Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mayoral Forum at the Urban Land Institue. David Fox is looking better and better.

Fox's star is rising but I am still listening.

This mayoral forum which occurred on March 24th was organized and sponsored by the Nashville chapter of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to the responsible use of land and to creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. To learn more about the Urban Land Institute follow the link.

All of the mayoral candidates except Kenneth Eaton took part in the forum.  The candidates each answer five questions; questions about traffic and parking, affordable housing, regional multi-modal mass transit, infrastructure, and the roll of government in building a healthier community.

On most issues the candidates were indistinguishable. Fox scored a point with me when in his comment on affordable housing said, I am more of a "carrot" person rather than a "stick" person and I oppose mandatory requirements on developers making them do things. I could support incentives that entices developers to develop affordable housing by awarding them density bonuses for building affordable housing, he said. He went on to say, it is simplistic to look at affordable housing as simply a "supply" problem, saying it is also a "demand" problem. He said that by improving education, that will negate much of the problem by giving people the means to afford housing.

On the mass transit problem, Bill Freeman scored a point when he said the "AMP was a solution looking for a problem." He said the AMP was a colossal waste of time and that we must look for a regional solution.

Howard Gentry lost a point when he bragged about the Music City Star as a success. These are the facts about the Music City Star:
The commuter line starts 30 miles east of Nashville in Lebanon and runs into downtown. When it launched seven years ago, proponents promised that 750 people per day would ride the train. Yet, an average of less than 550 riders climb aboard daily. And those riders catch a break, because they pay just 15 percent of the total cost to run the train round-­‐trip from Wilson County into downtown and back once per day. Ticket fares are expected to rake in a measly $779,400 this year, a fraction of the train’s $5.1 million operating budget. Where does the rest of the money come from to cover the difference? The pockets of federal and local taxpayers. Nashville taxpayers alone fork over some $1.6 million a year to keep the train on time. The Star has the second worst ridership in the nation. (link)
If Howard Gentry thinks The Star is model for solving our transportation problem, he does not need to be mayor.

Fox scored another point with me when he said the World War II culture of planning is what got us to this point to where we are. "It was a culture that separated everything we do; where we live, where we work and where we shop. It has maximized our need to get in the car and go everywhere." He said we need to encourage nodes of development where you live, work and shop in close areas. I think he is exactly right. What was considered the most enlighten progressive ideas of the time led us to the car-dependent urban sprawl culture of today. I could expound on this with examples but am pleased to see we have a candidate for mayor who recognizes it. Fox went on to say we need to "harness the private sector" in developing mass transit. Fox is looking more and more like my preferred candidate. I would like to see Nashville do something outside the box when it comes to mass transit. Fox appears the only candidate thinking outside the box. To see Fox's remarks about mass transit go to time stamp 49:25.

On the question of health, Jeremy Kane lost a point when he commended the role of Meharry-General hospital. In my view, just as we got out of the nursing home business, it is way past time to get out of the hospital business. For more on this issue follow this link. Bill Freeman scored a point when he said, "I have no idea on how to solve the obesity problem in Nashville."  Sometimes saying you don't have a solution to a problem is the best answer. I am tired of politician claiming they can solve every problem.

I am not yet to the point to where I know who I will support for Mayor but the field is narrowing. Megan Barry was never in the running as far as I am concerned and I am ready to remove Howard Gentry from consideration. Fox gave several answers that pleased me in this forum and said nothing that disappointed me. Fox's star is rising but I am still listening.

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