by Jim Ridley
Joey Garrison's story in today's City Paper sets back on the city's radar an item that shouldn't be allowed to drop off: that quiet little meeting of legislators, lobbyists and businessmen a few weeks ago at the downtown LifeWay building, where this secret conservative assembly met to discuss its strategy against the so-called "homosexual agenda." That would include the CANDO nondiscrimination bill coming up next month before the Metro Council.
Garrison lists some of the folks present at this meeting: "... [host] David Fowler, a former Republican state senator who heads the Family Action Council of Tennessee ... businessmen such as Lee Beaman of Beaman Automotive Group and Stan Hardaway, president of Hardaway Construction; Bill Phillips, former deputy mayor of Bill Purcell’s administration who now works as a lobbyist; and a pair of Republicans: state Rep. Glen Casada of Williamson County and Jim Gotto, currently serving a dual role as state representative and Metro councilman."
What comes through clearly from Garrison's article — echoing Jeff Woods in the current Scene — is that the hard right is learning to mask its own social agenda as pro-business fervor. Five decades ago, the group of Nashville businessmen and city leaders known as Watauga met in secret to help the city greet the unavoidable onset of progress, including the civil rights movement.
Behold the dawn of the anti-Watauga.