Mayor Karl Dean this morning announced his nine appointees for the new Convention Center Authority board, which will soon begin to oversee development of the proposed convention center project.
Dean’s appointees are Gray Line Nashville co-owner C. Mark Arnold, former AT&T president Marty Dickens, The Temple Church pastor Darrell Drumwright, Vector Management co-president Kevin Levitan, Union Steel Workers Local 1055 representative Vonda McDaniel, banking industry veteran Willie McDonald, financial advisor Luke Simons, freelance event coordinator Mona Lisa Warren and Music City Information Centers Inc. co-owner Leo Waters.
“These individuals represent a diverse cross-section of the Nashville community,” Dean said. “As a group, they have the knowledge and expertise needed to oversee and manage a project of this size. Once confirmed, they’ll have the next several months to establish their management structure to ensure that the project is completed on time and on budget.”
Dean’s appointees will be filed with the Metro Clerk’s office today. The appointees must be approved by a Metro Council vote and will be considered at the Sept. 15 meeting.
The Dean administration said late last year that it planned to create a Convention Center Authority to oversee the estimated $635 million project. Dean aides said they moved up the timeline for putting the Convention Center Authority in place after it was learned that the Metro Development and Housing Agency — which is currently overseeing development — had overspent on communications for the project.
MDHA paid public relations firm McNeely Pigott & Fox $458,000 for communications, even though the original contract was for just $75,000. The PR firm resigned from the contract, Dean called for an internal audit and sped up the appointment of the Convention Center Authority board.
The creation of the authority passed Council with a 33-3 vote, with dissenting members cautioning that it was premature to take the reins for the project away from MDHA, which has overseen every other major public development in Metro’s history.
“It’s all fine and good to do this but the real issue is how we’re going to finance a publicly owned hotel and a publicly owned convention center,” said District 23 Councilwoman Emily Evans, who voted against the creation of the Authority. “And this is just a distraction from the real work at hand.”
The board will be required to make quarterly financial reports to Metro Council. Dean also asked Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors to serve as an ex officio for the board, or to appoint a Council member to fill the role.