NO NASHVILLE GOP CONVENTION
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***** Contact Info for Local Officials: Our spreadsheet HERE contains the phone and email information for all our local electeds and decisionmakers. CALL & EMAIL NOW! *****
This week the Tennessean posted a series of articles pushing the idea of a Nashville GOP Convention. Here's just one calling Nashville a "serious contender" to take on the Republican event rejected by North Carolina because Trump and the GOP are insisting on no masks or social distancing. Gov. Bill Lee toured Lower Broadway Friday June 5th with RNC representatives (and threaded the needle between two #BlackLivesMatter protests in the area which drew tens of thousands of protesters.)
Hosting the Convention in Nashville puts our first responders and our community at large at huge risk, especially since TN has been among the top few states for COVID rate of spread for weeks. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said "Nashville can pull this off" while failing to note that all state employees other than Tennessee legislative employees are still working from home due to COVID concerns. Currently we're one of only nine states with more than 70% ICU (intensive care unit) occupancy due to COVID. On June 8, Channel 5 reporter Phil Williams reported Tennessee had more COVID cases than in any other week of the crisis, and not only as the result of more testing.
COVID concerns come in addition to the considerable risk of violence to our city employees, residents, public and private property from a GOP apparatus which seems to think nothing of using any means necessary to clear peaceful protests. Trump has already tear gassed peaceful protestors and threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, which our Republican governor could approve to roll U.S. Army tanks down Nashville city streets to quiet opposition.
In addition to signing our petition, please contact Nashville Mayor John Cooper; Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation; and your Nashville Metro Councilmember. Also contact members of the Sports Authority which manages Bridgestone Arena and the Convention Center Authority which controls the Music City Center. Contact info is at the top of the page.
All this said, we're not quite at red alert status yet. We're told calls to electeds are running heavily NO, and several Metro Councilmembers have signed onto CM Colby Sledge's announced resolution to say NO to the Convention. Mayor Cooper has said that financial and COVID concerns have made him unreceptive to the Convention. Also, other cities such as Orlando, Las Vegas and Savannah are still in the mix.
But pressure still is coming from Republicans in the Legislature, none of whom live in Nashville, and from Republican Gov. Bill Lee's office. He knows he won't get votes in liberal Nashville so he doesn't much care what we think, and he has financial and regulatory tools in his arsenal to try to force leverage on Nashville electeds to do his bidding.
Proponents point to the tax revenue which would be generated by the event, but they've issued no specifics. Also, events like this are hugely expensive. Charlotte was asked to commit $70 MILLION in their original 2018 bid.
The Republicans want to use city-owned Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center for the event itself, and have asked cities to use similar venues free of charge in the past. Which means we'd pay for the security, sanitation and other personnel it takes to run those venues. Police overtime alone would likely run into millions. Would that money be reimbursed?
We estimate several city blocks around Bridgestone Arena would have to be blocked off for at least a few days due to clashes between law enforcement and protestors. Who'd reimburse the affected business owners as well as others who'd suffer from the traffic and other major disruptions this event would cause? (With all our law enforcement downtown, who'd respond to domestic violence and other calls?) Who'd reimburse for public and private property which easily could be damaged by protests? This Convention speech would be Trump's marquee event for the year. Tens of thousands of people currently marching for #BlackLivesMatter all over the USA WILL come here if the event is in Nashville.
This week state Republicans said they'd pay for the event, but Gov. Bill Lee has already cut $340 million from this year's state budget, including state employee pay raises, maintenance on state property and TennCare. Where exactly would the money come from? Update: On June 8 Lee said he "didn't expect" to use state money, but offered no specifics or any answers to questions like ours above.
Also, since cases of COVID continue to rise in our area, who'd pay for additional public health personnel and facilities after the deadly disease explodes in our community? This Convention would conservatively draw 50,000 people from all over the world - delegates, media, hangers on - and this is before the huge number of protestors who'd come here. (Yes, we said the WORLD; international media covers US political conventions.) A significant percentage of these would come from Washington D.C. and other Northeastern corridor cities, which are parts of the country hardest hit by COVID.
In November 2016 Nashville voted AGAINST Donald Trump by almost 30 percentage points. This is OUR city. WE should get to decide who hosts an unmasked, unsocially distanced major event and brings the potential of unprecedented clashes between police and protestors to our streets.
Find real time updates on the Twitter hashtag #NoNashvilleGOPConvention or on our Twitter account at @NashvilleResist.
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