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No. 526: Tennessee In Crisis Mode

No. 526: Tennessee In Crisis Mode

🗓 Today, Davis laments how bad things must be in Tennessee if you listen to the writers that don't write for The Pamphleteer, and Megan recaps last night's Metro Council meeting.

Good afternoon, everyone.

It's been raining for almost 24 hours straight as Sauron's eye turns its piercing gaze onto our fair state. Things are getting pretty bad out there, and to boot, Jason Aldean is a racist and Tennessee is no longer a capital-D Democracy.  

Last week, Aldean released the music video for a song titled 'Try That In A Small Town'. Burning flags and rioters rioting in the background as Aldean sings about the old-fashioned impulse to protect yourself and your people from harm. Progressives decided the song was a pro-lynching anthem, because apparently all rioters, criminals, and flag-burners are black, and he performed in front of a courthouse, or something, and there you have it.

Then, Anne Applebaum, a historian who usually covers authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, decided that Tennessee reminded her a lot of Eastern Europe. Yesterday morning, The Atlantic ran her piece, menacingly titled 'Is Tennessee a Democracy?'

The story points to the state's gerrymandering, its conflict with the city of Nashville, and a group of Republicans in Sumner County to make the case that Tennessee is no longer a democracy, but instead, something much scarier.

I could pick apart the article (which I did briefly on Twitter if you're interested), but the main question I want to ask here is if this is true, why are people moving here in droves and, in particular, choosing to have families in Tennessee?

We're all familiar with the large number of people moving into the state and each of us probably knows a handful personally. But a more salient statistic that underscores a civilizational concern many have is a breakdown put out by the Economic Innovation Group, which analyzes the number of young families on a county-by-county level.

There are only five states in the US in which the number of children aged 0 to 4 increased between 2020 and 2022: Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.

This may seem like an odd indicator, but it indicates that Tennessee has done a far better job than the majority of the country in attracting and retaining families. If people feel comfortable raising a family in a state, that is an excellent indicator that the state is doing something right in the midst of anxiety around global birth rates. From this vantage, Tennessee is an oasis of sorts.

This fact doesn't quite jibe with Applebaum's analysis, which presumes that people don't want to live in the state, and it certainly doesn't mesh with MSNBC’s recent article about the ten worst states to live and work in, which ranks Tennessee at number eight because it's not "inclusive" enough.

If Applebaum's accusation is that Tennessee is not a Democracy and that that makes it bad, then why are people attracted to it? Could Democracy be the problem, Anne?


➫ Check out our voter guide, complete with information on candidates, important dates, and more. (Read)


Last night’s meeting was shockingly brief, clocking in at four hours instead of the usual six. But before we go into what legislation passed, let’s address the things that really matter: The Blaze’s Alex Stein was spotted live streaming in the courthouse, Fox’s Donut Den was recognized for celebrating their 50th anniversary, Cane Ridge High School grad Brandon Miller was recognized for being drafted into the NBA, and the owners of Mitchell Delicatessen are planning on opening up a Mediterranean restaurant on McGavock Pike! Exciting stuff. Now, let's take a look at what else happened.


BL1990 passed unanimously on its final reading, fulfilling state law and limiting the powers of the current Community Oversight Board. According to SB591, which set new parameters for oversight committees across the state, Metro has 120 days to reduce and reconstruct their board in accordance with the new standards. Though board members will still be able to review MNPD’s own internal investigations, they’ll no longer have the authority to independently investigate complaints, nor will they hold any subpoena power without the passage of a resolution. 

The council fulfilled this obligation last night, but there were quite a few people who stepped forward during the public comment period to denounce the state’s actions in limiting the powers of police oversight boards. Included in the mix was Jill Fitcheard, now former Executive Director of the Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board, who didn’t hold back and directly called for Metro to sue the state.


Since the start of 2023, Nashville’s Bike Brigade has been batting a thousand. Back in January, RS2029 was passed, which resulted in the council accepting an $800,000 Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure grant. And last night, Freddie O’Connell’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission bill  passed on second reading. 

