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No. 320: Not Much Money for Nothing

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Corruption · Funding · Citizen Test · Sacking of America · Much More!

📰Today, we comment on yesterday's arrest of Glen Casada and Cade Cothren, look at how the East Bank development is getting funded, and wonder how everyone got so stupid so fast.

Good morning, everyone.

Yesterday, there was big news: Glen Casada and his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, were arrested on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and the theft and using of federal funds for bribery and kickbacks. Casada was Speaker of the House until 2019 when he stepped down amidst a firehose of unrelated corruption charges.

Corruption in politics is especially low, considering the money involved often comes directly from taxpayers. To express this point clearly, a political cartoon shows a masked robber pointing a gun at a man in a suit.

The criminal yells, "Give me all of your money!"

The man in the suit replies, "But I'm a politician!"

Puzzled, the criminal demands, "Then give me back my money."

The scheme Casada and Cothren concocted involved a fake company, Phoenix Solutions, with a fake executive, Matthew Phoenix—which is the kind of name an eight-year-old boy might give to his G.I. Joe.

Phoenix Solutions took state money allocated to lawmakers for the purpose of sending paper mail updates to their constituents about the latest news from the General Assembly. Casada and another unnamed lawmaker used their respective influence to encourage lawmakers to work with Phoenix Solutions, which compensated them with kickbacks.

What makes this whole ordeal especially dour is the amount of money involved. We're not talking about some grand, imaginative heist here. Representatives only have $3,000 to spend on these mailers, so the company received about $158,165 in revenue and, as documented in one text exchange, Casada received a kickback check worth $2,500. "Not bad, right?" Cothren intoned.

In fact, the small numbers make it worse. It makes it seem as if this kind of thing is regular and well-rehearsed. Endemic. It's not some one-off attempt to run away with the jewels, so to speak: it's a drip feed of dollars into the vacuous pockets of little league politicians.

Imagining what the trickle of cash could fund for these guys, I thought of Casada or Cothren joking about the Phoenix Funds financing their lavish Wednesday night dinners at The Catbird Seat where they discuss even more salacious and ambitious ways to drain the public coffers while puffing on big cigars in a room full of hookers as a platter of cocaine circulated which each guest snuffed through embroidered ivory straws. You know, like the equally boring saga of Hunter Biden smoking crack with hookers– but in better taste, of course.

I’m sure what actually happened was much more banal, but who knows. I know if I were receiving money for nothing of this variety, I’d spend it on building a porch on the front of my house. Or maybe I'd buy a motorcycle. None of these things are worth staring down 10-20 years of prison, though, much less diverting taxpayer funds. For that, I'd have to be promised a palatial estate at the base of the Dolomites and exclusive access to the Italian government where I could directly affect policy and build a sphere of global influence. That, and a blue, fully-restored 1971 Pontiac Trans Am.

These are petty crimes for petty people. Life is too short for that kind of thing.

Onward.

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Also, be sure to check out our podcast. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

Nashville

❦ WHO PAYS FOR THE EAST BANK?

The development of the East Bank and the stadium project go hand-in-hand. Here’s a look at the projects in numbers:

STADIUM BUILD IN NUMBERS

The estimated cost for the new Titans stadium is $2.2 billion. Funds will come from a variety of sources.

  • $500M in bonds approved by the state for enclosed stadium
  • $700M private contributions

The remainder will be funded by Metro Nashville Sports Authority revenue bonds backed by:

  • Sales tax from the stadium
  • Sales tax from hotel occupancy tax
  • 50% of local sales tax from 130 acres bordering the stadium on the East Bank

The East Bank development plan includes about 338 acres of land and the draft proposals show two options displaying different locations for the stadium. It is unclear which developments will be located on the 130 acres of land that will contribute half of its sales tax revenue.

EAST BANK DEVELOPMENT IN NUMBERS

Mayor Cooper did not disclose costs related to the East Bank development. He did, however, point out that he will be leaning heavily on stakeholders, federal grants, and state funding.

Here is what has passed through Metro Council so far:

  • $175M infrastructure improvements to be completed by Oracle
  • $13,802M from the 2019 capital spending plan for infrastructure
  • $1.3M-$6.2M provided by Metro depending on federal matching funds provided
  • $5M Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equality ("RAISE") grant from the federal government applied for this year
  • Plan to fund the remaining balance TDB

✱ STATEMENTS ON THE CASADA/COTHREN FIASCO

Following the FBI arrests made early Tuesday morning of former Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada(R) and his top aide Cade Cothren, Republican leadership released formal statements regarding the bribery and conspiracy charges.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE CAMERON SEXTON:

“In Tennessee, we will not tolerate public corruption, defrauding our state, or bribery at any level. I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its hard work, diligence, and dedication that resulted in this morning’s arrests.
As I have previously stated on several occasions, shortly after becoming speaker in 2019, I began assisting the federal authorities during and throughout their investigation — including leading up to today’s indictments, and I will continue to do so if a trial is needed.
Together, our legislative body has stood strong over the past two years to take significant actions during this investigation by passing laws to strengthen campaign finance regulations and new ethics laws for elected officials and staff.
Today is a good day for Tennesseans because we did not turn a blind eye on these criminal activities.”

