Crafton rips into convention center plans at Council meeting

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 1:02am

When the bill to authorize the Metro Development and Housing Agency to begin purchasing land for the proposed new convention center came up on the consent agenda at Metro Council’s Tuesday meeting, only one Council member was willing to debate the bill on first reading.

That member was District 22 Councilman Eric Crafton, who said he intends to raise his concerns about the Mayor Karl Dean administration’s step-by-step approach to building the estimated $635 million Music City Center at every opportunity.

Like all bills on first reading, the convention center bill was expected to pass on the consent agenda, but Crafton pulled it and delivered a four-minute speech criticizing the project.

“Probably people never want to debate this, they’d rather just sweep it through,” Crafton said. “But I’m going to bring up the truth every opportunity I get.”

Last year, Council unanimously approved the pre-development planning phase for Music City Center. Now Dean’s administration wants to begin land acquisition so the process can move forward.

But Crafton — and a few other members — believe that Council should wait until a comprehensive financing package is presented before approving land acquisition. Crafton equated the step-by-step approach to approving Music City Center to Metro Council being caged like a buzzard, which can’t escape.

“Council is getting boxed in to the point where we spend $5 million or $6 million to do a study and we spend $75 million to buy the property and before long we look like fools if we don’t approve the project,” Crafton said.

Crafton went on to suggest Metro taxpayers would ultimately be on the hook for Music City Center no matter what financing package is presented.

District 10 Councilman Rip Ryman immediately called for the previous question after Crafton’s speech, thus cutting off further debate, and the bill unanimously passed on first reading.

State of Metro to proceed

Despite Dean’s administration missing the filing deadline to pave the way for the State of Metro speech, the event will go on as planned. Council suspended its rules and passed a resolution approving the delivery of State of Metro.

An objection from a single member would have postponed Dean’s speech.

The administration missed the filing deadline, but the resolution was passed unanimously without objection. The speech will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday in the upper level of the bus routing station Music City Central.

May Town studies approved

Council unanimously approved a resolution accepting a $125,000 grant from the developer seeking to build the $4 billion May Town Center development in rural Bells Bend.

The grant will be used to pay independent consultants who will conduct two separate studies, which were requested by the Planning Commission when the zoning proposal was deferred last year. One study will be conducted regarding the economic impact of the proposed May Town Center development on Nashville’s economy. The other study will address the impact of traffic on west Davidson County.

The resolution’s sponsor, District 1 Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr., whose district includes Bells Bend, called the studies necessary for the Planning Commission and Council to make their decisions regarding whether to approve May Town Center, or not.

The proposal will be in front of Metro Planning in the near future, the developers have said.

Bill to punish habitual parking offenders advances

A bill to allow Metro Police to boot illegally parked vehicles owned by habitual parking offenders passed second reading.

The bill would allow police and parking enforcement officers to place boots on cars owned by individuals with multiple outstanding parking tickets.

The bill’s sponsor, District 13 Councilman Carl Burch, said Metro is missing out on about $1 million in unpaid parking tickets.

66 Comments on this post:

By: frank brown on 4/22/09 at 6:02

Crafton is my hero!

By: idgaf on 4/22/09 at 6:06

It appears that Crafton is the only one that is trying to save us from this folly.

If my guy votes for it he won't get my vote again.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/22/09 at 6:32

CM Crafton doesn't need Council's help to look like a fool. He's fully competent to do that all by his lonesome.

By: idgaf on 4/22/09 at 6:40

Methinks that the one who wants to spend a billion dollars on something we the people don't need/want is the biggest fool.

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 6:57

Really, Crafton is your hero? The council member who looked you in the face and lied right to you is now your hero? Game over....

By: Kosh III on 4/22/09 at 7:10

May will pay for an independent study of the proposal? If you believe it will be independent and unbiased, I've got some ocean-front property in North Dakota you can buy.
Let's finish developing downtown and Metro Center first.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 7:14

when did he lie? Was it about this? I am confused. Someone should forget about a lying mayor and bad public policy because Crafton is against it? Emily Evans is brave and all for asking questions and speaking her mind, Crafton is stupid?

Sounds like convention center proponents have singled out the one person from the opponents herd are going to squelsh opposition by destroying that person. Was that the strategy decided on at your public relations firm Producer? Maybe if we can make this person go away no one will notice the others people in the community against this and it will force other council people to fall into line?

By: dman on 4/22/09 at 7:19

If Crafton is against it then I am for it. He is a nonstop embarrassment .

