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Hands on Nashville charges volunteers to help Metro Schools

Posted in Disasters, Nashville, Tennessee, Uncategorized, Voluntarism by Mike Byrd on August 13, 2010

In the wake of the May 2010 Nashville floods the refrain bounces around that Nashville never waits on anybody else to volunteer to relieve and to restore. That comment seems like an underhanded swipe at government response, which is not exactly off base.

However, it is disingenuous, since Nashville often does wait on non-profit relief organizations that contract with local government to organize volunteers. Hands on Nashville (HON) is one of those organizations. It says that it mobilized thousands in response to the May floods. While I do not question the truth of the reportage, I believe it is perilous in general for Nashvillians to accept a government contractor’s numbers on faith without some form of independent verification. But I digress.

Even before the May floods Nashvillians who wanted to volunteer for projects on neighborhood public schools, for instance, were required to sign up with HON for teams that were limited to a certain number of people. (more…)

Why did Nashville Mayor Karl Dean single out Ronal Serpas on stats when Murfreesboro PD had the same problems?

Posted in Law Enforcement, Murfreesboro, Nashville, News Media, Tennessee by Mike Byrd on July 12, 2010

Six or seven weeks ago a couple of Metro Council members, the Mayor’s Office, and the local media questioned the integrity of former police chief Ronal Serpas’s reporting of crime statistics after he left for the executive position in the New Orleans police department. After a conflict between TBI and Metro Police data collection came to light, Serpas did not get the benefit of the doubt.

At the time Metro Police insisted that tracking and classifying crime was a highly subjective exercise. Like the proverbial blind men who survey an elephant, various agencies divide and interpret the data based on their own limitations and angles.

News from the Rutherford County paper, a story that slipped past media attention here in Davidson County, seems to support the Metro Police department’s defense. In an opinion piece in the Daily News Journal, editors underscore discrepancies between Greater Murfreesboro police statistics and TBI stats. (more…)

Mayor Karl Dean’s police audit plan full of sound and fury, signifying nothing except election aspirations

Posted in Law Enforcement, Murfreesboro, Nashville, News Media, Tennessee by Mike Byrd on May 18, 2010

There have been questions raised in the public about the validity of Nashville’s crime statistics …. Public safety is a top priority, and it’s just as important that people feel they are safe.

– – Nashville Mayor Karl Dean last week

In Nashville, residents had an overwhelmingly positive view of the police, with surveys showing an 85 percent satisfaction rate …. “There are concerns of the crime reporting both inside and outside the department,” said Councilman [Jim] Gotto. “I don’t know whether the numbers are right or wrong. I just want someone to look at them closer.”

Gotto acknowledged that the numbers may not matter much. “Hey, the community really likes him,” he said. “They feel pretty safe.”

– – Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune

Nashville just lost a police chief who by most accounts could go anywhere he wanted. Despite general recognition, even among opponents, that Ronal Serpas’s use of a Comstat statistics system made Nashvillians, Washingtonians, and New Orleanians feel safer, Mayor Karl Dean is directing that Metro resources be spent to conduct an audit based on a nebulous complaints that he says that hears from “the public.” 85% of the public was satisfied with the Serpas-lead police force, so why is the Mayor not producing more evidence of widespread dissatisfaction to support his fishing expedition?

Certainly, NewsChannel5 reporter Phil Williams failed to convey much local dissension about Serpas’s crime numbers beyond conservative Republican Gotto, who is running for state political office.  Hence, Gotto needs media attention and name recognition. However, Gotto concedes to the press outside of Nashville (which ironically got his name wrong) that the crunched anomalies are practically inconsequential.

So, why is Mayor Karl Dean bent on helping Mr. Gotto against the memory of a well-received former police chief when most of the Mayor’s constituents are not raising hell about Comstat, given their experience of crime? There is no doubt that Gotto is getting love and support from the powerful state GOP. However, Mayor Dean’s own recommendations of Mr. Serpas to New Orleans concede that Nashville was safer after his arrival than before. This about-face makes no sense until we let ourselves think as the politicos do. (more…)

Toward indigenous reform of public schools as an alternative to privatized charter schools

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike Byrd on April 28, 2010

I won’t lie. In the last couple of years I’ve gone from not really understanding charter schools to being alarmed that they may, in the name of children, be just another gateway for public cronies to allow private companies to raid our tax revenues.

Privatization seems to be the absolute state toward which Metro Nashville Public Schools are headed in order to compete via market principles with the private schools.

MNPS Director Jesse Register recommends it privatize.

Karl Dean intends to privatize.

The Obama Administration is mandating charter schools in Nashville.

As a newly minted public school parent I’m concerned that we’re going to lose the public option. So, I’m looking for alternatives for reform of our insular school system without giving it and revenues to private investors who have no public mandate to act in our interest other than what they can acquire from it. (more…)