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Down With The Sunset Grill

July 12, 2011

I’m currently out-of-town so I’m not exactly in the think of Nashville politics, but I did run through the news today and learned of Randy Rayburn’s recent fundraising letter in opposition to Burkley Allen’s campaign in District 18. Randy, of course, is the restaurant magnate who owns the Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe, and the Cabana, and was a very vocal and aggressive supporter of the Music City Center project. The letter was pretty typical, but I was struck by the following paragraph:

I would remind you that we don’t need a strident, vociferous, engineering version of Emily on our Council opposing Mayor Dean’s policies and programs. Our business community has known for years that she equates being supportive of business and economic development programs as being anti-neighborhood interests. We know that Jason Holleman helped recruit her and lobbied to move her into District 18, as he and his Crafton/Evans cohorts have done in several other races. We don’t need a new member of the Anti-Dean Gang to slow or thwart our city’s next four years. There will be new, unanticipated challenges along the way. We need to limit their head count numbers now.

This paragraph makes me laugh in so many ways. First, to conflate Emily Evans and Eric Crafton as somehow representative of a unified cohort in opposition to the mayor clearly hasn’t been watching votes on issues other than the fairgrounds and MCC. Randy seems to believe that anyone who asks difficult questions of the mayor and the pro-business policies of this administration is to be “limited” as persons who will slow down the advancement of the city.

Frankly, I don’t know Burkley Allen nor have any clue about whether I would want to vote for her for council. From what I’ve seen she seems to be a person who has worked without compensation for the betterment of her community, representing the interests of residents with no other agenda or compensation that her love of the place that she lives. It’s very likely from what I see on her website is that she will likely not be a rubber stamp for business development without limits, but rather will push for smart development that balances the interests of residents and business. Her opponent may be just fine as far as I know, but based on Randy’s comments sounds like a sure vote for the mayor’s agenda without a willingness to show independence and critical thinking.

What bothers me, even though it doesn’t surprise me, is a business owner being so transparent about his belief that persons who express a desire or concerns for the needs of neighborhoods are somehow anti-business and somehow should be stopped at all costs. The last time I checked, it was the residents of those neighborhoods who come to Randy’s restaurants and spend their hard earned money in those establishments. One would think that Randy might want to recognize that the neighbors in District 18 are his customers.

Which leads me to wonder: If Randy thinks it’s okay for oppose aggressively those who threaten to thwart the pro-business agenda shouldn’t it be just as appropriate for those persons who believe in the power of neighborhoods to work together and retain a particular identity to aggressively oppose Randy’s efforts, doing something like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . boycotting Randy’s businesses as an expression of their opposition?

What do you think?

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