Council approves Convention Center Authority

Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:21pm
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Despite the expected three dissidents, Metro Council on Friday afternoon officially approved the creation of a Convention Center Authority to oversee development of the proposed Music City Center and its attached hotel.

What Council actually did was vote 33-3 to uphold its decision from the Aug. 18 meeting to create the CCA. Opposition to the move came from the same vocal minority of Mike Jameson, Emily Evans and Eric Crafton, who have criticized Mayor Karl Dean’s administration for fast-tracking convention center-related legislation in an effort to quiet scrutiny.

The threesome also said Council should wait to put the Convention Center Authority in place until after Dean presents a financing plan.

“There seems to be very, very many open questions. They can’t seem to answer them,” Evans said. “They can’t give us a schedule. They’re making pledges about what they’re not going to do, but we need to see what they are going to do.

“This is a really big project and I think it’s being aired with the casualness of a sidewalk project.”

The administration has said since last year that the plan was to create a volunteer citizen board to oversee the proposed $635 million Music City Center and its attached public/private hotel. But when it was revealed that the Metro Development and Housing Agency, which had been overseeing the project, was overspending for public relations efforts, the mayor’s office moved up the timeline to create the authority.

Other Council members, including Vivian Wilhoite, said the Convention Center Authority is favorable because the board will make public its quarterly financial reports.

But Evans wondered why a new volunteer board would do a better job running a massive project worth $1 billion when the current MDHA board has more experience. MDHA has, among others, managed the development of like LP Field, the Sommet Center and the downtown public library.

“We have a volunteer board running MDHA, if they can’t do it, why would a volunteer board be any better,” Evans asked.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling maintained that the convention center project is on schedule and on budget, despite the revelation Metro had paid $458,000 to PR firm McNeely Pigott & Fox even though the original contract was for just $75,000.

“As I said, there was some lack in oversight that I take some responsibility for,” Riebeling said, cautioning against putting all the blame on MDHA for not managing the PR contract well. “It led to a lot of stories, a lot of articles, that are important because any time you spend public money it’s important.

“But the big picture is this project is on schedule and we’re not over budget.”

So far Metro has spent $16 million on predevelopment activities, including design, financial consulting and building management consulting. Those funds come from tourism-related taxes and fees approved by Council last year.

Dean will appoint members to the nine-person board and those appointees will have to be approved by a Council vote.

Council held Friday’s special meeting after Jameson used an obscure procedural rule to force the legislation to be reconsidered at its next meeting. Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, at the request of several Council members, called the special meeting for Friday instead of waiting until the next meeting on Sept. 2.

29 Comments on this post:

By: lisaleeds2008 on 8/21/09 at 5:39

This is aver dark day in Nashville when you know that you are going to get taken by your own city


By: govskeptic on 8/21/09 at 6:36

We'll have to pay the construction workers more now that the traffic and parking commission has just raised the meter parking by 50% to
$1.50 per hr. It seems their consultant checked with cities like Portland,
Or, Indianapolis, and Chicago to see what OUR rates should be. Every consultant contract that used stats from other cities should have to put the average and mediun wage for that city compared to our own when performing these functions. Of the 7 cities used in this only 1 was from the southeast. Remember folks, burecrats get paid 8 hrs per day to
study ways to make their jobs easier, prettier things to build and drive, any new service they can come up with to expand their staff and salaries. This all goes on paper provided to a consultant(out of towner
with briefcase) to present back to them for a fee. What a Country!

By: idgaf on 8/21/09 at 10:35

I would like to see dean indicted.

By: bfra on 8/22/09 at 4:40

Dean gets to "hand-pick" members of the CC Authority that is to oversee his braindead spending. The council has to approve (joke right?)! There aren't enough members with backbone to vote against the reigning Dean.

By: lewisdt2 on 8/22/09 at 8:30

The special meeting was called using section Sec. 3.04 of the Metro Charter. This section specifies that a special meeting must be requested by a majority (21) members of Metro Council. Only 14 council members called for this meeting (Steine, Craddock, .Gotto, Page, Burch, Baker, Toler, Forkum, Ryman, Tygard, Hunt, Harrison, Dominy, and Claiborne). The number rises to 15 if Neighbors is included (she is not on the request letter), but even that is far short of the 21 required. This meeting was called held in violation of the Metro Charter.

Also note Robert’s Rules of Order in the section on Special Meetings states, “The reason for a special meeting is to deal with important matters that may arise BETWEEN regular meetings AND that the URGENCY require action by the society before the next regular meeting” (page 89 emphasis added).

The topic of this meeting was not something that arose between regular meetings and it was not urgent. Dean has had the power to create a Convention Center Authority since June 23, 2009, when Bredesen signed the Convention Center Authority Authorization Act of 2009 into law. Yet Dean waited until after the PR "news" broke to file his legislation. This is a clear case of Nashville being railroaded into a project the public really doesn't want. The "public support" for this is all a PR blitz. The public will do nothing because they think this is a done deal. Please watch and share the video Convention Center Con

And Pass it along to everyone you know

By: idgaf on 8/23/09 at 11:28

Government at all levals have taken over. The tail now wags the dog.

