Mitchell, Tygard spat over community cleanup intensifies

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 3:21pm

The political spat between Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell and At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard has intensified following a Bellevue community cleanup last Saturday morning that Mitchell claims was also a campaign event for his election opponent.

At issue is a recent outing on Bellevue’s Newsom Station Road during which Mitchell photographed his District 35 opponent, former Metro Planning commissioner Tonya Jones, Tygard and several Davidson County Drug Court workers who were cutting grass.

In an invitation, Jones had called the event a community cleanup, but Mitchell has alleged the two were unlawfully using Metro employees and vehicles for political purposes. Jones is seen wearing a campaign T-shirt, with yard signs nearby. Tygard, who supports Jones’ candidacy, has said he organized the event, and invited Jones — as well as Mitchell — to attend.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Mitchell referenced the episode during deliberation of a Tygard-sponsored ordinance introduced following the controversy involving Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence. The bill, which cleared the council’s second of three votes Tuesday, clarifies the proper uses of government automobiles.

Mitchell had council attorney Don Jones read the part of Tygard’s legislation that says Metro-owned vehicles aren’t to be used for “transporting any political campaign literature or matter, or to engage in soliciting votes, or to transport any person or persons soliciting votes in any election or primary.”

Suggesting Tygard had broken a rule within his own ordinance, Mitchell told the council: “[There are] clear abuses from people within our own body.”

Also on Tuesday, Tygard sent a letter to council members, which he began by calling the dispute “political mudslinging initiated by Councilman Mitchell.”

In the letter, Tygard, a former Bellevue district council member, said multiple citizens alerted him to the “blighted” stretch of Newsom Station Road at a Bellevue picnic in May. Working in conjunction with Bellevue Councilman Eric Crafton, Tygard said he dispatched a sheriff’s community service crew to the area on Tuesday, June 14.

Tygard said he requested assistance from the Davidson County Drug Court for the now-disputed event last Saturday. Tygard said nine community volunteers took part. While they were conducting the work, Tygard said Mitchell appeared.

“I was expecting Councilman Mitchell to assist us with our efforts, but instead with camera in hand, he began shouting that this was an illegal event because, according to him, taxpayer dollars were funding a political event,” Tygard wrote.

Tygard said the group invited Mitchell to set up a tent, but he went ahead and contacted media and distributed his photos instead. Tygard described Mitchell’s actions as “intimidation.”

“Colleagues, please do not be fooled by the attempted smokescreen by Councilman Mitchell,” Tygard wrote. “His allegations couldn’t be more baseless.”

Meanwhile, Mitchell has alerted council members to a letter from Trial Court Administrator Tim Townsend, which he issued in response to a series of questions from Mitchell.

Regarding Saturday’s event, Townsend wrote: “The staff was not aware the event could be a political or campaign event. The crew had been instructed to provide routine lawn care service at an intersection where they could encounter traffic. In the future, the drug court staff will be more diligent in pre-screening requests for service.”

According to Townsend, the drug court is funded through a combination of state and federal grants, as well as drug fines. He said it is the drug court’s policy to refrain from participation in political events. 

14 Comments on this post:

By: LiLi on 6/23/11 at 7:45

Perhaps Mr. Mitchell should have taken his camera into flood devastated neighborhoods in is district. Perhaps Mr. Mitchell should have used the same vigor he is using in this issue to distribute necessary information to his constituents. It seems Mr. Mitchell functions best when there is a sound bite to be had, a picture to be taken, or a comment to appear. I think we would all be better served if instead of making major issues out of minor ones, he tackles the major ones- even if the media isn't watching him, and he can't parlay it into publicity.

By: marcocool on 6/24/11 at 6:50

I agree with you LiLi, I am sick and tired of all this playground rhetoric. It seems to me that Mr. Tygard took the initiative and addressed an issue that needed to be addressed, at the same time benefiting the community. We have enabled this type of politician (Mitchell) as a society, we allow them a platform to shout at the river for being too wide or too deep instead of working to build the river a bridge.

By: therapacize47 on 6/24/11 at 7:20

Perhaps our Council Members would benefit from increased awareness that perceptions are all that counts. My personal perception is that Mr. Tygard does little that does not provide personal benefit in some form. This is based on past events when Mr. Tygard was contacted regarding various local issues and he stated he can't do anything to help. If a candidate or Council Member is truly performing some work to benefit the community he/she should maintain strict vigilance that another's perception may differ. For instance, wearing a campaign t-shirt and performing this beneficial service int he presence of campaign signs may not have been wise.
What would happen if all 3 public figures were to stop this whining and truly lend themselves to the public good? What would happen if a miracle were to happen and that actually spread to our state level representatives? And, horror of horrors, what would happen if our federal representatives were to apply themselves more completely to the job to which they were elected.
I guess the bottom line for me is "Grow up and get a life."

By: gruntz on 6/24/11 at 7:22

I live in the same neighborhood as Mitchell and he has helped people there, especially during the flood. However, I am dissapointed with his unprofessional behavior last weekend on Newsom Station road. Bo, please know that you have overreacted and need to calm down or you will lose votes.

By: rbull on 6/24/11 at 9:01

Although I am not from the Bellevue district that Bo Mitchell represents, thank goodness, but the people of this district should vote this a$$ out of office and go with Ms. Tonya Jones whom I do not know, but anybody would be better than Bo Mitchell. Again I'm thankful I don't have someone like Bo MItchell representing me in the Metro Council. If you will notice he is so undeducated he does not know how to spell his first name, Bo instead of Bob.

