AntiochTenn Newspaper Publication

Karen Johnson seeks re-election in District 29

Editor’s note: Karen Johnson is running for Metro Council District 29. This is part of a series of editorials by candidates for various Metro Council Seats. All running in the Antioch area were invited to submit editorials. 

Time flies when you are doing something you love, so it’s hard to believe I’ve been working with many of you on our neighborhood issues for 26 years. When I first got active in our community at the early age of 19, I had no idea that I would one day be representing our district on the Metro Council.

My first opportunity to serve in Metro Government came as a member/commissioner with the Metro Nashville Board of Zoning Appeals, where I championed neighborhood issues.  This was a non-paid position, but I believe it was very important work for our neighborhoods and our city.

I then moved on to serving as your elected member of the Metro Nashville School Board and as a member of the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation.  All of these experiences enabled me to be a voice for our area.

I have to admit: It was very hard to juggle community service, the early years of a career and my family.  But, I did this because I truly love our area. I came to learn that if we were going to preserve our community’s character, someone from among us had to be on these boards and commissions, where so many decisions are made that affect neighborhoods.

There was a strong sentiment that our area was continually being left out of prosperity and quality-of-life improvements in the way of infrastructure and other amenities.  This is why I have chosen to work for our area.

My passion is simple.  I want to help make our area better, and each and every day I wake up, I work to that end.

I ask for your vote and your support for my re-election because I want to continue working with you to move our district forward.  We have made tremendous progress.

Together, we have succeeded in keeping good retail establishments and our golf course. We have added beautiful new bus shelters and much-needed tornado sirens. We have attracted new jobs and retail to our area.

In our schools, we have caught our area up with state-of-the-art programs: an International Baccalaureate program at Antioch High School like the ones in the Hillsboro and Hillwood clusters and greater pre-k opportunities. We have added much-needed new community centers, new schools, and secured money to upgrade our parks, like Una Recreation.

We are on an upward trajectory, but we have much work to continue with storm water, roads, paving, transit and other quality-of-life improvements.  If given the opportunity to continue serving you, I will work tirelessly to ensure our property values keep rising and that our overall quality of life improves.

Thank you.

You may learn more about Karen Johnson at her campaign’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

16 Metro Council members support local-hire amendment

A group of 16 Metro Council members announced support for Metro Charter Amendment 3 Thursday Supported by labor unions, the amendment would require that 40 percent of work hours on Metro construction projects costing $100,000 or more be completed by Davidson County residents. Dean said he would prefer the policy be discussed in an ordinance considered by Metro Council instead of added into Metro’s charter. Additional opponents to the charter amendment include the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Middle Tennessee chapters of the American Institute of Architects and Associated General Contractors, along with the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee, Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Tennessee and the Tennessee Road Builders Association. A local branch of the Laborers’ International Union of North American and Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, a new faith-based alliance of 48 organizations, proposed Charter Amendment 3. “There is no question that Nashville should make training and hiring of local residents a priority,” Davis said in the news release. “By supporting Amendment 3, we are simply ensuring that Nashville residents have a better shot at pulling themselves up, providing for themselves and their families and spending their earnings in the local economy.” The full list of council supporters thus far is: Megan Barry, Lonnell Matthews, Walter Hunt, Brady Banks, Scott Davis, Peter Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Larry Hagar, Erica Gilmore, Buddy Baker, Emily Evan, Jason Holleman, Chris Harmon, Karen Johnson, Fabian Bedne and Bo Mitchell. Reach Macaela Bennett at 615-259-8089 or Twitter @Macaela_.

