Bar Hours returns tomorrow (12/14) at 6 p.m. at Von Elrod's in Germantown. Join us for a beer to celebrate the end of the year.
Good afternoon, everyone.
The Beacon Center released their annual Pork Report this week highlighting instances of wasteful spending in the state. There were several items mentioned, but one that stood out to me most was the use of money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
Intended to help get students back in the classroom and caught up after the disastrous "school from home" initiative during Covid, much of the money went toward non-school related items. "It was uncovered that some school districts chose to disregard their internal policies around how to appropriate relief funds," the report reads. "With unauthorized bonuses going to positions that have nothing to do with teaching children, such as directors and administrators."
Even despite that fact, as of September 2023, less than 62 percent of the $3.5 billion given to Tennessee school districts was spent. With the funds set to expire in 2024, districts that used the temporary funds to grow their payroll will now have to demand more money from taxpayers to keep up the jig.
In other, unrelated news, two headlines stole my attention this morning:
- 5 cows stolen, sold on Craigslist in Tennessee cattle heist (WSMV)
- Body found at Nashville Ferrari dealership (WSMV)
Two unrelated crimes, so far as I know, but an interesting study in contrast.
Below, Megan recounts last night's community meeting in North Nashville concerning the addition of an MLB team to the city's expanding roster of professional sports franchises.
And finally, Carol Swain made national headlines after it was revealed that she was one of the many scholars embattled Harvard president Claudine Gay plagiarized within her PhD thesis. With that in mind, I’ve re-presented Jerod’s conversation with her from last year. He’ll also be talking to Swain tomorrow morning. You can tune into that here.
✹ DR. CAROL SWAIN'S IVORY TOWER EXIT
From Jerod Hollyfield
Dr. Carol M. Swain knew that critical race theory was about to become a cultural flashpoint in the spring of 2021. Long before the Loudoun County, VA, school board became national news and that state’s former governor Terry McAuliffe committed campaign suicide by proclaiming parents had no role in their children’s education in the leadup to what became a bloodbath election for Democrats, Swain had watched as CRT leaked from upper-division college courses into K-12 education.
As a twice-tenured professor with a storied career in political science and law at both Princeton and Vanderbilt, Swain is perhaps the country’s leading expert on white supremacy. She even wrote the definitive book on the subject in 2012. Now, Swain has bridged her expertise with the nation’s rising populist sentiments, flouting the liberal consensus that has homogenized academia to prepare parents and other concerned citizens as such ideas take root in schools and executive suites across the nation with her recent co-authored book Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory Is Burning Down The House.
❏ WHAT’S BLACK, NOT WHITE, AND TSU ALL OVER
Last night, about twenty-five North Nashvillians gathered in a Hadley Park Community Center classroom to discuss the possibility of building a MLB stadium in the area. Councilmember Brandon Taylor coordinated the meeting, where Dr. Eddie Hamilton, founder of Centennial Pediatrics and board member of a group called Music City Baseball, fielded questions from attendees.
Hamilton was brought on in 2019, but the major leagues have been exploring expansion options in Nashville since 2018. “When they first came to me as a traditional investor” he said, “they had already made up their minds. They want to be next to the Titans. They wanted to be right there on the East Bank.”
As of now, the organization is still checking out multiple locations, but Hamilton is hoping to hone in on Tennessee State University–- specifically, a plot of land currently used by TSU’s Agricultural program. His pitch: “The location that seems to be most suitable for what we’re trying to do is right here in North Nashville. There are 169 acres of land at Tennessee State on the river. We can have it, if we want it.”
The TSU proposal is unique in a few ways, according to Hamilton. For one, the public-private partnership would intentionally prop up the black community in North Nashville. The proposal would also include a 99-year leasing agreement with the university, an agreement that, unlike the Titans deal, would be privately funded and partnered with the state, not Metro. Hamilton also outlined how the new attraction would bring jobs to the area, along with the tourism money often absorbed by downtown attractions and accommodations.
The reality is, this undertaking would take billions of dollars. Not to mention, the process wouldn’t start until 2027, when MLB plans to expand. That being said, a master plan for the TSU proposal will be done in just over three months, on March 31st, 2024.
About fifteen minutes into the ninety-minute inquiry, one attendee said what everyone was thinking: “So you said that the stadium is going to be paid for privately, but what about all the development around it? We've all heard this before with the Titans. You kind of came in at a bad time.”
After that, it didn’t take long for the meeting to disintegrate into a flurry of questions about affordable housing, gentrification, displacement, and who this project would benefit, exactly.
Ultimately, Hamilton zoomed out on the bigger picture. “Baseball is not the reason for doing this,” he told the room. “It's one thousand percent about economic development for black people. That's all this is about.” Not everyone was comforted by the answer.
“The idea that baseball is going to be this magic wand that’s going to fix North Nashville— I'm not buying it,” said one black gentleman in the audience. “At the end of the day, MLB is a white-owned institution.”
He also noted that Metro, despite its $3.2 billion-dollar budget, is unable to tackle real problems without these public-private partnership promises that always seem to come up short. “People are not building starter homes anymore,” he said. “So when you talk about mixed use, mixed use always turns out to not be attainable.”
After responding to some more pointed questions from the audience, Hamilton eventually wound down the discussion. “We're now in the same room, we're having the same discussion,” he said. “I told you before, they want to be on the East Bank. There are some that still want to be on the East Bank even though it's not even an option. Because they don't want to be over here….They don't want us to have this. For whatever the reason, there are some that have that mindset.”
According to Councilmember Taylor and Dr. Hamilton, there will be another community meeting regarding the MLB proposal in January.
Mayor strives for 'continuity' with first BNA board selection (NBJ) The action is starting even before board committees meet on Wednesday, as new Mayor Freddie O'Connell is making his first board member selection and the Metro Council member whose district includes the airport says he wants new leadership at the airport authority.
As Nashville Faces Another Disaster, City Reconsiders How to Raise Recovery Funds (Scene) After floods hit her South Nashville district in 2021, Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston was disappointed with the city's response. Specifically, she pressed for Metro to audit its relationship with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Sen. Mark Pody Previews School Safety Bill Proposal Set to Be Introduced Next Week (Star) The longtime lawmaker emphasizes the importance of this comprehensive approach to school safety and highlights the need to protect teachers from assaults and false accusations.
Planned Parenthood now serving patients with federal funds Tennessee lost after abortion ban (Lookout) Months after U.S. officials shut the Tennessee Department of Health out of federal family planning funding over its refusal to include information about abortion in counseling for pregnant patients, local Planned Parenthood clinics have secured the funding and begun serving clients.
- Milkshake Concepts' The Finch opening soon in former Flying Saucer space (NBJ)
- Morris Memorial Building purchased by area developer (Post)
- Senior living tower sells for $32.5M (Post)
THINGS TO DO
View our weekly film rundown here.
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🪕 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
- 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
- 🏟 All-time Houston Oiler and Tennessee Titan great, Frank Wycheck, dies at 52 (Read)
- 🎓 A review of Ian Prior’s Parents of the World Unite!: How to Save Our Schools from the Left’s Radical Agenda (Read)
- 🎞 The Pamphleteer's Fall 2023 Streaming Guide (Read)
- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.