Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ingram vs. Cooley: Fight to the Finish

Posted By on Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 2:14 PM

click to enlarge That's Cooley with the blowtorth breath.
  • That's Cooley with the blowtorth breath.
Finally, a way to settle this whole Music City Center controversy. And now ladies and gentlemen, for your entertainment pleasure, we present to you a clash of titans: Dave Cooley vs. Tom Ingram. That's right, a Friday Night Smackdown in the courthouse square! How about it? With these two lobbying/PR heavyweights now on opposing sides, what better way to decide whether to build this new convention center? On the under card, how about Mike Jameson and Eric Crafton in a tag team match against Ralph Schulz and Howard Gentry? Our money's on Cooley. He's like Smokin' Joe Frazier, a tough little bowling ball of a guy. Besides, Ingram's acting like a sissy lately. When Pith talked to him the other day, we were all excited about the rumored "slash-and-burn" campaign he was about to unleash on downtown biz pigs. But all he wanted to talk about was how Gaylord only wants to do what's best for the city. It was so disappointing. "There are a lot of rumors going on that aren't true," Ingram says. "A slash-and-burn campaign, that's not in the plans. If we were going to do that, you'd know it. You'd see it. We'd be slashing and burning. That's not our goal or our intention and we don't think that's constructive." So what does Gaylord want? Ingram won't say. He's playing this one cagey:
"Gaylord's where it's always been. They want to be a good corporate citizen. Always have been. In this case, they'd like to find a win-win for the community and for the shareholders of Gaylord. ... "It's potentially a problem if one side went too far to Gaylord's side and forgot what needs to be done downtown to promote the heart of the city, and it's a problem if one side goes too far with taxpayer dollars in the heart of the city to the detriment of the private investment at Gaylord. You gotta make sure that doesn't happen."
Now, we learn Mayor Karl Dean met with Gaylord CEO Colin Reed but won't say what they discussed. So it's all a big mystery and nobody wants to talk about what's really happening. You know what this means? It's time to speculate. We figure Gaylord is about to extort some new deal out of the city, tax breaks or something, in return for standing aside as the new convention center goes forward. But what's Gaylord's leverage? It's a little late in this process. The convention center is happening with or without Gaylord's support, isn't it? Whatever, one thing's for sure: All these business people want to cut all these deals behind closed doors and they don't want to talk to reporters about any of it. No public messiness. It's only our money they're talking about, after all.

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