a medical examiner categorized it as homicide.
Which naturally prompts the question: Does $300,000 adequately cover this kind of neglect? –Brantley Hargrove
Tea and inarticulate rage
After spending an hour of quality time with the happily cranky folks at the Nashville Tea Party last week, one comes away wondering whether anyone really believes this is conservatism's path out of the deep woods of defeat and humiliation.
The mix of scattershot populism and anti-government fervor on display at Legislative Plaza was far more frightening sociologically than politically. It looked like a rally against pretty much everything (taxes, Obama, spending, welfare, communism, immigration) and for nothing (except some obtuse and largely unarticulated notion of "freedom").
It's always gratifying to see people take to the streets to insist that they're mad as hell and not going to take it any more. But in this case one labors to understand what the "it" is that won't be taken.
Socialism, for crying out loud? Is right-wing dissent in this country now so hollow that they can do no better than a populist movement built on intellectual falsehoods about the ideology of the governing party? How is a healthy deliberative democracy enhanced by public spectacle that showcases political and philosophical vapidity on a public stage, but articulates no concrete agenda other than unbridled opposition to everything?
If it weren't for the fact that the state legislature is spending all of its time giving these citizen-patriots the ability to carry guns in more places, this would be almost reassuring for liberals. With these tea parties, the far right shows itself to be engaged and ready for action in some theoretical sense, but blissfully devoid of any specific policy ideas that would actually address genuine problems that real humans are facing.
From what I could hear through a muddy and ineffective sound system at the Plaza (their intellectual ignorance of economic history is matched by their technical ignorance of the audio dynamics of amplification), none of the speakers were actually proposing things that would concretely expand employment, improve education, diminish poverty, or fix health care.
They want government to just...stop. It's pretty clear that about two-thirds of the country thinks differently. That's not a reason to silence a dissenting voice, but it could be grounds for rethinking the message. – Bruce Barry
Tennessee: Unhappy, but so very cool
According to the latest specious study of questionable science, Tennessee is a very unhappy place.
That's the ruling of the personal finance site MainStreet.com, which says we're the 40th happiest state in the country—and the most bummed-out in the South. Since the study was conducted by money guys, it naturally concludes that money is the only basis for happiness. The rankings are founded on such things as average non-mortgage debt relative to average annual income, foreclosure filings and the unemployment rate.
On the brighter side, we remain the 9th most competitive state in the U.S., according to an equally half-baked report by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Its study is based on taxes, taxes, and more taxes, which are naturally the only things that make for competitive commerce.
However, neither report compares to a new study conducted by Pith, which indicates that Tennessee is America's coolest state. By using exacting standards and precise methodology—we looked out the window and declared our state "very cool indeed"—Tennessee beat out North Dakota, which has impressive sunsets, and Pennsylvania, which produces a nice cheese steak.
Oklahoma finished last, since we once stopped at a Texaco there and its men's room was very smelly. –Pete Kotz
For more up-to-the-minute news of Nashville, see Pith in the Wind daily at nashvillescene.com.
You can do it Pete. Feeding the trolls is pointless.
No pics of the thong wedgie? Damn!
Whatever, Gast. I could post stuff that reflects my attitudes all day and you'd never…
"liberal death cult"? Are they the ones who lied about WMD's and got us involved…
Puss in Boots.........that fits him to a T!