Fairgrounds neighborhood group targets council's Holleman

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 2:22pm

Neighbors for Progress, a group of Tennessee State Fairgrounds neighbors who support the redevelopment of the fairgrounds property, has gone far outside its Metro Council district to make a case against Councilman Jason Holleman.

The group’s home is the council’s District 17, but a Neighbors for Progress-drafted mailer (see here) that arrived in the mailboxes of West Nashville District 24 residents reads as follows:

“Mayor Karl Dean had a plan to create a better quality of life in our neighborhood ... But Councilman Jason Holleman stood in the way.” 

Comparing Holleman to oft-controversial Councilman Eric Crafton, the letter urges constituents to call Holleman to tell him to “stop listening to special interests” and support Dean’s fairgrounds redevelopment plans.

“Earlier this year, a coalition of South Nashville neighbors and small business owners supported a plan to create new opportunities and more green space on the 117-acre Tennessee State Fairgrounds site,” the mailer reads.

“But we were dismayed to run into opposition led by your councilman, Jason Holleman.”

Holleman, who called the mailer a “mischaracterization,” said it seemed unusual that a neighborhood group from one part of the county would engage in a council race in another.

“To my knowledge, it’s unprecedented for a neighborhood association or an entity that is based in one council district to get involved in another council race,” Holleman said. “I’ve never seen that happen.” 

Holleman is running for re-election against challenger attorney Sarah Lodge Tally, who has raised $50,000 in campaign cash and enjoys the support of some of Dean’s most well-connected supporters.

The mailer never mentions Tally, the election or the public referendum that allows citizens to vote in favor of or against a Metro Charter amendment to keep the status quo at the fairgrounds.

The neighborhood organization takes a shot at Holleman because in January he introduced an amendment to a bill — later approved — that called for a new master plan to decide the future of the fairgrounds, but more importantly did not call for the demolition of the fairgrounds speedway. Holleman said it was inspired by the Nashville Civic Design Center. A separate amendment, narrowly defeated, would have led to the racetrack’s destruction.

“It mischaracterizes what actually happened during the fairgrounds debate,” Holleman said of the mail-piece. “On the night of the fairgrounds vote, the chamber was literally filled with thousands of people who felt that their voices were not being heard. My goal was to provide an opportunity for all parties to play a role in determining the future of the fairgrounds property through a master-planning process.

“The majority of the Metro Council supported that idea and, in fact, the next day the mayor even referred to the master-plan legislation as a positive step forward.”

But Colby Sledge, who chairs Neighbors for Progress, said his neighborhood organization had asked Holleman to help them out because they believed he was a neighborhood advocate. 

“He drafted that amendment in the council that was specifically silent on the racetrack operations, which is what we were really trying to fight,” Sledge added. “We had sat down with him, we had a good conversation, but he just wasn’t going to help us.”

Sledge said Neighbors for Progress put between $3,000 and $3,500 into the District 24 mail-piece effort. Currently, Sledge said the group does not plan to target any other council districts.

A majority of council members sided against Dean’s plan to redevelop the fairgrounds property — not just Holleman. Accordingly, Sledge said part of the reason to target District 24 is the interest in the Holleman-Tally race.

“From a political standpoint, that’s probably going to be a pretty high turnout district,” Sledge said.

29 Comments on this post:

By: relliott on 7/19/11 at 5:57

I don't live in either district but I am so tired of Dean trying to jam his plans down our throats. I hope the amendment passes to save the Fairgrounds. It's historical and is a shame that Metro has let it deteriorate this way.

By: chetuno on 7/19/11 at 6:28

"Sledge said Neighbors for Progress put between $3,000 and $3,500 into the District 24 mail-piece effort. " That's a lot of dollars for a neighborhood group to have on hand...

By: bfra on 7/19/11 at 6:36

I had the pleasure of voting today - AGAINST Karl - FOR the Fairgrounds and FOR anybody that wasn't a yes sir person to Karl! If I had been in his district, I would have voted for Holleman. Tally is riding on the coattail of Karl & her political parents (that have never done anything for this city). Reminds me of the Torrence family, grandfather your kids in whether it is for the good of the City or not.

By: boyer barner on 7/19/11 at 7:46

Here is the definition of a "shill."

