Saturday, August 31, 2013

Alexander, Corker and Cooper on Obama's Syria Approach

Posted By on Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 7:20 PM

President Barack Obama (eventually) appeared in the White House Rose Garden today to update the nation on the situation in Syria — specifically, whether we will soon be sending our military to exact some degree of punishment on Bashar al-Assad's regime for what our government says was a devastating chemical weapons attack that killed 1,429 Syrian civilians.

In short, as seen above, the president said that he has decided the U.S. should take military action against the Syrian regime, but that he will seek authorization from Congress first. Obama maintains that he doesn't need an OK from Congress, but an increasing number of legislators had been calling for him to ask for their support. His decision to do so has been largely met with approval from those on the Hill.

After the jump are statements from Tennessee's senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, and Nashville's Rep. Jim Cooper responding to the president's decision:

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Bad News for Lamar: Tea Partiers Vow to Stand United

Posted By on Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 3:14 PM

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The tea party settled one question this afternoon at a meeting to audition candidates to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander in next year’s GOP primary. Both Joe Carr and Kevin Kookogey promised they'll drop out of the picture if tea partiers are rallying behind the other guy.

Carr, a three-term state representative from Murfreesboro, took the pledge in his opening statement to the crowd of roughly 300 at the Sheraton Music City Hotel. It was the first of five meetings to vet potential challengers to Alexander and to conduct secret straw polls. At the end of September, tea partiers will add up the votes and decide which candidate to back. Carr said if it’s not him, he’s out.

We’re all here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to beat Lamar Alexander for the United States Senate. Before I go any further, I’m going to tell you that this process is so important that we’ve got to unite around one candidate. However this process works out, I pledge to you that I will support that candidate because it’s that important. We as principled constitutional conservatives can no longer allow ourselves to be divided. We need one candidate who can run against Lamar who can win this election and carry the banner of constitutional conservatism to the United States Senate.

Kookogey, a former chairman of the Williamson County GOP, made a similar promise later in response to a question. Unlike Carr, who announced his candidacy this month, Kookogey hasn’t said whether he’ll run yet.

“The target is Lamar,” Kookogey said, adding that if he decides to run and “if Joe is polling ahead of me and he has more money, absolutely I would step aside and I would give him my money.”

This is bad news for Alexander, who hopes his opponents within the Republican Party will divide their votes in the primary. Splitting the conservative vote arguably is the only reason Bob Corker is a U.S. senator today. He won his primary in 2006 with fewer votes than the combined total of his two more conservative opponents. Bill Haslam did the same thing in his 2010 primary for governor.

Update: Also of note, state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet attended. We're sure she was secretly hoping for a spontaneous Draft Mae! movement, but sadly that didn't happen.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Daily Links: Spoiler Alert, Congressional Art Competition and Black Metal

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 3:33 PM

I got this, you got this, my friend is by my right, hey! Everybody's looking forward to the (three-day) weekend. But first, here’s a rundown of some of the recent links Scene staffers found worth clicking:

From Vulture: As David Letterman celebrates 20 years at CBS, 10 guests who trolled him the hardest (including Harmony Korine)

From National Journal: The Dark Phantasmagoric Netherworld Beneath the Capitol

From Buzzfeed: 18 Famous Movie Twists Revealed

From FuBiz: Photos of abandoned amusement parks

From The Washington Post: 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask

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Five Reasons You Should Vote Right Now in The Scene's Best of Nashville

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

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1. You have a say in what's best about Nashville. Feel like caulking your ears now whenever you hear the phrase "It City"? Vote for your favorites and tell people where they really should be looking. Nashville isn't just about country music these days, or so we hear.

2. Your vote counts. In years past, winners in some categories have been decided by single digits. The store you frequent, the mechanic you trust, the doctor you love, the coffee you can't wake up without — your vote could determine the outcome in too many categories to list.

3. You might produce an upset. Feel like the selections could use some new blood? Start it pumping by voting. And by the same token ...

