Open letter to Mayor Megan Barry, Vice-Mayor David Briley and Nashville City Council

While attending a Nashville Organized for Action and Hope meeting yesterday, I was disappointed that no one mentioned the city’s proposal for the new pedestrian bridge, which is an expensive ornament neither needed or wanted by the taxpayers. The projected cost of this completely unnecessary tourist magnet is $800 million, which if I understand correctly, would more than cover the amount of $700+ million requested by NOAH. While I think Mayor Barry’s answers for funding public transit at the expense of affordable housing were very poor at best, it is much more difficult to justify building this unnecessary pedestrian bridge, rather than using the $800 million to fund affordable housing. I say this not to criticize NOAH but rather, maybe someone at NOAH can contact the mayor and inquire as to why funding for this wasteful expensive ornament isn’t instead being directed towards much needed affordable housing.

As a driver for Uber and Lyft, I am well aware that pedestrians currently have plenty of room to walk on normal sidewalks and, we need a bridge from East Nashville to Opryland far more than we need this ridiculously absurd waste of taxpayer dollars.

This bridge may well look ‘trendy,’ while unfortunately, the homeless trying to shade themselves under it will probably be run off or otherwise jailed by the Nashville police. Someone should do something here to point out how absurdly ridiculous it is for the mayor to pretend the city can’t afford to fund affordable housing if indeed, those in charge of our city wanted to actually help the poor and needy among us.

If this note sounds like I’m angry, that’s because I am. I repent that I even voted for Mayor Barry and in my opinion, there should be a concerted effort by ALL activists who care about our city, to never elect again anyone who proposes raising sales taxes to pay for what wealthy hotel owners, builders, landlords, restaurant and bar owners and investors want, who could care less about our poor and average citizens.

Raising sales taxes is extremely regressive and the very worst economic move any city can make. Sales taxes severely adversely harm the lower middle-class, working class, poor and least among us. It would be far better to place a dollar tax on every alcoholic beverage sold in Nashville; $1-5 per entertainment ticket sold based on seating capacity; and $10 on hotel rooms costing over $200 per night. Taxing smaller motels, as the mayor has proposed, is a very non-progressive and bad idea, as the homeless and poor often use them for weekly rental shelter.

Not only the members of NOAH, but every citizen in Nashville should stand up and loudly and strongly oppose funding for mass transit until 1) We have an equal or greater amount proposed for affordable housing and 2) Funding is proposed by some means other than raising sales, property and/or business taxes (other than for frivolous entertainment as noted above). Dollars spent on entertainment are not dollars necessary for survival and thus, it is far more wise and progressive to tax these dollars rather than raising sales, property and/or business taxes. Raising business taxes merely increases the prices for goods and services that citizens of Nashville have to pay.

As much as I disagree with the conservative agenda, I sincerely hope that the conservatives in the State Capitol declare it unconstitutional for Nashville to raise sales taxes. Please take time to go to the polls and vote and, please vote ‘DECIDEDLY NO!’ on this regressive mass transit proposal, which in my opinion stinks to high heaven, speaking volumes as to how much Nashville cares about making piles of money and, how little Nashville cares about her own common and average citizens, many who already find it difficult to afford public transportation without charitable assistance.

And finally, why don’t we today have free public restrooms with showers downtown, as many U.S. cities have had for decades and, as both Mayor Barry and District Attorney Glen Funk promised to look into when they were running for office?

Not only the homeless, but us seniors with weak bladders could also use them, as well as just perhaps, not quite so many drunk tourists would be using North 2nd Avenue alleyways and walls to relieve themselves instead.