By: producer2 on 8/24/09 at 6:13

"Dean has had the power to create a Convention Center Authority since June 23, 2009, when Bredesen signed the Convention Center Authority Authorization Act of 2009 into law."

And Council members could have asked questions beginning then. I think some of the protests on oversight were met with, is some oversight. IF you are going to kill the messenger than you should be prepared for his replacement. This is no different than Councilman Crafton finally realizing after months and months of discussion that NOW he thinks General Obligation bonds are they way to go. This is the same guy who asked that there be no property taxes used and wanted it in writing.
You want to blame Metro for accommodating one of the more vocal opponents with their request?

Your video tribute is full of misleading and incorrect information. It is so poorly done I am sure most people will se right through it. the drama is great though, the music is so perfectly over the top...

By: girliegirl on 8/24/09 at 7:15

Producer.... Don't forget (if you weren't already informed in the first place) that the stadium and other MASSIVE projects were paid for with Metro Water funds.... (in lieu of taxes)... The city was able to sneak this in because it had over charged us for YEARS for our water services. Other Council members have been quick to point this out in decades past, yet we still haven't resolved that, now have we~ Our mayors have discovered masterful/artful ways of bilking residents for pet projects since the beginning of time. ;-)

By: Kosh III on 8/24/09 at 7:40

One thing we know for sure, it is already running overbudget and will cost a heck of lot more than planned.
But why worry? After all, it will provide plenty of construction and service jobs for illegal aliens.

By: Time for Truth on 8/24/09 at 7:43

Thank you Jameson, Evans and (I thought I'd never say this) Crafton.

A Fox News online poll (yeah, I know, prod, it's 'fairly unbalanced Fox News- but one can hardly call your cheerleading impartial) asked the question 'Should Nashville build a new convention center?" The result: 15.78 percent YES, 84.21 percent NO. Let me repeat that number for prod, Deanie-Weenie and 33 members of Metro Council. 15.78 percent YES, 84.21 percent NO.

Obviously the mayor and most of Metro Council don't believe in representative government. Should we believe in them?

By: Time for Truth on 8/24/09 at 7:46

lewis, good catch on the illegal meeting.

Kosh III, the overruns that have happened already on this turkey seem to make Reibeling out to be a liar.

By: airvols on 8/24/09 at 8:26

Give me a break an unoffical news poll means nothing. It's time to move on with this discussion, the CC is going to be built and we will be glad we did this in five years. I am pleased we have forward thinking leaders who understand what the future of Nashville should be about. Build it and they will come!

By: on 8/24/09 at 8:59

If the city overcharged for water services, shouldn't the surplus monies be refunded to the taxpayers?

By: nvestnbna on 8/24/09 at 9:41

I am pleased we have forward thinking leaders who understand what the future of Nashville should be about. - - airvols

If you think the placement, the design, and the vision for downtown, as it relates to this project indicates we have forward thinkers in any way, you've been sniffing the same stuff Gail Kerr has. One needs only look at the current center and it's four dead corners and a stroll down 'no' Commerce Street to see what this can do for development downtown(yes, I'm sure the loading docks on Broadway were the catalyst for it's development, as well).

Lewis, enjoyed the youtube.

By: Time for Truth on 8/24/09 at 10:04

"forward thinking leaders" investing in an obsolete overbuilt industry while our schools are largely in the toilet. Good laugher, airvols.

The "forward thinking leaders" were the people who came up with "The Plan of Nashville", which this project largely destroys.

The only "forward thinking" Dean is doing is calculating his share of the goody bag.

By: MusicCity615 on 8/24/09 at 10:17

I am with airvols and producer2. Build the convention center.

By: airvols on 8/24/09 at 10:23

The plan of Nashville is a joke!!! Everyone that knows anything about planning saw that the day it was introduced. It's crazy to think you can reinvent the entire city, we have our own idenity and we need to build on that. The mayor is right about infill projects and new development. Time and Truth will tell, but for we are on the right track. Build it and they will come!

By: govskeptic on 8/24/09 at 10:30

So with have 3-4 consistent supporter that blog these stories. We don't know if it's(as claimed)civic support or support for financial gain. I'm here expecting financial pain.

By: nvestnbna on 8/24/09 at 12:27

I don't really remember some of these 'supporters', maybe MPF's final billable hour was spent encouraging folks to volunteer for what they were billing MDHA $285/hour for - blog and tweet.

Although I support a well executed project that doesn't waste our downtown, It would be interesting to see a real poll that counts - a referendum.

The Mayor's right about infill?

- this project wipes that off the list he's right about - unless you consider this impervious warehouse for traveling sales people to be infill, then you really are without a clue.

