In this week's issue of the Scene, I write on Mayor Karl Dean's announcement — prominently placed in his State of Metro address — of an affordable housing trust fund, and wonder whether it represents the beginning of a true commitment on the part of the city to addressing what the Dean administration calls an "unprecedented" need.
The mayor's office was able to find $3 million in existing grant money to start the fund, and has said the program is "expected to be ongoing."
This Week's 'Drome is black and gold and read all over ...
Eight vs. Nine: This week, the hot topic at the SEC meetings — an annual excuse for coaches and ADs and media people to go to Destin in May — is football scheduling.
In a post-realignment world, a neutral observer would say nine games in conference makes far more sense than eight; indeed, a handful of power conferences are already playing nine (the Pac-Whatever has been playing nine for years, for example).
The difficulty with having just eight games is that it puts a strain on the annual cross-divisional rivalry games — think Tennessee-Alabama and ... um, Vanderbilt-Ole Miss? With seven teams in each division, six conference games are already locked in. If the league is committed to preserving the Georgia-Auburns and Florida-LSUs, that hacks off another game, leaving just one rotating cross-divisional game every year. That means, for example, Vandy would host Alabama once a decade or so.
A nine-game schedule would preserve the six intradivision games, allow for the permanent cross-division rival and rotate through the rest of the opposite division twice as quickly.
Alas, the coaches, save one — it seems likely it was Alabama's Nick Saban — voted overwhelmingly to preserve the eight-game slate.
Why? Vanderbilt coach James Franklin:
Franklin is among the staunches supporters for an 8-game SEC schedule. Without it, he says, "those sexy nonconference games would go away."
— Ryan Wood (@AUBlog) May 28, 2013
Vandy's non-conference slate next year: UMass, UAB, Wake Forest and Austin Peay.
Sure, that game against the Govs will be the sexiest of the year — far more valuable to the game of football than, say, playing LSU.
If it's time to have an honest conversation about expanding the slate, let's be honest about it. The marginal SEC teams — Vandy is a prime example — having four spots on the schedule to play Austin Peay makes it far more likely a team will become bowl eligible. And that's a perfectly valid consideration.
But don't sell us a bill of goods about needing the extra game for top-flight non-conference opponents when the best team on the list is Wake Forest.
Now, don't you steal that entry. For one thing, I just wrote it. For another, it's not even funny. Surely you can do much better, right?
Last year, Holly Matthews took home top honors with "You are so Nashville if ... you think Bart Durham should direct The Real Housewives of Nashville."
An impressive entry, for sure. Think you got game? Think you can bring that kind of heat?
As usual, there's no shortage of hot topics ripe for lampooning. Here are a few off the top of my head just to help you get the wheels turning:
The state legislature
Nashville cast member sightings
Nashville as the "It" City
Blake Shelton dissing old-school country
The Music City Center
Ken Jakes, government watchdog
Now get busy! Deadline is June 28! Winners will be announced in the July 18 issue.
Last week, WSMV reported that the city was planning to bury the toxic remains of an old incinerator facility near the Germantown neighborhood in North Nashville, and 300 yards from the Cumberland River.
Metro officials have maintained there's nothing to worry about, and that they didn't notify the nearby public about their plan because there's nothing to worry about. There's nothing to worry about. Really.
But wait, there's more!
Now, WSMV reports that a pile of dirt containing 60 times the allowable concentration of petroleum chemicals in some places will also be buried onsite.
From the press release:
Speakers will include retired East Police Precinct Commander Robert Nash, Franklin resident and Metro firefighter and gun owner Chris Polk, Sumner County resident and Volunteer State Community College professor and gun safety instructor Len Assante and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Nashville co-chair Kathleen Chandler Wright. The event will be moderated by gun safety activist Linda McFadyen-Ketchum.
The press release goes on to cite a Vanderbilt survey that found that 80% of gun owners and 85% of non-gun owners favor universal background checks. This is more or less in line with Public Policy Polling, which found that "in Tennessee it's 67/26" in support of background checks.
We don't have popular gun control reforms for a simple reason: People who own guns buy more guns when they're afraid their guns are going to be taken away from them. Gun manufacturers benefit from strong attempts at regulation that fail, because it keeps the threat of regulation in the news and reinforces gun owners' belief that they need to run out and buy more guns right now, because look at all the threat.
We've all read the affidavit for the search warrant for Pilot Flying J, which was raided in April by the FBI and IRS. Even that weird part about "Manuel rebates." Now the first guilty pleas are in. From Ken Whitehouse (with an assist from the AP) over at The City Paper:
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in the fraud case that has engulfed the Haslam family business.