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Women In Numbers Endorses Councilwoman Karen Y. Johnson for Reelection! THANK YOU! Women in Numbers, a nonpartisan organization established to engage, encourage, and endorse qualified women to be elected to public office, has endorsed Karen Y. Johnson for Re-Election. Having served on the boards of The Nashville Women’s Political Caucus now known as The Tennessee Women’s Political Collaborative, The Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus and now most recently with my service on Women in Municipal Government, I am deeply grateful to WIN for their support of my public service. It’s important for Qualified Women to be represented because our governmental body should include women leaders. WIN Logo 2014







Service Workers (SEIU) Endorse To ReElect Councilwoman Karen Y. Johnson Metro Council District 29 THANK YOU! SEIU Local 205…/local-205-announces-endorsements-…/



THANK YOU! Police Endorsements:… Firefighters Endorsements:… 11147148_867821859954071_7356125740617096135_o













Thank you to the Nashville Business Coalition for their endorsement for Re-Election. I will continue working to bring back retail, jobs and businesses to our area that will keep Southeast Nashville as one of the most desirable to live in Nashville/Davidson County.   The Nashville Business Coalition (NBC), a political action Committee made up of business leaders from across the City, announced today its support for candidates seeking Metro Council and Vice Mayor seats in the August 6 election. “We applaud all the candidates who are offering themselves up for public service and were pleased to see so many candidates supportive of issues important to our business community. We are especially committed to supporting local candidates who understand the importance of creating a government environment for businesses and workers to succeed in Nashville,” said Nancy Stabell, NBC Board Chair. “Based upon our extensive candidate vetting process that included face-to-face interviews, surveys and an assessment of candidates’ platforms related to issues such as land use and zoning, economic and community development, infrastructure development, support for public education, and workforce housing, the NBC is pleased to announce its slate of endorsements for Vice Mayor and Metro Council as those candidates best positioned to lead Nashville for the next four years. Twenty-four of the endorsed candidates are current or past district Metro Council members who, by their voting records and past performance have proven to clearly understand and consistently support the city’s large and small businesses. In some races, the NBC endorsed more than one candidate because of both candidates demonstrated their commitment to support and work collaboratively with business. In select races the NBC has chosen to delay endorsements until the September run-off election.”

