Anti-convention center petitions to be delivered before vote

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 4:50pm

The leader of a citizen-led group working in opposition to Music City Center said he plans to hand the Metro Council more than 8,300 petitions signed by Nashvillians demanding a public referendum on whether to finance the proposed $585 million convention center with city-backed funds.

Kevin Sharp of Nashville’s Priorities said he would turn over the petitions to the council clerk’s office Tuesday afternoon. He said he hopes the move would convince council members to schedule a public vote on the project. The council is expected to approve the convention center’s financing at its regular meeting tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. The proposed funding would come from a potpourri of tourism taxes. If those fail to cover the debt service on the loan, and a $40 million reserve fund is exhausted, taxpayer money would be used as a backstop.

“This [petition drive] is just another tool for the council to look at this and go, ‘People want to vote,’” Sharp said. “I find this hard to ignore.”

Sharp, who has been leading the petition drive, said the tally should increase once a final shipment arrives in tomorrow’s mail and is added to another stack collected during a canvassing rally held over the weekend. His group promised in December to deliver some 25,000 signatures to the council.  

He said the petitions reflect sentiments revealed in a recent WSMV-Channel 4 poll, which showed 72 percent of those asked supporting a public referendum on the Music City Center and only 26 percent approving of financing plans for a new convention center.

If a referendum were held, the council would not be bound to act. Instead, petitions rely on a Metro Charter clause that says the council can call an election “for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the qualified electors” with respect to issuing any government bonds.

“It would be a non-binding vote, but for practical purposes, it would be hard for the council to say, ‘Yes, we want you to vote, but we’re going to ignore what you say,’” Sharp said.

Two council committees last week overwhelmingly shot down a resolution filed by Councilman Eric Crafton that called for a public referendum on the proposed convention center based on the same “will of the people” clause cited by Nashville’s Priorities.

Sharp said he’s not discouraged by the committee defeats.

“I know who sits on those committees,” he said. “I knew that wasn’t going anywhere.” 

16 Comments on this post:

By: NoodlesSarducci on 1/18/10 at 7:25

8,300? That's all. That amounts to 2.5% of the 350,000 registered voters in Davidson County. That also amounts to 1/3 of the total that Nashville's Priorities said it would gather when it announced this push at a Dec. 14 news conference. NewsChannel5 and the Tennessean both reported that Kevin Sharp claimed his group would gather 25,000 signatures. Both news outlets and The City Paper reported his claim that his group would turn in the petition at the Jan. 11 Metro Council meeting.

Looks like Nashville's Priorities is a week late and about 17,000 signatures short.

Da Fatha

By: JeffF on 1/18/10 at 7:34

Get many signatures from NASHVILLIANS supporting the center Noodle? Those 8,300 signatures are representative of 75% of people who polled that they think a vote is the right thing to do on this.

You wouldn't be one of those poorly educated meeting planners or communications people who throw out stats that are complete lies? 350,000 registered voters? Really? Try reducing that number by 50K and remember that a good number of people who support the monstrously bad projects live elsewhere but would benefit without having to invest a dime of their own money through taxes or otherwise.

You don't actually think you have public support from Nashvillians do you Noodle? Feel free to prove it.

By: NoodlesSarducci on 1/18/10 at 7:52

Check your facts, Jeff. There are 347,000 registered voter in Nashville. 350,000 is simply rounding up.

Under what twisted logic do you get that 2.5% equals 75%. You are dumber than you sound.

Face it, Jeff, you failed. What happened to the 25,000 signatures you were going to get. What happened to turning in those 25,000 signatures on Jan. 11.

Da Fatha

By: Vuenbelvue on 1/18/10 at 8:11

There are approximately 550,000 residents in DC and maybe 380,000 over 18. Just seems odd that the Davidson County Election Commission has listed such a high turn-out. They list 381,000 registered voters or a little over 100% of the available population is registered. 04-Nov-08 State General Election 381,833 registered 265,656 voted or 69.60% voted Nash.gov/election Nov 2008 I was going to make a point but I'm fasinated that such a large per cent of the population is registered. I would have expected 75% to be registered and 50-75% of those to vote.
Other commenters need to realize that not all property owners have the disposable wealth to pay the taxes on their property. A increase is a lot of their monthly income. The average medium family income is below $40,000 and 13% are below poverty level. US Census
It is not that everyone can cough up an extra $300-500 a year for a tax increase.

By: NoodlesSarducci on 1/18/10 at 8:11

From WSMV (12/14): Nashville's Priorities said it would get 25,000 signatures by Jan. 11. http://bit.ly/6SHqrt

Da Fatha

By: Floyd2 on 1/18/10 at 9:00

What tax increase? There is no tax increase for the Music City Center. Visitor taxes and related fees will pay for it. There isn't even discussion of a tax increase.

By: NoodlesSarducci on 1/18/10 at 9:07

From WSMV (12/14): Nashville’s Priorities said it would get 25,000 signatures by Jan. 11. http://bit.ly/6SHqrt

Da Fatha

By: NoodlesSarducci on 1/18/10 at 9:08

Fox17’s Cindy Carter reports on Dec. 14, “Nashville’s Priorities hopes to have 25,000 voters’ signatures to present at the council’s public hearing on the convention center on January 11th." http://bit.ly/6cWQEX

Da Fatha

By: Kosh III on 1/19/10 at 8:50

It's a done deal and has been a done deal for a long time. The will of the people is far less important than the will of the Chamber of Commerce or the ConVis Bureau.
Downtown. It's all about downtown---the rest of the city can go frak itself.

By: idgaf on 1/19/10 at 9:48

The council would be wise to wait untill the Mass vote tonight to see the potential backlash they may be faced with

Barry and the dems (sounds like a singing group don't it?) have awoken the sleeping giant and he is paying attention to what these big speenders are doing.

By: producer2 on 1/19/10 at 10:40

The backlash will be for those vocal opponents who once again do not want Nashville to move forward. Check you history and tell me where Chris Ferrell is now. Also can you locate David Kleinfelter? He is gone also. Stewart Clifton, gone as well (although trying to make a comeback by supporting the MCC). All opponents to business getting done in the City and now all on the sidelines.....

By: Kosh III on 1/19/10 at 11:18

Producer2

Chris Ferrell is over the company that owns this paper plus others. Not too bad huh?

By: producer2 on 1/19/10 at 12:28

As a business person he is doing very well. As a politico, the Stadium opposition did him in...

By: idgaf on 1/19/10 at 3:02

Procurer how much do you stand to make on this deal?

By: producer2 on 1/19/10 at 3:43

nothing unless I convince one of the groups that will use the facility to use my company and it's services.

By: donnienubbins on 1/19/10 at 5:50

Too bad Davidson County is not 11,066 voters or less - that'd be Mr. Sharp and WSMV's 75%. As of 12/31/09 Davidson country is 303,736 ACTIVE registered voters and only 2.7% have signed that petition - probably not enough to get a public vote.