From Wikipedia:

A shill, plant or stooge is a person who helps a person or organization without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with that person or organization. Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) that he or she is secretly working for.

The person or group that hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members to purchase the goods or services (or accept the ideas being marketed).

Shills are often employed by confidence artists. Plant and stooge more commonly refer to any person who is secretly in league with another person or organization while pretending to be neutral or actually a part of the organization he or she is planted in, such as a magician's audience, a political party, or an intelligence organization (see double agent).

By: boyer barner on 7/19/11 at 7:53

Now I understand why Dean pushes Green initiatives like green ways and bio-fuels.

It's because he runs on snake-oil.

By: dogmrb on 7/19/11 at 8:36

I respect how Mayor Dean is trying to move our city into the 21st century so I voted for him. I also strongly support Holleman and voted for him. JH was not for keeping the rural "rustic" fairgrounds as is but for taking time to do a long range plan. Racetracks work in more spacious settings, read more land, but I do enjoy the nostalgic idea of having a State Fair in the state capital. I like a venue for flea markets and large funky events, like Christmas Village.

Karl Dean is a great Mayor and street fighting politician. Barbs on blogs won't defeat him: he does the work of being out there, meeting the people and literally walking the entire county! So is Jason Holleman in his district. Great to have such conviction!

By: capt4chris on 7/19/11 at 9:08

+1 dogmrb! I would love to see some development happen at the Fairgrounds. Not everything has ti change though.

By: boyer barner on 7/19/11 at 9:28

Our city IS in the 21st Century.

Why do you think people have been moving here for years?

Why did Jack White move here? Why do we have the Titans and Predators? Why has East Nashville, German Town and 12th South District flourished?

These things have happened organically and under a "free market" basis.

My issue with Dean is his under-handed methods.

He wants to shove aside the fairgrounds and raceway, rather than put forth a real plan for reinvigorating them. So, he tried to slam through a plan in which he would have had bull-dozers out there the next day.

The fairgrounds hosts hundreds of events every year.Things like dog shows, crafts shows, trade shows, amateur sports and more. It is a very affordable venue. If torn down, these events will move outside of Davidson County. The Nashville Roller Girls got their start their. Now they have graduated to Municipal Auditorium.

I do not want to live in a generic city.

I want to live in Nashville.

By: titansjoe on 7/19/11 at 10:07

The fairgrounds neighborhood group are simply trying to help Karl Dean eliminate council votes in favor of the fairgrounds. If you look at the council folk such as Jerry Maynard that Dean has helped in the council at large race you will see he is not worried if the fairgrounds referendum passes as long as he can get 27 votes from the council members he helps to get elected. I promise you this voter will not vote for Dean or any council person that put us in debt over the convention center.

Progressive my rear end! If the convention center fails we will be left holding the bag while ole Karl moves to a more stable city that is not broke.

Vote almost all council folks out that took the gamble with our tax money against the will of an overwhelming majority of our citizens. I would love to see the only mayor in our history lose when he is almost unchallenged. What a beautiful day it would be.

By: boyer barner on 7/19/11 at 10:13

Dogmrb,

Dean does not street fight.

He depends solely on his public relations machine.

He doesn't have the backbone to get on the streets, unless a camera is pointed at him and a handful of advisers are around him.

I've seen him twice.

Once, when I shook his hand while I was doing some work to help one of his right-hand men finish out his campaign office on West End. (Which I regret).

The other time I saw him, he was walking out of the Sunset Grill during lunch.

When is the last time you saw him out on the street?

By: macjedi on 7/20/11 at 1:36

Amending the founding documents of this city for just one site's protection is the wrong choice! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dont-Save-The-Fairgrounds/167199610019945

By: govskeptic on 7/20/11 at 6:56

This one site is not some residential lot up for rezoning, it's a donation to the city
by someone who probably loved the city many-many years ago just as much or
possibly more than most current residence. It's also an important asset for residence
of every street in the county that wishes to make use of it. The dollars spent from
this group against Holleman under pretense of Neighborhood probably all came
from downtown PR firms serving the Mayor's "Big Plan". Holleman has served
that district as well or better than most others are served and deserves re-election!

