Petitions for fairgrounds referendum under legal review

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 6:12pm

Davidson County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche has told The City Paper his office has asked for a legal opinion on petitions that were submitted in an effort to hold a referendum to keep the status quo at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. 

Citing what he called “confusion” over whether the language in three different versions is identical, Tieche said the commission earlier this week asked the Metro Department of Law to provide his staff with legal guidance on the matter.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Tieche said of the validity of all three versions. “I am trying to find that answer.”

According to Tieche, petition signatures came to the commission last week in three different forms: postcards; traditional petition forms; and newspaper cutouts from The Tennessean. He said the majority of petitions are postcards.

“There is some confusion on the language,” Tieche said when asked if the language is identical in all three. “I really need to wait until I hear back from Metro Legal on this.”

Tieche declined to elaborate on what questions the commission had for the legal department, adding that information would be available at Thursday’s election commission meeting. 

Metro Department of Law Director Sue Cain did not respond to multiple messages left by The City Paper.

Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, who has taken the lead on the fairgrounds referendum effort, wouldn't address the validity of the petitions.

“That’s not in my purview,” Hollin said. “That’s up to the staff of the election commission. They make the determination. I can’t speculate on what’s going into their determination or not.”

Adding a possible new twist, Hollin referenced a 1983 Tennessee State Supreme Court case ruling in which the court held that amending the Metro Charter by petition doesn't require 10 percent of the previous statewide general election, which took place in November, but rather 10 percent of the most recent Metro general election. 

Thus, Hollin claims, only 6,742 signatures are required.

“The Tennessee State Supreme Court clearly states what election initiates [the referendum],” Hollin said. 

In past referendums, however, Metro has used figures from the most recent election. 

Last Monday, fairgrounds preservationists with the group Save My Fairgrounds turned in an undisclosed number of signatures that called for a referendum on the fairgrounds to be added to Metro’s Aug. 4 ballot. Most believe fairgrounds proponents need more than 15,700 signatures to make the referendum a reality.

“We have more than enough,” Save My Fairgrounds’ Neil Chaffin said at the time. “I can’t give you an exact account, but I think we have several thousand more than what we need.

Tieche has said it would take at least 10 days for the election commission to count and verify the petitions. On Tuesday, he declined to reveal how many have been counted. 

“I really don’t want to go into the speculation of the numbers, because I don’t want to start a countdown or a horse race,” Tieche said. “I think we’re going to have better information by the commission meeting on Thursday.” 

Last week, the organization Neighbors for Progress, which is made up of fairgrounds neighbors who support Mayor Karl Dean’s desire to redevelop the property, announced it had tapped veteran attorney George Barrett to ensure the validity of petitions. He didn't want to comment on the 1983 court ruling, but said he's looking forward to Thursday's election commission meeting for some clarity on the issue. 

 

14 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 5/26/11 at 6:23

So, the Establishment comes up with a huge hurdle in the number of
signatures required to get on the ballot, and if that is attained, then
comes up with legal questions to further attempt legal maneuvers to
reject the proposal? You can thank former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and
his party for the legislation that makes is virtually impossible to get
these type matters on the ballot!

By: las04 on 5/26/11 at 7:07

Not surprised at all....SNAP and Neighbors For Profit (not a typo) will go to any extreme to try and get their way. Don't forget they are the ones that sent Sandra Moore the threatening letter written in crayon. They will never admit it but, it appears they will stoop to the lowest level to get what they want. Grow up people, we are not only loosing valuable time we are also loosing respect from other cities. This should be settled by the people of Davidson County. It only makes since to put it on the ballot, especially if the mayor is speaking the truth about what the people really want. Looks like KD is getting caught in his own web of lies. It's only just begun.....

By: holleracha on 5/26/11 at 7:20

Its seems that the Council and the Mayor should have heard the voice of the people when record numbers showed up to support the fairgrounds but they didnt. They asked for a record number of petitions. They got them. They wanna fight that! I hope when election time comes around they find out what democracy really means!

By: lookfor125 on 5/26/11 at 8:42

What the anti-Fairgrounds crowd don't know,is what them the anti Fairgrounds crowd..How much more out of step,time and touch can these folks really be?.They're the gift that keeps on giving,when your opponent is hanging themselves,just sit back and allow themselves to!.."IT'S ALL DIS-CONNECTED"

By: lookfor125 on 5/26/11 at 8:43

is makes them*

By: 4gold on 5/26/11 at 9:09

The fairgrounds has been an embarrassment since the womens building burned down. All the architecturnal charm is gone and has been poorly run by the fair board for a long time. When you see other fairgrounds like Louiville and other fairs like Lebanon you can see how short Nashville comes. I dont have a good answer but I do know the car races need to move to ridgetop. Are they making good use of that new track out there. The noise needs to go somewhere else.

