Editorial: Keep challenging status quo

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 2:11am

If Mayor Karl Dean has learned anything during his first 15 months on the job it should be that the CEO of the city cannot please everyone.

Dean has come under a hail of rather faceless criticism of late for his decision to work outside the prescribed status quo in Metro government when it comes to some very crucial topics. He has been getting some pushback for the interest he has shown in the school system — part of the promise he made as a candidate to be Nashville’s “education mayor.”

Specifically, Dean has been criticized by some in the realm of public education for his decisions to move ahead on efforts like consolidating public and school library systems.

Dean helped raise private dollars to fund a national search for a new director of schools and then offered a fairly strong opinion that the search should continue and an interim be named. All of this took place amid the ongoing notion Dean might take over the school system as a steward should it continue to fail under federal guidelines.

Now, Dean is being critiqued privately by Metro Council members and members of volunteer boards for his efforts to advance the Metro Parks system outside the accepted status quo that exists within Metro government.

Dean has a handful of different committees looking at potential changes in the parks system, including stretching Metro’s dollars further using public-private partnerships to add more pocket parks in areas using small spaces and already available land.

This and efforts to reconsider the plan for Centennial Park runs somewhat outside the master plan for the city parks system established under Dean’s predecessor, Bill Purcell. It is also a process that is taking place outside the auspices of the Metro Parks Board.

Right now, doing things “because that is the way they have always been done” is not the right answer for much of anything in Metro government or Nashville’s civic life. Dean inherited a failing school system, massive deals on the table like a new lease for the NHL’s Predators and a looming convention center project. All this comes during the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

Certainly, it would be better for Dean and the School Board to be more on the same page about hiring a director — working collaboratively rather than at odds.

Yes, it would be nice if longtime volunteers on the Parks Board and Council members felt more like their opinions were being counted and heard.

At the same time, there are quite a few pressing matters in Davidson County that have been ignored or slow-walked for far too long. Public education is at the top of the list. There is also a need for green, public spaces in a city that aspires to be a place where people can live, work and play.

Given the challenges and opportunities Nashville is presently facing, having a mayor willing to ruffle a few feathers is what is needed. We encourage Dean to keep challenging the status quo in Metro government.

Filed under: City Voices
By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'd like to see a list of what Dean has actually done since being elected. I heard him squaking a lot about the schools, but what did he really do? I know he worked out the Preds deal, but other than that... what?

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Who/what company has so much extra cash that they can attend a convention these days? With all the workers being terminated in order to cut back on expenses, how do you justify the expenditures? And who has a crystal ball that will tell them when exactly this will all turn around? Dean's proposed convention center may be a really bad idea now.

By: Kosh III on 12/31/69 at 6:00

BigPapaHe ran on a platform of promoting public transportation, then he cut the MTA budget causing thousands (including 2000 school kids) to lose the bus route they depended upon. Heck of a job Deanie

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

GG, it will turn around at approximately 6:55 p.m. on March 13th.Have I ever steered you wrong?

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Huh? I don't get the date thing?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I have a crystal ball. Actually, it's not real crystal, it's more cubic zirconia.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00


By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'm still waiting for the dispensers of Prozac to be installed around town. Hope they take quarters.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We don't often agree, girlie, but I'm with you on this convention center project. "Looming" indeed! Building the colossal MCC is the equivalent of GM using their bailout money to develop a larger Hummer model. And the convention business will be finished off long before the oil supply is.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't like or dislike Dean, but I just have yet see him actually DO anything.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'd wanted to go to the Electronic Show in Vegas, which is without a doubt, the coolest convention for geeks....but good gracious, it would be so costly and I can't justify that expense right now. One just has to wonder how many other convention-goers will opt to stay home instead of attending their annual get together this year.

By: Anna3 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Dean is totally out of step with a majority of nashvillians on this English as our official language referendum. If he ever wants to run again for a statewide office...he's going to have a tough time...especially in the rural areas where he looks downright unpatriotic. Dean doesn't seem to have the sharpest political advisors either. Crafton and his advisors are running circles around Dean and his cronies. Everybody I know outside of a few East Nashviliian and Vandy types are voting FOR this English thing...so why is Dean taking such a big political risk over an idea he says will accomplish nothing?

By: artsmart on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I did not vote for Dean and at this point I am not sure about him. But anyone willing to shake up the good ole boy system that is TN politics is fine by me. My experience with the Board and Metro Schools is that most of the people in charge should be replaced. Very few are interested in school children. Most of what they do is to feed their own egos and agendas.