Whew, Things Got Ugly at the Convention Center Forum

At Steve Gill’s convention center thing, Liz Garrigan reports that restaurateur Randy Rayburn attacked Metro Councilperson Emily Evans.

He called out another panelist, project skeptic and Metro Council member Emily Evans, saying that while his businesses create jobs, “Council Lady Evans has not created any jobs in the marketplace that I’m aware of.”

So, that’s the standard? Create jobs and you get respect? By that standard, we should invite pimps and mid-level drug dealers to have a say in the convention center debate.


Real nice.

I guess all of us who aren’t as fortunate as Mr. Rayburn just need to learn our place and do what he says, because, unlike most of us, he creates jobs. You know, unless you count the people who eat at his restaurants and pay the salaries of those people whose jobs he “created,” without whom he’d have no business and no ability to create jobs.

I’d just mention that Evans’s money spends and spends in Rayburn’s restaurants.

You’d think, in this economy, he wouldn’t want to alienate customers.

And this part is weird, too. Rayburn accuses Evans of opposing the convention center because she wants to use her opposition of the convention center as a springboard for a run for mayor.

At the same time that proponents of the convention center are acting like the convention center is so popular and it’s just a couple of worry-warts who are standing in the way, Rayburn seems to be saying that opposing the convention center is popular enough among Nashvillians that holding that stance could launch a mayoral run.

So, which is it?

And lastly, is it really that weird that Gaylord would be involved in this debate? I’ve been saying since this summer that it was obvious that the proponents of the convention center wanted to compete with Gaylord for convention business.

So now they’re outraged that the business people at Gaylord are attempting to protect their business interests? And these people run around claiming to be great businessmen themselves?

And I still don’t understand why, if so many businesspeople around town think this is a good idea, they don’t put their own money into it.

Ha, you know, at this point, I’d really be fine with there being a new convention center if the leading proponents and the media agreed to a deal where, whenever the convention center was mentioned in a news story, folks like Rayburn were named.

If it turns out to be a great thing for the city, Rayburn and his friends would continually get credit–“MCC, whose biggest advocate was Randy Rayburn, did eleven billion dollars worth of business this year!” If it turns out to not be as popular as promised and if it costs local taxpayers money, then Rayburn should face that association as well.

But I’m more thinking that the MCC will go up. It will do middlingly well, though not as well as promised because we live in the age of the internet. And life will go on. Few people will remember who stood for it or against it.

18 thoughts on “Whew, Things Got Ugly at the Convention Center Forum

  1. Pingback: Does Emily Evans Plan To Parlay Her Convention Center Opposition Into A Run For Mayor? : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  2. Why do people in Nashville call Councilwomen “Council Ladies”? They don’t call Councilmen “Council Gentlemen.”

  3. I’ll admit I’m as far from an informed citizen as you can get. I don’t know why anyone in Madison, Goodlettsville, Antioch, Whites Creek and the like would support a new convention center.

    I never noticed a benefit to my community when I lived in Davison county from the Arena or Stadium, though I attend games at both.

    A friend and business owner on Dickerson road says the Sunday road closures hurt her business rather than help (the reason she voted yes to the NFL).

    If I were the councilman from the burbs, I ask what’s in it for the ‘burbs.

  4. Sean, ha! Good point.

    NM, I find it patronizing. Like “You women don’t really belong here so we’re going to be EXTRA polite to you so that you don’t forget how weird it is that you’re here.”

    Freaky Weasel, I feel like a fairly informed citizen and I still can’t figure out how this benefits all of Nashville. It seems to me that we’re so far past the stage of “here’s my side and my reasons” and “here’s my side and my reason” into “me big man. you do what me say!” “me bigger man! you do what me say!” caveman chest thumping that it’s really impossible for people who are still confused to even begin to get their questions answered.

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I commend Steve Gill for realizing that people still need to hear discussion and providing a forum.

  5. The pro-convention center arguments have been getting more and more desperate since the advent of forums where critics like CM Evans have been allowed equal footing to ask questions that can only uncomfortably be answered.

    The unsubstantiated suggestions that Evans has higher political aspirations and that those are motivating her challenge of the MCC lemmings and the Mayor’s Ofc shows just how anxious they’re getting. BTW, the same argument was made of Mike Jameson, I believe when he challenged the Mayor’s Riverfront development waffling.

    MCC proponents can no longer control the debate, so they impugn motives of honest critical query.

  6. Like Freaky Weasel, I am no MCC expert. All that arguing makes my head hurt. I honestly don’t know enough about it to be for or against it yet.

    However, I feel like it would be a good thing to get the convention biz back downtown – away from just solely Donelson as Gaylord is getting a lot of that action.

  7. Right, if we don’t want another downtown over in Bells Bend, why do we want to scatter tourists all over the city, especially since we have no adequate public transportation? I hope Gaylord’s control is over and we can continue to develop a thriving central city.

  8. So, dogmrb, this proposed new convention center is going to have a new Opry House? Because, otherwise, one of the few attractions Nashville has to offer that is world-class enough to actually bring more conventions here* is going to be a longish bus-ride away anyway. And the money will be spent away from downtown, and with Gaylord.

    *Honestly, what else is going to be pitched to convention organizers? The Frist? Don’t make me laugh.

  9. Aunt B: as always, great insight. When people as far apart on the political spectrum as Bruce Barry and Steve Gill question the same topic, you know there is broad-based opposition…
    But last night’s personal attacks are red herrings, dragged out there by desperate cheerleaders to throw thoughtful people off the trail of the real stories:
    – The MCC has a low strategic priority for most Nashvillians
    – Conventions are a declining (if not dying) industry
    – the Mayor’s “independent” consultants (HVS) have a track record of fantastically optimistic forecasts
    And the list goes on and on…

  10. The whole idea of tourist sales tax money is just kind of silly. When my relatives visit from out of state they strive mightily not to spend one cent where sales tax is 9.25%. If you think tourists want to come here and spend money, you’re sadly mistaken.

  11. Always smart for a business owner to chime in on a hot topic. There’s a reason I’ll never take my Toyota back to Beaman for service and will damn sure never buy a car from them. Now I can take extra enjoyment from eating at restaurants that aren’t Randy Rayburn’s. And it’s not so much that I object to him having an opinion that differs from mine. It’s more that I object to him being an asshole about it.

  12. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying the argument, but for some reason I get a lot of convention and visitors bureaus newsletters. Everything I read says that Nashville is a top 10 destination for conventions. http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2005_1st/Feb05_HabitsTracked.html

    Tourism is the #2 industry in town now that publishing is tanking and health care is tenuous. Automotive is packing their bags and wondering why Nissan made their recent move here.

    If we don’t keep up with the Joneses on convention facilities, we will lose our place as a meeting destination. It’s just a gamble/business decision based on whether it’s a revenue source we want to try to compete for. Gaylord intends to compete with the NCC on a different scale. Not everybody want to stay in a megacomplex; some groups demand a downtown location with the accompanying amenities.

    If we choose not to participate, then the community needs to work to identify new industrial sources of investment like Clarksville is doing in battery technology.

    Just my $.02.

  13. Dang it, why didn’t I ask you months ago? Here is a succinct answer I can understand and use in considering my position.

    Thanks, CeeElCee.

  14. Ian said: “When my relatives visit from out of state they strive mightily not to spend one cent where sales tax is 9.25%”

    Good point. I remember all too well how I ran out of money early during a vacation trip with my high school sweetheart’s family the summer after graduation because I overspent my cash on hand too fast – in sales-tax-less Delaware.

    I was so thrilled about things like paying $9.99 for something that was stickered $9.99 that I went way over budget really fast.

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