Myopic, Obtuse Players Are Top Stories of 2011

A new year is a chance to start again, while remembering the highlights (and lows) of the past year. And what a year 2011 was for our dear LaVergne, no?  Even though – technically – we got a new mayor in November of 2010, this past year was the first full year of the new administration.

This administration has had a hard row to hoe, that no one will argue.  As the new mayor, Senna Mosley was finally able to effect the changes she had been asking for since 2004.  As alderman she was the lone voice for the little guy, the only anti-establishment conscience of a city previously run like the Wild West.

The city borrowed money years ago and instead of spending it on infrastructure repairs, it used the funds to pay the increased sewer fees charged by Metro Nashville. When Metro increased fees, the city should have THEN trickled it down to consumers instead of leaving the problem to fester and ultimately drain the city coffer to – unfortunately – have to be addressed all at once. That we are in the middle of a very difficult economy only made it that much worse.

Said money was also used to pay off lost lawsuits that ultimately could have been avoided had a strong leader been in place – whether as a mayor or city administrator.  The poor management of employees is something else that has been addressed in 2011.  In fact, the mayor made this statement to the Tennessean in early December,

City employees are being held accountable in their jobs. The citizens of La Vergne deserve professionals who are honest, hard-working, and who can perform the duties of their positions.

There is no more just getting by, no more harassment and intimidation, no more buying alcohol while driving a city vehicle, no more ignoring repairs that need to be made, no more egregious violations of personnel policies. If the public is concerned about this, so be it. But it is my responsibility to move this city forward and to do this, our city employees must be qualified, skilled, and able to perform the tasks that are set before them ethically, morally and legally.

Anyone, ANYONE who would choose to manipulate that straightforward statement must be anti-LaVergne, especially when followed with the words “Personnel records reviewed by The Tennessean document much of what Mosley described.”  The article went on to list examples that included,

In one file a public works employee forcibly held an inmate laborer’s head in his lap while cursing. Another file tracked a discharged employee’s sloppy and inaccurate paperwork, and an incident in which the same worker was sent home under suspicion of alcohol use.

Conflicts of interest, threats against a police officer, racist comments, insults hurled at taxpayers and another case of on-the-job drunkenness also are alleged in the files.

Here’s where we get to the fact that 2011 was filled with myopic, obtuse players. I read with interest the Op Ed piece and the Year in Review stories in the DNJ today.  These negative views were completely typical of the kind of stories and editorials this paper has been publishing in the last year about our city. This newspaper feeds right into the vocal minority’s temper, and for what? To sell papers? Even when shown the same files as viewed by the Tennessean (according to my sources), the editors deliberately gleaned a different story that was – in effect – another attack on the mayor. Then they took it a step further and wrote an editorial about the personnel changes – changes that anyone would be applauding if they were without a personal vendetta.  And yes, we believe the DNJ must have some kind of blind hatred for our city as they stubbornly cling to bad news and willfully turn their back on what’s good here.  Fair reporting goes both ways, you see. When your focus on negative content of one municipality is as evident as yours has been, you lose credibility in the eyes of your readers. You’ve certainly lost your credibility here.

That said, it is great to know LaVergne has had some GREAT NEWS in 2011.  This was the year our Old Timers Day expanded into a full three-day festival featuring carnival rides and made use of our entire beautiful Veterans Memorial Park. Attendance estimates put the numbers at 10,000 (where previously there were about 3,000 on a good day according to the crowd control officials – yes more “sources”).  Our National Night Out was also well attended.  We had our first ever Fourth of July celebration – again with wonderful crowds and an amazing fireworks show.  We had our first every Christmas Parade – the “Parade of Lights” – followed by a beautiful tree-lighting ceremony that featured the stunning voices of our local school choirs.  We also got our first greenway which will eventually be turned into a beautiful park for an often forgotten part of our town. We have to thank the majority of the board whose forward thinking ideas and innovation has brought these great things to our city.

The new management team in place at City Hall, as well as the city workers who remain are the cream of the crop.  We got the former Colonel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as our police chief.  The new public works director has a MASTERS degree in gooey stuff like sewer, asphalt, chemicals, etc. Our PR Director with a BS in journalism brings years of communications experience from the local, state, and federal levels. Our new Parks & Rec guy can fly an Apache helicopter for cryin’ out loud! The new city planner is extremely competent and our grant writer is now actually writing grants! And we have Fred, the HR Director. Bravo, LaVergne! Clap clap clap…

Clearly there have been plenty of things to celebrate in LaVergne, at least for those who have vision and a dream.  We knew the first year would be difficult because so many wrongs had to be made right.  However, it is reassuring to know that while there are vocal opponents, we can still work toward building a vibrant, thriving city of which we can all be proud.  Things are finally looking up for LaVergne under the capable leadership of Mayor Mosley, with a Vice Mayor who is not in it for personal gain, an outstanding and honest Alderman in Tom Broeker who always questions and gets all sides before he makes a decision, and with Alderman Sherry Green also there to support the senior residents of our community.

Here’s to 2012 being the year of real excitement now that the hardest first steps have been taken!

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