As you may have heard by now, someone has taken an early interest in your thoughts about the 2015 mayoral race.
Veteran political commentator Pat Nolan spilled some of the beans in his column last week, reporting that a poll pertaining to Nashville's next mayoral election, and the hypothetical participants in the race, was making the rounds.
After speaking to a source of our own, who participated in the survey by phone, we've been able to confirm that, and gather a few more details about the contents of the poll. But who commissioned it? That's just what we've been trying to figure out.
After the jump, an excerpt from my story for this week's Scene, with some of what we've found:
The Boston Marathon, a historic and typically joyous event, was marred yesterday by the force of two explosions at what should be the most exuberant point along its grueling 26.2 mile route — the finish line. The blasts killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and sent more than 100 to the hospital with serious injuries.
Of the thousands of runners who participated, 53 were from Nashville. Some of them crossed the finish line within moments of the detonations.
Over at The City Paper, Pierce Greenberg and Jerome Boettcher spoke with a couple of them:
Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit line has a name: The Amp.
The name was cooked up by consultants at Nashville-based marketing agency GS&F, who were on hand at yesterday's East-West Connector update with the mayor. The name Amp is “intended to suggest forward movement and appeal to riders and non-riders," we're told. And yes, there could be T-shirts on the way.
Where the local funding — which officials say will account for about 34 percent of the $174 million project — for The Amp will come from is yet to be determined, as is whether the city will get the $75 million it will be seeking from the federal government. Metro will also look to the state for 20 percent of the funding.
The updated timeline for
the project The Amp shows service starting sometime in 2016.
Awful news of a 17-year-old Pearl-Cohn High School student who was shot and killed early this morning while on his way to catch the bus.
From The City Paper:
Johnathan Johnson, 17, was shot around 6:40 a.m. by a gunman who was apparently waiting for Johnson in a vacant lot, according to Metro police.
When Johnson left his home, the shooter walked up to him and shot him more than once, police said. Neighbors have been cooperating with the investigation.
Pearl-Cohn principal Sonia Stewart said of the shooting, “Today the Pearl-Cohn family lost one of our own. We had a student who was fatally shot in the community this morning. The student was a young man who was friendly, kind and had a bright future.
“Our school community is responding to the needs of our students with grief counseling and additional support. The family of the victim has asked that their privacy be respected. I would like to thank Metro School Security, support staff, and local law enforcement for the quick response and support of our students as we grieve this loss,” Stewart added.
The incident marks the second time in a week that a teenager has been shot in the North Precinct. Mi-Twan Johnson, 17, died April 5 after he was shot outside a Herman Street apartment complex.
Police are urging anyone with information about the shootings to contact Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.
At the North Nashville Political Forum last night, Metro Council member Erica Gilmore, and other community activists, unveiled a plan they say would keep members of that community from being completely left out of the potential benefits of Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit project.
Pierce Greenberg was there for The City Paper:
“We want to see something that’s an economic driver in our area as well,” Gilmore told The City Paper. “Whether it’s employing people through this community benefit agreement or whether it’s putting a [BRT] stop over there, it’s about revitalizing our area. That’s what we are expecting at this point, and it’s not negotiable.”
Specifically, the agreement would require construction companies to hire a set percentage of employees from low-income zip codes and another percentage of employees with employment barriers like people who are homeless, single parents, veterans and ex-offenders.
“We are pro-transit upgrades. We are in favor of the BRT but we want it to be equitable,” said Tonya Sherrell, a community activist. “We want to see people who have not had opportunities in the past ... to participate in these large scale projects [and] to benefit from this.”
The mayor's office has given the indication that they're not particularly open to the idea of entertaining changes to the proposed route for the $136 million BRT project — along the East-West corridor from Five Points in East Nashville to West End outside the 440 loop — but the issue won't go away. Residents along Charlotte Avenue have suggested their street might make more sense for the project, and state Rep. Brenda Gilmore told our friends down the street last week that a lawsuit could be possible if North Nashville is left out of the project.
Just five months after losing his bid for re-election to the state legislature, Jim Gotto is back, y'all.
Last night, Nashville's Republican state legislators — Speaker Beth Harwell, and senators Steve Dickerson and Ferrell Haile — made it official, releasing a letter to State Election Commission Chairman Tom DuBois in which they submitted Gotto, along with attorneys Ronald Buchanan and Jennifer Lawson, as nominees for the three recently vacated seats on the Davidson County Election Commission.
With no offense to Buchanan and Lawson, Gotto — the former Metro councilman and state representative of closed-door anti-anti-discrimination meeting, gateway sexual activity, and getting cursed out by Jamie Hollin fame — is the most interesting name on the list.
Over at NashvillePost.com, Geert De Lombaerde has details on the cost-cutting measures dropped on Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees yesterday afternoon:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees will not accrue any vacation in the coming quarter, and faculty and staff will not get a pay raise this summer as part of a series of cost-cutting moves that will help the institution save $50 million by July of next year.
The cutbacks were outlined Tuesday afternoon by Jeff Balser, Vanderbilt vice chancellor for health affairs, who last month said the large federal spending cuts being made would require VUMC to immediately find ways to safeguard its financial future. In a follow-up letter Tuesday, Balser said federal lawmakers' passage of a continuing resolution and Gov. Bill Haslam's decision to pass on a federal option to expand Medicaid means VUMC's "challenges are becoming clearer."
Balser wrote he has received many suggestions that will help the medical complex become more efficient over the long term. But those ideas, he added, have not been enough.
After three years of negotiation, Metro officials have agreed with cable giant Comcast on the terms of a new franchise agreement.
You may remember the hubbub a while back, when negotiations between the two sides bubbled over with public statements about growing cable bills and excessive demands.
Nearly two years later, the two sides have a deal.
In a memo to Metro Council members this afternoon, Mayor Karl Dean's administration announced it has reached a "tentative agreement" with satellite city officials that it says preserves "the heart and soul of what makes Metro great." You may remember that some of the smaller cities in Davidson County had been pushing state legislation that would have allowed them to provide additional government services, contradicting the existing Metro charter.
Dean had said that the legislation would "gut" the Metro system of government. But now, it seems, our union has been saved.
More info by way of The City Paper, and the full memo outlining the agreement, after the jump:
As you head into the weekend, here's some reading on the troubling state of things at the Nashville Symphony, which announced last week that it would not renew a line of credit on around $100 million in debt, putting its financial circumstances into plain view.
From this week's Scene, John Pitcher with a longer take on things:
Disturbingly, the symphony's letter to its patrons also hinted that the matter could wind up in bankruptcy court. Kevin Crumbo, a board member and treasurer for the NSO, said that worst-case scenario would likely be a last resort. For now, the NSO expects no interruptions in its operation.
"What happened was our original business plan did not work out the way we thought, so there was only a slim chance that we would have been able to pay back the entire debt on schedule," Crumbo says. "We felt it would have been irresponsible for us to run out of cash later, so we decided we needed to renegotiate the debt right now. We need to deal with that debt as part of a comprehensive financial restructuring."
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Google the George Strait 60 for 60 campaign. It worked.
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