Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gus Puryear and Cape Fear

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 3:47 PM

[image-1] It's becoming a regular feature on Pith: More Trouble for Gus Puryear. The latest development is brought to you by none other than Alex Friedmann, the former CCA inmate who has furiously lined up opposition to Gus Puryear's appointment to a federal judgeship. It's one of those “Only in America” stories, or maybe a sequel to Cape Fear: Here we have a violent ex-con taking on the lead attorney for the company that once imprisoned him. And so far at least, Friedmann is playing the part of Robert De Niro beautifully, flailing Puryear at every step in his bid to sit on the bench. Now we might as well jump.

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All Connected? Not by Bus.

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 10:49 AM

FOP* Freddie O’Connell, a technowiz at who in his spare time cohosts Liberadio on WRVU and serves as president of the Salemtown neighborhood association, has been mounting a campaign to focus attention on the service deficiencies of Nashville’s bus system. Earlier this month Freddie delivered to the mayor’s office a letter with 100 signatures urging full funding for MTA in next year's Metro budget. So how does Freddie feel about Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget and its plans for MTA? The answer après le jump.

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Gail and Me

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 10:26 AM

In the post below I wrote that Metro Council members warmly received Mayor Karl Dean's no-thrills budget because they enjoy a closer relationship with him than they did with former Mayor Bill Purcell. This morning The Tennessean's Gail Kerr hit on the same point—only she added more details: "Purcell had a testy relationship with the council. Dean has courted them. He takes their phone calls. He is respectful." Now consider this: My blog post was almost definitely published after Kerr turned in her column to her editor, which means that the two of us independently apprised a complicated public policy event and arrived at the same exact conclusion except that she hashed out her argument with more facts. Um, let's just move on. Anyway, I think Kerr could have mentioned that Purcell is hardly the first mayor to leave his successor with a dicey fiscal situation. In fact, you could argue that former Mayor Phil Bredesen set that standard, leaving Purcell with tens of millions of dollars in debt service payments to both the arena and the stadium, two pet projects that haven't exactly left the city flush with cash. And, by all accounts, Purcell handled the finances for both the stadium and the arena deftly, making sure Metro recouped as much as possible from its losing investments. That's why Bud Adams loathed Purcell, which is something our former mayor should regard as a badge of honor. And though this is obvious, it's worth pointing out that a looming recession is clouding the city's fiscal situation. That's not Purcell's fault. If I remember correctly, he supported Gore.

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New York Times Calls Bredesen Crazy

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 10:05 AM

Someone should talk like this about Gov. Phil Bredesen from time to time. From Gail Collins' column today in The New York Times about the national Democratic Party's continued infighting:
Many are the suggestions for how to make it stop, all of which boil down to making Hillary Clinton go away. The most entertaining by far is the call for Howard Dean to Lay Down the Law. Stop the bloodshed, Howard! The governor of Tennessee announced that as party chairman Dean “needs to step up and bring some closure.” Truly, anybody who believes that Howard Dean can make Hillary Clinton do anything she doesn’t want to do is living in Fantasyland.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We'll Do What It Takes to Make You Read About the City's Budget

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Well, Mayor Karl Dean's first budget proposal will send about 200 Metro employees to the unemployment line, and that should have been in the headline in The Tennessean's print edition today, though they addressed the oversight in their online version. But given the city's tight fiscal situation—which wasn't helped by the spate of initiatives that former Mayor Bill Purcell pushed for during his final years in office—Dean's $1.576 billion spending blue print will likely glide through the council more or less untouched. The black members will likely push for more funding for Meharry, but to do that they'd have to take away money from popular and worthwhile initiatives, like a fully staffed police force. Now let's get jumpy....

