Dean makes Convention Center Authority appointments

Friday, September 4, 2009 at 11:31am

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.

7 Comments on this post:

By: WayneJ on 9/4/09 at 2:33

Is there anything out there to indicate the committee has anyone on it who knows how to say NO to the mayor regarding any components of this idea? I'm betting these are just nine yes-persons.

By: JohnR on 9/4/09 at 4:10

Leo Waters. He is just an old political hack. Everyone that knows him or that knows anything about him knows that he doesn't have enough intellegence to do anything on his own. I have never known him to have a job. His wife has the money. If it were not for Helen he'd most likey be homeless.

I would really like to know what the Mayor thinks Leo could bring to the table.

What a dissapointment!

By: political1iam on 9/5/09 at 12:32

He must have something going for him,he has a great lady for a wife of 25 years

By: idgaf on 9/5/09 at 6:20

It appears that most have something to gain with the CC.

By: govskeptic on 9/8/09 at 11:25

Looks like McNeely & Fox wrote the resumes for many of these members to stretch it out to appear they have competence in some area of importance. Steel workers rep, Ms. McDaniel, Marty Dickens-chamber mouthpiece,Leo Waters political & social gladfly-any mayor YES man,all sound like just the members we all expected to be announced. Along with the self-proclaimed mayors of Donelson & Religion the good Mr. Dean has his team.

By: Anna3 on 9/8/09 at 11:53

LEO WATERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sooooooooooo Much for Dean being the "Un" Clement....even Bob Clment would not have put LEO WATERS on ANY Committee! What a joke Dean has become outside of the Courthouse trough feeding bizpigs!

By: Time for Truth on 9/9/09 at 12:24

I have to admit even I was surprised to see old Leo on there. I guess Deano full of Beano just wanted one more yes man. The rest of these people look like they have something to gain for themselves or the people they represent if they build this turkey. Prod will call them 'informed experts' if/when he weighs in.

This project will prove to be the biggest blunder in Nashville's history, at least since the 'urban renewal' of the sixties. It borders on criminal that those who have the most to lose and the least to gain-Nashville's citizens- won't have a say in this.