Stirred by efforts to sway a public opinion poll towards support of a proposed $585 million convention center, Metro Councilman Mike Jameson has warned his brethren to look out for similar forms of manipulation that could create artificial backing of the project.
In a letter e-mailed Thursday by Jameson to his fellow Council members, the East Nashville representative points to attempts at influencing public support for the project, carried out by Cooley Public Strategies — a public relations firmed hired by the Music City Center Coalition, a group lobbying on behalf of the convention center.
“Regardless of our individual perspectives upon the proposed convention center, we have a collective interest in an honest assessment of public opinion,” Jameson wrote. “Tactics which seek to manipulate polling data or to create artificial appearances of public support have no place in this discussion.”
What apparently pushed Jameson over the top was a mass e-mail sent Thursday morning from Mark Brown of Cooley Public Strategies to folks believed to be supporters of the Music City Center, which encourages them to vote in a WSMV-TV poll.
“WMSV has an online poll on the Music City Center,” Brown alerted his e-mail list. “Could you take a second and vote in favor and then get a few other people to do the same?”
Brown seemed nonplussed by Jameson's comments.
"Our job is to rally support for the Music City Center project. We will continue to do that vigorously despite Councilman Jameson's protestations," Brown said.
Jameson also calls attention to two separate e-mails from earlier this week rallying Music City Center troops to attend yesterday’s Council question-and-answer session and a debate held Tuesday.
“Over the next several weeks, as we are confronted with poll results and Council chambers filled with supporters or opponents, let us take special care to discern the legitimacy of what we’re being told and to encourage a more objective debate,” he concludes.
The Metro Council is set to vote on the finance plan for the proposed convention center Jan. 19.