PR pro works to defeat mayor's fairgrounds plan

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:00pm

Loud voices from auto racing enthusiasts, expo center vendors and others has proved a powerful force as Mayor Karl Dean pushes forward his plan to redevelop the 117-acre fairgrounds off Nolensville Pike.

For the last month, there’s also been a bit of public relations professionalism working behind the scenes.

In October, fairgrounds preservationists hired Nashville-based The Calvert Street Group, a public relations/lobbying company headed by consultant Darden Copeland. The organization’s work –– channeled into an effort called Save My Fairgrounds LLC –– continues as Dean’s fairgrounds plans reaches a pivotal stage, with the Metro Council next week set to weigh in on the second of three votes a bill that would turn Antioch’s Hickory Hollow Mall into the new home of the city’s expo center.

In an interview with The City Paper, Copeland said his group’s fairgrounds work is funded from a combination of financial contributors whose interests are auto racing, the fairgrounds’ expo center or the Tennessee State Fair. He declined to reveal specific donors.

“They’ve got a powerful constituency behind them, and I think they wanted a little bit of help getting them focused and organized, and making their voice heard,” Copeland said of his hire. “That’s what we do.

“You could call it grassroots lobbying,” Copeland added. “This is a political campaign in a sense. The Calvert Street Group has a background in running political campaigns and organizing citizens around an issue. That’s kind of what this is. It’s a land-use issue. It’s a public policy issue. But at its core, it’s a local political issue.”

Copeland, a former Democratic Party operative, has a history of engaging in contentious land-use issues in Nashville. Before founding The Calvert Street Group, Copeland worked for Saint Consulting Group, a company that “specializes in winning zoning and land-use battles,” according to the company’s website. In 2009, Saint Consulting worked on behalf of the developers of the controversial May Town Center, a mixed-use development proposed for the rural Bells Bend community that drew the ire of neighbors before the Metro Planning Commission defeated it.

Though observers have speculated on Copeland’s May Town involvement, he declined to confirm or deny his role to The City Paper.

Some proponents of Dean’s fairgrounds plans — though not denying resistance to the mayor’s plans started long before Copeland’s arrival — have suggested his organization is functioning as an “Astroturf group.” The term is generally used negatively to describe a lobbying group that creates artificial grassroots support for a particular initiative.    

“His [Copeland’s] involvement is indicative of a group that is not the sort of grassroots initiative that they would like to say that they are,” said Colby Sledge, who co-chairs the neighborhood organization South Nashville Action People and supports Dean’s plans.

“The truth is, there’s significant financial support that they have from outside the county, and then there’s this sort of political operative who’s working with them who’s ginning up the support,” Sledge said. “I think it’s created a bigger support base than actually exists, at least within Davidson County.” 

But Copeland describes a group that’s providing an organizational structure to funnel sentiments that already exist. “We’re just making sure that citizens who have a voice and want to be heard know where to direct that,” he said.

For example, Copeland said some fairgrounds supporters didn’t realize there was a way to simultaneously e-mail all 40 council members. He showed them how. They’ve also carried out simple tasks such as launching the “Save My Fairgrounds” website, he said, while helping build upon District Councilman Duane Dominy’s petition to save the fairgrounds, which he said currently stands at nearly 45,000 signatures.

“There’s nothing ‘Astroturf’ about 45,000 signatures,” Copeland said, while acknowledging not all signatures are those of Davidson County residents.  

Using an approach often used in political campaigns, Copeland said his group has a data-entry team that is recording where Davidson County voters stand on the fairgrounds in their electronic voting file. The idea is to document the “voting block” of fairgrounds supporters inside each council district and later engage to help defeat council members who support Dean’s plan during their re-election bids in August 2011.

“If you don’t hear them now, you’re going to hear them at the ballot box,” Copeland said.   

