Capitol View Commentary: Friday, October 5, 2012 - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, October 5, 2012

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CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

October 5, 2012

ENDING THE SLUMP

After over a month of various problems and serious challenges on the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney got out his slump this past week. And he may be back in the race because President Barack Obama went into a tailspin of his own, at least for the night of the first debate on Wednesday.

With national and some battleground states' polls tightening up even before the verbal face-off (the bounce from the Democratic Convention also appears over), Romney was much more confident, aggressive and focused. He even seemed to be trying to feel the pain in the middle class in this tough economy. The President seemed a bit off, distracted, too professorial in his answers, missing easy arguments for rebuttals to turn the tables on his GOP challenger. No mention of women and reproductive rights in the health care debate? Not even a hint or a suggestive remark about Romney's 47% tape comments? (By the way, Romney now on the other side of a very positive debate, apologized for what he said, saying it was "just wrong.") 

Was the President doing a rope-a-dope? Baiting his opponent to say too much (and Romney said plenty about his tax policies he may have to defend and explain going forward)? Or was the President just being too cautious not to make a mistake or overconfident and under-prepared? Regardless, he has two weeks to try and do much better in the town hall format debate. In the meantime, it's all on Vice President Joe Biden to win his debate with GOP VP nominee Congressman Paul Ryan this coming week.

Yikes! Given Biden's latest verbal gaffe (long overdue given his past track record), depending on Biden to pick back the momentum surely must give Team Obama some heartburn, especially when Romney all but repeated Biden's words about the middle class being buried and crushed by the policies of the past four years.

But the President has gotten a bit of a positive break from the latest jobs report issued Friday with more jobs being added again (100,000 plus) and overall unemployment numbers down below 8% for the first time  in nearly 4 years (and it wasn't  because people just quit looking for work).

 But while the number of consecutive months of positive job growth continues as a plus for Mr. Obama, it still remains too low to really grow or maintain a strong economy. And while Mr. Romney will have to change his talking point about yet another month of above 8% joblessness, the rate is  still higher than any modern president has had and still got re-elected.

 Romney still faces an uphill battle unless the polls turn especially in normally Republican states like Ohio. Let's see what kind of debate bounce he gets by next week early polls look positive, especially boosting Romney's favorable numbers and tracking polls narrowing the  race in all-important Ohio.

St for now, after this debate it looks like we are once again headed to a close race all the way to November 6.

GOING IN DEPTH ON INSIDE POLITICS

We will talk in more depth about the debate and what happens now with our political analysts Chip Saltsman (Republican) and Larry Woods (Democratic) this weekend on INSIDE POLITICS. It is a great conversation you won't want to miss.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. Our air times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5.  We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m., Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5 over-the-air digital channel 5.       

FINALLY

Ceremonies were held October 2 to mark the opening of the 28th Avenue Connector. It's not the longest or most expensive local road/bridge project ever (only one-third of a mile in length with an $18 million budget) but it could well be the culmination of one of the oldest pending road projects in Metro history.  I can remember seeing the proposal in the city's Capital Budget (a planning document) year after year dating back to when I was a TV reporter back in the mid-1970s. The project's original planning could well go back to the late 1960s right after I-40 was built through North Nashville, isolating that area in many ways, and creating considerable resentment in the black community.

Why did it take so long to build? Never enough money was the standard answer. But the real reason I suspect was that it was not considered important enough to build a road that would have removed a major physical barrier that divided communities, specifically minorities and the poor in North Nashville to more affluent west Nashville (the West End area specifically).

Nobody ever said that, but I suspect when people drive and see how much more convenient it will now be to go and from the university/ medical centers  ( the Vanderbilt, HCA/ Centennial Medical Center area  to General Hospital, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University), people will ask," I wonder why this didn't happen years ago."

Yes, it took going over the CSX railroad tracks (it's never easy to deal with the railroad when you want to use or approach their property) and behind Centennial Park (environmental sensitivities), but it really took overcoming a barrier of separation that many folks apparently just didn't see for a long time or didn't see removing it as a priority.

But times change, fortunately, and the 28th Avenue Connector will bring us together now instead of keeping us apart. And it will do so through multiple means of transportation…. not just for car access, but also through new wide sidewalks, bike lanes and mass transit, even some community art work along the new roadside and bridge.

Kudos to Mayor Karl Dean and his administration for moving ahead to make this connector become a reality

Finally.

IT REALLY IS BIG!

From the first time I saw it under construction I knew the Music City Center was the largest thing I'd ever seen in Nashville. Now it know it is even larger than what city officials planned as the budget to heat and cool the structure is now projected to be a couple of million bucks over what consultants thought it would run.

Combine that with the center opening a little late so conventions won't start there until June of next year, and the projected first year deficit for the Center is several million larger than projected too.

Here come the naysayers I am sure to second guess.

But that's why there are reserve funds to cover these shortfalls and as long as we can always cover the bond debt to build it the city will be OK, especially with all the additional private sector growth in new hotels, restaurants and other new businesses planned or under construction around the Center.

You likely won't recognize the area around the Center when it opens and even more so five years from now. Given Metro's overall financial investment, it better be the biggest and best thing we've ever built around here….and so far it is.