By: tenn.Big Dog on 5/26/11 at 9:17

NOW FOLKS LETS REMEMBER THAT KARL DEAN WAS DIRECTOR OF METRO LEGAL WHEN HE DECIDED TO RUN FOR MAYOR. THIS CARPET BAGGER WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET HIS WAY, JUST LOOK AT THIS CONVENTION CENTER DEAL.. SCREWED OVER EVERYONE TO GET HIS WAY... WHY IS IT THAT WE CAN'T ELECT A NASHVILLIAN TO RUN OUR CITY, AND HAVE TO BRING IN THESE OUTSIDERS? HE COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE REGULAR PERSON IN MIDDLE TN. .LOOK AT HIS BOARD SELECTIONS, THEY MOSTLY ARE FROM BELLE MEADE WEST END AREA.. WHAT ABOUT THE JOELTON, DONELSON, BELSHIRE,ANTIOCH RESIDENTS? WHO REPRESENTS ALL OF THESE FOLKS??? WHAT THE HELL ARE WE THINKING???

By: tenn.Big Dog on 5/26/11 at 9:29

TO ANSWER THE COMMENTS OF (4GOLD)--NO ONE ASKED YOU TO MOVE IN AROUND THE FAIRGROUNDS. THE RACE TRACK HAS BEEN THERE LONG BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN BORN. I AM 61 YRS. OLD, AND GREW UP IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. THE RACES WERE ALWAYS RUMBLING ON SATURDAY NIGHTS. IF YOU MOVE NEXT TO A TRASH DUMP, OR AROUND METRO WATER DEPT. AROUND 3RD. AVE NO., EXPECT STINCH SMELL.
THE RACE TRACK AND FAIRGROUNDS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE IN MY LIFETIME. IF THE FACILITY WERE FUNDED LIKE ALL THE OTHER PARKS AND GOLF COURSES OWNED BY THE METRO GOVT., THERE COULD VERY EASILY BE A NICE FACILITY TO BE PROUD OF.

BEING FROM NASHVILLE ALL MY LIFE, I REMEMBER WHEN THE DOWNTOWN AREA WAS BARE AND UGLY TO BEFORE RIVERFRONT, AND THE WILD HORSE, ETC...IF YOU LET YOUR HOME GO AND DON'T TAKE CARE OF IT LIKE METRO HAS THE FAIRGROUNDS, YOU WON'T BE VERY PROUD OF IT EITHER. SOOOO---LETS GET ONTO MR. DEAN, TO RESTORE OUR LAND MARK OWNED BY THE CITIZENS OF NASHVILLE...THE FAIRGROUNDS IS JUST AS IMPORTANT TO ME AS CHURCHILL DOWNS IS TO LOUISVILLE KY..

By: SouthNashvillian on 5/26/11 at 9:48

If you YELL AT US IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS I am likely to not even read your comment.

By: budlight on 5/26/11 at 10:13

SouthNashvillian on 5/26/11 at 9:48
If you YELL AT US IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS I am likely to not even read your comment.

Get over yourself southnasvillian. If you don't want to read the post, don't read it. BUT we don't need to know every detail of your life, so keep it to yo-sef!

By: PKVol on 5/26/11 at 10:58

SN - And if you get snippy with your comments, I won't like you. nah!

By: SouthNashvillian on 5/26/11 at 11:38

Dang, hit a nerve much? You all don't like me anyway, as evidenced by nasty assumptions about me and my friends. I could care less, you are all just pissed and in denial that the track is going down, whether you like it or not. It’s just a matter of time - it doesn’t make fiscal sense, or common sense for that matter. There is a council approved process in place to determine what the best use is for that property, and you just watch – when it all comes back your crappy track will be bulldozed to the ground.

Change is inevitable, resistance is optional.

By: budlight on 5/26/11 at 12:07

SouthNashvillian, what you you mean? We don't like you? As I said, "get over yourself". It's not about you. It's about keeping some of Nashville's history. If Dean could, he'd omit Country Music from Nashville. The track has been there and should stay there. It's part of the history.

And the fiscal sense part? You are wrong. It did make money.

By: pswindle on 5/26/11 at 12:35

I hope the fairgrounds can be saved and made better than ever. What do you expect when almost nothing has been spent to ungrade the fairgrounds because the mayor wants it gone. Let's hang together and save this important part of Nshville history. We have torn down too much of Nashville's history.