Clarksville, TN Online: News, Opinion, Arts & Entertainment.


Urban sprawl and the building of people-friendly communities

 

On the Road in America is an occasional column of thoughts, ideas and observations from my travels.

co-downtown-hamp.jpgWhen I first moved to Clarksville four years ago, I was initially fascinated with the immense geographic area of the city. It was an “urban sprawl” that included an explosion of multiple housing developments. It looked, for the most part, like the bedroom communities of exploding around New England’s major cities. Sort of. But less well planned.

In fact, the photo of downtown Northampton (above left) looks a lot like Franklin Street with the exception of the width of the Main Street, which is large enough for multiple lanes of traffic, angle parking on both side of the street, and in the winter, mountains of snow plowed into the middle of the road until the bucket loaders roll in and haul it all to the river. Just around the corner is Smith College, perhaps a tad larger than APSU, but not much. Crosswalks are located on every block and motorist beware: you will be ticketed for failing to yield to pedestrian right of way everywhere in the city. People walk, bike and bus everywhere in this city.

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Section: Opinion | 1 Comment »
 

Another look at the “blight” debate: videotape of Property Rights Coalition Forum at the train station

 

blightsville-napa-002.jpgLast week Clarksville Online offered you, our readers, the complete content of the Dec. 14 HOPE-sponsored meeting to review the “blight” designation applied to downtown Clarksville via Ordinance 73-2005-06.

That first meeting was called in response to a City Council voted that placed two square miles, and 1800 homes and business under a “blighted property” designation to facilitate a Downtown Redevelopment Plan. It is the largest “blanket blighting” in the country and has raised the ire of virtually all the homeowners and many of the businesspeople who reside in or own property in that area. In addition to the start of a postcard and petition drive, the Coalition called for a repeal of the new ordinance, which many property owners say “blindsided” them, signs have also been popping up as a show of protest. The City Council is planning a forum to respond to citizen concerns but have not yet announced a date, time, place, or list of speakers.

Today we present a second tape, this one of the Dec. 17 Clarksville Property Rights Coalition meeting held at the historic L&N Train Station in the heart of what is quickly becoming referred to as “Blightsville” USA.

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Section: News | No Comments
 

Omnibus Spending: Senate missed the mark

 

chris-lugo.jpgLast week the United States Senate passed the Omnibus Spending Bill, which included an appropriation of $70 billion for Iraq, showing that the Senate is once again out of touch with the basic values of the American people. According to a December 13th Gallup survey, Americans say that the war in Iraq is their number one concern, yet this past week the US Senate voted to “stay the course” and handed the President everything he wanted with respect to the war in Iraq.

American’s are highly skeptical about the notion of progress in Iraq, with only 11% polling responding that they are “pleased” with the results of the war. Yet Americans seem resigned to the fact that US troops are going to remain in Iraq. The simple fact is that the United States cannot afford to continue this war. In addition to the complete lack of international support for Bush’s folly, the middle class can no longer afford to pay for the war. The national debt is at an all time high of $9.1 trillion dollars and Congress has appropriated another $580 billion dollars in military spending, far in excess of the actual amount of appropriations needed to defend the national security . «Read the rest of this article»

Section: Opinion | 1 Comment »
 


Season’s Greetings

 

co-santa.jpg

The staff and writers at

Clarksville Online

wish all our readers the happiest of holidays

as you celebrate the spirit of Christmas.

Section: Events | No Comments
 

A Christmas I remember…

 

christmas-nativity-scene-1.jpgOur family has celebrated and observed the Holy Season of Advent and Christmas in Korea, Vietnam and Germany while on active duty. As a chaplain, I conducted worship services and sang in cantata, the message of hope for this season.Even in Vietnam, our special ecumenical choir on Christmas Eve sang for the Vietnamese at the 91st Evac Hospital. Catholics and Protestants merged their talents in this presentation, which gave a boost to everyone’s morale as we made the most of the occasion so far from homes and families. I can say it was a time of joy and sadness for all of us. To appreciate the season, though, we have each other. «Read the rest of this article»

 

City Council plans public forum to address citizen concerns on redevelopment, blight

 

blight article headerAs details of the recent City Council action in approving Ordinance 73-2005-06 unfold, residents of the two-square mile downtown district now deemed “blighted” awakened to what is perceived as a potential threat to their homes and neighborhoods in form of “redevelopment” and eminent domain. The Council quietly whispered through the new ordinance and the people roared back their displeasure in the form of grassroots meetings and the beginnings of a sign campaign that touts the area as “Blightville.”