Regional accounts representative Ashley Smith Judd also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Pilot Flying J is a private company owned by the Haslam family of Knoxville. Gov. Bill Haslam served as the company’s president in the 1990s before becoming mayor of Knoxville in 2002. Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam, Bill’s brother, is among those mentioned in a scheme that the government alleges enriched the company and sales staff by not providing promised fuel rebates to trucking fleets.
Pith readers might remember Ralenkotter as the fellow who was quoted on p. 50 of the affidavit as saying, "If the guy's been getting $100,000, $100,000, $100,000, now you send him $180,000, and then the next month you send him 75. He thinks you're fuckin' em. So you might as well be fuckin 'em." (Poetic, right?) Ralenkotter, according to he CP report, "may receive a reduction in his eventual sentencing by cooperating with federal authorities." Read the whole story here.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron will be steering the party with his knees for a bit.
In an email sent last night and obtained by Pith, Herron informs the party that "over five years ago" he committed to representing a couple in a case involving injuries suffered by their disabled son. After attempts to mediate the case were unsuccessful, he writes, the case goes to a jury trial starting Monday. Herron informs party members he has been off the party's payroll since May 15 and "will remain an unpaid chair until after the conclusion of the trial."
While insisting that "at nights and on weekends I will do whatever is needed for our Party," Herron adds that during the trial the party "will operate on the volunteer, part-time chairman model used by the TNDP during the service of seven of our last ten chairs."
The full email:
Over at Slate, they have a Cold War era map that shows all the places Soviets were and weren't allowed to visit in 1955. They could, for instance, visit Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, but it looks like they couldn't do it by car. They couldn't visit Memphis, but they were welcome to travel around the rest of West Tennessee. Perhaps most awesome is that they were perfectly free to visit anywhere in Mississippi they wanted.
It's a cool map, though I guess I'm not old enough to find much rhyme or reason to where the Soviets were and weren't allowed to go. Some forbidden areas look like obvious military targets, but why you'd be able to come to, say, Nashville but not see Columbia, I'm just not sure.
In this week's issue of the Scene, Adam Gold reports on the unfolding drama surrounding whether the prime-time soap of which our city is the star — or at least, the title character — will continue to be produced in our city.
In this week's issue of The City Paper, J.R. Lind says if Nashville wants more out of Nashville than the locations, authenticity and cash the city is already offering, then the show can hit the road.
From his Weekly Obsession:
The show’s producers are lobbying for more state and local tax incentives to remain on-site, which creates a convenient excuse for them to decamp to L.A. or wherever if they are denied them.
And that’s unfortunate, because the answer from Metro and the state should be a stiff no. For all the feel-goods having a major network show gives us, incentivizing them to shoot here is like paying a rich friend to take a pretty girl to the prom.
To be continued...
The Tennessean has a story about Joi Wasill, from Decisions, Choices and Options — a nonprofit ... um ... how shall we say this nicely? Let's call it a pregnancy counseling service. Wasill and Beth Cox, who serves on the Sumner County School Board, gave a presentation at Hillsboro High School on sex. A student recorded it and now everyone can hear what passes for sex ed in Nashville.
The presentation is a disaster, in a way that would be hilarious if this weren't supposed to be educational for students. Apparently single moms don't know any men who might want to spend time with their kids — no grandfathers, no fathers, no uncles or cousins. A fetus is the same thing as a baby which is the same thing as a 5-year old, so, I guess enroll your infants in kindergarten because there is no such thing as human development! Everyone already agrees life begins at conception. So, I suppose all the fighting you're constantly hearing about said issue is just for show.
The presentation isn’t helpful, said Dr. Mary Romano, assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. Its biggest problem is that it uses scare tactics. That never works with teens, whose developing brains too rarely allow reason to outweigh pleasure or believe anything bad will happen to them, she said.
Other than that, the presentation relies on facts taken out of context. STDs make you sterile if they’re not treated. Drinking spit and having sex introduce you to different kinds of diseases. Most medical textbooks never broach the idea of when life begins, because that’s based on people’s opinions, Romano said.
What gets through to teens are factual messages, in context, delivered consistently and over time and echoed by parents.
Rachel Walden of Our Bodies, Ourselves and Women's Health News has this to say: "I consider it morally repugnant to mislead teens and to present them with religious opinions about sex in a public school setting instead of facts that could help keep them healthy."
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