Rex: Chamber of Commerce is spineless

Monday, June 8, 2009 at 1:00am

Rex was looking at recent e-mails and press releases from a bunch of people and groups for and against that shining city on an architect’s rendering called May Town Center.

Some of the e-mails say things to the effect of moving the dirt at Bells Bend would be the seventh sign of the apocalypse while others contend that it would trigger a new “Age of Reason” in Nashville with Tony Giarratana filling in for Thomas Paine. Either way, both sides seem to take an overly dramatic tone in their approach.

What is interesting to Rex is that there is one significant entity that seems to be missing from the debate, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Finding their position on this thing is like playing a “Where’s Waldo” game to scale.

The mission statement on their Web site reads the “Chamber is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity.”

In stark contrast to their self-proclaimed role, last week they sent a letter to the Metro Council that ran from the issue as fast as possible. They said they “do not have a process to assess proposed private developments,” but they have “appointed a Board task force charged with developing an assessment tool.”

However, they went on to say in a somewhat condescending tone, “As you have most probably heard or know, the Chamber has historically taken positions only on public developments such as the arena, stadium and convention center, and corporate relocations that would have a significant impact on the city through branding or growth of our tax base.”

Note to Tony G.: If you want the Chamber to grow a spine, move to Atlanta and then call this thing a corporate relocation and force them to do something. How does this thing not have a “significant impact on the city through branding or growth of our tax base”?

Your Nashville Chamber folks are as spineless as SpongeBob.

AIM for the money shot

Last week’s news that Franklin-based AIM Healthcare Services Inc. had been sold in a $430 million cash deal sent Rex’s colleagues a-Googling in search of whatever scraps of info might be found on the payment auditing company, which operates very quietly despite being one of the largest national players in its niche of the healthcare biz.

More than a little cognitive dissonance set in, then, when the first line of the top Google result appeared on the screen: “The staff at AIM Healthcare respectfully honors the memory of our friend Marilyn Chambers.” Chambers, who passed away in April, starred in some of the best-known porn films of the 1970s not involving Louis Levine.

For our environmental friends, Chambers landmark flick Behind the Green Door is not an Al Gore style documentary.

Turns out California’s Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation has gone by the same name as the Franklin folks since 1998. No word yet on whether Ingenix, the unit of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group that bought our AIM, plans to buy the other one as well and create a revenue-tracking, porn-producing conglomerate.

Those Godless lobbyists

Rex has learned that Metro Councilman Jason Holleman has a new target on his radar: Metro lobbyists.

Holleman says in a bill filed with the Council that “certain applicants for rezoning have hired individuals and corporations whose activities are wholly unregulated in attempts to alter public opinion regarding zoning issues” and “certain applicants have utilized misleading, if not deceitful, tactics to alter public opinion, including push polling, use of false names and e-mail addresses, anonymous statements and videos through electronic means, and other sharp tactics.”

The bill Holleman filed would require lobbyists to show all their phone calls, talking points, salary, disbursements, and “aliases and false names” when lobbying on an issue.

First the Charlotte Heights Church of Christ tangled with Holleman over zoning issues and then the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia on whether they could build on their own property. Rex is happy that Holleman has moved onto those Godless lobbyists instead of tangling with another religious group.

Word of warning to the Scientologists ensconced in their new Eighth Avenue HQ, you are on the clock.

Every Day Matters

Just a quick little note to our friends at 1100 Broadway. Back in March, reported the departure of health care banker John Barton from SunTrust to rival Regions Bank. No small story in the cut-throat world of high finance.

Nearly three months, which might as well be three years in today’s news industry, the folks at The Tennessean reported it last week as “breaking news.”

Every day matters in the news business guys, but up to the minute is better. You can find it at, its news you can bank on… literally.


Rex Noseworthy appears Mondays in The City Paper.