by Steven Hale
In an email sent to supporters yesterday, John Ray Clemmons says his House District 55 Democratic primary opponent, incumbent Rep. Gary Odom, has "join[ed] forces with the Tea Party" and "has effectively handed the keys to Nashville's future" to them.
For this, Clemmons says, he should be "ashamed of himself."
The scorched-earth letter is copied after the jump. Although it criticizes Odom for a number of legislative sins, it is primarily a response to Stop Amp's recent endorsement of Odom and the incumbent's support for a legislative compromise passed earlier this year that gave the General Assembly more authority over Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit project.
Nashville residents may respectfully disagree on how to improve and expand our mass transit system, and I, as well as many others on both sides of the AMP issue, agree that an informed debate about plans for our city’s future is healthy and that this is an issue that should be decided on the local level. Gary Odom and his Tea Party colleagues obviously disagree. Odom’s explicit support of the state legislature’s meddling and interference in Nashville’s affairs is disturbing.
Gary Odom, who disagrees with me on local control, has embraced, and been embraced by, the same Tea Party meddlers who tried to force guns into our parks, restaurants and private property and who are also interfering with our ability to facilitate Nashville’s continued progress and improve our mass transit system. In so doing, Odom has aligned himself with the same legislators who tried to strip the Vanderbilt University Police Department of its state recognition as retaliation for its “all comers” nondiscrimination policy.
As a neighborhood advocate and leader, I have battled the Tea Party at every turn. I actively protested against “guns in parks” with mothers at Fannie Mae Dees (“Dragon”) Park, opposed the “guns in bars” legislation and fought the retaliatory attack on Nashville’s largest private employer. I also led the joint-neighborhood grassroots movement to defeat a proposed interchange at Granny White and I-440, an accomplishment for which Odom has tried to claim credit in recent taxpayer-funded campaign mailings, and the state’s interference in zoning issues.
Instead of engaging in and helping lead a discussion about how best to facilitate Nashville’s continued growth, Gary Odom chose to join forces with the Tea Party to blockade local efforts to improve our public transportation system and impede Nashville’s continued progress. It is critical for our city’s future that we embrace a clean, efficient mass transit system, in one form or another, to help create jobs and protect our environment.
Gary Odom should be ashamed of himself. With his deal-cutting, good old boy approach, he has effectively handed the keys to Nashville’s future to the Tea Party. Odom clearly represents more of the same in the state legislature, whereas I believe that the status quo is unacceptable. It is more apparent now than ever before that change is needed in the state legislature. Our city’s progress demands it.
It's time for change.
Well, folks, it would appear to be on.