Bellevue council candidates spar over neighborhood cleanup event

Monday, June 20, 2011 at 2:10pm

The Bo Mitchell-Tonya Jones District 35 Metro Council race in Bellevue has turned heated, with opponents sparring over the appearance of city employees pictured at a neighborhood cleanup over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, Mitchell, the incumbent, took several photos of Jones and At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, seen together alongside Metro employees who were cutting grass at an event on Newsom Station Road. In an invitation, Jones had billed the event as a community cleanup.  

Mitchell, who says the cleanup had campaign elements, has alleged Jones and Tygard were unlawfully using Metro employees for political purposes.

“As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words,” Mitchell said. “I think the pictures demonstrate clearly what’s going on. Councilman Tygard and Tonya Jones were violating the law using government resources for a campaign event.

“Tonya Jones sent out a flyer to all the homes in the three neighborhoods on Newsom Station saying she was going to do a community cleanup with enthusiastic volunteers on Saturday,” Mitchell said. “Her enthusiastic volunteers unfortunately turned out to be people who didn’t have a choice in the matter.”

Jones, a former Metro Planning Commission member, said the employees at the event were from the Davidson County Drug Court, which she said is funded through grants and donations.

“After we delivered flyers to the neighborhood, he [Mitchell] knew we were coming,” Jones said. “He came down there, jumped out of his car with cameras blazing and yelled at everybody that we were breaking campaign laws.

“We were just trying to help with a community cleanup thing,” Jones said. “Certainly, I was taking advantage of the visibility. I think I would have been breaking the law had I been having a fundraiser using Metro employees. I think that’s breaking the law.”

Tygard, who supports Jones’ candidacy, said he arranged the attendance of the drug court workers and claims Jones had nothing to do with it. He said the cleanup was not a political event. 

“All I know is, I saw a road that looked in horrible condition –– the sidewalk, the grass, the edging,” Tygard said. “I have been involved in dozens of community cleanup events, and I have used sheriff community service groups or, in the case of Saturday, the Davidson County Drug Court community service group.

“I offered Bo Mitchell the opportunity to participate with us,” Tygard added. “It was something that I organized of my own doing. I told Tonya that if she wanted to advertise it and set up her tent, she was welcome to do so.” 

7 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 6/21/11 at 7:17

Ever event and "word" is a campaign event for Mr. Tygard !

By: EasyWriter on 6/21/11 at 8:50

I was neutral on this until I saw the photos. Sure looks like a campaign event to me.

By: girliegirl on 6/21/11 at 9:38

Easy, I saw the area....it was nothing short of "nasty" and spooky, to be honest....and should've been cleaned up long ago. Be glad SOMEONE actually did it. LOL

By: SirKnight on 6/21/11 at 10:07

Good grief! As a sometime volunteer in these Bellevue Clean-Up Days over the last several years myself, I've worked with Council candidate Sheri Weiner, Councilman Charlie Tygard (as the 35th District Councilman now held by Mitchell) and 22nd District Councilman Eric Crafton have also volunteered to work. Each 'enthusiastic volunteer' takes a team of four to ten people and instructs and supervises the work being done. We might work a traffic intersection, a side road or an I-40 overpass and cut weeds and pick up trash. However, these events typically are worked by fellow Nashville citizens working their court-ordered community service hours. It's not fun. It's actually hard work!

I'm not sure why Metro drug court employees were used this time, but I think it's great that they chose to do this when they could have volunteered somewhere else! And since Ms. Jones (whom I've never met) is helping this time around, I'm grateful for her willingness to do it.

Funny. I've never noticed Bo Mitchell helping in this semi-annual event.

By: gruntz on 6/21/11 at 10:25

Bo does not know. Jumping to conclusions as usual.

By: Mama Butterfly on 6/21/11 at 1:23

A direct quote from the Drug Court web page: "The Davidson County Drug Court is funded by local, state and federal contributions. Additionally, all residents pay fees for the services provided at drug court." (http://drugcourt.nashville.gov/portal/page/portal/drugCourt/funding/) Not sure if you all realize this, but local, state, and federal entities receive their money from TAXPAYER DOLLARS! Therefore, the vehicles, gas, equipment, supervision, etc. that were provided by Metro were paid for with taxpayer money! Use of taxpayer money for cleaning up our area would not have been a big problem if 1) it had not been used to benefit a candidate at a campaign event, and/or 2) the letter from Jones had not touted the use of limited or no taxpayer dollars and "volunteers". Based on the contents of the letter and the campaign tent, signs, etc. at the event, I believe it is absolutely naive to claim that this was not a campaign event--and use of taxpayer funded services to benefit a candidate at a campaign event is highly unethical, especially when said candidate is touting her fiscal responsibility.

SirKnight--This was not a Bellevue Clean-Up day--this was a campaign event that was not announced until the day before the event. I know for a fact that Mr Mitchell has participated in and organized many community clean up events. Do you need examples? I will be pleased to provide them for you. I can also provide you a list of things that he has done to improve the Newsom Station neighborhoods (e.g., repairs and new pavement on Newsom Station, new guardrails to protect drivers from going into the river, connecting road from Newsom Station to Avondale, brush/tree trimming, etc.) I could go on if you would like...

Girliegirl--If you think our area is "nasty" and "spooky" then stay out of it! How insulting that you would come in and say such things. Stay in your own neighborhood and let us take care of our business. If the people in the Newsom Station subdivisions have such a problem with the work Bo has done, do you think our neighborhoods would be plastered with Bo Mitchell signs? Heck No! And what was done during that "clean up" on Saturday? Seriously? I wish someone would tell me. I saw one measly strip of grass mowed out of a small plot of grass adjacent to a sidewalk. That's all? Oh, maybe there was little to do because sheriff inmates--at Bo's request-- had been out the day before picking up trash. But guess what? Bo wasn't out there on Friday with his campaign tent, signs, and fliers waving at cars and directing the inmates like Jones was.

Oh, and by the way, if Tygard was so concerned about cleaning the Newsom Station area, why did he try to have a landfill put in a quarry with hydrological connections to the Harpeth River? A landfill that would have sat less than 500 ft. from the Harpeth River and less than a half-mile from many homes in our neighborhoods! Tygard will never be able to erase his role in that fiasco and there are many in these neighborhoods that will never forget. And his recent stunt to "clean" our area only gives us more resolve to dredge up archived emails--emails full of contradictions, lies, and disrespectful comments--and post them all over the internet. Have a fun (re-re) re-election campaign Charlie!

By: libertygirl on 6/21/11 at 11:13

So much over so little. Yes, Bo has lots of signs up in his neighborhood. He sent out an unsolicited email recently asking residents in the Newsom Station area to call him and he would deliver his signs to them. Did Tonya have the same benefit? Probably not, since she didn't have this list available to her. I am personally offended when I also receive his unsolicited phone calls. I don't want any advice or information from him. You see, I do live in his neighborhood so I can't attend a homeowners meeting without listening to him with his opinions. Now I have to see all his campaign signs. And, I support everyone's right to support and vote for whomever they want but for goodness sake leave Tonya alone! If you looked a little closer you might find out that she is the better candidate!