Thursday, June 17, 2004

From Our Nashville Bureau

Two good pieces in the latest Nashville Scene. First is a Roger Abramson column looking at how government "does something" about the problem of day care van drivers. He points out why it can be expected to end in tears this summer. I've taken to Abramson, who plows fields similar to our Jackson Baker. His column is worth searching out each week.

More interesting is the big story, an in-depth look at Metro Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell and his famous temper. The article draws on the reporter's experience and a whole lot of revealing interviews to draw a mixed portrait of a man who is dealing with a budget shortfall of his own. A $100 million shortfall! It's not flattering, but it does seem even-handed; it's a definite worthwhile read.

It also begs a striking question. Why haven't we seen this kind of portrait of Mayor Willie Herenton? All I can recall are election-driven overviews and important-date hagiographies, non-probing editorial Q&A's from the Commercial Appeal and softballs from the Flyer. We have more than a few folks here who could write such a revealing look, but we haven't gotten one. Why is that?

Some of the fault will undoubtedly lie with the Mayor himself, famously loathe to deal with the media except on friendly, uncritical terms he sets. I'm sure there's a large loyalty factor among those who work for him, just as I'm sure there's an equally large fear factor. President Bush's administration used to be noted for its closed-mouthed behavior, but I'm sure he could take a few lessons from our Mayor.

So, here's the challenge: Can one of the local print writers get behind the PR veil and show us some of the man through his interactions with peers and subordinates?

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