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Singh-ing All The Way To The Bank
Photo by Vladimir Solomianyi / Unsplash

Singh-ing All The Way To The Bank

馃挵 Metro Arts Director makes off like a bandit 路聽Much Ado About Nothing 路聽Behind the curtain 路 Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

I often tell people that if they watched just a few minutes of a Metro Council meeting, it would radicalize them. Last night was no exception. I鈥檓 not saying it鈥檚 an improvement, but the lengthy public comment period did eat into time that is usually spent grandstanding on resolutions鈥攍ike the one passed on consent last night honoring Pride Month.

In other news, Elon Musk is building his xAI supercomputer in Memphis. He must've read our article on Memphis last week and decided to pick up the crown in the gutter.

Onward.

During last night鈥檚 Metro Council meeting, members passed their budget proposal on its second reading and, as expected, a crowd the size of a small rally showed up for the bill鈥檚 public hearing. Over the course of three hours, nearly 100 people approached the podium to advocate for a slice of the pie. This afternoon, the Budget and Finance Committee will host a work session to consider any further changes the council would like to make to the budget based on last night鈥檚 input, and on June 11th, there will be a special meeting to finalize the Capital Improvements Budget and its amendments.

While the budget proceedings took up the better part of last night鈥檚 meeting, the drama unfolded as the clock struck twelve when the council voted to approve a settlement with suspended Metro Arts Director Daniel Singh. Last month, Metro Legal and Singh鈥檚 lawyer, JR Hollin, landed on the figure of $200,000 in exchange for his resignation.

The settlement would also ensure a quiet departure by securing Singh鈥檚 agreement to drop all lawsuits against the city. Prior to negotiations, the spurned director alleged racial discrimination and threatened to file discrimination, Family Medical Leave Act, and retaliation claims against Metro and to sue the Commission and Metro over his termination. 

Final approval of the settlement fell on the council, but Councilmember Joy Styles made sure she had the last word. Before the Antioch representative took the floor to denounce the proceedings as 鈥渁 distraction from the true issue at hand, which is overreach of Metro Legal and Metro Finance,鈥 Finance Director Kevin Crumbo described the precarious state of the Arts Commission鈥檚 finances to the body. 鈥淲e have been headed to a loss for Metro Arts for months,鈥 he said. 鈥淭he original computation earlier in the year was about $100,000 to $200,000 or so, the year is not over yet. We still have a ways to go, I'm still expecting them to incur a loss.鈥 

Crumbo went on to explain that the losses are due to the fact that both the commission鈥檚 general operating costs and the millions of dollars in payouts issued by Director Singh exceeded the approved budget. 鈥淭here is some chance that we will mitigate that by having cut back on contracts and things,鈥 he said. As far as auditing the ledger goes, Metro Finance will release the numbers, just as they do every year. 鈥淭hat is part of our normal accounting,鈥 said Crumbo. 鈥淚t'll be part of our audit at the end of the year, and that'll be visible to everybody as it always is.鈥

Styles鈥 distaste for Crumbo鈥檚 version of events was evident when it was her turn on the mic. 鈥...Our legal department seems to believe it's easier to pay Daniel Singh to walk away, after Metro Finance has been slandering his name for months on allegations of fiscal mismanagement, than face accountability,鈥 she said. On two separate occasions, fellow colleagues yielded their time to the councilwoman so she could continue her lengthy harangue. After Styles said her piece, Vice Mayor Angie Henderson turned the floor back to Crumbo, who promptly characterized Styles鈥 comments as foolish: a retort that earned him a rap on the knuckles from Henderson.

