Happy New Year, everyone.
I'm still sussing out the vibes for 2024, but with a presidential election ahead of us and efforts to push the leading candidate of the opposition party off the ballot, I imagine things will get fairly contentious.
It also seems that the DEI craze may have reached the high water mark as Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned yesterday after a series of reports revealed an extensive history of plagiarism and overall mediocrity.
At the local and state level, we're likely to see a transit referendum in Nashville, hyped-up media coverage of the 113th General Assembly at the Capitol regarding the expansion of the state's voucher program, and a US Senate race between Marsha Blackburn and whichever Democrat is willing to suffer a very public loss.
A more expansive narrative I expect to take center stage as Freddie O'Connell settles into office is the city's posture towards tourism and how it balances its promotion with the needs of residents. This is not a debate unique to Nashville; as I've mentioned before, I think the push and pull between residents and tourists will come to define American cities.
For example, up in Vermont, the small town of Pomfret, which has become famous for its fall foliage, shut down the most trafficked tourist roads from September 23rd to October 15th this year, citing the overwhelming amount of leaf-peepers pouring into the 900-person community.
That's a small example, but also consider Amsterdam's 'Stay Away' campaign targeted at British visitors to discourage drug tourism. In Spain, a coalition of anti-tourist activists has sprung up, slashing bike tires, throwing flares into restaurants, and besieging sightseeing buses. Meanwhile, Japan hiked bullet train pass prices up 70% for non-citizens last year.
Thanks to Tyler Cowen for surfacing this collection of headlines in today’s blog post.
There must be a balance between the demands of residents and tourists. On the one hand, it makes sense for city leadership to wrest control from the hands of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp; on the other hand, tourism is here to stay.
Back in November, Deanna Ivey insisted mass transit was the missing piece of the puzzle in attracting more "upscale and international tourists." As far as the city changing face about who it caters to goes, the framing of O’Connell’s transit referendum will be interesting to watch.
❏ WHAT DOES 2024 HAVE IN STORE?
An estimated 215,000 revelers kicked off the new year in Music City, breaking all previously held records. Even more striking was the number of viewers who celebrated from afar: an average audience of 7.85 million people tuned into CBS’s livestream of Nashville’s Big Bash throughout the evening.
CALIFORNIANS AND COUGARS AND BEARS, OH MY!
Tennessee’s NYE popularity has grown hand-in-hand with our state’s population boom. But, beyond the human migration we’ve seen from places like California, Tennessee has also continued to see an uptick in bears, cougars, and alligators.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the black bear population has increased because bear hunting has decreased. The cougars and alligators, on the other hand, have been expanding their territory into Tennessee in search of prey.
PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY BALLOTS FINALIZED
If we’re going to discuss apex predators in the animal kingdom, we may as well touch on politics. On December 21st, Tre Hargett finalized the presidential primary ballot for Tennessee.
The ticket will include familiar faces Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Asa Hutchinson, plus two lesser-known candidates: David Stuckenberg, a former Air Force combat pilot, inventor, and entrepreneur; and Ryan Binkley, a Texas-based pastor and CEO. Also on the ballot is just one Democratic nominee–- President Joe Biden— as well as a list of potential Republican delegates.
WHY ARE DELEGATES ON THE BALLOT?
Here’s the thing about presidential primaries: as the candidates battle it out on debate stages in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, they amass delegates along the way. In theory, those delegates will support their respective candidates at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where nominees are officially chosen. In Tennessee, some of the Republican delegates are selected by popular election—hence their appearance on March’s ballot.
OTHER 2024 RACES
Accompanying the presidential race on November’s ballot is a US Senate race, US House Races, and a plethora of Tennessee Senate races (all even-numbered districts). Every Tennessee House seat will also be up for grabs.
TN Republican planning to push for clearer exceptions in abortion law (WKRN) Sen. Richard Briggs plans to file a bill set to expand some of the exceptions should it pass. Most of it is centered around cases where carrying the pregnancy to term would damage a mother’s fertility or cases where the mother’s life clearly is or will be at risk.
TN Agriculture officials want to curb CBD and THCA smokables (Lookout) The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s new rules submitted in December go further and attempt to curb the selling of hemp-derived cannabinoid products like THCA and CBD flower by changing the rules around what qualifies as THC, the psychoactive ingredient most commonly found in marijuana.
Nearly 50% of Tennessee is in ‘extreme’ drought (WPLN) Drought conditions have been expanding and contracting across state land since October. The drought peaked during the week of Nov. 21, when 56% of the state was considered at a level of “extreme” or “exceptional.”
Tennessee corrections staff overworked, overtime overused (Lookout) Tennessee’s Department of Corrections has had to rely on overtime and what some officers described as a “hostile environment” due to understaffing and other issues at its facilities, according to an audit from the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office.
- Upcoming Wedgewood-Houston Project Offers Multiple Living Options In Nashville (Now Next)
- Wildhorse Saloon closes doors after nearly 30 years of line dancing in Nashville (Channel 5)
- Condo owners trying to block projects turn to state Supreme Court (Post)
- War Memorial Auditorium undergoing $106M upgrade (Post)
- Parcels at planned east side project sell for $3.36M (Post)
- Investor pays $24M for White Bridge apartments (Post)
- Germantown apartment building sells for $78M (Post)
- Downtown hotel to see $10.2M update (Post)
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
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