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 7:20

Ever notice that none of the federal stimulus money went to public convention facilities? The decided to put it into places with the capability of creating economic growth instead. Let's see: roads, bridges, schools, canals, locks, parks, tourism welcome centers... no not seeing any convention centers or convention center hotels. Don't the economists in the federal governments (or academia, or in the corporate world, or anywhere) know what the paid consultants have told us all, these things create billions of jobs and pull in trillions of dollars? The stimulus package should build a 500,000 square foot center with matching 1000 room hotel every 200 miles. This will get the country turned around because apparently market oversaturation is not an issue in this industry.

By: Dragon on 4/22/09 at 7:22

The Council gave up its authority on the convention center when it approved additional tourist tax. The convention center is unstoppable.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 7:34

A question I asked a few days ago:

Who actually owns the tax dollars collected in Nashville, our elected representatives or the downtown tourism interests?

Is the convention center the number one priority of the people who represent us? Supposedly it is schools and public safety and parks when there is an election? But based on dollars this center is the number one priority. Would any elected officials be willing to be on the record as saying that? "Yes this center and its hotel and garage is more important than all the schools in Metro."

By: Alphadog7 on 4/22/09 at 7:34

Crafton sounds pretty reasonable. It makes perfect sense to want to know where the money is coming from before you buy the land and throw away cash on studies etc.

Sure its fun and great to keep Nashville growing with a convention center, but decisions have to be made with all the facts on the table (not like they do in Washington DC)

Some people are just blindly Crafton-bashing because of the English only thing. Be big enough to look at each situation objectively folks.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 7:38

Crafton is doing what I want him to do.
He's using common sense.

Karl Dean is using manipulation and lies,
which work well against the weak minds of most of the "Council".

Come the next election, Karl Dean, Sue Cain and all their cronies are out of there !

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 7:43

Producer is a mayoral plant,
here to throw up a dust storm.

Just ignore him and he'll fade away like bad fart...

By: Rocket99 on 4/22/09 at 7:51

Crapton rarely uses common sense so if/when he does, no one is really sure.

Crapton lied big time about the English Only stuff. When he got caught he claimed ignorance or tried to hide things. And this is just the latest debacle of his.

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 7:58

JeffF please, when did he lie? I have said it before and I stick by it. You and Crafton, same person....

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 7:59

oh and I have never even met the Mayor....but keep backing Crafton and his ideals and we will see who fades away faster!! lol

By: bfra on 4/22/09 at 8:09

producer2 - Detail Crafton's lie! What horse do you have in this multi-million dollar race that you are pushing so hard for ramming this convention center down the taxpayer's throats? And this old "taxpayers aren't paying for this" is old and worn out". Dean probably would have tried "for the children" if he could have figured some crooked way to make a connectionl

By: rpullen on 4/22/09 at 8:10

whose paying Crafton this time? Between Walmart fiasco and English only, havent we had enough of this two-faced councilman.

By: Dragon on 4/22/09 at 8:13

The money is designated tax money (tourist tax increase) with the expressed purpose of supporting a convention center.

If you use this money to buy land, the land can be used ONLY to build a convention center.

If the council approved the land buy, they commit to building the convention center. Crafton is trying to point out that they don't know enough about the convention center yet to approve it.

By: TITAN1 on 4/22/09 at 8:31

Crafton looked like a fool when he was leading the "No" vote against the Oilers deal and he still is looking like a fool.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 8:45

"It's the private sector that creates the wealth that feeds us all. Government is obviously an enormously important part of our lives and is indispensable in many ways, but government can only function as a result of prosperity produced by the private sector."

FedEx Chairman, founder, CEO Fred Smith in a conversation with Memphis City Council yesterday.

Smith discussed what the priorities for local government really are:
1. Public Safety (big gap between 1 and 2)
2. Education
3. Efficiency
4. Then finally development

Memphis council members appeared to take Smith's discussion to heart and intended to take it into their budget process.

Who can Nashville leaders turn to to get them to finally prioritize spending in this town? Right now council is focused on tourism cathedrals instead of 1, 2, 3 , and most of 4. In Nashville budget cuts occur in public safety and education while tourism development whistles along its merry way. Smith placed tourism in the last position under development, placing higher educations, logistics, and high-tech job development ahead of tourism. Doesn't he know Memphis has a brand to uphold?

What is the your official PR firm response to this well thought categorization of government responsibilities Producer? Do the junior associates at your firm have any ideas on how to refute this?

By: SirKnight on 4/22/09 at 8:54

Just saying Mr Crafton lied doesn't make it so. He is as honest and determined a person as there is in the Council. I'm glad we have a such a "bull in the china shop" to ask questions and challenge the Mayor. He hasn't lied about anything. Just because you don't agree with his politics doesn't make him a liar.

The Nashville Chamber and downtown businesses are the ones pushing Mayor Dean to get this done. Dean had to promise to railroad this convention down our throats any way possible to get their support while buying his way into office two years ago.