Nashville flood wall, jail plan, police HQ move rejected Mayor Karl Dean was dealt a clean sweep of defeats Tuesday by the Metro Council, which rejected three controversial and expensive municipal projects he had sought to pass before leaving office. Citing a lack of proper vetting for each, the council voted separately Tuesday to kill funding for a $100 million downtown flood wall and protection system, a $113 million jail consolidation in Southeast Nashville as well as a $23 million police headquarters proposed for North Nashville. The council later approved Dean’s $520 million 2015-16 capital plan, which includes substantial dollars for school buildings and sidewalk paving — but no longer projects that have divided much of Davidson County. The defeats mark a decisive blow for term-limited Dean before he exits the mayor’s office in September. Some council members noted his impending departure and said it would be better to let the next mayor decide whether they are projects worth pursuing. “If any of these are good projects now, then they will be good projects 90 days from now,” at-large councilman Tim Garrett said. “I really think that’s where they need to be — with the next administration.” “Let’s slow down and get all the facts about these big projects,” echoed Metro councilman Carter Todd, a usual Dean ally on most projects. “For some reason, this mayor seems to be rushing here at the very end to get a bunch of large capital projects done without doing all of the homework.” Defeats came via three separate amendments during a heated meeting. The council voted 19-18 to pull funds for the flood wall and protection system. It later voted 19-17 to remove funds for the jail relocation and then 22-14 to block the relocation of the police headquarters. Each project came out of the mayor’s 2015-16 capital improvements budget. There were two abstentions on all three votes. “Obviously, I am disappointed in the results of three crucial votes removing needed projects from the city’s capital improvement budget,” Dean said in a statement. “Each of these proposals would have funded important public safety infrastructure that the city shouldn’t put off. I hope these projects will be taken up by the next administration and council because these issues aren’t going away.” Council action followed an impassioned three-hour public hearing on the issues last week. With the downtown flood wall and protection system, Dean had gotten an assist last week from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which reinforced its support by calling the project key to protecting the city’s cultural heart and economic engine. They reminded Nashvillians that around 18 percent of all tax revenue in Nashville is generated from downtown. But the project never overcame skeptical council members, who on Tuesday questioned why federal funding wasn’t more aggressively sought. They also reminded their colleagues that residential neighborhoods were hit equally, if not worse, by the 2010 flood that prompted the downtown flood wall in the first place. “To talk about the economic center of downtown is basically telling our neighborhoods you’re not as important,” at-large councilman Charlie Tygard said. “That’s the problem I have with this.” Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has pushed hard for a new jail facility on Harding Place to replace operations within the aging downtown Criminal Justice Center. The Metro police headquarters would have relocated from the same downtown facility to Jefferson Street under a proposal Dean announced in April. But Antioch-area council members continued their complaints over transparency on Tuesday, arguing they were never given a chance — or even time — to weigh in on what would be the largest public safety investment in Nashville’s history. “Have we involved the community at any point in this process?” said Antioch councilman Duane Dominy, looking toward the council gallery where many jail critics had gathered. “No.” In a statement, Hall called the removal of funding a “very important decision for our city” and offered hope that the issue will remain at the forefront of discussion for the next mayor and council. “As we have said, doing nothing about the conditions and long-range future of our downtown facilities is not an option,” Hall said. “The issues at the Criminal Justice Center are well documented and need serious attention now.” Read More Joey Garrison, 1:04 a.m. CDT June 3, 2015 Nashvillians had their say Tuesday on three controversial city projects that Karl Dean is struggling to pass as he enters his final few months in the mayor’s office. They had a lot to talk about, underscoring the climb the mayor faces for approval. For about three hours Tuesday night, residents took the microphone at a Metro Council public hearing that saw passionate debate on proposals to build a $100 million downtown flood wall and protection system, consolidate the city’s jails to a new $110 million facility in Southeast Nashville and build a $23 million police headquarters on Jefferson Street in North Nashville. It sets up a council meeting next week in which all three projects are in jeopardy of getting blocked. Council critics of each intend to file amendments that would pull the project they oppose from Dean’s 2015-16 capital improvements budget. Councilman Duane Dominy is leading the effort to thwart the jail proposal. Councilman Phil Claiborne, who represents Donelson, confirmed he plans to file an amendment to pull funding for the flood protection system. And in a surprise move, Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, whose district includes the proposed headquarters, said she would support Dominy’s measure as well as plans to halt the police headquarters. Few residents had much to say about the mayor’s proposed $1.96 billion operating budget during its hearing Tuesday. But Dean’s trio of capital projects, tucked into his improvements budget, came under fire. The overlapping accusation: Communication lacked on the front end. “Why was no alarm sounded five years ago, 10 years ago, 13 years ago?” said Southeast Nashville resident Alma Sanford, who opposes the mayor’s proposal to relocate the downtown jail to Harding Place. She handed the council clerk 1,000 petition signatures from neighbors who feel the same, many of them who wore blue “Southeast Nashville United” T-shirts Tuesday. The jail and police headquarters proposals are meant to avoid what Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has said would be $103 million in renovations at the aging downtown Criminal Justice Center. But critics of the southeast jail plans told the council they worry about inmates posing threats to nearby residential neighborhoods upon their release and the impact on property values if the facility is constructed. They were joined by opponents of a police headquarters on Jefferson Street, who called it the wrong project for the historic African-American corridor and questioned whether racial profiling would increase in the area. “This is the biggest decision for Jefferson Street since the (I-40) interstate construction,” said Sekou Franklin, who is part of a group called Justice for Jefferson Street Coalition that has filed a civil rights violation complaint against the mayor’s office over the proposed police headquarters. “This plan has lacked community planning.” Defenders stepped up for the Criminal Justice Center relocation proposal, but they were fewer in number. They included multiple Davidson County Sheriff’s employees who argued that inmates and workers need a newer, safer building. “Politics aside, there are people in these facilities who need the quality facilities,” said Paul Mulloy, one of those Sheriff’s Office workers. The flood protection system calls for a $13 million 2,100-foot-long flood wall along the Cumberland River in which 900 feet would be permanent and an additional 1,200 feet would be removable. The more expensive piece would be a $65 million stormwater pump station. Several of Dean’s loyalists came to defend it. They included leaders of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Partnership and other downtown property owners who reminded the council of the economic significance of the area. They also said that Nashville’s history shows that downtown is vulnerable. “There will be another flood again,” said developer Michael Hayes, whose family has worked out of an office on the Cumberland for nearly the past century. “We’ve seen these big floods happen time and time again. I expect another one to occur in my lifetime.” But critics of the flood plan — albeit fewer in number — likened it to a $100 million project for what amounts to only one council district. They downplayed the threat of flooding downtown compared to residential neighborhoods across the city. They also had different memories than proponents. “Since I’ve lived here in 1968, Mill Creek and the Harpeth River have flooded I can’t count how many times,” said Bernice Patton. “And in 47 years downtown has flooded only once.” The council voted 37-2 Tuesday to approve Dean’s operating budget and capital improvement budget on procedural second of three votes. But the real test comes next week when the council could vote to pull specific projects. Not every piece of Dean’s budget is under debate. Police officers, firefighters and other Metro workers applauded Dean’s proposal for 2.5 percent cost-of-living salary increases — and yet even they used their time to bring up concerns after years of tightening department budgets.

