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No. 652: The Sting

No. 652: The Sting

📅 Today, Davis talks about sting operations and Megan introduces Metro's new lobbyist.

Good afternoon, everyone.

From Santa Claus to the boogeyman, seeding the specter of punishment in would-be miscreants is inscribed in civilizations across the globe. A more benign local version of this is the “officer hiding in an abandoned car on the side of the highway with a speedometer” myth that first came on my radar when I was sixteen and hasn’t really left me. Every time I see a neglected vehicle on the shoulder, I check my speedometer. 

The origin of said myth is dubious, but I’m sure I’m not the only one still held in its thrall. Maybe the MNPD deliberately spread the cautionary folk tale to dissuade would-be speeders. I picked it up at one of those driver rehabilitation courses you go to after getting a speeding ticket. Over fifteen years later, it still haunts me.

Now, let’s take this blueprint and apply to Nashville’s favorite crime to discuss: guns being stolen from vehicles. As I mentioned yesterday, attempts to penalize lawful gun owners for improperly storing their firearms will do nothing to prevent this. The problem isn’t the gun owners, it’s the  people stealing the guns. No gun owner wants their $550 Glock 19 Gen5 stolen. That is incentive enough for them to store it properly.

The primary problem is that the gun thieves have not been properly made aware of the risk involved in breaking into a car and stealing a gun—impotent, hand-waving declamations from state representatives aside, no visible effort has been made to hone in on this dimension.

In the spring of last year, we set about trying to compile data on gun thefts. Our plan was to use that data to determine where they were happening, who was committing them, and whether it was a coordinated effort by a few key individuals. The data made publicly available by MNPD on gun thefts did not make it easy to sort through, and the man-hours required to compile it were immense, so we eventually abandoned the project.

It’s curious that MNPD does not have more transparent data on where these crimes happen the most and who is committing them. For an issue that receives as much public play as it does—I get emails weekly from the city delineating that week’s gun thefts— the data is best described as one-dimensional.

In any event, granular data—which MNPD purportedly has access to—may reveal that this problem could be ameliorated with a simple police operation. A luxury watch theft crisis in London culminated in a covert police operation wherein Met police would dress in plain clothes, lure the thieves into traps, and arrest them. The operation was concentrated in SoHo, where around a third of all watch thefts were occurring.

Since initiating the operation, luxury watch thefts in the area have plummeted by more than 50 percent. It undoubtedly requires courage of the police officers, but the effort has been an undeniable success so far.

If they were so inclined, MNPD could carry out a similar operation in Nashville to deter firearm thefts from vehicles. Once word got around that MNPD had hatched a sting operation to lure thieves into stealing guns from cars, I’m positive these incidents would decrease.

The clever legislation proposed by Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) will do nothing to prevent a crime that is, by prosecutors’ admission, already difficult to enforce as is; proactively punishing it will.




From Megan Podsiedlik

Theo Morrison, the brains behind Morrison Capitol Strategies, is set to become Metro Council’s personal lobbyist. Though the council still has paperwork to finalize, Morrison, who has worked with everyone from the YWCA to the late Doug Henry, joined the Council Executive Committee meeting last Thursday. “Mr. Morrison is not actively lobbying for us right now,” Vice Mayor Angie Henderson told those assembled, “but we are still conferring, talking about his reporting,” 

Henderson went on to explain that Morrison will be setting up meetings on the behalf of the council to build rapport with state legislators. “The mayor's office was in agreement that we were not going to be working cross purposes,” she said. “We are Team Nashville.”

As the meeting progressed, it became clear that Morrison had already been monitoring state legislation that may affect Davidson County government. He addressed Vice Mayor Henderson’s concerns over property tax cap legislation and indicated that there is not only a currently-filed bill, but another one on the horizon.

It’s no surprise that Metro Nashville has had its fair share of turmoil over property tax rates; Mayor Cooper’s shocking 34 percent tax increase in 2020 comes to mind. Though, while campaigning, he stated he did not support raising taxes, Cooper framed the increase as necessary to deal with unforeseen events. At the time, Nashvillians attempted to push back with a petition, an effort reminiscent of the appeal to amend the Metro Charter and add a property tax cap back in 2006.

Though the tax increase prevailed, the council took things a step further by putting forward a new signature threshold, making it exponentially harder for Davidson County residents to petition Metro Government’s decisions in the future. 


Moving forward, said Henderson, the council will coordinate their messaging. “One might think, just at first glance, ‘Property tax cap, that sounds good,’ especially given what our city has been through of late,” she told the executive committee. “But really, developing a very consistent, fact-based narrative that shows why that's not a good idea, potentially.” 

During the mayor’s media roundtable last Friday, Metro’s Finance Director, Kevin Crumbo, also raised concerns over potential property tax caps coming down from the state. “I think it would be very harmful,” he said. “Property taxes are the most stable form of revenue that we have.”

For Henderson’s part, it’s clear that both she and other members of the council have committed to turning their frustration with “the narrative” into action. “If we have a fact-based kind of counter argument, and we get in front of things… then we can diffuse that through our chairmanship and to our members to be putting that into newsletters,” she told the executive committee. “Then we are helping to kind of build a cohort that is just not– we're not in a space where it's only, you know, a Beacon Center op-ed, or a report that goes to state legislators… like, we also need the op-ed, we need to have a response to things.”


Nashville races to fill potholes after winter storm (Axios) Since the storm, the city has patched 1,198 potholes as of noon yesterday. As of Sunday, they said, there were 272 requests to fix potholes since the snowstorm.

Tennessee certificate-of-need laws hurt health-care access (Center Square) The report from Americans for Prosperity Foundation said the issues could be seen in HealthSouth’s attempt to build a 40-bed inpatient facility in Franklin. It was initially applied for in 2010, with CON granted in March 2011 but the appeals process not complete until August 2014.

Bills introduced to extend Tennessee 3rd grade retention law to certain private schools (WSMV) Last week, Representative Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, and Senator Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, introduced HB 2228/SB 1923, which would extend the third-grade retention law to schools participating in the education savings account program.


  • Sean Brock introduces new iteration of June, with lower price point, faster experience (NBJ)
  • Luke Combs, Opry Entertainment Group reveal name for downtown venue (NBJ)
  • Permit sought for long-planned Gulch hotel project (Post)
  • Los Angeles entertainment industry official buys on Music Row (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.


🎸 Wednesday @ Eastside Bowl, 7p, $20, Info
+ twangy shoegaze inspired indie rock

🎸 JP Ruggieri & Friends @ Vinyl Tap, 6p, Free, Info
+ rhythmic, groove-based roots music

🪕 Tidalwave Road Bluegrass Band @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, 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

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 651: To blame, or not to blame
📅 Today, Davis talks about gun thefts from cars, Miles previews the Super Bowl, and Megan updates us on the governor’s office and looks at what Justin Jones has been up to.
No. 650: No one likes the TSA
📅 Today, Davis dismantles the TSA, Jerod reviews The Iron Claw, and Megan rounds up the latest from our two senators and the mayor’s office.
No. 649: Constitutional Crisis?!
📅 Today, Davis talks about the border, Hamilton joins us to talk about the promise of nuclear energy in a small Middle Tennessee town, Megan thinks about transit, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.
No. 648: Nothing to See Here
🏛 Business as usual, nothing to see here, at this week’s Metro Council meeting.
No. 647: Decolonizing the Arts
🎨 How Metro Arts is seeking to use anti-racism to decolonize the arts and what to expect from the new commissioners.


  • 🤼 The Iron Claw is a Heartland epic. Of course it isn’t an Oscar contender. (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.