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Is Karl Dean Making an Electoral Mistake

January 16, 2010
Karl Dean at the Nashville mayoral debate

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, let me say up front this is not some whacko out of control call for Mayor Karl Dean to resign the beginnings of a recall campaign, or for that matter any endorsement of kicking him out of office come election time. There have been things he’s done that I’ve like, and things that I don’t like.  A conversation about whether he needs to stay mayor is for another time.

However, in a conversation this morning with a council member friend, I began to wonder if Mayor Dean isn’t ultimately shooting himself in the foot with his close identification with the MCC project.

Of course, based on the feedback from the mayor’s office and MCC proponents, the conventional wisdom suggests that he will sail through fine because the previous election was a referendum on the MCC. However, polls taken at that time showed that a majority of Nashvillians didn’t want the project, and the latest WSMV poll suggests that those numbers haven’t moved. While the “inside Briley Parkway” crowd seems to believe that the poll was an anomaly, the fact is that there are many folks in the hinterlands that are disillusioned with what feels like a project shoved down their throats by a few powerful people.

That in itself probably wouldn’t mean anything, but here’s the interesting part. My council person friend (who is leans to the right as a whole) stated that there was no way that the mayor could get together a budget without raising taxes this year. Certainly we will be facing additional financial burdens in the coming year, from Metro General’s likely $10 million dollar shortfall due to state cutbacks to trying to integrate $14 million dollars of expenses back into the regular budget. Given the challenges ahead, this council person said what all knows is true — that we are going to have to increase income, not in 2017 when the MCC will supposedly be making money, but right now. And there is no way that the average Joe Taxpayer isn’t going to connect in his or her mind the approval of the MCC with a tax increase. And who was the leading light on the project? Karl, the poster child for all things MCC.

Yes, he’s going to have some money for the Chamber and the Randy Rayburns won’t leave him by the wayside for his support. But dollars are only so helpful when you are facing an angry electorate that blames you personally for a tax increase.

What would send folks over the edge is if the project goes over budget. It wouldn’t take much in unanticipated expenses for the people of Nashville to think they had been sold a bill of goods. The past record of the project shows that folks are unwilling to be used.

Thus, taking both a tax increase and the possibility of unknown and unreported expenses, Karl could easily find himself in trouble.

What do you think?

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