Metro Council proposes classes for code offenders

Macaela Bennett, B9317441460Z_1_20150523002015_000_GCJASDCEH_1-0 Think of it as traffic school for piling trash in your yard or neglecting to mow the lawn for many months. Metro council passed a proposal sponsored by council members Fabian Bedne and Karen Johnson on first reading Tuesday that would open a “Codes Violator School” similar to the format of traffic violation classes. “It’s a constant struggle to have code issues addressed,” Johnson said. “We came to the conclusion that we have got to do something because the process as is is not responsive and not working.” Right now when a code violation is reported, the code inspector gives the homeowner 30 days to fix the issue and those who don’t meet that deadline are given a citation and a court date. Afterward, the judge determines the violator’s penalty. “This (class) is another tool the judge can use if he feels that it’s the best way to deal with the issue,” Bedne said. “I expect them to use this tool in a surgical way and not just throw it at everyone.” According to Bedne and Johnson, the current system leaves many issues unresolved as some violators often don’t make an effort to comply or show up for their court dates. For instance, Johnson said she regularly passes a house that has unresolved violations for at least three years. “When I called a neighbor to ask about it (the problem house), he said he had given up because he doesn’t understand why something clearly presenting a safety issue to him and other neighbors takes so long to get resolved,” Johnson said. And this is not an isolated incident, she said. Bedne said he believes many residents do not understand that codes are in place to protect everyone’s safety. He said this school would induce higher compliance by providing students an understanding of the reason for the city’s standards. “Trash piled in a yard is not just aesthetically displeasing, it’s a health issue. It attracts vermin that can spread to neighbors’ homes,” Bedne said. “This is an opportunity for someone who is not understanding why codes are important to them, their neighbors and the city.” Both council members say their proposal has been well received by their constituents and the rest of council. “I’ve already had people emailing and calling me saying it is a good idea,” Johnson said. “Ultimately what we want to accomplish is a reduction of property issues that cause safety problems, educate people why it is important to keep their property safe and reduce the number of things council members have to follow up on.” The proposal must pass through two more readings before becoming law. If the Metro council approves the class, each would cost around $90 at the student’s expense. Reach Macaela Bennett at 615-259-8089 and on Twitter @Macaela_.

Messy Yard? Tall Grass? A Proposed Nashville Law Could

Send You To Code-Violator School

By Allie Gross


YardPhoto1 Some Metro Council members think Nashville needs a new way to pressure people who won’t comply with city codes. A proposal up for its first vote tonight calls for the city to establish a “codes offender school” for repeat violators of property standards. Co-sponsor Fabian Bedne says it could help some stubborn offenders understand how their violations affect the safety of others. “Having lots of debris in your yard, for example, draws vermin, which then goes to the neighbor’s house. So if you keep your house full of trash and then there are rats in your house that creates a toxic environment for you and also for your neighbor,” Bedne said. Right now, codes violators are given a warning with 30 days to fix the problem, followed by a citation and a court hearing. Co-sponsor Karen Johnson said that in some cases, the current penalties available to judges aren’t enough to enforce the codes. The proposed “codes offender school” offers judges an additional tool. “It’s been a revolving door for repeat offenders,” Johnson said. “They’ll say they’re going to correct an issue, and then it’s an issue again a week later.” Bedne says some landlords even work the fines into their budgets rather than comply. “Many times people just don’t understand why codes are there,” he said. “They think it’s an arbitrary guideline set up by some crazy bureaucrat. But in reality, codes are there to protect people.” Bedne added that his vision would look similar to traffic school, but for people who’ve gotten codes violations instead of speeding tickets. Offenders would also have to pay to attend.

