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: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 1:36

What a revelation Jeff. I am not a girl, not paid by any organization that is invovled in the bidding, building, or any other work on the MCC. As I stated from the very beginning I work in the industry. I will benefit from working with the groups that will come to the city just as I already do. You are funny though. It seems you are running out of things to call me or say about me. So let's review... stating my first name will not clarify anything BUT I do not work for any firm that is promoting this project. I am merely one of hundreds of thousands of Middle Tennesseans who want this project to happen as you shall soon learn (the hard way)

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 1:59

Middle Tennesseans? Your response's openness indicates that you do not live in Davidson. Luckily those hundreds of thousands of Middle Tennesseans will not vote on any GO debt referendum.

A look at the referendum process in other cities. When a government attempt to enter into the domain is announced, an individual or individuals working in or owning the private version of that industry will fund a campaign to fight off competition from an entity not interested in showing a profit (the government). This happened in Knoxville when the other hotel owners fought off a worsening of their convention center mistake with the public funding of a hotel. This is happening currently happening in Dallas where Harlan Crowe (owner of the giant Anatole hotel) is funding the initiative that will kill the mayor's attempt at a publically funded and managed convention center hotel to try to save their foundering downtown center and fight back Gaylord's facility up north.

Have the PR flack in on this deal sealed the deal with all the tourism interests not in downtown to guarantee their silence? Everyone knows that these projects carry very little permanent actual benefit to anyone not located in downtown. This will not help Opryland, Airport, Hermitage, or any other hotel area in Nashville. They will be asked to act as tax collector for a project benefiting their competition in downtown. Same goes for restaurant owners expecting to see a rush with every meeting, only to be dissapointed when the money instead goes to convention center catering for most meeting meals. Parking owners. Can't wait to see the look on their faces when they notice that convention attendees tend to not have cars when in town.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 2:11

page 2....we rock folks. Wish the folks who read the Tennessean could see these wonderful comments. My first foray into page 2 on the new NCP comments section.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 2:22

plus or minus Producer. the number of employees who work for McNeely, Pigott & Fox that post regularly in support of their hired causes is five.

This is why I was so certain of your employment status Producer:

Here is a brief list of items that MPF was hired to promote (not probono) or are supporters of:

Nashville Predators
Downtown redevelopment partnership
Nashville for Everyone (the anti-English language group they created that has been labeled as a hate group by US Weekly)
MDHA-Nashville Music City Center

In the last 18 months your comments in the Tennessean have ALL fit into all these areas, taking a pro side for everyone of them. I am sorry for the confusion and apologize for the misunderstanding if indeed you are not a paid PR hack like Dave Cooley or the doofus who left the mayors office to supposedly work for your campaign for free.

What is a Parthenon Award anyway and why does every "campaign" run by MPF get one?

By: producer2 on 4/22/09 at 2:33

first of all I live downtown, second of all none of the folks who work for MPF are allowed to post on these silly boards. I know this because I have spokent to at least one of them who works on the project. But keep trying, you are reminding me more and more of your hero Eric....conspiracy theories and all......

By: SirKnight on 4/22/09 at 2:35

" By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:11

page 2....we rock folks. Wish the folks who read the Tennessean could see these wonderful comments. My first foray into page 2 on the new NCP comments section."

Considering you made 14 of the last 52 posts on this article, that's not saying much!

Your personal insults, exaggerations and untruths about Eric Crafton are pathetic and totally invalidate your credibility. As a constituent of his, I have gotten to know him pretty well and feel he is more sincere in what he is try to do for his community.

He may have withheld information about who supported his EO efforts, but I don't recall him ever lying. When the truth came out, it was not a White Supremist (or "hate" group as you called it) that was providing the mere pittance of financial backing he was provided. By comparison, he had only 20% of what the opposition had, which now looks like was in complete violation of election laws as a two-issue (rather than one) PAC. (I can assure you that MORE on this will be announced soon.)

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 2:49

Did I insult Crafton or was that aimed at someone else?

By: SirKnight on 4/22/09 at 2:58

Apologies to JeffF. Upon rereading the previous posts, I realize that my complaints about the anti-Crafton epithets should not and are not directed at you. Sorry.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:15

That is okay SirKnight. The insults of Crafton are leftover ammunition created during the anti-English campaign at McNeely, Pigott & Fox. One of their own stated campaign goals was to personalize the issue to Crafton and funding sources instead of basing it on the arguement at hand. Apparently since the same PR firm is handling the convention center they feel like billing the taxpayers for the same stuff they billed their special interest group for. They now have a personal target they can plan on distracting the inattentive public with long enough to get the General Obligations bonds three votes done.

Funny watching them lay out their campaign this time. Sad that they are using tax stream money to do it. The smirky faces of the naive 20-somethings on their web site have not fought a battle like this one. They would be better off railroading this convention center through when times are not bad and people care less about what their local government does with a billion dollars in taxpayer backed debt. Maybe when teachers aren't being laid off and police aren't running at a staffing deficit.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:19

If these 20-somethings at MPF were really that smart they would be working is an industry that actually improves life or creates something. Instead they continue in their pseudo world of sorority mixers and silly boys in blue blazers hoping to one day to get that job as an aid to Congressman Hottie

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:25

Courtenay are you there?

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 3:46

Going through the staff bios at MPF I am questioning if we get any unbiased information at all. Most have close ties to all the media outlets in Nashville at judging by Gail Kerr's odd editorials every now and then they are able to pull the supposedly unbiased press into their paid positions quiet often. Apparently the press and public relations firms form a single tight-knit network that controls the stances we are supposed to be be taking. The title of this article points to that as well. The public relations hacks have determined that the best course for this argument to take is to make it a us against Crafton thing again.

That and MPF must be the perkiest, Whitest company in Nashville. There must be just three non-white people in the entire office. Shame, I know a lot of poor folks that would really love to earn the money they hand out.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 4:27

Huh, the mayor is a speaker at the next meeting of the Public Relations Society of America Nashville chapter.

Gail Kerr handed out their annual awards last night. How cozy. Nice to see how the world runs while we are not watching. Would Gail be giving out awards to her friends in the industry without her glowing endorsements of their paid positions?

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 4:29

NCP, I see that public relations employee blog on your front page.

By: JeffF on 4/22/09 at 8:26

The irony of it all. A PR hack crying for English First people to come clean and not one mention of his being paid by the other side to write and publish his opinions. Yes Thinktrain, you were employed to write your AntiEnglish diatribes and to make everyone think you are an unbiased purveyor of information. You and Producer woman should have planned that out a little better.

By: Time for Truth on 4/23/09 at 9:29

The Nashville Scene has Karl Dean on the cover dressed as a used car salesman(?) and the byline 'Would you buy a new convention center from this man?-Nashville's big bet is a billion-dollar blunder'. The article raises many good points and mirrors what is discussed here. Quite the opposite of the Gail Kerr happy talk.