There is NO WAY building a convention center is a good idea in this economic climate. Businesses are cutting back on their convention budgets and canceling many that were already scheduled this year and next! And Nashville wants to build a new one?? The only people who will really gain from this in the long haul are an elite set of business people in downtown Nashville and their employees who will have a job either helping build it or serve the few people who will actually come to conventions.

How will YOU benefit from a new convention center? Ask yourself that.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 8:59

Gail Kerr Hearts the Convention Center; Logic Takes a Holiday

this is funny and factual

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 9:02

Come one council, list your priorities for spending and budget accordingly. Ask to see the financial legislation for this center before you commit to anything else. Then compare that dollar value to the amounts being moved into the budget for your priority list. Are you balancing needs with wants?

By: Time for Truth on 4/22/09 at 9:03

Crafton can be faulted for taking money from hate groups to fund English Only, and for bringing it up in the first place for that matter. I was actively opposed to EO and voted for the football stadium, which he was also against. This time I agree with his stance. What is the saying, blame the messenger not the message? I wonder where his vote will go on a developer welfare project when the roll is called for real.

The stadium was put to a vote. Even the nonsensical English Only went to a referendum. A billion dollar vanity project that benefits no one who lives here except the tourism industry should certainly be voted on. Producer would gain some credibility by supporting that. He won't because he knows it would lose.

JeffF is not Crafton. He makes few grammatical errors and his comment history suggests he lives in or near Williamson County, not in Bellevue. And producer is not from the mayor's office, just a part of the only group that will benefit from a new convention center.

Dean will be a one-term mayor if he ties his political future to this turkey. He may already know this and not care.

By: airvols on 4/22/09 at 9:09

If Crafton is against it, I am for it! His district should have recalled him after he took money from a White Supremicst group during his last, "I need to be the spotlight" campagin he was on. The media needs to stop giving Crafton the coverage he wants, it just feeds his ego. Not to build this because the economy is down currently is a bad idea. The economy will be recover before the building is built and we will be a decade behind in the process. There seems to be thought that companies are cutting back basic travel, that is true, however major conventions are going to occur regardless. These are not companies for the most part, they are groups or associations without a centralized headquarters for members. They need to meet to continue their cause. Build it and they will come!!!

By: nashbeck on 4/22/09 at 9:10

I'm with producer2 on this subject, Nashville needs to build this center to keep growing successfully.

Independent ECONOMISTS all agree that building the center is the right course of action for Nashville at this time- construction costs are low, jobs are created, etc. etc. etc.

By: nashbeck on 4/22/09 at 9:13


Convention Centers not receiving any stimulus money could be just as easily used as an argument that convention centers are self-sustaining... I.E. they don't need a bailout

By: tim4wsp on 4/22/09 at 9:25

I have two words for Eric Crafton. Douche Bag.

By: Melstruck on 4/22/09 at 9:40

Quote:"District 10 Councilman Rip Ryman immediately called for the previous question after Crafton’s speech, thus cutting off further debate, and the bill unanimously passed on first reading."

Um...Crafton still voted yes??!?? passed unanimously. So after all of his talking, he is for it. Doesn't sound honest to me.

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 9:42

I did not say Crafton lied about this issue, he wouldn't know enough about it to lie. How soon we forget his lie to the citizens of Nashville regarding his funding and out of state interests for the English Only initiative. But then again some of you may still be championing his cause...

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 9:47

And it was unanimous.....

By: idgaf on 4/22/09 at 9:48

They won't let us vote on a BILLION dollar spending package WHY?

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 10:19

Producer, why have I seen you comments only on news stories tied to causes employees McNeely Pigott & Fox.

BTW. Bellevue is near Williamson County so you nailed it Time for Truth, sort of. I have previously lived in Williamson and will probably some day return based on the movement of jobs in the area. I want to do my part to reduce sprawl by living near where the actual jobs are.

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 10:34

have no idea what you are talking about, but that is generally the case. I do not work for MPF or the City or MDHA or any of the other entities you would lke to connect me to. I am for the MCC as are many (including most of the Council at this point)

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 10:37

That should have been:
Producer, why have I seen you comments only on news stories tied to organization employing McNeely Pigott & Fox for public relations? Convention center and English First.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 10:41

"Independent ECONOMISTS all agree that building the center is the right course of action "

Oh, such authority !

Independent ECONOMISTS :)

What a joke you are.

Thanks for the laugh :)

Here's a fact:
Convention centers in the US have been experiencing declining revenue
for the last 10 years.

Only the builders (like producer...), planners, etc. would benefit from it.
After it's built, it becomes a taxpayer liability.

Now, as a taxpayer, is this reallly in our best interests ?

