Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Fairgounds Issue Makes the New York Times

I was surprised to see the Nashville fairgrounds story make the New York Times. In my view this is a balanced report on the issue.

In Nashville, Debate Over Racetrack Pits Nostalgia and Change
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON, New York Times, Published: January 20, 2011

NASHVILLE — Shannon McCullough has a favorite lullaby, and it begins with the revving of a carbureted V8 engine. From her house on Merritt Avenue she could hear it most of her life, the hypnotic, oscillating drone as the stock cars approached and receded, approached and receded. (link)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Green Hills Breakfast Summit postponed one week


Due to weather conditions, the Green Hills Breakfast Summit scheduled for tomorrow with Emily Evans is postponed one week.

See you at Swett's-Green Hills on Saturday, January 29.

Peter & Gail Voysey
Event Chairs
DCRP Green Hills Breakfast Summit

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jihadist fellow traveler watch: Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the latest victim of the Muslim Jihadist witch hunt. The anti-Muslim bigots looking for Jihadist under every bed are not going to be happy until they have tarnished the reputation of every Republican who does not share their bigotry.

Chris Christie is a solid conservative and a rising star in the Republican Party. Chris Christie's crime, however, is that he appointed a prominent Muslim immigration attorney to a judgeship. As an attorney, this appointee had defended several Muslim-Americans who were picked up for “suspicious” activity following the September 11th attacks. All of the men were subsequently cleared of any kind of connection to the attacks of 9-11.

Pamela Gellar has said Christie is "in bed with the enemy." Others have said he has taken the first step to turning New Jersey into a Sharia state.

To the anti-Muslim bigots, guilt or innocents doesn't matter; all Muslims are the enemy and the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. The anti-Muslim paranoids do not only not believe in freedom of religion, neither do they believe in the presumption of innocents and the right to the accused of due process. They do believe in guilt by association. (link)

For more read; Jersey: Governor Christie’s Dirty Islamist Ties

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

What a Great Weekend! The Inauguration of Bill Haslam

This has been a fun weekend! I attended the inaugural concert on Friday night, and the prayer service, the inauguration and the ball on Saturday. It was a weekend of celebration, spiritual renewal, good will, sharing a good time with a brother and sister, networking and hobnobbing and greeting friends, patriotic stirrings, reflection, and dancing and partying.

One thing that struck is, that despite the terrible events of Tucson just a few days ago, our elected officials are still very accessible.  Thre was no checking of handbags, or pat downs or metal detector scans. I had the opportunity to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with Governor Haslam, Governor Winfield Dunn, and Senator Bob Corker. While, I recognize the security risk for our elected officials, I am glad they are still accessible and that our concern for security had not curtailed our freedom of assemble or our ability to interact with our elected officials.

Below is my report of inaugural events:

The Concert: The concert was a benefit for TN Achieves a scholarship program for community college students. This is a great program that makes it possible many students to attend a community college who otherwise could not afford to do so. The show featured opening act Bo Bice who did a three-song set, accompanied only by a single guitar player. It was low-key but Ok for an opening act. Bice has had some success and was second to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol but I was not familiar with him .

The second act was Diamond Rio. For those who don't know them, they have been around since 1984 and have had had the same band members the whole time. They got their start at the old Opryland theme park. They have had a string of hits and won numerous CMA awards and ACM award and nominations for Grammy awards. They are talented performers and musicians. They played past hits and material from a new album. If you are not sure who they are, Meet in the Middle and One More Day were two really big hits from the band. They provided a high-energy show and preformed for about an hour. I had seen them a couple times in the past so was very familiar with their performance. One thing they did that was different is they performed a set of 70 rock classics with a banjo and mandolin in a bluegrass style. They put on an enjoyable show.

Sara Evans closed out the show and also performed for about an hour. She has also had a string of CMA and AMC awards. One of her biggest hits of recent years was "Suds in the Bucket and clothes on the line." She has a tremendous voice and can hold a note forever. I enjoyed her performance much more than I anticipated.

Bill Haslam and Christy were seated front and center and before the show and during the intermission between Rio and Evans, well-wishers had the opportunity shake hands and greet them. Also, former Governor Winfield Dunn was there sitting in front and was gracious in greeting the public. Kix Brooks of the Brooks and Dunn duo addressed the crowd with remarks honoring Haslum and Haslum spoke briefly.

I was surprised that the show was not a sold-out show. The 4500 capacity venue was only a little over half full.  $10 is a cheap price for a concert with two hit acts and the money went to a good cause. I would have thought that country music fans would have attended the show, even if they were not die-hard Republicans.

The Prayer Service. This event was very moving and spiritual. I got a blessing. The Bible passages and prayers called for people to pray for our leaders and to love and respect one another and to seek God's guidance.

