Clarksville mayor Johnny Piper, on one of the rare occasions he's without his varsity letter jacket.
Clarksville, Tennessee's fifth-largest city, home to Jimi Hendrix and Austin Peay University is now in big, big trouble.
At issue is hilariously villainous sounding(*) Mayor Johnny Piper's redevelopment plan. In May, Piper and all but one of Clarksville's council passed a bill that effectively blighted two square miles of downtown that includes 1,800 homes and businesses.
The mostly black, mostly elderly, mostly low income families who live there already don't want to be forced out (weird, right?) to make way for private development. Neither do they want their homes classified as blighted because everyone knows that's Step One in the Candyland-style board game that eventually leads to the "End" box, otherwise known as eminent domain.
(FYI: Step Two is when they offer you a quarter of what your house is worth as "compensation." Why? Because it's blighted, duh!)
Last night, members of the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Housing and Urban Development held a fact-finding meeting in Tennessee's Top Spot!
(emphasis theirs) to determine what role, if any, they could play in helping to bring about a resolution. It remains to be seen just what HUD or the DOJ can do about any of this; the level of discourse has gotten so bad that one councilperson even sued a citizen for slander, and a bunch of suits aren't going to be able to solve those kinds of petty disputes.
One thing's for sure, Clarksville: You better hope we don't have to call your parents.
*We're not trying to imply the Mayor is evil. But if you were writing a John Hughes-esque '80's high school dramedy and had to come up with a name for the uppity jock who finally gets his comeuppance in the third act, you could do worse than Johnny Piper.