Rex and the City: Some Metro Council members prepare to strut their stuff

Monday, November 24, 2008 at 1:02am

Some fairly well-known members of the Metro Council have been largely quiet in the first year of the Dean administration. That may be about to end.

Only two at-large Council members have flexed their muscle so far this term - Charlie Tygard (Belluvue library, McMansions, LED signs) and Jerry Maynard (General Hospital, health insurance benefits for Metro employees, various social issues).

Look for major legislation from Council members Megan Barry, Tim Garrett and Ronnie Steine.

Barry has already said she intends to file a nondiscrimination bill to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Metro employees. Steine has weighed in on English Only and word has it Garrett is considering attention-grabbing legislation as well.

Steine and Garrett are the two most politically experienced members of the Council, with the exception of perhaps the wizened Walter Hunt. Barry was the top vote getter of all the at-large members. Those three members mostly chose to bide their time in year one, but there are rumblings 2009 will see them spend some of the political capital they earned by winning the county-wide election a year ago.

Terrible News

There appears to be little love loss between the rest of the city’s media and the denizens of 1100 Broadway. But nobody in the local journalism community wishes on the Tennessean newsroom what sources say is coming next.

According to media sources with ties to the Gannett-owned daily, as many as 150 layoffs – not buyouts – are going to hit the paper perhaps as early as the first week in December. How many of those will come out of the newsroom is unknown.

The move would be in keeping with the 3,000 job cuts Gannett announced last month. Sources say the mood in the normally tense and uptight Tennessean newsroom is even worse than usual for obvious reasons.

All Warfare is Based on Deception

The Republican establishment in the state was rocked last week by a fight already brewing in the tenuous House GOP Caucus.

Blessed with a new majority, now House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower has to wrangle some members not used to being real team players. Part of that means settling down the “Naifeh RINOs” – Republicans in the House that have supported Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh in the past. Mumpower will need them to win the speaker’s seat since the GOP majority hangs on one vote’s difference.

RINO Rep. Steve McDaniel was offered the largely powerless House Speaker Pro Tempore spot, drawing a conservative opponent likely against Mumpower’s wishes in uber-conservative Rep. Frank Nicely.

McDaniel is more important to the GOP majority than one vote as he likely can rope in the other four to five traditional GOP Naifeh votes. House Republicans backing the Mumpower approach are starting to ask themselves this: Now that they have the majority, can their often prickly and stubborn caucus members summon enough political acumen to govern?

Would an abacus help?

Sifting through documents in preparation for today’s cover story about Nashville charitable foundations, we were quite surprised to run across an IRS filing by the family foundation of former Service Merchandise honcho Raymond Zimmerman that showed its total assets, as of 2006, at a robust $188.6 million – up from a mere $4.6 million the prior year.

What could have accounted for such a massive rise in value? We scrutinized all the stock and bond holdings disclosed in the tax return, looking for the killer investment that sent this portfolio into the stratosphere. Well, the foundation tripled its money on Singapore’s Olam International. It was looking at a five-fold gain on Canada’s Lion Ore Mining. But those two positions added up to less than $40,000. Nothing in the filing offered any clue about the Midas-touch mystery.

Baffled, we queried the local accountant who had prepared the document for the Zimmerman foundation – and whom we, in our mercy, shall not name. He soon replied with a terse and perhaps sheepish e-mail:

“That return was amended to show assets approximately equal to the prior year. There was a keypunch error.”

Privatization Diplomacy

Last week, Brentwood-based privatized road maintenance company Infrastructure Corporation of America hosted 20 public and private sector officials from Japan’s public transportation industry.

They were here on fact-finding mission to learn more about the benefits of what is called “asset management” in which governments seeking to save money contract with private companies to do everything from mow the medians to scraping up road kill.

It’s a bit ironic since the state of Tennessee doesn’t do asset management while states such as Florida, Virginia and Texas have shifted to it to save money.

Virginia, a leader among states shifting to asset management, turned the Japanese onto ICA, which manages nearly 500 miles of interstate in that state.

One of the challenges for ICA officials was explaining the concept slowly and simply so interpreters could do relay the information to the Japanese.

It may have been good preparation for the company when they explain the idea to state lawmakers again – something anticipated this year with the new GOP majority.

Filed under: City News
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By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Conservatives need to step up to the plate and let their voices be heard.

By: dogmrb on 12/31/69 at 7:00

They are hoarse from screaming "drill, baby, drill".

By: ardillicphos on 12/31/69 at 7:00

..and very tired from being MAVERICKS.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Juan is NO CONSERVATIVE.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Not really a maverick either, at least not this year.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Back to topic number one. Was glad to see the Councilman who won't ever stop strutting (or perhaps lumbering is more apropos) was not mentioned here. Maybe Garrett can do something about the convention center boondoggle to get attention. He'd have voter support.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Anyone that stops the CC will be a hero.

By: sidneyames on 12/31/69 at 7:00

City Council needs to get to work on side walks, fewer pot holes, better schools and safer places for work and play. Can they just do their job and stop playing God?