4. You can't complain if you don't vote. Hear us and tremble, O ye who griped all those years when Best Breakfast used to go to Shoney's. If you don't vote for what you think should win — be it a restaurant, a band, a gallery, or a local politician — we can all but guarantee you it will lose. And finally ...

5. You wouldn't want to disappoint this dog dressed as Yoda, would you?

Didn't think so. Vote here.

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A Racial Dot Density Map of Davidson County

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Racial dot density map of Davidson County
  • Racial dot density map of Davidson County

Anecdotally, we all know the racial divides of Nashville: North Nashville is black, while the southern part of the county is overwhelmingly white. The southeastern part is Latino and a mix of other ethnic groups. This map from the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service puts a very interesting view on it.

(The Key: "whites are coded as blue; African-Americans, green; Asians, red; Hispanics, orange; and all other racial categories are coded as brown.")

This map is an American snapshot; it provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country. The map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual's race and ethnicity. The map is presented in both black and white and full color versions. In the color version, each dot is color-coded by race.

All of the data displayed on the map are from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 Summary File 1 dataset made publicly available through the National Historical Geographic Information System. The data is based on the "census block," the smallest area of geography for which data is collected (roughly equivalent to a city block in an urban area).

The map was created by Dustin Cable, a demographic researcher at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Brandon Martin-Anderson from the MIT Media Lab deserves credit for the original inspiration for the project. This map builds on his work by adding the Census Bureau's racial data, and by correcting for mapping errors.

I've attached a view of Nashville and it's fascinating to see where pockets of different groups reside beyond our thumbnail views of the city, but if you go to the site, you can zoom in and out of every spot in the U.S. It's an interesting way to look at the country.

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An Alleged Gang Rape is a Distraction to be Buried, Now?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

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Is The Tennessean really saying that we'll be done giving a shit about the fact that four of Vanderbilt's (ex) football players are accused of gang raping a girl once Vanderbilt starts winning?

Is this official editorial policy at our esteemed daily? That the length of time anyone has to pretend to care about a gang rape by members of a football team is from the moment the alleged rape becomes known until the football team starts winning?

Climer has already given plenty of evidence that he's not really up for writing about this. But Climer's not responsible for the headline. He didn't put the story at the top of the website. And he didn't send out the tweet encouraging people to read the story.

So, the problem is deeper than just one dude who can't figure out how to write about this without minimizing it. The whole paper now is presenting the story like the alleged rape is getting in the way of the really important stuff: football. I hope they reconsider that approach.

School Board Member Frogge Responds to Protesters at MNPS

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Metro school board member Amy Frogge has published a lengthy response to yesterday's protest at the Metro Nashville Public Schools offices.

Frogge and Will Pinkston were the two board members singled out by the Tennessee Charter School Center as charter school opponents. Here's an excerpt from Frogge's response, in which she pushes back against the idea that she, or Pinkston, or the board as a whole are hostile to charter schools:

Since my election last year, six charter schools have come before the board for approval. I voted to approve four of the six.

I voted to deny the first charter school application because our board was ordered to ensure that this school provided a sufficient diversity plan, and in my opinion, it did not. This school had no real history of serving poor children, different races, special needs students, or English learners. This school, which would have been located in an affluent, predominately white area of Nashville, also refused to offer transportation beyond two years to children who could not have attended the school otherwise. Finally, this school charged high prices for lunches, books and other necessities, which would have prohibited most MNPS students from attending the school.

I voted to deny our most recent charter school application because we have learned that charter school costs are rapidly driving up our district costs. I believe that the cost of charter schools, which this year will serve only 5% of our student population, has or will begin to impact the schools that serve the other 95% of our students. I also believe it is fiscally irresponsible to continue to approve new schools until we have determined how we plan to pay for them. While we may be able to shave off some of our district expenses, I think it will be difficult to shave off the tens of million dollars per year necessary to sustain our current charter growth without damaging the operations of our school system, but this is something to discuss and work out before moving forward. For those who doubt the financial realities of our current situation, take a brief look at what is happening in NY, Chicago and Philadelphia. That is exactly where we are heading if we don’t exercise caution.



