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At a time when Nashville's city council is faced with serious budget shortfalls and the challenging decision of whether or not to invest one billion dollars in a new downtown convention center (ooh, ooh, call on us
!), it's nice to know that our elected leaders are acting like adults. Well, most of them anyway.
OK, you ready for some backstory? Here goes.
District 5 Councilwoman Pam Murray has come under fire lately. The charge: She doesn't actually live in Nashville. Channel 5's Phil Williams first broke the story, revealing that while Murray represents East Nashville, she actually lives and works in that striving metropolis known as Detroit
. Some (reasonable) people see this as a problem*.
District 8 Councilwoman Karen Bennett has apparently been called on to play surrogate for Murray's residents. She attends some neighborhood meetings in Murray's stead (but without Murray's permission) and occasionally crosses paths with her fellow councilmember. That's what happened on April 28th, at East Branch Libary, when the brou got haha'ed...
From City Paper
Bennett attended the April 28 meeting at the request of District 5 residents, who told her that Murray was not responding to their concerns. The meeting dealt with the rezoning of a property on Cleveland Street, which many neighbors oppose.
After the meeting, Bennett and attorney Jamie Hollin, who lives in Murray's district, were exiting the library when Bennett approached Murray to offer condolences for the recent passing of a family member.
According to the police report, Bennett was then surrounded by Murray and several other African American individuals who became irate and yelled racial epithets at her.
After feeling threatened, Bennett got away and called police, but Murray and her group were gone before responding officers arrived.
Yuck. That just looks...messy.
So. The aftermath: Bennett wrote a letter to which Murray replied (and that you can read here
And look, we understand not everyone spends their days in front of a computer, writing for a silly blog. But we expect our council members to have a certain level of intelligence, right? Or, at the very least, to read something twice before sending it to everyone they work with.
Some highlights from Murray's letter, emphasis ours:
"I utilize the said format during meetings due to the approach utilized by Council Lady Bennett (???)
, her friends, and the Neighborhood Resource Center's staff. They are rude, use profanity, and are very disrespectful in mannerisms
"Then I heard her tell them that all they do is 'yappy, yappy, yappy'...(new favorite expression)
"Council Lady Bennett attends my meetings only to instigate and intimidate with others
at my meetings. My concern is that Council Lady Bennett operates with a group of people who meet only to intimidate and under mind
my leadership and character within my Council district 5 and this city."
"I have tried my best to be cooperative and resolve these matters, however, the more I try, the more they utilize the media to intimidate my character
*BTW, while you were mulling what it might mean to "intimidate" someone's character, we were trying to figure out if Pam Murray living in Detroit affected her ability to do the job she'd been elected to do. The Phil Williams' piece made sure to mention that Murray makes it down on Tuesday nights for most council meetings, so we tackled her attendance at committee meetings.
Murray serves on two: Federal Grants & Planning and Zoning. At FG she's only missed one out of the last three (keeping in mind they only meet once every couple months). At the bigger P&Z meetings, Murray's record isn't as good: She's only been to roughly half of the meetings since last September.
Of course, the job of a council member involves much more than just showing up. But I guess, if Murray was performing those parts of her job to the satisfaction of her constituents, we wouldn't be writing this post in the first place.