37 Comments on this post:

By: wwrcd on 11/30/10 at 8:17

Let’s see so this has been going on for 4 years and within the last month we have seen a dramatic leap of opposition to the Mayor’s plan, I guess it is just a coincidence that Darden Copeland has been hired within the last month. I wonder what good ole DW and Sterling are paying him. Bells Bend residents you may now know why the May Town Center has become somewhat relevant again due to Mr. Darden Copeland previously working with Jack May to help him destroy the Bells Bend area of Nashville. Is it possible that Mr. Darden Copeland is working for Jack May on the May Town Center again? This story makes me want to vomit!

By: shinestx on 11/30/10 at 8:59

Good questions... and any journo worth his/her paycheck would investigate. However, I find it baffling why anyone would oppose redevelopment of any blighted area (and yes, the fairgrounds site is blighted). Having said that, I still wonder why the mayor and his cronies want to build a suburban office park in a spot where high density (proper land use management) should be implemented. Also, there should be nothing builit there as long as Wedgewood Ave. is not extended all the way to I-24. In other words (Nashville leaders, this may be news to you!), do not build anything without expanding the infrastructure.

By: racer84 on 11/30/10 at 9:00

Actually, I'm one of those that's paying and helping to fight this. I havent seen DW nor his money at any meetings. I earn less than 40k per year. I used to derive an additional 30k per year in sponsorship and winnings at the fairgrounds, so yes this affects my income as well. I saw only local small business people at the meeting with Darden. There wasn't a millionaire in the room. I was there, you were not.

If you really want to vomit maybe the City Paper can clue you in on who has been promised what by dean as payback for convention center votes and votes for this plan. Come take a look at James Weaver and richie riebeling furiously working their fingers off at the next council meeting with threats and promises to the metro council. I saw it with my own eyes !
You're so out of touch you can't see who's screwing who here.

Or better yet, You're so worried about people from out of county contributing to this, Why are you not so concerned what people from out of county and out of STATE are throwing thousands of dollars to dean a year and a half before the next mayors race.
And be sure and look who they are employed by. Deans Campaign contributers can bbe found at the link below.

http://www.mikepeden.com/assets/applets/Dean_6_10.pdf

Wake up for goodness sakes, The man's campaign slogan was ITS ALL CONNECTED !

Look at who is connected to dean and this plan and you'll see the light.
But then again, anyone with the stance you've taken on this has already seen the light from your boss dean. I've noticed the only ones to side with dean and metro are "connected" to him.

Ironic you posted this.
Thanks for the confirmation.

By: wwrcd on 11/30/10 at 9:10

racer84 you have been involved in this for 4 years now. You know you did not have the support before the PR guy got involved so why should anyone believe you have it now? Most of the people who oppose the Mayor do not live in Davidson County. Have a good day.

By: jasonweaver on 11/30/10 at 9:13

Dean made May Town relevant again because he mentioned it. Craddock mentioned May Town as part of the fairgrounds debate. Also dean endorsed that proposed development out by the airport. The mayor has decided that a site for a corporate campus is warranted. But as shinestx pointed out, no good infrastructure for that use. At best it's industrial and it's doubtful the neighbors will like that.

By: girliegirl on 11/30/10 at 9:13

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Like Idia said, nuke it. :-)

By: girliegirl on 11/30/10 at 9:14

@Jason....Notice how many of the speakers at the Public Hearing were not residents of Davidson County?

By: girliegirl on 11/30/10 at 9:15

....or...better yet, SELL that dive to them....for maximum "obtainable" value. :-)

By: wwrcd on 11/30/10 at 9:23

Racer84 who do think is paying Darden more money your Group or the May Town Center Group. I'm sure Mr. May knows if the fairgrounds is developed he will have no chance at getting the May Town Center off the ground.

Race84 if you have so much support why do you have to say this on facebook over the weekend?

It was mentioned today, "Where are all the drivers " ?
All of us on FB are friends with many of the drivers and crew members, and many fans as well. Take a look around at your friends, you'll recognize many who are inside the racetrack everytime there is a race but have been silent and absent during this fight. For thos...e of you who threw in the towel, see Tony Formosa. He picked it up cause it aint over !
Wake up, and get involved !
See More
Saturday at 3:13pm

By: Jagman on 11/30/10 at 9:39

More people enjoy the fairgrounds than the golf courses of the city. Some of these golf courses would make great development sites. Everything should be on the table; not just something the non-rich enjoy.

