The late John Egerton and I co-edited Nashville: An American Self-Portrait, an “intentional artifact” documenting the city’s remarkable year 2000 through the work of scores of writers, photographers and other contributors. The book went to press in August 2001 and reached stores in late September. It thus became not just a multi-faceted portrayal of one of the most news-filled years in our history but also a portrait in deep detail of an American city at the moment before terrorism transformed the country.
Jim Ridley, now editor of the Nashville Scene, penned the day-by-day chronicle of the year that ran as a ribbon alongside the book’s essays, photos and art. I am posting some nuggets from that variegated ribbon as time permits.
Dec. 14—For defrauding Medicare and other federal healthcare programs, Nashville-based HCA will cough up nearly a billion dollars. In a high-stakes pre-trial settlement, the corporation agrees to plead guilty to fraud charges that include allegations of false billing and overcharging the U.S. government. In response, the government slaps HCA with what Attorney General Janet Reno says is the largest fraud settlement in history: $840 million, including $95.3 million for criminal conduct.
Dec. 15—James Brooks, an associate dean of liberal arts at Middle Tennessee State University, will replace the outgoing Brian McQuistion as president of the Watkins Institute College of Art & Design. For more than a century, Watkins was a part of downtown life on Church Street, but attendance had dipped precipitously by the early 1990s. During McQuistion’s tenure, the school reversed its fortunes, shoring up attendance by adding a film school and winning accreditation. The school’s longtime home was razed to make room for construction of the new downtown public library. In exchange, Watkins plans to move into the old Ben West Library building. Until its new home is ready, the school is housed in a temporary location across from 100 Oaks Mall.