By: macjedi on 7/20/11 at 7:41

Mayors push forward. Deal with it. Cleaner than another member of the Briley legacy would have been!

By: haveasay on 7/20/11 at 7:51

Holleman says he never heard of a neighborhood group going into another district, what about the Charlotte Park Neighborhood president and his wife, they try to influence Hillwood, Nations and try to rule West Nashville. She is on the election committee for the challanger in that district because she has to be in control. She speaks for Charlotte Park NOT. What percentage of neighbors actually belong to neighborhood groups. very few and they claim to represent the whole neighborhood.
I will be voting for Tally, Holleman is helping in district 20 trying to oust Baker so why is he bothered that district 17 is interested in his back handed way of trying to run the whole city. 46th and Charlotte is an empty lot because of him and the Adult book store is there because of him, Get him out, he is not good for the city.

By: hobbes on 7/20/11 at 7:53

when you drive by 120 acres that close to town 320 days of the year that has nothing going on, it's definitely time to rethink it. there are other places to have a flea market once a month and if you want to help make the fair or racetrack profitable, get involved and figure out how. otherwise, let's be open to change.

By: MetroMen on 7/20/11 at 9:01

This piece is pretty vintage Jim Hester. Heavy on the copy that says nothing. Seriously, Jim, have you learned nothing this decade or last? The call to action is to call Holleman? not to vote for Talley? So, they call Holleman and he talks to them and then they vote...For Holleman. Lame, really Lame. Colby I would ask for my 3500 back.

By: racer84 on 7/20/11 at 9:04

Hobbes - you should take your own advice And read up on the subject as you have the facts backwards.

The fairgrounds are in USE 320 days a year!
They have never cost any taxpayer a cent and generates $60 million in economic impact each year. Know of any other property in metro that can say the same?
There are none....the fairgrounds is actually the only metro property's that makes money...that's a fact....look it up.

I can't fault anyone for wanting to see buddy baker gone. The man tells lies to the elderly to get votes! He has the nerve tip tell these little old ladies in his district that's he is the one responsible for building the sound walls on the new construction on 40 and white bridge!

If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about someones lack of character I don't wahat else would.

By: JeffF on 7/20/11 at 9:16

Beware the wrath of neourbanista house flippers who have received insider information as to the redevelopment of a large neighboring property. The last thing they want to do is have to sit in neighborhoods such as this waiting for the peons to lose grip on their democracy.

I would imagine another reason why they would nose district 24 is because although they are invested in flipper in 17, they actually live in 24.

By: PKVol on 7/20/11 at 9:33

Hobbes - the fairgrounds is used a lot more than 45 days a year. It is more than the 36 days of the flea market and 9 days of the State Fair, granted, not all of the buildings and land are used for the other events like the flea market and State Fair, but that does not mean the fairgrounds is not in use. There are trade shows, craft fairs, lawn and garden shows, car shows, gun shows, dog shows and many other events that take place in some of the buildings most all the time - it has a higher usage rate than either the Bridgestone Arena, Municipal Auditorium, LP Field, the Nasvhille Convention Center and any other Metro owned public use facility. All of these other facilities charge more than the fairgrounds do for the use of its facilities. If you think that the events will move somewhere else, you're probably right - except that they will move the to Wilson County fairgrounds or Williamson County fairgrounds or somewhere else, they won't stay in Davidson County. Nothing like driving away business with a false promise of redevelopment. Does IQT mean anything to you with the 'promise' of 900 "Tech Jobs" to the downtown area?

By: sandburn on 7/20/11 at 10:14

This mailing comes across as heavy-handed, and most voters' sense of fairness will be offended. I predict it will drive more District 24 voters to the polls -- to vote FOR Holleman.

By: pswindle on 7/20/11 at 11:33

This $3,000 wil not impress most. I wonder how much of this came out of Dean's re-election money, and why are they putting their noses in this?

By: boyer barner on 7/20/11 at 12:18

Here is the definition of "shill" from Wikipedia:

A shill, plant or stooge is a person who helps a person or organization without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with that person or organization.

Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) that he or she is secretly working for.

The person or group that hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members to purchase the goods or services (or accept the ideas being marketed).

