The New York Times had a reporter, Campbell Robertson, at Tuesday's public hearing about the fate of the Fairgrounds racetrack. He came away with one of the best articles written yet on the subject — a scrupulously even-handed piece characterized by racetrack opponent Colby Sledge's quote that on this issue, "everybody claims they're David."
And with some justification, a reader without a stake in the issue would probably conclude after reading Robertson's piece. In a metaphor I'm smacking my head for not devising, the reporter (who also filed the Times' fine piece on the Belmont/Lisa Howe controversy) likens the matter to "a custody battle over a neighborhood that could just as well have been over the city itself."
What comes through clearly in Robertson's piece is how muddled the battle lines have become. It may look like a straight-up yuppie-vs.-racing-fan, outsider-vs.-neighbor tug of war — as it frequently did during Tuesday's televised meeting. But opinion is divided even within the same block. Without explicitly making the point, Robertson hits upon one of Nashville's lingering sore spots: the old game of Who Got Here First.
You moved here from the North? Doesn't matter if you've lived here two decades: you're a carpetbagger (a term that's still meant to draw blood, this many years after Reconstruction). You live in Smyrna but you've gone to the racetrack like your daddy's daddy since you were old enough to walk? Who cares — you're not from "around here." You've been begging someone to fix the racetrack noise for 37 years? Sorry, it was here before you. By these arguments, the only person who should have final authority on any civic matter is Timothy Demonbreun.
Anyway, check out the piece. It's short on heat and long on light.