Tom Ingram and another executive with his influential lobbying firm worked with Mayor Karl Dean’s office more than a month ago to put together an incentive package for the television show “Nashville” but didn’t register with the city as lobbyists at the time, according to The Tennessean.. On June 24, Dean announced $500,000 in incentives, pending Metro Council approval, to keep the ABC drama filming here.
Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said officials in the mayor’s office communicated with Ingram and fellow Ingram Group executive Sam Reed when negotiating the incentive deal. Ingram Group has long been the lobbyist for Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality Partners, which is one of the show’s executive producers.
The Metro code defines lobbying as communicating “directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for pay or for any consideration, for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action.”
Last week, Reed and another Ingram Group lobbyist, Marcille Durham, registered with the city as representing Ryman. Ingram has not registered.
But government transparency expert Dick Williams, chairman of the nonprofit group Common Cause Tennessee, said Ingram and Reed should have registered with the city when it was negotiating, based on lobbying disclosure requirements
Andrea Zelinski has a thoughtful article on the Republican Legislature’s focus Nashville. An excerpt: Some say the conflict is political, the product of Republican majorities trying to dismantle one of the state’s last institutions of Democratic power. Others say it’s the result of a shift in values reflected in a legislature that is more conservative than the city it does business in. Some go further, saying the city has developed so much power and influence that a clearer focus is needed to ensure the success of the state as a whole.
The one thing everybody agrees on? Don’t expect the attention on Nashville to let up.
…”I think they view it as the last bastion they have to beat down,” said Rep. Mike Turner, an Old Hickory Democrat and the party’s caucus chairman, who characterized the situation as “open season on Nashville.
“Basically all the things they don’t like with America, they see it in Nashville,” he said. “And I think all the things that’s good about America is represented in Nashville. I think they have some issues with it.”
…(W)hen lawmakers sent a bill to the governor that would undo the city’s rules ensuring prevailing wage standards for contractors doing city business…Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s prepared to sign, although added it’s a tricky issue.
“That’s a very fine line for me,” said Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor who adds that he’s sensitive to preserving local authority. The difference here, he said, is lawmakers have made the case to him that Metro’s current practice has effects beyond Davidson County.
That bill came at the hands of Rep. Glen Casada, a high-ranking House Republican leader from Franklin. The point of the bill was to standardize laws across the state, he said, and Metro Nashville mandating a standard wage in Davidson County could force unaffordable costs on companies doing business across the Tennessee.
“They are expanding their reach in areas they don’t belong,” said Casada about Metro’s government. “So a lot of legislators say, ‘city of Nashville, you can’t tell business that they have to pay a certain wage to do business with you in your town. We want all laws to be the same all across the state.’
“We look at it from a macro sense, the whole state, all 95 counties. The city of Nashville and the city of Memphis are looking at it from their perspective only. But their actions have ripple effects across the state, and so I think you’re seeing a butting of wills on direction.”
It amounts to a turf war, he said, and it seems to be more intense this year.
“The cities are just becoming very influential nationwide,” he said, “and so, Nashville is doing what they think is best. The problem is what they think is best, it flexes and comes up upon what state business is.”
“They’re expanding. They’re reaching areas they don’t belong,” he added.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean sees “devastating effects” on Metro government if the legislature approves “an ill-thought-out bill giving satellite cities including Forest Hills, Belle Meade and Oak Hill the power to create their own city services,” says Gail Kerr — and she agrees with him. It’s an effort being pushed by three out-of-county state representatives who live miles from Nashville but who suddenly feel the need to dip in our Kool-Aid. Why? The likely motivation is because they want the financial campaign support of rich Republicans in those three areas. The sponsors are Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville. Alexander signed on only because the main backer, Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, has hit the limit of bills he can file.
It all started with a codes violation.
A house along Timberwood Road in Forest Hills burned down and neighbors grew frustrated when the owner wouldn’t make repairs. They thought Metro wasn’t cracking down fast enough. So Forest Hills officials decided to create their own court, a violation of the Metro Charter. Metro sued and Forest Hills lost. They are appealing. Officials in those upscale suburbs got together and went to their buddies in the legislature.
