Michael Craddock supported the formation of the Convention Center Authority to oversee the proposed Music City Center project, but the outspoken District 4 Council member said Wednesday he doesn’t like the process Mayor Karl Dean’s administration is using to put the authority in place.
Dean’s administration filed a resolution last week to appoint nine members to the new board, which will oversee development and management of the proposed $635 million Music City Center.
Craddock believes each of the nine Dean appointees should be considered individually, and not as a group as the administration has proposed.
In response, Craddock and District 12 Councilman Jim Gotto have filed nine amendments to the resolution, which would allow each prospective appointee to be considered separately.
When the mayor makes an appointment to a Metro board or commission, Metro’s charter requires that the individual be vetted by the Council rules and confirmations committee and then voted on by the entire legislative body.
“I just don’t understand why, given the fact this is the most important project that the city has ever built in its history, we would deviate from the norm,” Craddock said, adding he expected to have as many as 15 co-sponsors for the amendments. “There seems to be widespread discontent among Council that these were filed all nine at the same time.”
Craddock said he lamented filing the amendments, given the fact he supported creating the Convention Center Authority. The new board will gradually take control of developing the convention center from the Metro Development and Housing Agency, which has handled the responsibilities to this point.
The Dean administration always planned to have the new board oversee the project, but decided to speed up the process after a media exposé revealed MDHA had spent more than $450,000 for communications work with public relations powerhouse McNeely, Pigott & Fox. The PR firm quit the project and Dean has ordered an independent audit of invoices turned in thus far.
Part of the process
Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said the administration anticipated Council members filing an amendment to consider an appointee separately if they had a problem with a particular individual.
“It’s his right to file the amendments if he wants to,” 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].”
Craddock would not specify which appointees he had an issue with, but said, “I don’t like the process and I don’t like the makeup of the board in general. We don’t have an architect, we don’t have an engineer and we don’t have a [certified public accountant].”
Craddock has had differences in the past with prospective Convention Center Authority member Leo Waters, a former Councilman and former member of the Nashville Electric Service board.
Prospective appointees to Metro boards and commissions must be asked three questions by Council — are you a resident of Davidson County, are you registered to vote in Davidson County and do you serve on any other boards or commissions? Council members may ask additional questions if they choose.
One Dean appointee — C. Mark Arnold — registered to vote with the Election Commission on Aug. 19. Arnold, who moved to Nashville in June after purchasing a controlling share of Gray Line bus tours, said Wednesday he registered to vote before he was ever contacted by the Dean administration about serving on the Convention Center Authority.
Another prospective appointee, Willie McDonald, already serves on the current Convention Center Commission. The administration said McDonald would likely resign from the current board should he be appointed to the new Convention Center Authority.