By: ButchKerns on 11/30/10 at 9:47

I keep hearing a rumor that the mayor's brother is associated with a group that wants to purchase and develop the fairgrounds. I have no way to verify this rumor, but I'm sure some news investigator does.

By: Community-carl-... on 11/30/10 at 9:50

The overwhelming majority of my friends and acquaintances (at least 90%) want Dean and his administration to leave the Fairgrounds and its activities alone, except for restoration and refurbishment that could be accomplished for far less cost than the annual 1.8 million dollar lease for space at Hickory Hollow Mall. It is improper use of taxpayers' money to support a privately owned entity rather than using taxpayers' money to update/refurbish a publicly owned venue.

Dean and his cronies are absolutely wrong when they erroneously label the majority of citizens as an "Astroturf Group," or vocal minority, when in fact, the citizens against Dean's plans are the overwhelming majority.

Dean's and his cronies' plans for the Fairground and HH Mall reek of under-the-table deals, self-serving agendas, and special interests that have nothing to do with what the majority of area citizens want.

Dean is a carpet bagger who is in the process of plundering Nashville/Davidson County, and will leave behind a huge mess for us to clean up when he finally leaves.

For once, I wish the Metro Council persons would listen to their constituients and stop supporting Dean's ill-advised projects.

By: pswindle on 11/30/10 at 10:03

The Fairgrounds should stay. We need to know what is in it for Dean and family, etc. before anything goes forward. We must have the truth and why Dean has gone after this landmark. The fruth will set us free.

By: racer84 on 11/30/10 at 10:04

wwrcd - Thanks for checking out my FB page.

How many millions did metro pay to it's PR Firms (with metro tax dollars) to ram the convention center down the council's throat, may town, and now this.

So a million plus in taxdollars is ok to spend to fight AGAINST the taxpayers to get something approved that the taxpayers don't want on a public project, but it's not ok for taxpaying citizens of davidson county to hire a guy with experience to fight back ?

Your stance makes it obvious you're in someones pocket, or have been promised something that the taxpayers don't want but dean and reibeling do.

You do realize if you're a taxpayer that reibeling has personally cost our city well over a $$$$$$$$$100 million dollars $$$$$$$ with this hatchet job that's been going on for over 10 years don't you.

If you don't know this, prove me wrong. I can prove it to be true, with documents from metro !
Some things were obtained before hard drives were deleted, Not all metro employees are in agreement, or on the take !

Funny how you choose to stay annonymous, while those of us opposed to the plan are an open book.

Since you know who I am, and where I work how about disclosing the same and how this decision affects YOU personally.

If you and the mayor and metro have nothing to hide, why hide behind a name here, why all the deletion of hard drives in the mayor and metro finance offices ?

One word - Corruption.

By: JenT on 11/30/10 at 10:16

This rumor of an industrial corporate campus, HCA, etc is nothing but an attempt at fear mongering from fairgrounds enthusiasts towards neighbors of the fairgrounds. In other words, I've been told several times, "Be careful what you wish for...", half expecting a cackling witches laugh to follow the statement.

The truth is that the fairgrounds property is large enough to hold the Green Hills Mall including all parking lots, movie theater and outdoor malls, Hill Center in Green Hills including whole foods all parking lots and shopping mall, 100 Oaks Mall all parking lots and movie theater, Car Max at 100 Oaks, Home Depot at 100 Oaks and the Green Hills YMCA. It could theoretically house all of these things COMBINED (I'm including flood plain for arguments sake).

So even if there were some corporate entity involved, there is still plenty of room for all sorts of things. If having some corporation move in means that I can have green space to walk my dogs, that I can have a convenient grocery store or restaurants, then I would welcome that business with open arms.