MAJORITY LEADER WILLIAM LAMBERTH

“The illegal behavior outlined in today’s indictments is extremely serious, and disappointing to our entire caucus. We appreciate Speaker Sexton’s leadership on this situation, as well as the efforts of our House leadership team in bringing these crimes to light. We also stand with federal law enforcement and are grateful for their efforts to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable. Now, we can all move forward and continue focusing on meeting the needs of citizens across Tennessee.”

Leader Lamberth was preceded by Glen Casada in representing the 44th district.

HEADLINES

DEVELOPMENT

  • Checked In: 3,793 New Hotel Rooms Currently Underway In Downtown Nashville (Now Next)
  • Rezoning sought for mixed-use WeHo building (Post)
  • Image released for storm-damaged church building project (Post)
  • Downtown parking garage sells for $29.25M (Post)
  • West End Park apartment buildings sell for $61.5M (Post)
National

❏ WHAT DO YOU KNOW?

A study from 2018 indicated that 74% of Americans 65 and older can pass the U.S. Citizenship Test, but only 19% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 can (despite having the most formal education of any age group). Of the 1,000 people sampled for the survey, only 36% passed.

The survey asks about everything from important dates to historical figures and current events. Only 13 percent knew when the U.S. Constitution was written — Sept. 17, 1787 — and 24 percent of respondents knew what Benjamin Franklin was known for (hint: it wasn’t inventing the light bulb).
More than half (60 percent) of those surveyed did not know which countries the U.S. fought against in World War II. Fifty-seven percent didn’t know how many justices are on the Supreme Court, despite recent media coverage.

You can view the full test here. As Vladimir Lenin put it, "People separated from their history are easily persuaded."

Source: Most of us would fail the U.S. citizenship test, survey finds
NBC News, 12 October 2018, Read Online

➫ CHART OF THE DAY: THE SACKING OF AMERICA

⚔ MISSIVES ⚔

  • 💸 President Biden is expected to announce Wednesday that he will cancel some federal student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans through a long-awaited executive action, which would provide unprecedented relief for borrowers but is certain to draw political and legal challenges.
  • 📉 Business activity in the U.S., Europe and Japan fell in August, according to new surveys, pointing to a sharp slowdown in global economic growth as higher prices weaken consumer demand and the war in Ukraine scrambles supply chains.
  • 💧 Europe is facing its worst drought in at least 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent in a state of alert or warning, reducing inland shipping, electricity production, and the yields of certain crops
  • 🇺🇦 President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine would liberate all its lands from Russia, striking a defiant tone in an address to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day delivered amid dozens of disabled Russian armored vehicles.
  • 🇯🇵 Tax revenues from alcohol sales are lagging in Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the restaurant and nightlife industry, so the country is launching a new contest to try to boost consumption among young people dubbed, "Sake Viva!"
  • 🪫 Ford Motor Co. confirmed Monday it is laying off roughly 3,000 white-collar and contract employees, marking the latest in its efforts to slash costs as it makes a longer-range transition to electric vehicles.
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

You can view our full calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month (the next meeting is September 15th) at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.

⚔️ Knights in Armor at the Frist starting July 1st: European arms and armor from the renowned collection of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy.

🎭 Shakespeare in the park is every Thursday through Sunday from August 18th till September 11th

🎼 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, our playlist of bands playing in Nashville each week.

TONIGHT

🎡 Wilson County Fair @ Lebanon Fairgrounds, 5p, $10, Info

🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🕯Blondie @ The Opry House, 7:30, $25+, Info

💨 Devin the Dude @ Basement East, 8p, $30, Info

🍸 Electric relaxation @ Bar Sovereign, 9p, Free, Info

ON THE RADAR

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info

⚔️ HELMET @ Marathon Music Works, (9/24), $35, Info
+ 90's alternative metal band from NY, a Pamphleteer favorite

🏜 ZZ Top & Beck @ First Bank Amphitheater, (9/27), $49+, Info

👾 Flamingosis @ Basement East (9/29), $20, Info

🎻 Gustav Holst's The Planets @ Schermerhorn (9/29-10/2), Info
+  Early 1900's orchestral suite, each movement is named after a planet

🕺 Remi Wolf @ Brooklyn Bowl (10/6), $30, Info
+ Young talented funk/pop/hip-hop singer, one of the few

🎻 Mozart & [email protected] Schermerhorn, (10/28-29), $25+, Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info
+ 90's alt-rock from Chicago

🎸 The Doobie Brothers @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/12), $43+, Info

🎺 Too Many Zooz @ Basement East, (10/31), $20, Info

🌶 The Gypsy Kings @ The Ryman (11/1), $39.50, Info
+ The roving band of flamenco guitarists

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