By: girliegirl on 6/24/11 at 9:08

Mitchell clearly has "issues"....as you can witness for yourself when watching the Council sessions in person. He needs therapy.

Rbull....I have met Tonya. She's very direct, has few if any issues, and does not approve of antics, especially those which distract from everyone getting their work done.

By: gaylabpugh on 6/24/11 at 10:01

Bellevue is a beautiful place to live and raise a family. It is clean, it is beautiful, there are great parks in the area, violence is low, schools are very good,great churches and the community support is strong. One of the biggest positives in all of Nashville and particularly in West Nashville is our wonderful Charlie Tygard, Metro Council at Large. Charlie is the HARDEST working man I know. He obviously cares for Bellevue and he puts his heart and soul into the community. He is solid. He is the true example of a community leader. I personally have worked many years with Charlie successfully cleaning up graffiti, signage, weeds, trash, etc. If you want to get a job done in Bellevue, Charlie is the man to call. I seldom respond to anything on sites such as this, because I, like so many, don't want to get involved. But in this case, I had to give my friend Charlie Tygard a shout out. I have nothing negative to say about anyone else in this situation, but I certainly have endless positive things to say about Charlie.

I do wonder what life would be like in our world if everyone could work together for a common goal, instead of fighting. Hmm, what a happy thought. Have a great day. :)

By: RJP on 6/24/11 at 10:16

rjp And in district 30 we get to look at road work signs that say what mayor dean and ken hodges are doing for are pot holes in our area. Just wonder what the signs cost and when the road work will start! Seems city worker are paid to put them up.The state does not put up as many signs for 10 miles of road work as the mayor and hodges have in a half mile section.And for potts how many signs can you put in your yard. Truely believe one per yard says it just fine.Hope no body wrecks on your corner because of that four foot by eight foot sign in your front yard.Have seen a couple close one's already!

By: Melstruck on 6/24/11 at 11:43

Mr. Tygard is good at getting himself into the press. Mr. Mitchell, until this incident, has not been given a lot of press. I think Mr. Mitchell wants some press at election time.

Rather than read about this topic, I'd like to hear how Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Jones stand on real issues.

Both Mr. Tygard and Mr. Mitchell voted for the Convention Center. They were split on the recent non-discrimination ordinance (Tyard against, Mitchell for). What are Ms. Jones thoughts on these topics. These are the things that voters should hear about, not silly arguments.

By: Mama Butterfly on 6/24/11 at 9:27

@LiLi--Bo didn't have time to pick up a camera during the flood because he was working to help his constituents. Plenty of my friends and neighbors can attest to the help he gave him as they recovered from the floods. I have been extremely pleased with Bo's distribution of information to his constituents--he updates his Facebook page, sends out emails, and has information distributed via media outlets.

@Marcocool--In the letter Jones left on our mailboxes, she indicated that little to no taxpayer resources would be used during the proverbial clean up. She then proceeded to use taxpayer funded resources at a campaign to get some of the work done. I don't think there is a problem in pointing out hypocritical and unethical behaviors, especially when the person committing them wants to lead our district.

@rbull--If you don't live in Bo's district, how can you even make a judgement about his character? Have you personally seen what he has done for our community? Nope, so keep your foul mouth in your district and stay out of this.

@girliegirl--Seriously? When Tygard was the 35th representative, he made a promise to add some very critical amendments to a bill that he later very conspicuously failed to do. I am not sure what antics you believe Bo is exhibiting in Council sessions, but I would take him any day over having to listen to lies.

@Gayla--I am glad you have a good relationship with Charlie because there are many in Bellevue and Nashville who do not. Besides my own experiences with him, I cannot count the number of people I have spoken to who have had very negative interactions with him. He is known for his temper and his condescending attitude towards those who dare to make him angry. I guess you have managed to stay on his good side.

By: tnac on 6/25/11 at 9:53

Bo Mitchell is a total "HOT HEAD" it has been proven that this personality type does not get many results. So - that is probably why District 35 has suffered. He was absent at one of the Council meetings this week so guess what District 35 we did not get a vote. This was an important meeting- he was campaigning instead.

I am so tired of hearing about how much BM did for victims during the flood.
PEOPLE- that was what he was supposed to do as an elected Representative. There were so many Volunteers that did so much more and are still helping today and are forgotten. Do you honestly beleive that this was not done for his own political gain.

Other than the flood what has he done for District 35? Nothing.

I think that BM also thinks the bigger the sign the better the person. Before you go to the polls you must ask yourself do we want more of the same which is nothing??

I know I don't think I can tolerate anymore of BO Mitchell's liberal views and actions.
I have heard what Conservative Tonya Jones stands for and she has my vote.

By: paulnashtn on 6/25/11 at 9:54

There is one governing line in the article, Mr. Tygard said that an invitation was sent to BOTH Mr. Mitchell & Ms. Jones — If that is in fact the case, then there is nothing to see here, move on

By: SirKnight on 6/25/11 at 10:16

Mama Butterfly, Your emotional responses to each person who commented on this story make it obvious you REALLY want Bo re-elected. GOOD for YOU!

However, you made no convincing argument in any of your retorts. 'Saying' Charlie is a bad man on just hearsay and shouting down people who aren't even voters in the 35th District don't reflect well on you or your man, Bo Mitchell. Good luck, though. ;o)

By: las04 on 6/26/11 at 8:21

Mr. Mitchell, would you have been happier if he was going to the liquor store..?? It seems as though you people have turned into whining, blubber mouths who have nothing better to do than follow your opponents around. How about doing what you were elected to do and focus on your community needs instead of what your opponents are doing.