Good morning, everyone.
The barista strike continues to spread through town like the plague. Yesterday afternoon, every worker at Barista Parlor’s Hillsboro Village location quit and taped a sign to the door telling customers about it. It reads at about a fourth-grade level.
The sign opens with "we are so sad to inform you all that we all... quit. it's been a tumultuous past few of months at this company." That's the copy directly from the sign. I guess there's a reason this person was working at a coffee shop.
Councilmember Sean Parker took to Twitter to call those making light of the baristas’ plight bootlickers. It's all very serious. Frowny face. Support the baristas.
This is a very "Reddit" issue that's started to creep into the real world. I normally wouldn’t comment on it, but as loyal readers know, I am a coffee shop aficionado. If this column starts to sag, blame it on the strike. Blame it on Reddit.
In other local online news, Tennessee Lookout editor in chief Holly McCall had an issue with Jonathan Skrmetti showing his support for Tennessee pregnancy centers on the anniversary of the Dobbs decision.
So she assigned Lookout reporter Sam Stockard to the subject, who penned a story about it containing this quote: "Memphis attorney Brian Faughnan, an expert on legal ethics, said Tuesday nothing in Tennessee ethics rules prohibits Skrmetti’s 'latest pet project.'" Guess that settles it.
Now, maybe she could answer what the Metro Council allocating $500,000 to Planned Parenthood qualifies as (more on that below).
❒ THE TRAGICALLY HIP
From Jerod Hollyfield
“I guess I’m like a nomad artistically,” filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli tells an interviewer on a scenic walk through the hills of Los Angeles. “But I’m interested in the extremes of both sides. The American culture and the Norwegian culture.” A shot rings out as Borgli is midsentence, blowing a hole through his lower abdomen. The promising young filmmaker was just trying to promote his second feature film, Sick of Myself, before he became yet another victim of America’s gun violence epidemic. As the color drains out of his face and the LAPD seems radically untroubled, Borgli doesn’t merely keep talking; he begins to direct the scene, starting with a close-up of his oozing wound and ending with yet more pontificating on his most recent project.
- ⚽️ Miles on the continuing hot streak of Nashville SC (Read)
- 🧫 Jerod provokes in a piece claiming "There is no culture war" (Read)
- 🐄 Geneva on the Tennessee Meat and Poultry Inspection Act which opens the door for more direct trade within the state (Read)
- 🍔 And, Mike Wolf breaks down the best lunch spots across the city by neighborhood (Read)
❍ LAST NIGHT AT METRO CITY COUNCIL
It was about half past midnight when Metro Council adjourned after passing the operating budget and tax levy for FY 2024. In the end, only five of the twenty-six amendments* were passed, adjusting the council’s substitute operating budget that’s set to replace the mayor’s proposed budget. Though the adjustments included an extension on the $500,000 for Planned Parenthood, the removal of some guardrails on the $2 million set aside for the Arts Commission, and an adjustment benefitting the Better Bus Program, it was government employees who were the overall winners of the allotment game, gaining $13 million of the $15 million that the council redirected. Let’s take a look at some of last night’s highlights.
SCHOOL SAFETY Right before jumping into the budget, the council voted on a late-filed substitute resolution slipped in by Councilmember Rhoten, which allocated $6.5 million more to Metro Nashville Public Schools for safety glass and radios. The council passed this legislation unanimously. Rhoten’s last-minute measure underlines the council’s recent, understandable push for school safety and echoes their plea to MNPS to secure Student Resource Officers for every elementary school using state funding.
However, MNPS administrators don’t seem to want to take the governor up on his offer to bankroll these positions. “When there is a presence [of SRO officers], do we see a spike in arrests or incidents with students? There’s also a concern with armed officers being in the same space as our students,” Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Schools, told Fox17. In any case, it was nice to see the council show a rare display of unity.
DEFUND THE POLICE? In an unexpected turn of events, Councilmember Welsch withdrew all of her amendments that, if passed, would have redirected funds away from the Metro Nashville Police Department. However, the councilwoman still requested to make a brief comment before bowing out: “We prioritize MNPD over everything else in this city, all under the guise of public safety….They get whatever they want.”
Not only, she lamented, are other public services related to mental health ignored, other first responders, including the fire department and EMS, are shafted. Welsch ended her speech with an ominous, almost Orwellian warning: “If we don’t change our path, pretty soon we’re going to be nothing but a police state and playground for the rich.”
COST OF LIVING WAGE INCREASE Over the last month and a half, the Budget and Finance Committee assembled a substitute budget. Filed by committee chair and council member Kevin Rhoten, this budget increased the mayor’s original cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Metro employees by two percent. That being said, this COLA increase did not include Metro school employees. Rhoten addressed this with a friendly reminder: "If [the MNPS board wants] to give a raise to their teachers or additional money to anyone, they have the money to do it.”
(You may recall that Metro Council picked up the slack for teacher and school worker pay last year, which may be the precedent Rhoten is trying to curtail here. It’s been known for quite some time that, even as school budgets have increased over the last 10 years in Tennessee, teachers' pay has flatlined or decreased. Meanwhile, administrative pay has continued to increase. These decisions fall to the local school boards, not local municipalities.)
Some might say two percent is a fair increase, but there were a few attempts during last night’s meeting to raise the percentage even higher. Both Councilmembers Johnston and Porterfield came forward with amendments attempting to get the COLA closer to the actual cost of inflation (on the floor, they argued that inflation was hovering around seven percent, while the budget was only offering a six percent increase). The discussion over Johnston’s amendment revealed that some of the funds allocated for other departments (e.g. Metro Parks) are set aside for positions that remain unfilled. It would make more sense, she argued, to use that money to take care of current Metro employees rather than earmarking it for the salaries of unfilled positions. Ultimately, both amendments did not pass.
Aside from passing the operating budget, the council appointed members to the Music, Film, & Entertainment Commission and installed Anthony Davis in as the interim representative for District 51. Over the next few days, we’ll dive into what happened during last night’s council meeting beyond the budget.
If you want to crunch the numbers, Cassandra Stephenson at The Tennessean did a thorough, technical breakdown.
*Though there were only twenty-three amendments that were timely filed, three late-filed amendments brought the number up to twenty-six.
Imagine Nashville, a new effort by community leaders, wants to ensure growth benefits all (Tennessean) The process will be guided by a 26-member steering committee led by Dr. Alex Jahangir, orthopedic surgeon and former chair of the Nashville Covid-19 Task Force, Renata Soto, founder of Mosaic Changemakers and Conexión Américas, and the Rev. John Faison Sr., senior pastor of Nashville’s Watson Grove Baptist Church.
In-N-Out Burger headquarters in Franklin gets $1.9M in tax breaks (Tennessean) The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week quickly approved the 10-year property tax abatement for the California-based company. The PILOT would save the company nearly $290,000 in city property taxes over a decade.
AG’s Office Responds to Reports of VUMC Handing over Medical Records of Transgender Patients (Star) In a statement following the outlet’s report, Skrmetti’s chief of staff, Brandon Smith, confirmed the request for records while clarifying that the office’s investigation is solely into the institution, not patients.
- 15-Story Residence Inn By Marriott Slated For East Bank Nashville (Now Next)
- Retro bar opens in Wedgewood-Houston, Beginner's Luck opens in Midtown (NBJ)
- Elm Hill Pike property offered for sale (Post)
- Images released for planned Gulch hotel (Post)
- Sports bar planned for Hillsboro Village (Post)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
🎸 Country & Western at the Cobra @ The Cobra, 8p, Free, Info
+ featuring Noah G. Fowler, Mark Thornton, Tony Hannah & Eliza Thorn
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.