Also, when people try to scare me with "Be careful what you wish for", I tell them to remember how proudly the Mayor's office touted the study by the Urban Land Institute earlier this year. http://www.uli.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/~/media/CommunityBuilding/AdvisoryServices/TN%20Nashville2010.ashx

Really, read the study. The Mayor is just following through with their recommendations. You can stop with the conspiracy theories. Tell your PR person they aren't working.

By: patricio on 11/30/10 at 10:27

There has got to be something were NOT SEEING here. The powers that be want that property for some $$$ reasons. you can bet on that. LONG AFTER DEAN IS GONE. we ( The people ) will have to live with this HORRIBLE decision. MAY TOWN really has NOTHING to do with this mess. As the future unwinds racing will change too. as we move into Electric vehicles there will not be a place to test out these advanced vehicles and there upgrades. the fact is that Dean should pursue other problems we have in Nashville, such as public transportation, ( which is appalling ) Downtown parking, which is( NON EXISTING ). This mayor, whom I personal like, Is in my opinion, overstepping his authority, I'm sure some one could project numbers showing that over the next ten years the fairgrounds and race track could triple the tax base revenue. lets face facts, the world in in a depression, our economy will eventually improve.,
Instead of tearing down, we need to sit back and watch and wait and see.

By: JeffF on 11/30/10 at 10:54

I find it amusing that the mayors office hired a PR firm to fight off overwhelming opposition to their convention center plans, but will call the hiring of another PR firm by the opposition to another of their schemes "astroturfing".

The mayor is winning a lot of battles now due to the MP&F. This single PR firm has amassed a large number of former local news writers, reporters, and producers who have kept them connected to all the local news outlets. Gail Kerr has been the presenter at their annual awards soiree people! They count Dean's inauguration as one of their huge successes on their web site! They have large contracts with every major Metro off-budget enterprise. Their contract award for the airport authority alone should have merited a federal investigation along with the convention center contract. They worked the antiEnglish campaign for free at the behest of the mayor!

Someone please explain why this news outlet gives the mayor's office and supporters this free space to gripe about PR opposition without investigating his own PR dance moves? MP&F is ranking in millions with Metro contracts while this one firm is hung up for collecting some money from private individuals. Joey, which one of your "friends" at MP&F gave you the inside word for this article?

By: Community-carl-... on 11/30/10 at 10:58

racer84 - As a retired Metro employee (not by choice) , I think you are right on target with your comments.

My final two years as a Metro employee working with MNPS were a nightmare because of ongoing retribution for attempting to tell the truth about educational and financial/management issues. My 6 colleagues in my former department have been subjected to the same treatment, and have recieved layoff notices effective Dec. 10, effectively closing our department for the next 6 1/2 months, if not permanently. This reflects an undercurrent of fear of reprisals prevalent throughout Metro Government (and MNPS) should a person either inadvertantly, or purposely, question or challenge anything pertaining to Dean and his administration's policies, procedures, or goals.

Why do do many of the Metro Council persons fall into lockstep with Dean? Please re-read the paragraph above........... I can think of a new police precinct that would't be happening if the Council person for that area had opposed Dean.........and so on.

Regarding Dean's plans for the Fairgrounds and Hickory Hollow, his goals are not consistent with the will of the majoriity of area citizens.........but if you are part of his administration and publicly oppose him, you had better watch your back.

By: vendor78 on 11/30/10 at 11:40

I've been a vendor out here for over 5 years, doing roughly 6-7 shows a year. I took the survey this weekend at the Flea Market, but have more to say given these stupid comments.

While some say this has been going on for 4 years, the debate has only recently changed – the economy tanks; Dean pledges $1 billion in taxpayer dollars for convention center most don’t want or care about; Mayor now says May Town is right premise, yet still won’t take position; Mayor wishes to give corporate bailout to campaign contributor CBL/Hickory Hollow Mall; Fair Board conflicts abound; and the Dominy bill gets introduced. No wonder Janel Lacy and the Mayors office don't want a public hearing on it.

