Good afternoon, everyone.
I have figured out the problem at the root of Nashville’s traffic woes: Nashvillians are bad at driving.
To solve this problem, I propose making licensing requirements more stringent to raise the average ability of drivers on the road—which will, in the process, reduce the number of cars on the road.
Those unable to grasp basic mobility principles such as the zipper merge or slow-stay-right can take the bus. This way, the transit fanatics won’t have to invent a constituency actually interested in riding the bus: a subset of the population captive to their services.
The naive justification of “build it and they will come” would no longer be necessary. We’d need to get people around the city and half of them can’t drive! That’s a crisis that only a transit referendum can solve.
In all seriousness, I do wonder how much of an effect it would have on traffic if the city kept shoulder activity during rush hour to a minimum and radically sped up the process of clearing accidents. And if, additionally, all drivers were perfectly instructed on how to zipper merge and stay right when driving slower than the flow of traffic.
A car-centric city favors the driver of greater ability. As people politely pile into line on off-ramps—something that has been proven to cause traffic jams time and again—the savvy drivers loop around them, merging at the last second.
Would improving the average driver’s ability, increasing the efficiency of clearing accidents, and reducing shoulder activity help that line of cars slide through congestion points like icing out of a hexagonal piper?
I can’t say for sure, but I do know that two consistent chokepoints in my relatively short commute are shoulder activity on the off-ramp from I-40E onto I-440E and, if I let it, the line of cars refusing to occupy the adjacent lane as they slavishly wait to get off at the I-65S exit.
✹ LARRY ARNN WAS RIGHT ABOUT TEACHERS
From Jerod Hollyfield
24 August 2022, Nashville, TN -- Over six weeks have passed since video leaked of Larry Arnn, the 12th president of Hillsdale College, speaking at a private event in Williamson County. In the clip, Arnn takes the educational establishment to task for hiring teachers trained by "the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country" and enriching DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) administrators who "don't have to know anything" as Governor Bill Lee stands idly by.
Since the video became public, Tennessee had a firecracker of a state primary, Metro Council started a war with the General Assembly for rebuffing the 2024 Republican Nashville Convention, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, the CDC radically altered COVID guidelines while admitting the ineffectiveness of vaccines, and an Islamic fundamentalist stabbed author Salman Rushdie over thirty years after the Ayatollah issued a fatwa against him. Yet, in what may be one of the most newsworthy summers on record, local media continue to obsess over Arnn’s comments and weaponize them to combat the growing popularity of charter schools.
❍ THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE
The end of Nashville's 2023 participatory budgeting voting process is just a few days away. Citizens and non-citizens who reside in Nashville aged 14 and older have until November 30th to log on and vote for up to 5 initiatives from a 35-item ballot.
Back in January, Metro voted to let residents determine how to spend a chunk of leftover ARPA funding. Nine months, one chairman change, and thirteen steering committee meetings later, voting began on October 1st. Though a few eyebrows were raised regarding election integrity and nonprofit involvement, the outright encouragement of non-citizen participation in the process wasn’t on anyone’s radar until the replacement chair, Jason Sparks, addressed it during May 4th’s meeting.
“We've had a lot of discussions about the integrity of the ballots,” said Sparks. “We've really thought a lot about this… because we also want to make this available to people that aren't citizens that just, you know, live in our community.”
USHERING IN NEW VOTING PRACTICES AND GOING ONLINE
Like so many of these fresh ideas that test the boundaries of inclusion against our government’s established processes, PB first came on the scene in many of America’s most progressive cities. Since 2009, we’ve seen the practice in places like Chicago, Cambridge, New York City, and Los Angeles. But of course, while well-intentioned, these participatory policy prescriptions can have unintended consequences.
Beyond PB’s obvious inclusionary aspect, efforts to include non-citizens and move PB development processes away from the control of local municipalities have been part of the equation since the beginning. During May’s meeting, not only was Councilmember Zulfat Suara’s influence dismissed by the committee when she raised concerns about auditing the votes, Sparks stated that a vote would only be recused if “...it didn’t have [a voter’s] name and address on it, or if they duplicated the name and address—and we’d have an opportunity to cure that.” He also explained that voters don’t have to live at their given address.
Going digital also seems to be part of the overall plan for PB, as shown by Nashville’s online voting process. “Digital Participatory Budgeting has become a key democratic tool for resource allocation in cities,” reads the opening line of an academic paper called Designing Digital Voting Systems for Citizens, published two months ago. “Enabled by digital platforms, new voting input formats and aggregation have been utilised.”
PAVING THE ROAD TO…?
In Ohio, some legislators see the writing on the wall. “It just makes no sense,” State Senator Jerry Cirino, who represents the Cleveland suburbs, told the Ohio Capital Journal. Cirino is sponsoring Senate Bill 158, which would end these types of PB initiatives and reassert budgeting power to legislative authorities, like the city council. “Let’s not push the envelope here and make things worse by allowing unelected people to act and spend taxpayers’ money in ways that might not be appropriate,” he said.
Not everyone agrees. “It’s an anti-democratic power grab by a state representative who doesn’t live or represent the city of Cleveland,” Molly Martin, Cleveland’s People’s Budget organizer, told the press. (Sound familiar?)
But what, exactly, do the people get?
RESHAPING “DEMOCRACY” FOR WHAT?
In Nashville, participatory budgeting is ushering in a questionable voting process that’s not only impossible to audit, but, according to Whitney Pastorek—the original 2023 steering committee chair who stepped down in May— is merely “political theater,” “crumbs.” She’s not wrong. This year’s PB process only doles out $10M of the $380M in ARPA funds. Which begs the question: What’s really going on with participatory budgeting in America?
Nearly 277,000 passengers traveled through BNA over the Thanksgiving holiday (WKRN) While that’s only about 7,000 more passengers than during the same 10-day period last year, it’s an 18% increase from the 234,000 passengers who arrived at and departed from the airport over the same holiday period just two years ago.
How long it takes for streetlights to get fixed in Nashville (WSMV) Between June 1, 2022, and May 31, 2023, the data shows NES failed to fix broken lights within four working days 47% of the time. According to the records, in 20% of the cases it took NES more than a week to make streetlight repairs, and 18% of the time the lights were not fixed for more than a month.
Traditional top 10 spot in freedom secure again, this time at No. 6 (Center Square) Never worse than seventh or better than third, Tennessee retained its traditional top 10 spot in this month’s release of the Freedom in the 50 States. Tennessee is No. 6 in the analysis by the Cato Institute. New Hampshire edged Florida for No. 1; New York was No. 50.
NASCAR takes to Nashville this week for Champion's Week (Hendrick Motorsports) NASCAR will take to the Music City this week for its annual awards presentation in Nashville, Tennessee. The 2023 NASCAR Awards will be held at the Music City Center on Thursday, Nov. 30.
- Chartwell Residential plans grocery store and apartment development on Charlotte Avenue (NBJ)
- Unique boutique hotel opens its doors in downtown historic building (NBJ)
- In-N-Out files plans for first Middle Tennessee restaurant (NBJ)
- Gallatin country club invests $16 million in growth, renovations (NBJ)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎸 John Denver: A Rocky Mountain High Concert Celebration with the Nashville Symphony @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $67+, Info
🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
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- 🎉 Rediscovering the suburban roots of Taylor Swift, the world’s biggest popstar, may be the city’s only way to stave off its decline (Read)
- 🛣 A collection of four short trips you can take around Nashville to get the most out of the Fall (Read)
- 🎞 The Pamphleteer's Fall 2023 Streaming Guide (Read)
- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.