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No. 664: For the Greater Good
Photo by Rob Curran / Unsplash

No. 664: For the Greater Good

🗓️ Today, Davis talks about the greater good, Megan gets specific about the mayor's transit referendum announcement, and Jerod furnishes his weekly film rundown.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Increasingly, it seems like politicians care less about what voters prioritize and more about crafting their own pet programs and initiatives, which they then sell to voters, asking that they support them for the "greater good." Today's announcement from the mayor's office of a pending transit referendum (more on that from Megan below) is a good example.

Heading into the 2023 mayoral race, the top two priorities for Nashvillians were improving public education and reducing crime. Improving public transportation ranked seventh—behind even boring, almost un-campaignable priorities such as “taking steps to ensure the city's long-term financial health.”

And yet, the mayor whose campaign slogan was "I want you to stay" has insistently constrained his political agenda to a tight circle of local progressive activists and councilmembers who view transit as a panacea, a solution that will magically bring down the cost of housing and reduce traffic congestion.

Maybe this is a pragmatic political choice on O’Connell’s part. Knowing that tackling crime or improving public schools takes cross-institutional coordination, requires real politicking, and is at odds with the priorities of the most progressive city council in Nashville's history, he’s confident he can deliver on this one policy item.

Offering up a fairly straightforward transit proposal for approval by the public, raising taxes to pay for it, and campaigning to get it all done is simpler, albeit not necessarily easier, than taking on the MNPS school board and the teachers’ unions or MNPD and the DA’s office. 

Granted, the referendum that O’Connell has put forward will not be as bass ackwards as Mayor Barry's and reportedly will include more mundane things such as sidewalks and coordinated traffic lights. But the ask that you pay more taxes to get all this begets the question of why we should pay more, and the answer will be some variant of “for the greater good."

The "greater good," in most instances, can be defined as a general advantage you can only gain by losing or harming something that is equally or less important. It's usually invoked in the context of sacrificing one thing to gain another—in this case, your money for sidewalks, bus expansions, and coordinated traffic signals.

The city has consistently failed to address the primary concerns of Nashville residents: improving public education and reducing crime. We hear a lot about affordable housing and transit, but very little about these two priorities, which seem more aligned with the “greater good” for people who already live in the city.




From Megan Podsiedlik

“So, this was an announcement of an announcement,” observed a bystander as I slipped out the door following Mayor O’ Connell’s specially-called press conference. During the thirty-minute presser, O’Connell unveiled his plan to move forward with putting a transit referendum on November’s ballot.

The mayor’s “Choose How You Move” plan is designed to invite the public into the conversation. Rather than rolling out a fully-baked proposition, the mayor has elected to receive guidance both from Metro Council and from two new advisory committees: one focused on technical aspects, made up of professionals who have specialized knowledge in public transit and infrastructure, and another centered on community concerns.“I'm sure we will have meetings with neighborhood associations, various community organizations,” O’Connell assured the audience. 

According to his press release, these conversations and negotiations will primarily be about sidewalks, traffic signaling, public transit service, and safety. The administration has named the city’s commitment to public transportation TIP: Transportation Improvement Program.


When pressed by the Banner’s Steve Cavendish, O’Connell would not commit to a specific price tag on the referendum, but eventually alluded to a tab “probably in the range of starting with a ‘B,’” making sure to clarify that it would be funded “over a thirty-year period.” The mayor also discussed a few state and federal options he’s looking at to establish dedicated transportation and infrastructure funding in Music City: “There are buckets of revenue available under the Improve Act,” he said. “There are things you can anticipate in federal funding with bond issuance.”


While presenting his plan in the Media Room, O’Connell channeled some of the same urgency and “let’s give the people what they want” attitude we saw from former Mayor Megan Barry during her Let’s Move Nashville campaign throughout ‘17 and ‘18. That being said, O’Connell nixed the possibility of light rail and spoke of building options appropriate to “a city with the limited density that Nashville has…we're planning on not having a billion dollar tunnel under downtown in it.” Over and over again, he promised to focus on ideas that are appropriate, cost-effective, popular. 