Some say this is a group is AGAINST the Mayor. Against what? What has the Mayor promised us? A park. Of course JenT is for this, it’s going to be a park and a replica of Green Hills and 100 Oaks with unicorns and rainbows. The Fairgrounds group is FOR saving the Fairgrounds, which includes the State Fair, the Expo events, and racing. We are FOR putting money into the place to make it something residents can be proud of. We are FOR better oversight of the finance department and a conflicted Fair Board. We aren't against the Mayor's plan because he has none.

As for May Town, the Mayor opened that Pandora’s Box, probably as a way to generate some fear himself – “look gang, if you don’t approve my plan, May Town is coming back, boooaaahhhhaaa”. To add to it, he said if we don’t approve the HH leases, he will raise property taxes. Seriously? Metro finances must be in wicked bad shape. Seems like Dean played the nuclear option a little too soon.

What about the economic impact of the Fairgrounds? A blank slate will generate 6500 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic impact? Those are numbers that didn’t even make it from thin air to the back of an envelope. What is the MCC generating? The site is not really THAT great for corporate relocations, let’s be honest.

Someone mentioned Gail Kerr – this usually reliable extension of the Mayor’s PR office can’t even support Dean on this one.

By: jackwagon5164 on 11/30/10 at 11:53

Hey, racer84 - got some news for you. Weaver is the one that hired this Copeland guy to work against the convention center. These guys are screwing everyone they are involved with.

Would like to see those 45,000 petition signatures. What a joke.

By: CitizenA on 11/30/10 at 12:02

This is astro-turf, ironically, by the SNAP group that is for paving over the Fairgrounds:

http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2007/11/28/fair-enough

What do we know about the SNAP group? Where do they get their funding? Are they affiliated with any developer? Keith Moorman says he is not, but perhaps we should look into it. What about his wife that is a lawyer who was setting up a non-profit? I do know this, Janel Lacy was outside the Council Chambers 2 weeks ago coaching Keith on what to say to the media after the surprise public hearing. (Hey Janel, the public hearing was a surprise to all of us, not just your side). Maybe the SNAP folks have hired lobbyists and are just doing a better job than Copeland of staying out of the media?

By: racer84 on 11/30/10 at 12:18

Jackwagon - the stack of signatures was, and will be again in the metro council chambers at the next meeting. Grow some in the meantime and meet me there and I'll hold your hand while we walk over and I can place the foot tall stack in your hand. You can read each page and count the number of DAVIDSON COUNTY RESIDENTS that took the time to sign.

Now what's the joke ?

Don't say what you can't back up if you want to be taken seriously.

By: jackwagon5164 on 11/30/10 at 12:30

Racer84- you're on. I've worked on campaigns before and I know how hard it is to get signatures on petitions - especially from people who live in the area, sign their real names, etc. I'll still stand by my comment that these are a load. If you're putting your trust in this guy, I'll sell you lakefront land in Arizona. But I'm not pissed at you - you're just trying to save something that means a lot to you and you've put your faith in a guy who turns to crap everything he touches.

By: racer84 on 11/30/10 at 12:39

Ok, We'll see you there. Ask anyone in Red who I am and they will point me out.

You're right, I and many others are fighting for what is important to us....

I don't know what other people live for, But I can say with all honesty that piece of property and what's is given me and my family is what I live for. There are thousands of others like me in that way, they just don't read the papers and comment to the extent I do. Passion is a good thing.

In the meantime as we've found out how shady this whole deal has been we're now fighting for some truth and honesty by those elected to represent us. If I had uncovered enough truth to why this is a good idea I wouldn't fight this hard.

How that can be looked at as a bad thing is beyond me.

By: bfra on 11/30/10 at 12:40

jackwagon - How much do you want for that "lake"front land in Arizona? Arizona has some beautiful lakes, with great bass fishing.

By: govskeptic on 11/30/10 at 12:43

Why ridecule the opponents hiring a single PR firm. Hell, the Mayor has
the Chamber, their own PR firm and many-many others helping push
his agenda on this project? That doesn't even include all the Hickory
Hollow interest that are now involved in making sure they get
their piece of the pie. This entire proposal now has so many snakes
in the pit that I personally don't believe one word of total truth is coming
from any direction!