Despite their successes, the Brigade isn’t a united front; an attempt to amend the bill uncovered some Bicycle Beef. Councilmember Allen proposed an amendment to O’Connell’s bill which included a seat on the commission for a Greenways for Nashville representative. This, along with a few other changes, didn’t sit well with a few CMs: apparently, Greenways for Nashville doesn’t play nice when it comes to e-Bikes and other “alternative forms of transportation.”Councilmember Sledge even went as far as to call out the nonprofit’s known “hostility.” Ultimately, Allen’s amendment died before O’Connell’s bill passed with a unanimous voice vote. 


Bills BL1968 and BL1969 passed last night with 28 yeses, greenlighting the development of Ariza Bellevue on Morton Mill Road. Councilmember Hurt wrestled with the legislation a bit, attempting to attach a few amendments, but  CouncilmemberRosenberg, the bills’ sponsor, effectively blocked her adjustments by tabling them all. Is this the council member version of dunking on an opponent? It sure felt like it.  


COLA stands for Cost-Of-Living Adjustment, and was established by the federal government in 1975 to ensure the buying power of your agreed- upon wage from year to year.  Last night, Councilmember Johnston withdrew her bill regarding Metro COLA, but not before making a brief comment of interest: “Civil service commission makes a recommendation, the administration does what they want to, and then we amend it however we want to and a lot of times it’s completely arbitrary. It’s not based [on] anything except for, apparently, wild emotion.”

Due to push back from Metro legal, she withdrew her bill—but not before letting the council know that she’d soon file a resolution asking to include a COLA study as part of another million-dollar study already being conducted by Metro. Johnston hopes this will reveal an effective, consistent way for both Metro Government and MNPS to calculate their respective COLAs based on objective data.


Former, current boards of Nashville International Airport assert authority (NBJ) The board of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority meets Wednesday at 1 p.m. — a statement that is way more complicated than it seems. There actually are two simultaneous board meetings happening at 1 p.m. The itineraries are very different, according to published meeting agendas.

Final $30.6M in ARPA spending committed (Center Square) Tennessee committed its final $30.6 million in federal pandemic relief funding to a housing program and a rural health program. In all, Tennessee has committed more than $3.7 billion in funds through the Tennessee Resiliency Plan, an effort approved by the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group.

2023 TCAP scores: Tennessee continues fight against pandemic learning loss (Tennessean) District-level results for Tennessee's standardized test were released Tuesday, revealing key data as schools continue to work to offset learning loss from the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Homebuilder D.R. Horton closes on lots in Gallatin's Nexus development (NBJ)
  • Distribution Realty Group plans Murfreesboro warehouse complex (NBJ)
  • Arena Football League reportedly returning to Nashville (Post)
  • Work on $120M cancer center set for 2025 finish (Post)
  • Marathon Village distillery owners open restaurant (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 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.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and our 2023 southern festival guide and 🎥 2023 movie guide.


🎸 MJ Lenderman @ The Basement East, 8p, $15, Info
+ fuzzy indie rock from Asheville, NC

🪕 Dan Tyminski & The Watson Twins @ Exit/ In, 7p, $26.75, Info

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

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 525: Man Down!
🗓 Today, Davis talks about Jim Gingrich dropping out of the mayor’s race and Megan looks ahead to tonight’s council meeting, in particular, the money that the notorious Gideon’s Army continues to receive from Metro.
No. 524: Smoke on the Basin
🗓 Today, Davis assesses the Statesman’s dinner, Megan gets into some campaign faux pas from the mayoral candidates, and Miles talks about UT football’s new sanctions.
No. 523: Open Season
🗓 Today, Davis walks you into early voting, Camelia Brennan interviews local musician Nathan Kalish about his new album, Megan takes a look at Justin Jones’ campaign, and Jerod furnishes his weekly film rundown.
No. 522: Voter’s Eve
🗓 Today, Davis and Megan get you ready for early voting tomorrow, and in light of Hillsdale emerging in the news again, we resurface our story from last year on Larry Arnn.
No. 521: To the victor, the spoils
🗓 Today, Davis talks about Andrew Tate, and Megan gives a rundown of who has given money to who for the upcoming August election.


  • 🏈 Tennessee football avoids bowl ban despite 200+ infractions during Pruitt Era (Read)
  • 🎸 Camelia spoke with Nashville-based singer-songwriter Nathan Kalish (Read)
  • ☀️ Office Hours, Ep. 6 ft. Ben Braddock (Watch)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.