Shills are often employed by confidence artists. Plant and stooge more commonly refer to any person who is secretly in league with another person or organization while pretending to be neutral or actually a part of the organization he or she is planted in, such as a magician's audience, a political party, or an intelligence organization (see double agent).

By: judyboodo@yahoo.com on 7/20/11 at 12:20

pswindle, you know why their noses in it, to stack the council deck for King Karl to have his way with the taxpayers. Not even a kiss afterward.

By: hobbes on 7/20/11 at 2:53

pkvol-i appreciate your comment but if we're losing money on the fair every year, is it really something we want to fight for? if we keep it, that's fine. i live around the corner and i've never been to our fair or the races. the race stands are never full and you can correct me if i'm wrong but i believe until last december they had a huge tax lien so i don't believe the racetrack is breaking any records either. we need to figure out how to make them both profitable if we hang onto them.
i'm sure the property is being used time to time for smaller events but my point is let's be open to change for this space. it could still even be used for outdoor tradeshows or whatever but 120 acres that close to town could be better thought out. that's all.

By: richgoose on 7/20/11 at 3:12

I have met Jason Holleman and I am familiar with a number of "people" who live in the Fairgrounds neighborhood.

I am ambivalent about Jason Holleman as a Councilman but I would prefer to have him as a neighbor as opposed to the people I have met who live near the Fairgrounds.

By: racer84 on 7/20/11 at 5:13

Hobbes - You probably should take some time and read up. You're once again wrong. There is no "huge" tax lein.

Attend a fair board meeting if you want to see why the fair loses money with metro and the fair board in control.

It's pretty obvious.

By: ladybluz on 7/20/11 at 6:29

OKAY!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!
The Fairgrounds and speedway were there when you moved there. You knew that! So NOW why are you whining, bitching and pitching a fit. GET OVER IT!!

By: boyer barner on 7/20/11 at 10:01

I have been to a Fair Board meeting.

It is a rather painful thing to witness.

Few on the Fair Board seem to have a clue of the activities that go on at the fairgrounds.

If you were a share-holder in a restaurant chain, would you want your board of directors to be a bunch of folks from the information technology sector?

I don't think so.

Essentially, this is what the Fair Board is. It's a group of people who have never had a booth at the flea market. They have probably never even attended the flea market. They have never run their own event at the fairgrounds (let's say a person or association who has put on a dog show or craft fair).

Basically, they have no hands-on experience in the kind of the events that have been successfully going on at the fairgrounds for decades.

What amazes me, is that Fair Board member, Ned Horton, founder of FM-100 and Dancing in the District (in my opinion, Nashville's best ever, river-front concert series) has not lent his expertise to bringing live music to the fairgrounds.

Mr. Horton has the knowledge and experience to assist in throwing a great music series at the fairgrounds (a bluegrass festival? a rock festival? a jazz festival?).

Mr. Horton was essentially appointed to the Fair Board by Dean's right-hand man, Jim Hester. Hester personally told me that he got Horton on the board because Horton was "on the side of the mayor." (We were having a drink at a 12th South restaurant when he revealed this to me. After Hester told me this, he laughed, apparently proud of himself for doing his part in tearing down the raceway and fairgrounds).

I will give Mr. Horton this:

I think he is beginning to see the light on things. In particular, he seemed to question the Fair Board chair with regards to the Tennessee State Fair. He has also been open to listening to some folks who have approached him about holding new events at the fairgrounds.

I hope Mr. Horton will lend some of his expertise to bringing some kind of music series or concerts to the fairgrounds in the next year. If anyone can do it, he can.

Though I have little faith in the Fair Board, I sense that Horton and other "vested" appointees, citizens, Metro employees and even Dean staff members are seeing the writing on the wall.

The phenomenon is already evident in the council races.

It is also apparent with Mike Curb (Curb Records and Curb Racing) sponsoring the raceway for two seasons, as well as Big Machine Records (Taylor Swift's label, of which Scott Borchetta is president).

Getting back to the headline of this article:

The folks "going after" Holleman are not real folk. They are part of Dean's machine.

They are shills.

The people who think for themselves will make the difference.

Those who work for Dean, do not think for themselves.

They answer.

By: pswindle on 7/21/11 at 10:29

Maybe, the answer is to replace the Fair Board. They are working for Dean and not for Nashville. That is where the problem lies.