Green Street Church of Christ has been on a mission to help Nashville’s homeless for years, but now the church says that mission is under fire, reports The Tennessean. In late June, the Metro Nashville Codes Department cited the church for having tents on the property where the homeless sleep, saying the property’s zoning does not allow camping.
The church vows to challenge the citation in court.
“It is the position of the church that they’re protected under federal statute and under the Constitution of the United States,” said William “Tripp” Hunt, the attorney representing the church.
Church leaders say they are following a biblical directive, in the 25th chapter of the book of Mark, to help house the poor.
“In that chapter, it says that if you help the poor you are helping Jesus himself,” Hunt said. “Under that basis alone they feel that it is their obligation to help the poor.
“Where it stands now, the city’s prosecuting them for having the homeless encampment there.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four members of the Metro Nashville Council will ask that the city withhold $400,000 for more electronic poll books after a several prominent Democrats were given Republican ballots in the primary.
County Administrator of Elections Albert Tieche has admitted there was a problem with the electronic poll books that were used in some precincts to check in voters but he denies that the problem was widespread.
He says there were generally more Republican ballots given out in precincts that used the old paper poll books than at those using the new electronic ones.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/O8N3N0) reports that Democratic leaders in the state Legislature are citing their own set of figures to show the problem was widespread. They say that 19,714 voters used a GOP ballot this year, compared to an average of about 5,800 in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 August primaries.
Party leaders asked the state not to certify the election results until the issue was studied.
The electronic poll books were used in 60 of Nashville’s 160 precincts during the primary. Tieche wants to roll them out for all precincts during the general election in November, but state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has not yet said whether he will approve it.
If Councilwoman Megan Barry has her way, though, the question could be moot. She wants to withhold funding for additional electronic poll books until there is an audit of the process used in the Aug. 2 elections. Council members Lonnell Matthews, Jerry Maynard and Ronnie Steine have joined that call.
After a decade working behind the scenes, including a stint as a political adviser to Gov. Phil Bredesen, Will Pinkston is stepping out from behind the curtain to run for public office himself, reports The Tennessean. Pinkston is running for the vacant District 7 school board seat and relying on his background as a newspaper reporter and political communications director to guide his own campaign.
Pinkston enjoys the backing of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Nashville Education Association, which acts as the local teachers union.
“This is the only political office I would have any interest in seeking,” Pinkston said. “I grew up in District 7. I’m a product of the public school system, and my children will attend public schools.”
Pinkston’s opponents are running for political office for the first time as well. Al Wilkins, an Army veteran and retired member of the local Teamsters Union, and Alan Sharp, a political novice who works in health care, also are on the ballot.
Four members of Nashville’s Metro Council are running for seats in the state Legislature. Michael Cass’ report on them raises the question of whether they thought through the consequences of winning. As a practical, not terribly glamorous matter, that could mean starting the day with a 5 a.m. call from a constituent whose trash didn’t get picked up and ending it with a midnight floor vote on a controversial piece of state legislation — all while trying to make a living and be a good family man.
Robert Duvall, Darren Jernigan, Bo Mitchell and Jason Potts are running for seats in the state House of Representatives this year after winning their council positions just nine months ago. If elected, each would face the choice of serving at least two years in both roles or giving up his council seat before the four-year term is halfway over.
Potts, the youngest and least politically experienced of the four, said he would tackle both jobs head-on. He said he would set his day job as a contractor aside for most of each year if elected to the House.
“I have a passion for public service,” said Potts, 33, a first-term councilman from a district anchored by Haywood Lane and Interstate 24 in southeast Davidson County. “I can do both.”
Duvall said he would do the same because he believes his part of Antioch would benefit from having the same representative at the state and local levels. Mitchell said he hasn’t made a decision, though he acknowledged that resigning from the council would essentially leave his Bellevue district unrepresented, which “a lot of people in my area would not want.”
Jernigan, who is from Old Hickory, said he might step down and focus on the state.
