Predictable: AT&T Sues Nashville

AT&T made good on its promise to sue Nashville, and with haste, too.  The suit is a response to Metro’s new ordinance known as One Touch Make Ready (OTMR); it is disputing the government’s authority to regulate attachments to utility poles.  AT&T claims that only the Federal Communications Commission can do that.

Earlier: One Touch Make Ready approved by council, probably faces lawsuit

The OTMR ordinance was passed by the Metro Council on Tuesday.  Twelve councilmembers voted to defer the bill because they were fearful of the threatened lawsuit, but the bill proceeded anyways.  On Wednesday, the Mayor, who had previously been neutral on the bill, signed it into law.

The lawsuit does not seek a preliminary injunction, in which the judge would put the ordinance on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.


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Mayor Barry as a model for other Southern mayors

The Economist covered Nashville this week.  More specifically, they covered Mayor Barry’s first year in office and how the city’s and state’s left and right political cohorts clash:

Her experiences suggest a possible strategy for Democrats elsewhere, as well as the frictions they may experience.  One has been with the Republican supermajorities in the Tennessee capitol, around the corner from her office—part of a widening stand-off between left-leaning southern mayors and conservative legislatures. In 2011 Nashville was involved in an early tussle over protections for gay and transgender people; this year a state bathroom bill like the one that ignited controversy in North Carolina failed, but a measure letting counsellors turn away patients on the grounds of “sincerely held principles” was passed. That cost Nashville at least three convention bookings, Mayor Barry laments, gently noting that the state relies on the city’s success, too. There have been disagreements over guns in parks (which the city was forced to allow last year), a putative rise in the minimum wage (nixed) and a plan to reserve 40% of work on big public projects for locals (ditto).

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Nashville, the TV show, is no more

ABC has cancelled production on the next season of Nashville.  Apparently the ratings have been a rollercoaster, which was not satisfactory enough for them to keep the show going.  Fans weren’t too thrilled about it:

Though some were filled with optimism:

Not everybody was so hot about the $40 million that the city and state poured into keeping the show filmed locally, as WPLN reports.  Mayor Barry wrote that they had offered incentives to the producers for a fifth season, though:

We are incredibly disappointed to hear the news that ABC has not renewed the show ‘Nashville’ for another season. The show has been an enormously successful promotional tool for our city, which is why the State of Tennessee and Metro Nashville were prepared to support production for a fifth season the be filmed here. This is a loss for ABC and for the millions of fans across the world who have grown to love this show. We have enjoyed hosting the cast and crew of the show over the last four years and look forward to future opportunities for film and television production here in Nashville.

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Nashville’s $58 million price tag on bathroom bill

If the legislature passes the bill that would restrict transgender students to using the bathroom of their birth sex, Mayor Barry says, the city would lose out on $58 million in convention spending.  And that’s not good, considering we just spent a good amount of money for our new convention center.

“This legislation doesn’t reflect Nashville’s values and doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life for citizens of our city or state,” the mayor wrote.

That’s in addition to the money the state AG says we would lose in federal Title IX funding if the bill becomes law.

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Chiefly Diverse at Metro

The mayor wants the city-county government to be “diverse and inclusive” (who doesn’t?), so she gave Michelle Hernandez-Lane the task of making sure that happens.  As the new Chief Diversity Offer, she’ll build on her work in her previous role with the city, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance, by working towards “the attraction, development, promotion, and retention of a diverse government workforce at all levels,” among other things.

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Does MTA Real Time Work?

This morning, Mayor Barry rode the bus to work to promote the MTA’s new real time transit app.

The real time data that was rolled out in December was hailed as the solution to MTA customers’ problems.  But this simple technological solution, while nice, is a just a minor feature masquerading as a fix.

Accompanied by other bigwigs and news media, who likely drove to her bus stop to ride with her, Mayor Barry extolled the virtues of having real time information on bus arrivals.  “It’s really important – the open data that allows people to track all of this information make it a lot easier if you’re a rider to know where the bus is and if it’s coming and you can access the bus when it gets here,” she told WKRN.

Although the MTA’s Instagram post claims that she was riding route 7, the photo in the collage makes it appear that she was riding a bus that was running especially for her.  The dynamic sign board on the front of the bus simply says “Mayor Megan Barry” instead of the route number and destination:

I haven’t had an entirely great experience with the real time data, though.  For the past three days, I’ve been riding the bus to a conference downtown.  Five of the six times I used the app this week, the arrival times have been nearly accurate (even though the interface is clunky).  But this afternoon, as I was waiting for my bus during rush hour, the app left me frustrated and in the dark.  The real time data kept jumping all over the place — at first the bus was 10 minutes late, then it was suddenly 20 minutes late, then 50.  And then, just as suddenly, the bus showed up with no warning from the app.  A second bus traveling on the same corridor was shortly behind it, but that bus was also not shown on the results returned for my stop.

At its core, MTA real time is an API — a data stream of bus arrival times that programmers can hook in to for their own applications.  MTA (with the help of their contractor) runs this API using their own servers and trackers installed in each bus.  While the official Music City Transit app is the most-promoted solution available, there are other apps that utilize this same data stream: Transit App, Google Maps, and Vanderbilt’s own T-Hub.

Vanderbilt employee Heidi Hall seemed to have a better experience with the real time data when she used T-Hub:

To be blunt, the MTA’s bus schedule and when the buses actually arrive have very little to do with each other on busy routes. T-Hub allows me to set the trip, but then track where my bus is in real time. No need to run out of my office at 4:30 p.m. if the bus isn’t going to be there until 5 p.m.

And Councilmember Sledge was satisfied with Transit App when he used in shortly after its Nashville debut last December.

My biggest beef with the real time data, though, is that it’s promoted as the be-all end-all for the MTA riders’ woes.  It’s not.  Knowing that your bus will be 20 minutes late does not help with the fact that it’s 20 minutes late.  Sure, you may not have to run out to your stop until shortly before your bus actually arrives (if you’re lucky enough to be leaving from a place just a few steps from your bus stop), but that still makes you 20 minutes late to your destination.

This new feature is a great (if late) step in the right direction.  Both the MTA and its real time data API have a long way to go.


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MLK III in Nashville Today

Martin Luther King III, along with his family, is in town today to help celebrate his father’s legacy:

Mayor Barry’s and Mr. King’s march to the TSU convocation did not go entirely as planned, however:


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