The event was in the Ryman auditorium. The Ryman is my favorite venue in town.  It is historical, has great acoustics and while it can seat over 2300 people, it has an intimate feel and there are no bad seats. The sun was shining through the colored windows of the building creating a nice glow. The building was at capacity.

The Nashville Choir was fantastic! I was not familiar with them prior to this performance. There must be 250 members and they were great! They performed the Doxology and Agnus Dei and it was very moving. Later in the program they sang How Great Thou Art. Other performances in the program was a solo by Melinda Doolittle, a graduate of Belmont University and another American Idol winner who has gone on to have a successful gospel music career. A version of Amassing Grace was performed a capella by the Oak Ridge Boys.

The program was ecumenical. The opening prayer was by Davidson County General Sessions Judge Leon Rueben, who is Jewish. Other prayers were delivered by Father Edward Steiner of the Cathedral of the Incarnation and a pastor of a Baptist Church and a pastor of a Presbyterian Church.

Selected bible passages were read by various dignitaries including Beth Harwell, Speaker of the House;  A. C Warton, Mayor of Memphis; and former Governor Winfield Dunn. A sermon was delivered by Reverend John Wood of Cedar Springs Presbyterian church, Bill Haslam's home church in Knoxville.

Reverent Wood reference the passage from Jeremiah that had just been read by Governor Dunn. The passage calls for the captive children of Israel to seek the peace of the city where they were held captive. The passage says that if those holding you do well, it benefits you. Reverend Wood, said if God wished for the captive of Israel to pray for the peace of the city in which they were captives, should we as free people not wish the best for our nation and those who are govern us even if they are of another party.

The Inauguration: It was very stirring event. I still get goose bumps when the National Anthem is played and when a mass of people recite the Pledge of allegiance. I enjoy the military band music, the presentation of the colors, the taking of oaths and all of the ceremonial aspect of events such as this.

The sun was shining bright, and the air was still and the 45 degree temperature did not seem cold. Everyone spoke well of each other. Outgoing Governor Phil Bredesen got warm applause and praise and everyone was gracious. Bill Haslam gave a good speech saying that to compete for jobs, Tennessee must continue to improve education. He said we are not only competing with other states for jobs but compete with other countries and improving education would be his number one goal as govenor. He said the challenges for governing the state are huge. He said government must do more with less. He quoted columnist Thomas Fiedman who recently said government at all levels could no longer give more to people but must enter a phase of taking away benefits and services from people.

Prior to the speech by Governor Haslam, during a performance by a military band, there was a loud boom. I don't know if I was the only one, but I immediately felt fear and thought it was an explosion. However, it was the first cannon of a cannon salute. I am not sure how many times cannons fired but it was several as the band continued to play. At the end of the performance, there was a fly-over of military aircraft flying at roof top level. That was very impressive and exciting.

For a complete text of the speech: Inaugural address

The Ball. The ball was a blast. It was at the Opryland Hotel, which has had $185 million dollar makeover after the devastating flood of seven months ago.  The Opryland hotel is fantastic- the large atriums with fountains and streams and palm trees and waterfalls and art work throughout the hotel. The hotel is also massive. If you have never seen it, see it. It is an experience. You feel like you are somewhere other than Nashville.

For most of us, there are few time in our life to get dressed in our best and party. I enjoy it.  I love women in glittery clothes, wearing very high heels and showing cleavage and everyone in a giddy mood. I am normally a fugal person, but rather than deal with self parking or shuttle buses I paid for valet parking just like a rich Republican. 

My sister Kathleen who often has to lobby the legislature as Executive Director for the Parks and Greenways Foundation was with me and she knew a lot of people in attendance and met and introduced me to a lot of legislators. Also, my brother Tim and his wife Amy were in town from Knoxville and if was fun being at this event with family.
 Louella, Rod, Amy, Tim and Kathleen

It is hard to estimate how many people attended. There was one band playing in the ball room where prior to the ball there had been the dinner. In one of the large atriums, spread out and on several levels, there was a party and another band. While the bands had a little variety in their music, both bands were similar and they were both primarily Rhythm and Blues party bands. The dance floor was packed and people partied hard as the band played. Shout, (Well, you know you make me wanna' (Shout) Kick my heels up and (Shout) Throw my hands up and (Shout) Throw my head back and (Shout) Come on now (Shout) ...) seemed to go on for every and wore me out. 

We had a great time. My darling wife Louella was a fashion plate wearing a velvet black dress with a slit up to mid thigh and stockings with seems up the back  and very high hills. She looked fabulous. 

This was a great weekend and left me feeling joyful and happy and optimistic.

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