“My council district deserves a person that will devote their energies to District 11, and that may be someone besides myself after the November 6th election,” he wrote in an email. “I will weigh my options at that time.”
Duvall, Jernigan and Mitchell are serving their second council terms.
Pulling legislative double duty isn’t unheard of. Tim Garrett served on the council from 1983 to 1999 and in the General Assembly from 1985 through 2004, when he lost a re-election bid.
…State Sen. Thelma Harper and the late Rep. Harold Love each spent about three years on the council at the start of long careers in the General Assembly.
The more common scenario has been for council members to run for the House during the final year of their council term, then wrap up their service at the Metro Courthouse while learning the ropes in the House. Four members of Davidson County’s legislative delegation — Sherry Jones, Janis Sontany, Brenda Gilmore and, most recently, Jim Gotto — served out their final nine months or so on the council after joining Odom and Harper on Capitol Hill.
Pat Nolan, a political analyst who served in former Mayor Richard Fulton’s administration, said that probably will become more common as council term limits press in on ambitious Nashville politicos.
“You used to be able to make the council your career,” Nolan said.
Some supporters of the Tennessee State Fair hope Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto pen will make another rare appearance soon, setting aside state legislation that would put the fair in new hands, according to The Tennessean. But other backers say new oversight is exactly what the fair needs three years after Metro government, which continues to own the fairgrounds as well as the legal rights to the name Tennessee State Fair, decided to stop running the annual event and began contracting with other groups to put it on.
“We were concerned that in the event that Metro said no more fair, there would be no entity in place to ensure that we continued to have a fair,” said Rhedona Rose, executive vice president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau. “It’s time to look forward and figure out how we can have the best state fair in the country.”
The Farm Bureau and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture — part of Haslam’s administration — helped write the legislation, which authorizes the agriculture commissioner to create a new state commission to oversee the annual event.
The fair has been held at the fairgrounds, a 117-acre site a few miles south of downtown, since 1906. The plan, which awaits Haslam’s signature, has drawn criticism from Metro’s fair board and from Metro Council members, who voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the governor to veto it.
Excerpt from a Pat Nolan political commentary piece: As far as the legislative races in Davidson County, you’ll see a strong trend of members of the Metro Council trying to go to the Hill. At least four current council members want to be in the General Assembly (I heard several others thought seriously about it but did not file petitions). In some cases, those running are trying to take advantage of vacancies created by retirements of long time lawmakers (Bo Mitchell is seeking to take over Gary Moore’s seat and Jason Potts wants to fill the seat held by Janis Sontany). Others are challenging incumbents, who themselves were once in the Council (Robert DuVall is taking on Sherry Jones and Darren Jernigan is running against Jim Gotto).
Why do Council members want to also serve on the state level? Well, I am sure they would tell you about their desire to continue and expand their service to the public. But it should also be pointed out that being a state lawmaker can be an ongoing career, while being a council member is limited to no more than two terms (8 years). By the way, Council members elected to the General Assembly can legally hold both positions at the same time. Over the years, many have done so. Gary Odom, Tim Garrett, Sherry Jones and Janis Santany come to mind).
Dual service is a lot of extra work and it hasn’t been done much in recent years. But if these four council members are successful this August and November we could see several more folks doing double duty on each end of Deadrick Street downtown come next January.
(Note: Updates, replaces earlier post)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville councilman and the founder of a Sumner County tea party group have been charged with patronizing prostitution.
Councilman Brady Banks and Sumner United for Responsible Government co-founder Matthew Moynihan were caught in a sting on Thursday after responding to an Internet advertisement for an escort service, according to a police account reported in The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/zjh0Tr).
The 33-year-old Banks is the outreach director for Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and a member of Nashville Emerging Leaders.
Charged with Banks and the 38-year-old Moynihan was 37-year-old Jyotin Arora.
Banks and Arora do not have listed phone numbers, and an email to Banks was not immediately answered. A call to the number listed for Moynihan rang unanswered.
A judicial commissioner set each man’s bond at $1,000.