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No. 696: Back to Square One
Photo by Noita Digital / Unsplash

No. 696: Back to Square One

📅 Today, Davis talks about the status of the school choice bill and Megan takes a look at a shooting that happened yesterday and picks up on a pattern.

Good afternoon, everyone.

The House and the Senate are still wrangling over the particulars of Bill Lee's school choice bill. But at this juncture, few doubt the bill will pass. Even still, critics of the proposed program continue to give it their all.

NewsChannel 5's Phil "Footman" Williams, a dogged critic of anything that whiffs of school choice, posed a thought experiment:

"For Tennessee's 'school choice' debate, let's try an experiment: Pick Tennessee's most elite private school and its most economically disadvantaged school - and switch the students for a year (or more). Is it the school or the economic/home life that makes the real difference?" 

After cycling through every pre-approved talking point against school choice to no avail, the Footman has thrown his hands up and declared, “It’s the parents’ fault!”

Also, be sure to tune into Megan's weekly livestream, Nashville Savvy, where she'll recap the latest news about Riley Strain's disappearance, look at the new TSU board, and look ahead to this week's council meeting. You can tune in on YouTube here.




As you've probably heard by now, a gunman opened fire during Easter brunch yesterday afternoon.

Police are searching for Anton Rucker, the 46-year-old who allegedly killed one and injured several others. A few hours after the incident, MNPD posted a few details about Rucker's criminal history: “He has agg assault convictions in Nashville & was arrested in Murfreesboro on felony drug charges last 10/31, and on agg assault & gun charges last Aug.” A click through his bookings over the last 30 years reveals a string of possession charges, aggravated assault charges, and even dismissed murder charges.

“My heart goes out to those who had their holiday disrupted by gun violence,” Mayor O’Connell posted on X. “We must continue doing everything in our power at the local level to limit the likelihood and impact of gun violence. We are continuing to increase police capacity, invest in community safety, and working to ensure dispossession of those who should not legally possess firearms.”

Never mind that possessing a firearm in Tennessee is already a crime if you’ve been convicted of a violent felony or the numerous misdemeanors continuously committed by the same 229 Nashvillians, local officials seem determined to point the finger at lawful gun ownership. 

Recall that Shaquille Taylor, the repeat violent offender who was arrested for the murder of Jillian Ludwig last November, was released of previous charges after being deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial (yet too competent for involuntary institutionalization). In a devastating twist, the mayor revealed in November that Taylor may evade the Ludwig murder charge for the same reason. 

Though the state legislature has plans to address this legal loophole by passing “Jillian’s Law,” other repeat offenders continue to wreak havoc in Nashville. Such is the case with Corye Stone, who by all accounts was mentally sound when he carjacked a 66-year-old woman at gunpoint in the Charlotte Pike Kroger parking lot the day after Thanksgiving last year. Criminal records show Stone had been arrested for firearm theft on three separate occasions over the summer. After his run in this November, he was released and has already been booked for multiple counts of firearm theft and carjacking this year.


During Freddie O’ Connell’s weekly media roundtable, Jerry Barlar, a veteran reporter at News 2, asked the mayor about the recent uptick in violent crimes committed by juveniles. “Twice as many teenagers 13 to 17 have been shot this year than last year during this period of time,” said Barlar. “I know Metro police has an initiative going on right now targeting stolen vehicles. Somewhere between 70 to 80 percent of those calls are juveniles.”

Barlar went on to explain that, according to an officer, young offenders know they will be deemed “unable to stand trial” and let off the hook. Police are also anticipating an uptick in offenses once school lets out for the summer. “How do you address the officers when they say they see so much recidivism?” Barlar asked O’Connell. “They’re arresting the same kids, literally weekly, for the same problems.”

“This is probably the difficulty overall of juvenile crime scenarios is that there is a difference in how the criminal legal system treats juvenile offenders versus adult offenders,” said O’Connell. “We do rely on programmatic aspects of the delivery of justice through the juvenile court process, but I will say too: this is one of the things… that was in our recently approved capital spending plan, the next phase of funding for the juvenile court clerk's new complex, the Nashville Youth Empowerment Center off Brick Church Pike.” He went on to explain that the larger building will allow for “a new mix of services” to help at-risk youth, but that “some of those things will take a few years to get off the ground.” 

The new Nashville Youth Empowerment Center won’t be completed until 2027.

From Megan Podsiedlik


When will Metro Arts grant recipients be paid? Details remain murky (WPLN) Until the 2023 grants are paid, Metro Arts staff and commissioners say they’re putting the upcoming grant review cycle on hold. That affects a record number of artists and organizations who applied for funding back in January.

Tennessee Senate votes for resolution blocking statewide property tax (Center Square) House Joint Resolution 81 previously passed the House 81-11 and is the first step in a process to put the property tax ban in the Tennessee Constitution. The state doesn’t have a property tax currently but Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said it did have one until 1949 before making the property tax 0%, where it has remained.

2023 Music City Bowl brought more than $20 million to Nashville (WSMV) The more than $23 million is the third most since 2018 as Tennessee versus Purdue brought Nashville more than $32 million in 2021 and Purdue versus Auburn brought the city more than $24 million in 2018.


  • Multi-Phase Nations Project To Increase Residential Density In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Albion Residential kicks two-tower project on former Beaman site into high gear (NBJ)
  • Why hospitality vets tap into crowdfunding for East Nashville's Coral Club (NBJ)


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.


🪕 Val Storey, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle & New Monday @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

💀 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info

🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 695: Spring Fling
📅 Today, Davis waltzes into spring on this fine weekend and talks with a guy who makes rain, Megan reviews the new TSU board appointments, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.
No. 694: Something’s Happening Here
📅 Today, Davis talks about the stuff happening at Vanderbilt, and Megan looks at the weather modification bill flying through the legislature.
No. 693: Remembering Covenant
📅 Today, Davis reflects on Covenant and Megan looks at five bills already signed into law this year.
No. 692: Don’t Look at the Cumberland
📅 Today, Davis talks about the city turning its back on the Cumberland River, and Megan looks at MNPD’s latest effort to clamp down on street racing.
No. 691: Straight Talk
📅 Today, Davis talks about Antioch, Miles celebrates Pat Summitt’s career, and Megan takes a look at the latest regarding the East Bank Authority.


  • 🧠 The response to Poor Things exposes our inability to talk about art that defies ideology. (Read)
  • 🎞️ The Pamphleteer’s ten most anticipated films of 2024 (Read)
  • ⛪️ Rob Reiner's documentary on Christian Nationalism completely misses the mark (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.