Up from the morass of Metro government comes a screeching protest. Mayor Karl Dean is trying to make a few little changes. Is he out of his mind?
Dean appointed a committee to study how to fix up Centennial Park, and he suggested combining the Metro library system with school libraries to create efficiencies.
Those two earth-shattering actions produced this front-page headline in today's Tennessean: "Mayor's leadership style causes friction. Critics say Karl Dean doesn't seek consensus like predecessor."
We learn from Bill Phillips that his former boss, Bill Purcell, patiently talked to constituencies before he acted, "getting them all on the same page most of the time."
"Karl is more in the executive mold of 'Here's a decision, let's try it out.' And that sometimes gets crossways with the process and the tradition," Phillips said.OK, let's think this through. First, Purcell had a well-deserved reputation as a thin-skinned jackass. So to hold him up as some kind of great conciliator is crazy.
Second, didn't we elect Dean to, um, do things? Getting "crossways with the process" is good. We should demand more of that.
If anything, Dean's been too timid, refusing to take positions on some of the biggest controversies of the past year. We criticized him for that. Lately, though, he seems to have transformed into a Man of Action. We like him better this way.
He's been working to improve schools by recruiting better teachers. Imagine that. While our hapless school board sits on its hands, Dean is raising private money to bring Teach for America and the New Teacher Project to Nashville. He's also acting to make good on his promise to reduce the school dropout rate.
"Now is the time for bold steps, for people not being afraid, and for innovation," the mayor says, and he's right.