By: JeffF on 8/24/09 at 2:44

in fill incourages business. last i checked we were buying out businesses so we can tear them down, this is the opposite oh infill.

check out other cities. no one lives near convention centers. again just the opposite of in fill. why don't you go back to saying we "need" this. that is a lot funnier then claiming good urban planning.

By: airvols on 8/24/09 at 3:22

Give me a break, so what was there was better than this project, I hope your not within 100 miles of a planning design. It's the classic example of infill and redsign in the urban core. I know, you like the strip clubs and abandoned buildings that were standing there, sorry your going to have to drive a few more blocks.

By: nvestnbna on 8/24/09 at 3:45

It's the classic example of infill and redsign in the urban core.

As JeffF said, you probably need to go back to the "we need" argument. This one really comes across as ill informed on the subject. In the alternative, you might read the Civic Design Center's report on the different proposed sites.

By: dnewton on 8/24/09 at 3:57

It looks like the Advertisement/Promotion/Jedi Mind Tricks that were purchased to make this "investment" seem safe is having the desired effect on the majority. Even though I don't live in Nashville anymore, I feel sad for those who will be drafted into paying for his white elephant.

This is a lot of poison to digest compared to body mass. The only thing left now is to hope that Nashville will be the next good bad example of why Convention Centers are almost always a waste of tax money. But, it took a long time before people finally got the connection between poison ivy and particular plants that caused the affliction.

By: nvestnbna on 8/24/09 at 4:02

This out today is interesting as well. Will we be the last ones to make it on the gravy train? Ooops... what gravy train.

By: producer2 on 8/24/09 at 4:19

"The data on spending are from “Overview of the United States Meetings Market” in the feasibility study for the Omni Convention Center Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The city sold $506.3 million in revenue bonds this week to build a 1,016-room hotel adjoining its convention center."

Somebody must believe because they bought the bonds! The folks in Dallas don't seem so worried they voted FOR the facility. That's right folks a public vote FOR not against and apparently the city was able to sell quite a large number of bonds to do the building. Where is the outrage?????

Yet another article that can only use quotes from Heywood Sanders. Isn't there at least one other person who you could quote on this subject?

By: JeffF on 8/24/09 at 4:49

I have been waiting for you to make the mistake of claiming that the market is ecstatic about Dallas' bond issues:

City Lands Low Interest Yield On Convention Center Hotel Bonds, But CFO Reveals Trickery Used to Push Project Forward

"Most of the savings are a result of issuing the majority of the debt using Build America Bonds, a federal program that refunds 35 percent of the interest rate."

and from S&P:
"The primary credit factor, however, remains the city-council-adopted resolution, in which general fund appropriations will be considered to cover any deficiencies."

50.07% to 49.93% or 700 votes. Yeah that was a real overwhelming mandate.

By: nvestnbna on 8/24/09 at 5:18

Isn't there at least one other person who you could quote on this subject?-- p2

Attendance at Tradeshow Week’s top 200 shows was 4.56 million in 2008, the same as in 1998, said Michael Hughes, vice president of research and consulting.

How about Mr. Hughes from the same article? Your Heywood Sanders radar still seems to be working, though.

I thought the flat growth combined with the graphic(see the link) showing space built or coming on line was telling.

By: JeffF on 8/24/09 at 6:47

you can give stats with links all year and producer will deflect by accusing you of deflecting (very Nixon and Clinton). Projects like this are not based on fact or even logic, Once those are allowed to enter the conversation the debate is over.People who focus on CC's being needs or Nashville succeeding where everyone else fails because we are a "brand name" are too far from ever allowing the mud to settle out for critical review.

Please note that the talking points they are still using requires them to never answer any arguement calling for a public vote. Dean has acknowledged that a vote is to be avoided at ALL costs.

By: dnewton on 8/24/09 at 8:06

I think that people believe in or fail to believe in the government being in the convention business based on prewired beliefs about how the economy works. The concept of multiplied money or money turning over is very powerful. So is Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. The government even collects data, sells and publishes such multipliers for those in the business of estimating "impact." Multiplied money never seems to happen on a monopoly board or in game theory simulations on computers or classroom simulations at universities where ECON 101 is taught.

The fallacy of multiplied money is powerful only if you ignore the fact that money is also being subtracted at the same time. Multiplied money is like measuring the volume change in the pool as someone does a cannonball off of the diving board. If a dry person jumps in, the impact is different than if someone already in the water gets out and jumps in. It takes time for respending to happen and in each transaction, taxation degrades the impact. The idea that some city could alter the amount of money in circulation so that more people could get rich is why we have a federal reserve system. If such a phenomenon were possible, they would react immediately to put a stop to it.

This convention center fiasco is a lost opportunity to invest in other things and some of those other things might be worse or they might be better. The third alternative is not to "invest" at all and enjoy the impact that hundreds of thousands of people will develop by spending their own money. Not all of that spending will be optimum either but when a single person does something stupid with their money, the whole group is not always forced under color of law to suffer that stupid decision.