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 10:42

Time for Truth,
All I have to say is $4 billion a year industry putting $100 million a year into the tax coffers. You have every right to show me (factually) where this is not true. Opinions do not matter, there are studies done yearly that give you these facts. You can choose not to believe them but that does not make them invalid. I would think most citizens would want to bolster the top industries in their city. I am pretty sure the citizens of Davidson County feel the same (with the exception of few whom you will never please.) I really don't think I have lost credibility to those who are proponents on this project. Those that oppose it will probably never change their minds so let's just continue to agree to disagree and try and keep it civil.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 10:48

Where do you see that connection ? Good eye.
Producer definitely has an agenda and it's
never in the taxpayers' interest.

I think it was him I saw post a while back, something about
("...what would Nashville do without us developers"),
so the blind belligerence is pretty obvious.

The good news is, when he's on the scene, someone's on target !

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 10:52

Example of convention center declines:

It's only a winner for the greedy.
The taxpayer is the loser here.

By: pandabear on 4/22/09 at 11:32

"Melstruck on 4/22/09 at 10:40
Quote:"District 10 Councilman Rip Ryman immediately called for the previous question after Crafton’s speech, thus cutting off further debate, and the bill unanimously passed on first reading."

Um...Crafton still voted yes??!?? passed unanimously. So after all of his talking, he is for it. Doesn't sound honest to me."

Rip Ryman is the councilman that cost the taxpayers $1M + with his lying about zoning to Teen Challenge. He's manipulating protocol here to get his way.
It's amazing that he's still in office....or maybe not.

Karl Deans of a feather ....:)

By: nashbeck on 4/22/09 at 11:51


You are an adult whose username is.... pandabear.

Thanks for the laugh.

By: TITAN1 on 4/22/09 at 11:54

We would not be hosting this prestigious tournament without the new convention center. I am sure many other things will also follow.




NASHVILLE, Tenn., (November 14, 2008) – The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) informed representatives from the Ohio Valley Conference and the Nashville Sports Council on Friday that the City of Nashville has been awarded the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four. The event will take place in 2014 and be held at the Sommet Center in downtown Nashville.

Music City Bid Leadership Quotes:

“This is great news for Nashville”, said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “I applaud the Sports Council, the Ohio Valley Conference and the bid committee for all the work they put into making this happen, specifically Vice-Mayor Diane Neighbors and Margaret Behm. This news speaks to what a great destination Nashville is for large events and their participants, and it helps validate the need for a new, much larger convention center downtown. This event is only possible because by 2014 the Music City Center will be open and fully operational. I look forward to Nashville hosting this event and to showing the Women’s Final Four participants all that Music City has to offer.”

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 12:31

Wonder how the other cities before and after Nashville on the list of host sites got the tournament without a new convention center being given to them free of charge along with a few hundred hotel rooms gratis?

Even Knoxville was sold on their new failing center after being told of the 7 large meetings on their way. They came, they went. Flash in the pan over. Citizens paying the bill for another 28 years. Hotel taxes not meeting the debt obligations.

$4 billions producer. That is the tourism number. How much money does conventions bring in? Real numbers. Not any of that "a meeting attendee will come back after they have a good time" nonsense.

Of course since being outed probably has led to a strategy meeting at the offices on how to deal with this. The 20-something junior associates have never dealt with anyone who fights something just because it is wrong. Of course the PR firm believes in this Earth Day junk and is probably sitting in the dark not using coal-fired electricity today.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 12:56

Thought just occurred to me so bear with me folks:

Dave Cooley you old so n so, is that you?

Nah, couldn't be, hopefully a person who worked in state government would know a little more about government accounting and finance. Plus he would have a junior at MPF doing this dirty work. Maybe Producer is Amanda or Alison looking out at the social networking site that is the Nashville City Paper.

I have to apologize, I let my sexist tendencies get the better of me and I assumed Producer was a man. Odds are your are a woman (based on the demographics at the company). My apologies.

Does Gail Kerr work there? She always seems to have editorials that groove right into what your firm was hired to promote (convention center, Nashville for Everyone, Predators, downtown development)

By: martial123 on 4/22/09 at 12:57

If Mayor Dean is for, I am against it. End of story. Perhaps Crafton will run for Mayor and get Dean OUt of There.

By: TITAN1 on 4/22/09 at 1:02

Crafton for mayor? I just threw up!

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 1:04

For the purpose of clarity, if you do not work for a firm paid to promote the topic at hand, please tell us your first name.

My name is Jeff

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 1:11

Not Crafton. How about electing someone who can read financial statements and can go a week without being on TV. Governments led by people not in the spotlight all the time tend to be better run and managed. Lessens the politics in the decision making process probably. Although governments cannot be run like businesses it would be nice to have a professional manager instead of a politician.