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No. 669: Justin Jones' Endless Summer
Photo by Corey Agopian / Unsplash

No. 669: Justin Jones' Endless Summer

🌴 Rep. Jones' long vacation from divinity school, a look at the upcoming school board races, a Nashvillian on Shark Tank, and much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

We follow up on our earlier breakdown of why Justin Jones is fundamentally bad at his job with a piece that examines both the role Vanderbilt Divinity School played in his rise and their indifference toward allegations that Jones covered up two incidents of sexual assault in June 2020 for fear that the news would "change the narrative" concerning their protest for the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest's bust from the state capitol. The story raises a lot of questions.

In other news, Megan digs into the school board races showing up on March's ballot.




Academic deans promised to look into the freshman state rep’s alleged role in covering up sexual assaults. Now, the university seems to be running cover for him.

When Jeneisha Harris took to Facebook a week into  Summer 2020’s “People’s Protest” on Legislative Plaza, fissures formed in the Nashville activist community where she’d long been a fixture. “I have to speak about this publicly because my spirit won’t let me sleep tonight if I don’t,” she wrote, detailing how Justin Jones suppressed the sexual assault of two women during protests over the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from the capitol.

Those most outraged over Jones’s alleged behavior weren’t her fellow good troublemakers, but the deans of Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where Jones was a graduate student at the time.  In their comments, Vanderbilt Divinity’s leaders promised to speak to Jones about the allegations and course correct. Instead, as The Pamphleteer has learned, Vanderbilt granted him an extended leave of absence that is not only incongruent with the school's enrollment policies, but apparently continues to this day.

Soon after Harris posted to Facebook, several of Vanderbilt Divinity’s deans responded in the comments. Dr. Emilie Townes, the now-retired Dean of the Divinity School, wrote, “Now that I see this, I must speak as a dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School. We do not teach, condone, or accept sexism, sexual violence, gender and sexual orientation oppression, or silencing. Speak the truth.” 

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

Half of Metro Nashville’s School Board is up for election, but there’s really only one competitive race: District 1. This district makes up the northwest section of Davidson County, including Whites Creek and Joelton. Four candidates are on the ballot: three Democrats and one Republican. Since November 2021, school board elections have been partisan in Tennessee, which means the three Democrats will be battling it out in the March 5th primary. 

During Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting, members discussed current District 5 school board member, Christiane Buggs, who “resigned from her position in January to take over the education nonprofit PENCIL.” Since the vacant seat won’t be filled until August’s general election, the council is responsible for finding an interim replacement as the current primary continues apace.

Let’s take a look at who’s on Super Tuesday’s ballot.


Dominique McCord-Cotton (D): A fourth-generation Nashvillian and seventh-grade social studies teacher at East End Prep, McCord-Cotton sees education as the great equalizer. According to her interview with the Tennessean, she is “committed to improving the current state of education by creating more community partnerships in schools, working to retain and recruit high-quality teachers, and working to advocate for additional funds for school services and programs.” 

Interview - Instagram

Robert Taylor (D) A current MNPS parent, this isn’t Taylor’s first rodeo. Not only has he run for this seat before, he’s previously served as a “family involvement specialist for the Whites Creek Cluster of MNPS schools,” according to the Banner. A medical field professional who previously served as the Metro Public Health Program Manager, he’s currently on the board of Smithson Craighead Academy, a charter in Madison. 

Interview - Twitter

LaTonya Winfrey (D) With over 20 years of teaching in MNPS schools under her belt, Winfrey hopes to prioritize both students and parents. As the mother of a son with autism, she plans to refocus attention on the needs of families who have students with special needs. Winfrey’s platform also emphasizes the importance of the proper allocation of school funding. 


Demytris Savage-Short (R) A nurse at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Savage-Short is on a quest “to protect parental rights” and “bring back education withstanding indoctrination.” The only Republican in the race, she will face off against the Democratic primary winner in August. According to the Banner, Savage-Short “wants to make sure that Lee’s voucher program does not affect private schools or homeschooling in any way, because “any time federal funding is accepted, that entity has to abide by federal guidelines.”



Zach Young (D) You may remember Young from his time serving as a council member for  District 5. A resident of Goodlettsville and son of an MNPS employee, he hopes to both  bridge the communication gap between Metro Government and MNPS and property allocate the funding given to public schools. 

Interview - Twitter 


TK Fayne (D) A business analyst at Amazon, Fayne says she's “a parent, not a politician.” Hailing from North Memphis, she moved to North Nashville to give her son better opportunities. Fayne hopes to establish parent associations in every MNPS school.



Freda Player (D) One of only two incumbents running to reclaim her seat, Player is the Executive Director at Emerge Tennessee, a campaign-training program with the goal of “[increasing] the number of Democratic women leaders… in public office.” She has been politically involved in Tennessee since receiving her bachelor’s in political science from Fisk University.



Abigail Tylor (D) The second incumbent candidate, Hume Fogg alumna Tylor is a former MNPS teacher and current parent. Her goals include fully funding public schools, reducing and realigning standardized testing, and fending off the privatization of the school system.

Interview - Twitter


Beacon Center files lawsuit challenging new federal gig worker rule (Center Square) Tennessee’s Beacon Center filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor over its Independent Contractor Rule on behalf of a pair of Nashville-based freelance journalists. The new rule will begin using a six-factor test to determine independent workers' legal protections and compensation starting March 11 for gig workers.

Whether to test private school students is key difference in dueling voucher proposals in Tennessee (Chalkbeat) Gov. Bill Lee and Senate leaders unveiled dueling proposals Wednesday to bring universal school vouchers to Tennessee. House leaders are expected to release a third version later this week.

Technology company Flora receives sizable 'Shark Tank' investment from Lori Greiner (NBJ) Nashville entrepreneur Aabesh De received a $300,000 investment and in turn gave Greiner 15% equity in his company, 5% advisory shares and a $2 per unit royalty until the investment has been repaid.


  • Type One Energy moves HQ to Tennessee (NBJ)
  • New images released for Belle Meade Plaza site project (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.


🎸 Two Door Cinema Club @ Brooklyn Bowl, 7p, $39.50, Info
+ dancey post-punk

🪕 All Star Bluegrass Night @ Station Inn, 9p, $20, Info
+ featuring John Meador, Jason Carter, Gena Britt, Alan Bartram, and Jonathan Dillion

🎻 Elgar's Enigma @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $29+, Info

🎸 Josh Rouse Residency @ The 5 Spot, 6p, $20, Info
+ melodic folk singer-songwriter

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

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 668: Density, Density, Density
🗺️ Density Galore, Derrick Henry’s legacy, Nolensville Town Square, and much more!
No. 667: Justin Jones is bad at his job
🗓️ Today, we catch up on the weekend, look at how good Justin Jones is at his job, and get you prepped for the presidential primary election.
No. 665: Cold Beer on the Rocks
🍻 Where there’s warm beer, there’s fire · a review of The Sweet East · Hale’s Toxicology report · Much more!
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.
No. 663: Phoning In
🗓️ Today, Davis phones in, Megan talks transit referendum, AG’s case against NCAA, and a new mayoral appointee.


  • 🇺🇸 With The Sweet East, Sean Price Williams proves himself an unlikely defender of America’s social fabric. (Read)
  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (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.