By: Inglewoodlife on 11/30/10 at 2:16

The latest I hear is that they are going to build a Mosque on the property.
Sound to far fetch?
The day Mr.Dean said drive out to the fairgrounds that there was not any thing going on well there was...... A Muslim group meeting.

By: CitizensWin on 11/30/10 at 2:33

Put the State Fair in the parking lot of the Titans stadium and send the race cars to Lebanon. Just keep the monkey for the Music City Center.

Problem solved.

By: Community-carl-... on 11/30/10 at 2:53

Obviously, Nashville is a major tourist and convention destination, but I doubt we will every achieve the overstated status that Karl Dean has projected. Anybody with common sense knows that the recession has forever changed the way responsible people and businesses spend money. And with the advent of the internet age and internet confernces, there will be less and less demand for mega conventions. Yes, there will always be a need for convention venues, but the venues we have in Nashville are struggling now, and MCC will only add to the glut of available venues in the foreseeable future while making it even more difficult for any to be profitable.

This, combined with the public outrage over the Fairgrounds/Hickory Hollow issue,
is sooner or later going to bring an unwelcome national spotlight and awareness on the anger, frustration, turmoil, and sense of hopelessness that is overtaking the citizens of Nashville.

What is happening is we are going to become the laughing stock of the rest of the country because our carpetbagger mayor is attempting to force his ideals of culture and national prominence on us while he is neglecting the heritage amd cultural desires of the local citizens. He is attempting to redistribute Nashville's resources and wealth from the many ordinary citizens to benefit a few wealthy and priviliged friends and associates. Dean's misguided goals are an abomination.

By: fair_minded on 11/30/10 at 3:13

Another thing that this article overlooks is that Mr. Copeland's group is not the only one out there -- not by a long-shot.

Please remember that the Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation Group is who started the organized opposition to the mayor's plan more than three years ago. The FHPG is not connected to Mr. Copeland.

The FHPG are the one's who forced the mayor to admit here in the City Paper that he didn't have the legal authority to close the Fairgrounds.

They are the ones who filed the first lawsuit against metro over the Fairgrounds.

They are the ones who assisted Mr. Dominy in obtaining those 45,000 signatures (and yes, over 90% of them are residents of Davidson County).

They are the ones whose website at http://fairgroundsheritage.org has the documentation showing the unlawful moves by metro in this affair, among other things, that Mr. Copeland and others use as a resource.

So yes, in addition to Mr. Copeland's efforts, which can easily be compared to the administration's use of McNeely, Piggot & Fox (in which Fair Board Vice Chair Katy Varney is a partner) there are in fact, many thousands of other Fairgrounds supporters who are not connected to Mr. Copeland's group.

Mr. Copelands group is a part of a much-larger groundswell of residents who want to retain the State Fair and the Fairgrounds and are tired of the underhanded tactics of the administration. This now includes many residents of the Antioch area who do not want the Mayor's boondoogle at Hickory Hollow rammed down their throats with threats of "this plan or no plan" for their community.

@CitizenA
"What do we know about the SNAP group? Where do they get their funding? Are they affiliated with any developer? Keith Moorman says he is not, ..."

Keith Moorman is, in fact, in the real estate business in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. Check it out at the register of deeds office. He apparently is a "house flipper"-- one who buys houses as cheap as possible and with minor renovations, sells them for a good profit. At one time, he had a website with several of his properties listed. In fact, the SNAP organization itself is in the real estate business, buying and selling houses in that neighborhood. Several other members of SNAP, including their usual spokesman (the one who addressed council at the last meeting and who used to be on here as "117_acres") are also in the real estate business. They also have strong ties to MDHA.

SNAP acts as the mayor's "front" in the neighborhood, claiming to represent the majority, when in fact, they are a small minority of the residents. While they do have some "normal" members, at this time most of the hand-full of active members are new residents of the area who are attempting to bulldoze the Fairgrounds.