‘Seal of approval': CHS expansion bolsters Antioch developers By  Adam Sichko        Senior Reporter Nashville Business Journal oldacremcdonald 750xx4603-2599-710-690 Picture:  Join the party:  The crew from Oldacre McDonald LLC and members of Metro Council celebrate May 14 announcement that CHS will move 2,000 jobs to Antioch.  From left:  William Oldacre; Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell; Mark McDonald; Councilwoman Karen Johnson; Bill Oldacre; and David Young (of Oldacre McDonald) Bill Oldacre and Mark McDonald didn’t need to be on stage Thursday in order to bask in the spotlight now shining brighter on the massive development they’re pursuing in Antioch. Oldacre and McDonald happily listened while Wayne Smith, CEO of Community Health Systems Inc. (NYSE: CYH), rattled off a half-dozen reasons why he decided to move 2,000 jobs (mostly new) to Antioch — after CHS had previously planned to locate those jobs in Cool Springs. Oldacre and McDonald are the beneficiaries of the switch, as CHS will locate within a 300-acre development also intended to feature a range of retailers, office space, condos and apartments. By land mass, it’s a project five times larger than Oldacre McDonald LLC’s best-known local project: the Nashville West shopping center on Charlotte Pike. “This is the spark that starts the bonfire,” Oldacre told me. “We’re starting with quality, and quantity. This is exactly what we had in mind, exactly the caliber of jobs that we were seeking.” Added McDonald: “It’s like we’ve just been given the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. When a Fortune 200 company chooses to do this, it’s an affirmation of what we’ve been saying.” Oldacre McDonald is teaming with Atlanta-based developer TPA Group on the Antioch project. They’ve received a zoning change that allows for millions and millions of square feet to be built. Oldacre said it’s hard to pin down a comprehensive price tag for the project. But here’s a hint: Oldacre said it’ll cost about $100 million for site work, including grading and the installation of utilities and roads. Oldacre and McDonald are under contract to buy a combined 300 acres from two separate property owners: local automotive magnate Lee Beaman, and twin sisters who call their land Century Farms. The property sales are expected to close in late summer, for prices that Oldacre and McDonald declined to disclose. The land is located at exit 60 of Interstate 24, on the other side of the highway from the former Hickory Hollow Mall (now Global Mall at The Crossings). Oldacre and McDonald are working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to expand the I-24 interchange at that exit. The duo plans to sell 35 of those acres to CHS, also for an undisclosed price. That gives CHS 60 percent more land to work with than the 22-acre parcel the company was under contract to buy from Duke Realty Corp. (NYSE: DRE), at the corner of Carothers Parkway and Liberty Pike, in Cool Springs.