At the end of the day, a Maryland transplant was allowed to drain the city鈥檚 coffers: the resolution passed and Singh will be dismissed with a $200,000 payday. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK



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Nashville

馃幁 Much Ado About Nothing Three months ago, Nashville Scene reporter Eli Motycka was arrested while trying to enter Vanderbilt鈥檚 Kirkland Hall, where students were staging a sit-in to demand the University divest from firms linked to Israel. In the days following, twenty Metro Council members took to their micro-pulpits and co-signed a letter to Vanderbilt鈥檚 chancellor condemning the arrest, centering their concern on Motycka鈥檚 job as a reporter. It seemed like one of those moments ready-made to launch the city鈥檚 neglected alt-weekly back into the limelight鈥攐ne could imagine a marketing campaign emphasizing police brutality and the suppression of speech. And yet, as the days wore on, the incident was soon forgotten.

Aside from an uncharacteristic donation-request email, nothing happened. Motycka stopped reporting on the campus protests. Many of the students involved were either suspended or expelled, and aside from the murmurs of journalists who fetishize persecution for doing their work, no one cared. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt hired Nashville attorney Aubrey Harwell of Neal & Harwell to head up a third-party investigation of the proceedings and determine who went wrong where.

Yesterday, the findings of that investigation were released. They stated that there were a number of procedural errors in the handling of Motycka鈥檚 arrest, and that the university should post its media policy more explicitly. But most importantly, it drew the conclusion that Vanderbilt didn鈥檛 violate the First Amendment, noting "he may well have been treated the same way鈥 if he wasn鈥檛 a reporter;  the report notes that staffers from the Tennessean, Vanderbilt Hustler, WKRN, and WSMV were also present on campus that day without issue to lend credence to this claim. Guess that explains why we didn鈥檛 hear about this as much as you鈥檇 expect. DAVIS HUNT

鉁   鉁   鉁

馃鈥嶁檪锔 The Men Behind the Curtain Last night, The Tennessee Star obtained an FBI memo addressed to Police Chief John Drake. Dated May 11, 2023, it advised against making 鈥減ublic tokens鈥濃攖hat is, the artifacts a mass shooter often leaves behind to 鈥渃laim credit for the attack and/or articulate the motivation behind it鈥濃攁vailable to the general population. Coming a month and a half after the Covenant tragedy, the memo does not specifically address Audrey Hale or the school; however, the FBI delivered the memo just two days after the Star filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI to release the documents (or manifesto) to the public, and one day after a similar suit against Metro. Following the tragedy, I took a similar position, arguing that school shootings were viral in the sense that the crimes usually build on and draw influence from one another.

Here鈥檚 what I wrote at the time. 

Releasing the manifesto publicly just encourages mimesis. In the interest of preventing the spread of what is, to some degree, a social contagion, we should limit the flow of information that permits its reproduction. Nearly every mass murderer has studied the actions of previous mass murderers. Everything from the way an assailant dresses to the weapons he or she uses can be interpreted as nods to previous killers.

And expanding on the point: 

Publicizing the grievances of someone who shot six innocent people in a school could very well invite people to sympathize with him or her, and go some way to justify the crimes to those sufficiently aggrieved themselves. General grievances and distress are not new phenomena. What is new is the channeling of such resentment into explosions of mass violence against innocent people.

The article is worth a read if you want to understand the full argument. I鈥檓 not a federal agent. Promise. DAVIS HUNT

DEVELOPMENT

  • Sylvan Park lands Latin American restaurant that started as farmers market pop-up (NBJ)
  • Oracle jumpstarts effort to create East Bank greenway trail (Post)
  • Downtown-area ex-adult club building sells (Post)
  • Fall start set for Germantown project (Post)
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

馃搮 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.

TONIGHT

馃幐 Randy Travis @ Ryman Auditorium, 7:30p, $39.50+, Info

馃幐 Dennis Parker & Friends: James Taylor Tribute Show @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

馃幐 Strawberry Guy @ The Blue Room, 8p, $34.61, Info
+ Welsh indie pop

馃幐 Maxxwellhouse @ The Basement, 9p, $12.85, Info
+ groovy trio of instrumental music

馃獣 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info