Good afternoon, everyone.
To state the obvious: a lot has changed in Middle Tennessee in the past ten years. Nashville has exploded as a cultural and economic hub, and people from all over the country have moved into the area to take advantage of the state’s favorable tax environment, conservative politics, and family-forward culture.
A stat I like to trot out is that 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.
If you look at the data on a county-by-county level, you’ll see that Tennessee’s position on that list is largely due to the fecundity of Middle Tennessee in comparison to the more barren Western part of the state and the less fertile Eastern flank.
The influx of new residents fleeing blue states has created a heady brew of new political factions, particularly on the Republican side. Nashville continues to get bluer, but the surrounding counties are heading in the opposite direction. No one typifies this shift better than Williamson County resident Gary Humble.
His organization Tennessee Stands has been uber successful, activating an entirely new voter base by expressing the anxiety of blue state refugees about Tennessee going the way of California.
Today, Jerod writes an in-depth profile of Humble and his efforts over the past few years, starting in the throes of Covid and continuing to this day as he goes to bat against a state GOP he believes is not living up to its principles.
We’ve chosen to focus on Humble’s effective advocacy to give voice to an emerging political faction we don’t see going anywhere and to show readers what may be to come in the state.
Presenting counter-narratives and opposing viewpoints is the express purpose of The Pamphleteer, something we cannot do without reader support. If you value robust discussions about the direction of Nashville—and by extension, Middle Tennessee—please consider a donation or become a paying subscriber.
✹ THE HUMBLING
From Jerod Hollyfield
I’m supposed to meet Gary Humble, the founder of Tennessee Stands, at 8:30 this late June morning, but wanted to get on the road a couple of hours early to beat traffic and plow through some more of the videos he puts up weekly on Rumble. Unfortunately, Onyx + Alabaster’s coffee lounge in downtown Franklin has a sign next to the menu that outlines its no Wi-Fi policy, meant to make this a place of “conversation.”
It’s the type of establishment in which I’d expect to have a sit down with new Nashville mayor Freddie O’Connell and his posse of transit stans, not the founder of a constitutional rights nonprofit—a regular guy who comes off in the Facebook posts that made him a high-profile political presence during the pandemic as a downhome Southerner just trying to protect his way of life.
While I waited for Humble, I couldn’t help but wonder why he chose this as the spot for us to start our day together. Was it to impress me? A way to show that he is more refined than the Binks-meets-Cracker Barrel aesthetic he’s cultivated online through a rotating wardrobe of plaid oxfords and jeans?
As soon as Humble walks into the backroom seating area rocking his signature look and holding the plainest coffee on the menu while greeting employees, I have my answer: he’s here because this place is a part of his community, a local business lucky to have survived the pandemic that hypercharged Humble’s quest to disrupt a state Republican party he feels utterly fails to live up to its principles.
❏ LAST NIGHT AT METRO COUNCIL
Things weren’t as dramatic as expected at last night’s Metro Council—no verbal brawl over Wally Dietz’s reappointment or overwhelming public clash over SROs—but much was accomplished during the three-hour meeting. Along with the normal business on the agenda, a few of the new council members finally tested their wings and took to the mic.
Metro Audit Committee: Burkley Allen, Courtney Johnston
Planning and Zoning Committee Chair: Jennifer Gamble
President Pro Tempore: Zulfat Suara
Short Term Rental Appeals Board: Sean Parker, Mike Loyco, Nicole Williams
Traffic and Parking Commission: Quin Evans Segall
Finance Director: Kevin Crumbo
Director of Law: Wallace Dietz
Stormwater Management Commission: Trey Lewis
Tourism and Convention Commission: Howard Kittell
Work Release Commission: Shannon Musgrave, Jesus Gonzales
SRO FUNDS: ACCEPTED
At long last, the council passed a resolution to accept state funding to cover the cost of MNPS’ existing SROs — but not without a lengthy discussion.
Southeast Nashville council member Courtney Johnston stuck with her previous sentiment: “saying no to this does not get rid of the SROs. Saying yes to it does not add SROs.” She explained to the council that the decision was a fiscal one: “There are lots of things that I think are worth funding. This particular situation that we're looking at is nothing but a financial decision.”
Freshman council member Jeff Preptit had other ideas. “We should not be funneling our children through the prison industrial complex,” he stated.
Robert Nash, who represents District 27, addressed Preptit’s line of thinking: “This is not serving as some pipeline to the prison system. With all due respect, my golly. We are the 40th largest school system in the country. Last year, we made thirteen arrests…. And most of those were for the bomb threats that you've heard about lately, or somebody bringing a gun to school. It's not about somebody getting a little disorderly in the hallway.”
Tom Cash, for his part, expressed discomfort with the fact that the decision was kicked to the council instead of remaining within MNPS: “What to do about SROs and being able to shift money, however it's done, from SROs to other things is a policy decision and it needs to be made at the school board.”
Council member Brenda Gadd then approached the mic and revealed her dislike for the solution of SRO placement in schools before signaling that she would be voting in favor of the funding: “I'll be supporting today's resolution because of the way it's funded: accepting state dollars and not expanding– not making the policy decision to expand SROs.”
Lastly, veteran council member Tonya Hancock reminded the council that the state is trying to do the city a favor. “I would just like to highlight for the benefit of many individuals in the community that might say ‘The state is always doing things to us,’ in this instance, they're actually doing something for us.”
Greater Nashville area ranked among best U.S. cities for renters in 2023. (Tennessean) Music City earned the number 20 spot with a 73/100 rating coming behind Seattle, Wash. The number one spot went to Chandler, Ariz. with a perfect rating of 100/100.
Tennessee tax collections nearly $47M less than budgeted through 2 months (Center Square) Tennessee was $7.4 million shy of reaching its budgeted estimate for tax and fee collections in September, putting the state $46.9 million below its budget for the first two months of the fiscal year. The $2.2 billion in overall September collections were $29.4 million more than September 2022 collections.
Nashville office market expected to 'take a bite' out of high vacancy rates (NBJ) The market has seen a steady increase in empty office space since the pandemic — the office vacancy rate has nearly tripled over the past five years and currently stands at 20.8%. Out of 55 national markets tracked by CBRE, Nashville is one of 15 that experienced positive absorption in the first quarter of this year while demand fell in most places.
Nashville magnet schools to benefit from $15 million grant (WSMV) Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) was awarded a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP). MNPS received the grant for the third time in six years. This will help provide new magnet programs in six schools within the district.
- 16-Story Bankers Alley Project Considers Historic Overlay In Nashville (Now Next)
- Restaurant planned for JW Marriott Nashville, $5M construction cost (NBJ)
- Historic West End building offered for $4.9M (Post)
- Spring start eyed for Midtown tower (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.
🎸 Christone "Kingfish" Ingram @ Brooklyn Bowl, 8p, $30, Info
+ Mississippi blues
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
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