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Posting Up: AC Lands on His Feet

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 3:59 PM

Congrats are in order for political blogger Adam “A.C.” Kleinheider, who was hired today by nearly two weeks after he was thrown to the wolves by WKRN-Channel 2. Kleinheider had assembled the well-read on the station's website, where he linked to the best news stories and blog posts of the day, authoring a virtual table of contents for readers of online media. Expect him to do more of the same at “We're looking at him to replicate the Volunteer Voters model in terms of aggregating and blogging on the political side of things,” Geert De Lombaerde, associate editor of Nashville, told Pith. Come to think of it, Kleinheider, a Vandy grad, could have been a smart hire for The Tennessean, except their bloggers struggle to post more than once a day. In contrast, Kleinheider is a veritable machine, posting more than 15,000 times in his two year stint at

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Phil Court Press

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Phil Bredesen’s idea for a Democratic party “superdelegate primary” in early June, first offered up in a New York Times op-ed last week, is getting more national play in the form of a feature today. Given the likelihood that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama will reach a majority and win the nomination with pledged delegates after the primaries end, Bredesen proposes that the 795 party superdelegates gather all in one place to hear from from Clinton and Obama and then, in Bredesen’s words, “literally call the roll” to choose a nominee and end the process. Doing so would would cut short a summer of internecine bloodletting and avert what Bredesen calls “a divided and exhausted Democratic Party.” But it’s still a bad idea because it highlights exactly the kind of image of a smoke-filled room of insiders that the party should be striving to avoid. Bredesen is under the spurious illusion that admitting this concern somehow negates it:
“[DNC Chair Howard Dean is] afraid that such a convocation…would present negative publicity for the party: the graybeards gathering in a back room to do it—smoke-filled room, all this kind of stuff. My retort to that is: You’re going to have that anyway. The superdelegates are going to decide the thing. Better to happen in June.”
What superdelegates should do to end the nomination contest and avert a summer of unlove is not meet and vote as public spectacle, but rather signal privately but without subtlety to one of the candidates (most likely she who must not be obeyed) that it’s over. If even a small group of influential superdelegates sends this message, the targeted candidate will be handed a dignified opportunity to withdraw gracefully. Bredesen would like to think that his superdelegate primary will be quick and efficient—a low-key gathering at a hotel near the airport in a big city to do some fast business and move on. Yeah, right. It’s far more likely to be a full-on media circus covering a highly visible bloodsport that will both diminish the integrity of the party’s popular vote and put backroom politics on national display.

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Jameson Denied Judgeship

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 12:25 PM

We should all feel sorry for Mike Jameson. Now he'll have to stay on the Metro Council for three more years. This morning, Gov. Phil Bredesen's office tapped Joe Binkley to fill the 20th Judicial District Circuit Court vacancy, choosing the local attorney over Jameson and Marsh Nichols, who was already serving as Special Master with the Circuit Court. When we called Jameson, he was characteristically bitter and snide. “Now I look forward to voting on the Circuit Court budget,” he told us. Actually, he was only kidding. The East Nashville council member, who could probably kill a toddler in Five Points and retain the adoration of his constituents, was gracious and generous about missing out on a judgeship. He told Pith that Binkley would make a fine successor to Judge Walter Kurtz. ”I would have to say he was the most experienced and is just a genuinely nice guy—calm and even-tempered,” Jameson said. “Other than my mother, I think just about everybody would agree this was a good pick.”

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Our State Legislature At Work

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Unlike Jeff and Liz, I'm a bit naïve in the slippery ways of our state legislature. So count me as the lone member of your Pith crew who was surprised that the legislature effectively killed two bills that would have made it less onerous to purchase a bottle of wine. I know what you're thinking: Enough already. It's not the end of the world if you have to hit an independently owned wine shop after visiting a chain grocery store. But there's a broader point here. If the wine—and—spirits lobby has such a stranglehold on the legislature that a bill allowing for wine sales at grocery stores withered and died in less than a month, what chance does any legislation have that might affect an entrenched special interest? Maybe you don't care where you buy your wine. But what if you want more alternatives to long-term care besides decrepit tinderbox nursing homes? You're SOL there too. Does this work for you? Also yesterday, members of the Tennessee Ethics Commission didn't see anything unethical about Seigenthaler Public Relations publishing an anti-drinking website as a front for their clients in the alcohol industry. The site marshalled opposition to the wine legislation by leading a Reefer Madness-style assault on the evils of teen drinking, as if otherwise sober 17-year-olds were just waiting by their laptops to order merlot from But the ethics commission didn't think this counted as lobbying. Whatever they're drinking, send us a bottle. From an independent authorized retailer, of course.


The Symbolism Is Beautiful

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Well, this is appropriate. The state's website,, isn't working.

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