Metro eyes limits on where payday businesses can locate

Pay Day Lending Businesses         Joey Garrison, 5:55 p.m. CST November 3, 2014 Along Nashville thoroughfares such as Gallatin and Nolensville pikes, the volume of cash advance, check-cashing and pawn shops are rivaled only by the number of fast food restaurants. One shop often sits next to another in these working-class and low-income neighborhoods. Their quick and steady rise in Tennessee has fueled critics who say they feed off the financially vulnerable, often minorities, and hurt property values and redevelopment opportunities. Now, after years of unrestrained growth in Davidson County, Metro is considering regulations that would limit where new payday lending shops can locate. A new Metro Council ordinance would prohibit new cash advance, check cashing and title loan stores from locating one-quarter of a mile from where another one exists. The same distance requirement would apply to new pawn shops. The bill, which has co-sponsor commitments from 27 council members, would also restrict the physical size of such establishments to 2,500 square feet, though a push to remove that provision has emerged over concerns it might thwart the redevelopment of dormant properties. Payday loans are typically short-term, high-interest loans of around $325. If the company isn’t paid back within an agreed upon time, the client often borrows again, requiring a fee for each renewal. It can add up over time for many customers. Payday loan companies have a strong lobbying and campaign fundraising presence at the state legislature, which sets the interest rates, oversees licensing and allows the practice. Tennessee has what are considered favorable laws to the industry, especially compared to other states that ban payday lending. While Nashville’s city hall is less-familiar terrain, the industry has taken notice of the proposed ordinance. Advance Financial spokesman and lobbyist Cullen Earnest said that his company is not actively fighting the bill, noting that it does not impede on the type of business itself. Still, he said the bill would limit the “free market.” “It’s very bad public policy when you limit competition, especially when it comes to financial services,” he said. “The bill obviously limits competition.” The proposed legislation under consideration could be amended. Dowell seemed open to the idea of removing the building size limit for future cash advance, check-cashing and pawn shops. David Schwarz, a lobbyist for Community Choice Financial, said if the provision remains it would “severely hamper” redevelopment of otherwise “moth-balled properties” and actually undermine the intent of the bill. Jamie Fulmer, senior vice president for Advance America, said he believes the new bill is primarily a result of the “misunderstanding of our industry promoted by consumer advocacy groups.” He also warned of a precedent. “What happens down the road if somebody decides there are too many attorneys, for example, or somebody decides there are too many banks? I think it can create a slippery slope.” But council members who support the bill say the influx of payday lending companies has gotten so great that action is needed. “If you ride down many of our business corridors, you already see a clustering of those type of businesses,” Councilwoman Karen Johnson said. “Do we want that to be a trend all over the city?” What the ordinance would do: •  Prohibit cash advance, check cashing, and title loan businesses from locating within 1,320 feet (one-quarter of a mile) from others •  Limit square footage of check cashing, cash advance, and title loan establishments to 2,500 feet •  Would not shut down existing businesses

Payday lending meeting called as Metro mulls change

cashadvancephotonashville         Tony Gonzalez, 3:18 p.m. CDT October 14, 2014 A community meeting on Saturday will put Metro Council representatives face-to-face with residents to discuss legislation that could restrict pawnshops and payday lending businesses. The Neighborhoods Resource Center will host the meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at 1312 Third Ave. North. Council members Fabian Bedne, Jacobia Dowell and Karen Johnson are scheduled to attend. They are sponsoring legislation that would change Davidson County zoning to limit the size of financial institutions to 2,500 square feet and create a distance requirement of a quarter-mile between such businesses. The proposal cites a Chattanooga study that found payday lenders can reduce property values and a federal study that shows the businesses tend to locate in disproportionately minority areas. “If you allow a certain industry to cluster within a block or small geographical area and create a financial drain, it creates an economically blighted and distressed area,” said Johnson, who represents a South Nashville district between the airport and Percy Priest Lake. The bill has been through one reading before the council and is scheduled to be next considered by the Metro Planning Commission on Oct. 23, before going before the council again on Nov. 4. In April, a payday lending forum in Nashville drew hundreds — in opposition to and in defense of the industry. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shared data at the meeting showing that loans are typically less than $500 at annualized interest rates of nearly 400 percent, with four out of every five loans rolled over or renewed. Reach Tony Gonzalez at 615-259-8089 and on Twitter @tgonzalez.  

Nashville adds 20 tornado sirens, changes warning sound

Expansion launched in District 29

_MNP1008_1           _MNP1000_1           Reported by Jennifer Johnson, WSMV Channel4 News Read more: NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) When severe weather strikes, there’s another way for people in Nashville to stay informed. The city has upgraded its system of tornado sirens by adding 20 more. Metro officials have increased the number of sirens in Davidson County from 73 to 93 in the past couple months. The sirens’ sound has also changed from an electronic tone to a mechanically-generated one similar to an old-fashioned air-raid warning. “I think it’s going to sound more like ‘danger.’ The electronic tone is loud, but it doesn’t associate with danger,” said Scott Potter, with Metro Emergency Operations. The city said the different tone will also make it easier to hear and travel a greater distance. The purpose of the tornado warning siren system is to provide emergency weather alerts to those in outdoor settings when a tornado warning had been issued. “This is something we’ve long wanted, and I’m very excited Mayor Dean is making it happen,” said Metro Councilwoman Karen Johnson. The estimated cost of the upgrade is $2 million, which will be paid for by a capital bond program approved by the Metro Council in 2012 Read more: