Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't believe the myth sold about Nashville on Monday Night Football; Old South is alive and well here; children living, hurting under a 'Code Red'

If you are watching Monday Night Football later today, don't believe all the hype about Nashville being a great place.

That's an illusion -- of all wonderful on the outside. But inside, Nashville is a city in despicable decline when it comes to its most vulnerable citizens, particularly its children.

But the chamber of commerce and its lapdogs in the news media are hoping you don't notice. They've coined a p.r. term of "Code Blue" to make everything warm and fuzzy about the Titans and Nashville being a major league city and a great place for people to visit and spend their dollars.

In reality, it's Code Red here, particularly if you're a child needing a fair and adequate public education, a person of color seeking justice from the law enforcement community, parents seeking a way up the economic ladder or a family needing a safe and affordable place to live.

George Bailey would call Nashville a "Pottersville" instead of a "Bedford Falls". Old times are really not forgotten here. They're actually being repeated, because Nashville really is the Old South, not the new one.

As players, the Titans are great guys. So is their coach, Jeff Fisher. On the field, they make up a great team and have provided great entertainment to young and old alike.

But their owner, Bud Adams, has looted the city's coffers for his own profit in a one-sided deal that brought the Titans to Nashville from Houston. Officials there in Texas had gotten tired of Adams' outrageous demands that put his profit ahead of the city's fiscal well-being.

The current governor of Tennessee negotiated the one-sided deal to bring the Titans to Nashville when he was mayor. Phil Bredesen is a Democrat in name only. But many Republicans here were shocked at how much he abused the taxpayers in the Titans' deal.

City taxpayers -- before funding any other needs like schools and police -- must give $1 million annually to Adams for improvements to the quickly aging LP Field. Taxpayers also must give up more than $4 million a year on bonds sold to build the stadium. And Adams will soon make his contractual demand for $177 million in added improvements to the stadium.

Meanwhile, children here have been so poorly educated that the public schools here will soon be under state control for failing to meet standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. And the school district faces at least a $1 million shortfall in funding that will result in teacher layoffs and more crowded classrooms this school year.

But ol' Bud won't have to worry. He has the city under contract for his millions. Pity the children in Nashville. They need to get themselves a good attorney to receive their due.

One of the few brights spot here as far as Nashville being a progressive city is Vanderbilt University, a place I call "A City on a Hill." It is a place of great diversity in thought, language, healing and human beings. The intelligence contained in this place is formidable.

Yet Nashville's leadership -- led by the current governor when he was mayor -- has made it a point to keep Vanderbilt from having great influence on the city's direction. And that truth makes Nashville a shockingly backward place.

The evolution of African-Americans economically and politically has been stifled here. They represent 25 percent of Nashville's population.

And now people of Hispanic descent are being targeted by what is called the 287g deportation program. It is run by the local sheriff who makes the guy at Nottingham during Robin Hood's days look like Andy Taylor of Mayberry fame.

In July, law enforcement here arrested and tortured a pregnant Hispanic woman during and after her labor. He newborn son then was denied his mother's milk, as she was taken back to jail without even being allowed to express her milk for her child. Any mother knows the kind of pain breasts swollen with milk can deliver.

What was the mother's offense for which she was tortured? She illegally passed another auto in the slow lane on a four-lane road.

Homeowners of all colors and ethnicities also are being abused. The city doesn't have the money to correct storm drainage problems that leave more and more damage to personal property. And there won't be money for years to protect the American Dream of Nashvillians.

Tennessee's Capitol city truly is a violator of human rights, of citizens and non-citizens alike. You're not going to get a fair break from the powers that be and in news media coverage -- print and television -- unless you own an NFL or NHL team.

Watch the game tonight. But please do not bring spend your tourism dollars here or buy Nashville's country music product. Ask your organization not to hold its convention here. Only money, not morality, will change the minds of Nashville leaders to treat all the human beings here with dignity and equal consideration under the law.

Help the most vulnerable here -- living under a Code Red -- to finally be heard by speaking with your money and saying "no" to Code Blue.

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