The City Council, which had considered the plan a done deal, is now facing the need to justify the Downtown Redevelopment Plan. They will respond to an angry constituency with a meeting of their own, a public forum to be held in January on a yet to be determined date and time and location. The Council hearing will be led by an as yet unnamed attorney. They’ll need a big room, since the opposition is growing steadily, as noted with the three hundred people who showed up for the December 17 petition drive at the Historic Train Station on Tenth Street. «Read the rest of this article»

Section: News | 2 Comments
 


In the spirit of Christmas, the ACLU sings

 

christmas-carolers.jpgThe Music of this Holiday Season is uplifting a prepares emotionally and spiritually the celebration of Christmas and the New Year. Whatever the faith, music and signing is indispensable and enriches out lives whether it’s sacred or secular.Joining us in our musical jubilation are myriad organizations who also recognize the values espoused in the songs, cards, and happiness of the season. In December, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington office joined carolers in expressing the peace, joy and hope of the season as expressed through music. «Read the rest of this article»

 

SSA budget increase to reduce backlog, expedite disability claims

 

co-social-security-logo.gifThe news could have been better, but given the circumstances, the news for SSA is positive. The FY 2008 Omnibus budget bill, which has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, recommends a funding level for SSA of $9,746,953,000. The President’s FY 2008 budget request for SSA was $9,596,953,000. The first version of the Labor-HHS bill provided $275 million over the President’s budget, but was vetoed by the President.

In fashioning a new bill, there was talk that most federal agencies would receive only the President’s request. The bill actually recommended an even higher number for SSA’s administrative funding; however, that amount was reduced by an across-the-board cut of 1.747%, reducing the SSA funding level.

Bottom line: In the end, SSA came out ahead of the game, but not as much as we had hoped. After the across-the-board reduction, SSA’s administrative funding in the FY 08 Omnibus measure is $150.0 million over the President’s budget request – and $451.0 million over the FY 200 level of funding. «Read the rest of this article»

Section: News | No Comments
 

Audubon holds Christmas bird count; evidence of decline, habitat loss noted

 

co-binoculars-large.jpegA little known spy group in Clarksville meets twice a year at Shoney’s before the crack of dawn. When their plotting is done they leave at sunrise in several vehicles and drive to different areas of town. During the day they drive and walk every bit of their area and using spyglasses (binoculars) they jot down notes about their victims’ private lives. Some of these spies have been operating this secret mission for years and are really good at finding what they are looking for. “It’s like fishing in a way,” says Elaine Faust. “You are always anxious to see what’s around the next corner, by the next tree or in the next field. Sometimes you see things that aren’t supposed to be there and that’s really exciting.”

At the end of the day they celebrate their hard work and discoveries by sharing a dinner of chili. The notes collected there disclose nasty secrets that we may not want to know.

These spies are members of the Audubon society; they have acquired the ability to quickly recognize different types of birds and jot down how many they see. Twice a year, in December and in May, Audubon members gather to do an eight-hour count of birds in this area. Audubon member Amy Wallace says that the Christmas bird count (CBC) is so-named to counter an old tradition of hunters killing as many birds as they can before Christmas. «Read the rest of this article»

Section: Events, News | No Comments
 


‘Taxi to the Dark Side’ details U.S. torture

 

Taxi to the Dark Side PosterFrom the director of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into the reckless abuse of power by the Bush Administration.

By probing the homicide of an innocent taxi driver at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing and often brutal film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness, in its prosecution of the “war on terror,” to undermine the essence of the rule of law. The film asks and answers a key question: what happens when a few men expand the wartime powers of the executive to undermine the very principles on which the United States was founded.

Incorporating rare and never-before-seen images from inside the Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons, and interviews with former government officials such as John Yoo, Alberto Mora and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, interrogators, prison guards, New York Times reporters Tim Golden and Carlotta Gall (who wrote the first stories about the homicides in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) and the families of tortured prisoners, the film dissects the progression of the Administration’s policy on torture from the secret role of key administration figures, such as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and others to the soldiers in the field.

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