Convention Center Authority appointees' confirmation in danger

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 2:56am

The Mayor Karl Dean administration’s all-at-once approach to the new Convention Center Authority has left the resolution to install the nine first-time board members in serious jeopardy.

The resolution is on the agenda for the Sept. 15 Council meeting. In advance of Tuesday’s meeting, an effort is underway to vote down the resolution, which would place nine volunteers on a board to oversee development of the proposed new convention center and its attached headquarters hotel.

Council members are taking issue with the administration’s decision to have all nine members appointed at the same time instead of nine separate resolutions.

Leading the opposition effort is outspoken District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock, who, ironically, pushed for the creation of the new authority because he favored more Council oversight of the estimated $1 billion project. Craddock takes issue with the process for putting the new authority in place.

Also at the center of the issue is Convention Center Authority appointee Leo Waters, whose deep political roots have left him with detractors, who are trying to block his placement on the new board. Waters, who previously served as both an at-large Councilman and as a member of the Nashville Electric Services board, said on Wednesday he has no intention of stepping aside.

As of late Thursday, Council was nearly evenly divided on whether or not to pass the resolution to install the new members. Council has already approved creating the Convention Center Authority.

Council ‘disrespected’

Craddock and District 12 Councilman Jim Gotto initially prepared nine amendments to allow Council to consider each appointee separately, but were advised by Metro’s legal department that their amendments would take the appointee out of the resolution.

The agenda analysis prepared by the Council office says that, “Although all nine appointees are included in one resolution, the resolution could be amended to allow individual votes on whether to remove appointees from the resolution.”

“I do not want the Council to be disrespected,” Craddock said. “From my perspective they are disrespecting the Council by bringing these in all one resolution. Every person deserves an up or down vote.”

The administration said early last week that it was Craddock’s right to file his amendments and an expected part of the process.

“It’s his right to file the amendments if he wants to,” Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said. “It’s his right and a part of the process. I’ve always assumed that if someone had a major problem with one of the members they could always amend them out [to be considered separately].”

Appointees in question

Besides Waters, two of Dean’s other appointees are in question for another reason. Luke Simons and Ken Levitan cannot make Tuesday’s Council meeting, so the two answered questionnaires concerning their appointments instead.

The answered questionnaires were not forwarded to Council until Friday. Council rules require the questionnaires to be forwarded five days before the meeting, which means a suspension of the rules must be called, or a separate amendment must be filed.

Several Council members also had questions about appointee C. Mark Arnold, who only moved to Nashville from Atlanta in June.

PR snafu sped up the process

The Convention Center Authority will gradually take control of developing the proposed Music City Center away from the Metro Development and Housing Agency.

MDHA found itself in the headlines in August when an expose revealed it had spent $458,000 on communications for the project. The contract with powerful public relations firm McNeely, Pigott & Fox had originally been capped at $75,000. The firm has since resigned, and Dean has called for an independent audit.

The mayor also sped up creating the new Convention Center Authority which would be required to make quarterly updates to Council.

Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors will appoint herself or another Council member to serve as ex officio to the new board. Several Council members have expressed interest in the new role.

7 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 9/14/09 at 2:49

We need a vote on whether this folly should even be built and financing restrictions.

Dean and others are acting like this is a done deal and it is not.

When we are talking about money spent already lets not forget th bribe that was paid to Gaylord not to opose this, (as they should have)

By: govskeptic on 9/14/09 at 5:04

Why does this city bow down to Gaylord, it's through bowing to them
that the current center was not built bigger originally. I can also
see why a majority of the councilperson's should be opposed to the
Mayor of Germantown(self appointed) Leo Waters.

By: sidneyames on 9/14/09 at 7:00

idgaff, you said "We need a vote on whether this folly should even be built and financing restrictions.

Dean and others are acting like this is a done deal and it is not"

In Dean and other's minds,it is a done deal. It's not a done deal in the mind of sane and logical people, though.

By: WayneJ on 9/14/09 at 7:48

The best way to put an end to this money-grabbing pink elephant is to recall Dean, assuming the Metro charter contains such a provision. All any potential successor(s) has to do is promise to kill the center and fire Serpas and he-she will have my vote.

By: Floyd2 on 9/14/09 at 8:10

All of the candidates in the last mayoral election supported this project publicly. That's a clear indication that it has broad public support.

By: nvestnbna on 9/14/09 at 9:09

Floyd2 on 9/14/09 at 9:10
All of the candidates in the last mayoral election supported this project publicly. That's a clear indication that it has broad public support.

Or more likely, those candidate's interests in getting the business community behind them.

Although I support a new convention center, this project has a lot of problems, some of which have been highlighted in recent press. The problem from my perspective is the poor vision and planning behind it from the beginning. It is a horrible use of our urban opportunities. Lately, however, it seems to be one ill-conceived / thought out reaction after another - the CCA being the latest and best example.

By: Time for Truth on 9/14/09 at 9:43

Everyone knows my opinion on this entire project already if you are a regular here.

The mayoral candidates all supported the MCC in varying degrees, with Gentry and Briley perhaps being the least enthusiastic. Remember though that Dean was the guy with all the entrenched and influental downtown money behind him. I can only guess that a large part of his marching orders were to ram this thing down our throats. As nvestnbna says, this doesn't indicate broad support. All polls taken to date suggest otherwise. It would be good to see more of such polls, especially the one called a referendum.

Critics on Council have hardly thrown themselves in front of Deano's bulldozer. I think the only reasons we are hearing from Craddock now are A) His constituents ripped him a new one when he voted for the Authority or B) He doesn't like Leo Waters or C) Both of the above.

I'm sure there is plenty of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting going on now. And I'll bet money MS Neighbors will surprise no one by nominating herself or a bozo like Rip Ryman as the ex-oficio Authority member.