MY STROKE RECOVERY PART IV

After three weeks in two different hospitals, I couldn't wait to be discharged on July 19. I got pumped the minute my Vanderbilt Stallworth physician, Dr. Antoinne Able (a wonderful doctor) told me I would likely be ready to leave (and begin out-patient therapy at the Bill Wilkerson Pi Beta Phi Clinic)  about a week before I actually left.

My excitement only built when one of my physical therapists took me for a walk outside around the hospital grounds a day or two before my release date.  Other than being transported in an ambulance when I switched hospitals, it was the very first time I had been outside in nearly 3 weeks!   The sunshine, the fresh air, the sound of traffic, even the summer heat was wonderful! Walking on some of the uneven surfaces including the grass, the ground and the sidewalk was a little more challenging.

I didn't fall, but I was still considered enough of a "fall risk" that I was given a walker and encouraged to use it when I left the hospital, and sometimes, especially in the early days after my discharge, and if I was walking some distance or going to an unfamiliar place, I did use it.

My discharge day was a real high for me. After checking out, my wife, Betty Lee, and I went by my DVL office. It was something I had told some of colleagues I planned to do when they visited me in the hospital. Heading back to the office was where I was going the day I had my stroke, and it's where I wanted to be my first day out of the hospital to sort of complete the journey. It was a great feeling, even if I did cry a little bit when I got there to say hello and thank everyone for filling in for me while I was out (and I would still be out for a while yet).

Then it was off to lunch with Betty Lee (joined by my daughter Kelly and her husband, Shane Cortesi) at one our favorite places, THE PICNIC. Being out in public again for the first time was a little odd I must say, but I handled it all right, even using my walker (and even if what I ate…a tuna sandwich and ham and bean soup was not fully on my recommended low sodium diet). Frankly, I've discovered finding something of a low sodium nature is always tough when you dine out.   

Then it was home! Being back in my own easy chair, my own room (after my wife and daughters cleaned it from to top to bottom) and, most importantly, sleeping in my own bed, was a real treat!  

The next few days were full of multiple doctors' appointments, an MRI,   a sleep study and lots of rest. As my wife went back to work, I enrolled in "Camp Kelly", going to my daughter's home every weekday to hang out and watch TV while I recuperated. Fortunately, with the Olympics underway there was always a lot to watch on the tube while she was busy in her in her home office performing her duties with Dow Jones Newswires, and her husband continued to build his patent law practice here in town.  

I was truly blessed including by so many great friends and work colleagues who brought lunch and dinner to me and my family almost every day for the next couple of weeks. God bless them all, including those who also came and drove me to and from my multiple therapy sessions at Bill Wilkerson for the next month and a half (more on those sessions in another column segment).

But I quickly learned after leaving Stallworth, that as much progress as I had made, I was still pretty frail and I had to watch pushing too far, too fast. The first time I learned that came on a Friday about eight   days after I got out of the hospital. I did my intake sessions at Bill Wilkerson. It took four hours back to back from noon until 4 (general orientation, speech, occupational and physical therapies). I was later told by a therapist they had never seen anyone do all those all together on the same day back to back. Who knew? I just did it that way because that's the way the appointments got booked

Actually the intake sessions were not that fatiguing, but they followed with me going out to dinner and then to the Ryman for the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert that evening.  I really didn't want to miss that group (I really like them, dating back to the late ‘60s). But my determination to go was also, at least in part, because, while I was in the hospital, I had missed James Taylor in concert at the Arena a few weeks earlier. I was determined I wasn't going to miss another show I had tickets to if I could help it in anyway. Besides I thought I was up to it, no problem. And so, with my walker in tow, we paid to park right next to the Ryman, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

But we didn't get home and into bed until after midnight. I was completely exhausted all day the next day. I realized I needed to watch it, and fortunately I have never gotten quite that tired again during my rehab.

My next big test was a foray the following weekend in early August to attend the wedding of the daughter of some very close friends at Assumption Church. It was first time since the day of my stroke (Juner28) that I put on a coat and tie. I dressed myself, thank you, but doing all the buttons and tying the tie had its challenging moments.  And then I also learned, I wasn't just wearing "big boy" clothes again, but "fat boy" clothes too. I am about 30 pounds lighter now that I was when I brought these clothes, and so the coat and dress shirt hung on me a bit. But everyone said I looked great…and I felt pretty good that day.

I made it through the full nuptial Mass and the reception that followed on 2nd Avenue downtown (but we did go home somewhat early that evening). I had gone back to church from the first weekend after I gotten out of the hospital and I wanted to do all the standing and kneeling.  I did it, but the early part of the Mass has a lot of standing, and it was a bit taxing.

The Mass also made me emotional (especially the hymns for some reason) and I cried several times each weekend. But, not to be too spiritual about it, as I approached  (and walked up to take) Communion, I began to feel much better and I was always ready to greet friends after Mass when they came up to see me.  One thing did catch me up a little short the first weekend I was back at my home parish, Cathedral of the Incarnation. It happened when my name was called from the altar (along with several other ill members of the parish) during the intersessions of the Prayer of the Faithful for a return to full health. I had been told by friends that several prayer groups and churches had me on "their list" for prayers and I really appreciate and believe it really helped me. I just didn't expect to hear such prayer live and in person.

I cried then too. I cried quite a bit in those days about all kinds of things. It's a lingering stroke side effect which has also now begun to wane I am happy to report.

NEXT WEEK: OUT PATIENT REHAB BRINGS HARD WORK AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES.     

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