The Mayor Makes Good 

Bredesen says he wants to help burn victims

Bredesen says he wants to help burn victims

Irma and Don Wilson, the tourists who were severely burned in last October’s explosion outside NASCAR Cafe, have had medical bills of nearly $1 million. But Nashville Electric Service (NES), which was liable for the exploding transformer that caused the burns, has won a courtroom battle limiting its damages to only about one-third of that.

Mayor Phil Bredesen, perhaps sensing the injustice of the situation—or at least a public relations disaster in the making—says he wants to help the accident victims.

“That did not escape my attention,” Bredesen says of the court judgment.

Citing the Governmental Tort Liability Act, which caps liability of governmental entities, NES successfully argued in Davidson County Circuit Court that the utility was liable for only about $350,000 for the incident. The utility also successfully argued that the $350,000 would have to be shared with another man injured in the blast as well as the family of a Clarksville man killed in the explosion.

Meanwhile, the injured couple, who attracted enormous media interest during their extensive hospitalization here, still face more medical treatment. Bredesen says he is hopeful Metro government can do something else to help the couple.

“There are a lot of people who would like to see that resolved in a fair way, and we’re working on it,” Bredesen says. “I think that if there’s a possibility legally to do something, we need to do something.”

Job Security

Mayor Phil Bredesen, his former chief of staff Dave Cooley, Vice Mayor Jay West, and about 10 Metro Council members met this week to develop strategies for repealing term limits.

The Monday night strategy session at Valentino’s restaurant was intended, West says, to hear from Council members about how Nashville voters feel on the term limits issue. On Nov. 3, Davidson County voters will be asked—for the third time in four years—to decide whether Council members should be limited to two four-year terms. Term limits passed in 1994, were upheld on the ballot in 1996, and are now up for a third vote.

Next month’s vote may also clarify the murky question of whether the mayor is subject to the two-term limit passed in 1994, or the three-term limit that was spelled out when Metro government was created over three decades ago. If the question fails—that is, if voters uphold limits—Bredesen may have to get the mayoral question answered in court.

According to Council members who attended Monday night’s strategy session, Bredesen made brief remarks encouraging members to educate voters on the arguments against limits—namely, that Nashville voters have a good record of turning out significant numbers of Council members during election years. Members agreed to contact 50 people in their districts who would then talk to others.

To reach Liz, call her at 244-7989, ext. 406, or e-mail her at


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