The mayor organized the first meeting of the Community Advisory Committee directly after this morning’s conference. You can watch the meeting live on Metro’s YouTube channel. Ultimately, the choice will be up to Nashvillians, whose votes will express whether they believe in O’Connell’s own mantra: If they build it, will they ride?


Tennessee Rep. Mark Green announces he won't run for Congress again (Channel 5) He was elected to Congress in 2018 when the seat became open. He now serves as the representative for District 7. It has been redrawn, which has different counties, including Davidson.

Tennessee Titans fans drink the most among NFL fans, study says (WSMV) Based on BAC (blood alcohol content) breathalyzer readings, BACtrack found that the Titans’ fanbase had a whopping .093% average BAC, which came in at No. 1 in the NFL. “As part of our How America Drinks™ series, the BACtrack analytics team analyzed over 28,000 anonymous BAC results to determine which fanbase drank the most during the 2023-2024 NFL season,” BACtrack said.

Early Voting Begins for March Primaries (Scene) Tennessee voters can begin voting in all-but-over presidential primaries on Wednesday, as early voting begins ahead of the March 5 primary. Also on the ballot is a four-way Democratic primary for Davidson County Circuit Court Division IV, responsible for divorces and adoptions.


  • 🍱 Locust named to USA Today's Restaurants of the Year 2024 (NBJ)
  • Plans approved for transformative 27-acre development (NBJ)
  • Image created for planned Gulch tower (Post)
  • SoBro building last housing Mexican restaurant listed for $9M (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.


🎸 Band of Horses @ Ryman Auditorium, 8p, $46+, Info

🎸 Judy Blank @ The Basement, 9p, $10, Info
+ Whimsical indie folk

🎸 Paul Burch & WPA Ballclub @ Vinyl Tap, Free, Info
+ Modern American roots

Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

🎸 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
+ Vet community here

✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: February 14-22

The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week. 

The Sweet East Renowned indie cinematographer Sean Price Williams makes his directorial debut with this American picaresque about a precocious teenage girl (Talia Ryder) who goes it alone when separated from her classmates on a school trip to D.C. As its heroine traverses the country’s fundamentalist fringes, Williams mourns our loss of national unity with a generosity of spirit indie film seemingly abandoned long ago. An early contender for 2024’s best film. Now playing at the Belcourt

The Taste of Things Over the last twenty years world-renowned Chef Dodin (Benoît Magimel) and his cook, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) have shaped the culinary world amid their hot-and-cold love affair. But when Eugénie decides to make a clean break, Dodin pushes himself to the limits of his talents to reignite her passions. Now playing at AMC Murfreesboro 16, AMC Thoroughbred 20, and The Belcourt. 

Oscar Animated and Live-Action Shorts Showcase See this year’s Academy Award nominees for the short-form categories on the bigscreen. Now playing at AMC Thoroughbred 20, The Belcourt, and Regal Streets of Indian Lake (Hendersonville). 

Madame Web I don’t care if it has a 17% rotten rating, there’s no way a Spider-Man spinoff with Dakota Johnson as a clairvoyant paramedic and Sydney Sweeney as Spider-Woman is a waste of time. Now playing in theaters.

See the full list
In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 663: Phoning In
🗓️ Today, Davis phones in, Megan talks transit referendum, AG’s case against NCAA, and a new mayoral appointee.
No. 662: The Looming Transit Referendum
📅 Today, Davis looks ahead briefly, and Megan reviews some bills flying through the state legislature that stick out for different reasons.
No. 661: Testing the Water
📅 Today, Davis takes the cultural temperature, and Megan reviews the mayor’s first capital spending plan.
No. 660: You’re forgetting something, mayor
📅 Today, Davis talks priorities, Jerod reviews American Fiction, Megan reviews a hospital visitation bill and recaps today’s mayoral roundtable, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.
No. 659: Fighting the Law
📅 Today, Davis debunks a talking point about gun laws, and Megan wonders if Justin Jones is good or bad at his job.


  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • 🤼 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)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.