The District 17 neighborhood group is more representative of the area, and the majority of them support saving the Fairgrounds.

@JenT said "I tell them to remember how proudly the Mayor's office touted the study by the Urban Land Institute earlier this year.."

Do a little checking on their own website, and you'll discover that the Urban Land "Institute" is a consortium of real estate developers and investment bankers. Check their member list on the site. Basically a pro-development lobbying group. What kind of impartial "study" do you think you'll get there?? Their report is basically a paper supporting the land grab for development purposes.

By: gdiafante on 11/30/10 at 3:26

Nuke the property and deport the supporters.

Next

By: racer84 on 11/30/10 at 4:03

Fairminded - The FHPG has done a great job over the last few years and continues to be a friend to anyone who wants to see the property remain as is with upgrades etc. No one does research and can document it to the extent that they have. Phil Williams has nothing on this group when it comes to investigative reporting of the facts the city wants to hide.

I thank all of you for your continued efforts no matter which "group" you may be a part of as everyone has the same goal.

There is one thing this whole process has done that the mayor should actually be commended on. He has united more groups, more neighborhoods, and more Nashvillians together to defeat this issue than I'm sure they ever imagined. I've met some great people as part of it and I'm thankful for that.

By: bfra on 11/30/10 at 5:10

Just deport the "carpetbagger" & his cronies, that don't respect or like anything about Nashville and are trying to change it, to achieve their dreams, at taxpayer's expense.

By: MAmom on 12/1/10 at 12:53

For some time it has felt like there is collusion between KDean and several local news organizations (with the Exception of the Nashvillecitypaper and WSMV - who have tried to report both sides).

In his 9:54 post above I think JeffF explains how Dean has been able to control the "redevelopment" discussion for so long. Through his PR firm it sounds like Dean has been able to exert extraordinary indirect influence over the press - and he has likely used this influence to manipulate and control "Fairgrounds" reporting.

Per Jeff:
"THE MAYOR IS WINNING A LOT OF BATTLES NOW DUE TO THE MP&F. THIS SINGLE PR FIRM HAS AMASSED A LARGE NUMBER OF FORMER LOCAL NEWS WRITERS, REPORTERS, AND PRODUCERS WHO HAVE KEPT THEM CONNECTED TO ALL THE LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS. GAIL KERR HAS BEEN THE PRESENTER AT THEIR ANNUAL AWARDS SOIREE PEOPLE!"

There is no way for us to definitively know for sure, but the really poor, biased reporting about the Fairgrounds sure makes it look like there is some kind of improper relationship going on behind the scenes.

-----

An honest, objective press is supposed to keep the political process honest in a Democracy. Conversely bad journalism does the opposite.

On the "redevelopment" issue the Tennessean & Channel 5 have been especially guilty of bad reporting. Basically they gave anything Dean said "star" treatment - there were no questions - no skepticism - no researching of facts. Heck - the Tennessean went even farther - effectively shutting down public discussion about "redevelopment" by endorsing the "redevelopment" plan, then not publishing any articles or letters opposed "redevelopment" , and attacking opponents to Dean's scheme (e.g.: reporting on Duane Dominy prior to election day).

What good are journalists if they can't be trusted to report truthfully?

No wonder print newspapers are dying.

By: MAmom on 12/1/10 at 1:10

Can some local journalists look into this rumor that is floating around:

I keep hearing a rumor that the mayor's brother is associated with a group that wants to purchase and develop the fairgrounds. I have no way to verify this rumor, but I'm sure some news investigator does.

By: bfra on 12/1/10 at 7:41

MAmon - I have no way to verify this rumor, but I'm sure some news investigator does.
=================================

Considering the news, I don't think Nashville has any of those.

By: MAmom on 12/1/10 at 9:09

repost:

By: Inglewoodlife on 11/29/10 at 9:51
Please attend a community forum regarding the future of our fairgrounds. Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 at 6:30pm at Joelton Church of Christ, 3541 Old Clarksville Pike, Joelton, TN 37080