Pinkston has been responding to the protests in his own way, commenting to Pith yesterday, and mixing it up with folks on Twitter last night.

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The Hippodrome: Kicked Off

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM

This Week, The 'Drome's Shaking Off Cobwebs

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Opening Face-Off

Civic Legacies vs. Personal Legacies: This week in the dead-tree, I write about the potential new Sounds stadium (which will almost certainly look old).

In a vacuum, the idea of building Greer's replacement in Sulphur Dell is delightful. The city turns a massive parking lot into a shining civic structure that celebrates the past and replaces a relic that hardly deserves that name. Given what architectural firms have been able to do with the speculated budget (around $40 million), the stadium could be a showpiece.

That said, nothing except the space station is built in a vacuum.

The very practical how-do-we-pay-for-it question has yet to be answered, with the mayor's office saying they aren't ready to share it, though if they truly have been talking about a Sulphur Dell site since Opening Day in April, there's reason to believe they have a pretty good idea of the funding mechanism. All anyone is saying is that the Sounds will make a significant contribution (what that means is, naturally, left vague) with the balance to be paid by...taxpayers? Local businesses in the form of some kind of fee? A TIF? We don't know.

Generally, the idea of putting sports facilities in places where people either will go if they have a reason or already go is a good idea. The business owners on Lower Broadway are more than happy to tell you how much more robust their revenues are on nights when the Predators are at the arena. Putting the stadium on Jackson Avenue builds a bit of a bridge to Germantown with its restaurants and so forth. But Germantown is a residential area in a way downtown is not. Injecting 17,000 people into the entertainment district of Lower Broad 41 nights a year is one thing. Injecting 8,400 into a largely residential area 70-some-odd times a summer is a whole 'nother can of bananas.

Philosophically, one wonders when all the Nexting stops. Less than a week after news of the ballpark leaked, Mayor Karl Dean announced plans for further riverfront development. There was no breather, no delay. There's an $80 million Sulphur Dell project and a $30 or $40 million project on the river. How many things does downtown need? When will downtown stop needing new things?

And how are we paying for this?

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Cayce Homes Could Be Radically Transformed

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Ever since we first heard that the James A. Cayce homes could be redeveloped, MDHA has been mum on what it could look like.

Now we know. Joey Garrison has the scoop in the daily this morning:

Higher density is a key component of preliminary plans made public this week for a revitalized Cayce Homes, which calls for the number of units on the 64-acre site increasing from 716 to 1,484. That number balloons to 2,471 when including potential redevelopment of next-door Metro properties and the 250-unit CWA Plaza, which is separate Section 8 housing.

Planning consultants are expected to unveil a final recommendation in December on the future of the 1940s-era Cayce Homes. Approval, along with funding, would come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For months, planners, architects and residents have explored far-reaching changes to Nashville’s largest public housing community. The impetus: replace Cayce’s aging Army-style barracks with an array of housing options to usher in new “working class and working poor” populations to live alongside those who require largely subsidized housing.

This approach is not entirely new for public housing communities in Nashville, but never at this scale.

The addition of moderately priced tax credit, workforce and market-rate housing options — available to people who fall below certain income levels — would account for up to 1,505 of Cayce’s additional units.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Daily Links: Offensive Lineman, Foam Finger Kerfuffle and Silence on Syria

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM

College football is back. That's priority No. 1. Still, here’s a rundown of some of the recent links Scene staffers found worth clicking:

From Every Day Should Be Saturday at SB Nation: The Business of Protection

From Think Progress: After Aaron Hernandez, Why Sports Franchises Should Reconsider Their Approach to Athletes and Crime

From The New Yorker: 10 Paragraphs About Lists You Need in Your Life Right Now

From The Atlantic Wire: Creator of the Foam Finger Is Deeply Upset with Miley Cyrus

Jump, jump, jump:

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