Tag Archives: Nashville

On Coleman vs. Dickerson in Senate District 20

Excerpt from Nashville Public Radio’s review of the state Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson and Democratic nominee Erin Coleman:

Democrats have high hopes for Coleman. She’s a young mother and a business owner, a lawyer and an Army veteran — the sort of person who might appeal to voters in a Nashville district that’s generally suburban and right-of-center.

“We really feel like we’re headed in the right direction,” she tells one young man, “and people are starting to listen and recognize that there’s an election happening.”

“I also feel like a lot of Republicans are going to stay home,” he says.

“From your lips to God’s ears,” Coleman replies.

He means that Republicans are going to stay home because of Donald Trump. Continue reading

Nashville council approves pot ordinance 35-3

Nashville on Tuesday became the first city in Tennessee to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and Memphis likely will become the second in two weeks. according to the Commercial Appeal.

The Nashville Metropolitan Council voted 35-3 on final reading Tuesday night to allow police officers to either issue a civil citation punishable by a $50 fine or community service, or charge someone under the state’s criminal law, for possession of a half-ounce or less or marijuana. Under state law, violators are charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

Earlier in the day, members of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators arrived in Memphis to campaign around the city and at City Council for a similar ordinance that received the second of three readings Tuesday before a final vote as early as Oct. 4. The ordinance is sponsored by council member Berlin Boyd.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said the caucus she presides over as chairwoman feels the criminal justice system across the state “has gotten out of whack.” The caucus isn’t advocating for legalizing marijuana, she emphasized, but is instead offering a second chance for low-income violators to avoid a cycle of a criminal justice system they perceive as discriminatory to African-Americans.

State Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, said criminal records for African-Americans associated with small amounts of marijuana thwart the future of a minority middle class.

“In the city of Memphis one of the things we lack is an African-American middle class,” Harris said, later adding: “This is a cycle that we’ve got try to get out of if we’re going to create an African-American middle class.”

AP story on Nashville, Memphis marijuana ordinances

By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Political leaders in Tennessee’s two largest cities are taking steps toward marijuana decriminalization with ordinances that would allow police to reduce the penalty for people who possess small amounts of it.

Nashville’s Metropolitan Council is set to take a final vote on its ordinance on Tuesday, while the Memphis City Council is scheduled to make its decision Oct. 4.

Both cities have similar proposals on the table: Police who encounter people in possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana have the discretion of giving them a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service.

Such a penalty is in stark contrast to Tennessee law, which calls for people caught with a half-ounce of marijuana or less to face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Continue reading

Memphis, Nashville could pay penalty for pot decriminalization

If the Nashville and Memphis city councils move ahead with plans for modified marijuana decriminalization, state Rep. William Lamberth says he may move to stop sending state highway funding to the cities.

From The Tennessean:

Lamberth, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, said his potential bill would seek to halt state highway funds from cities that do not enforce criminal penalties outlined in state law. Funding would continue again if a violating city overturns their policy. This past year, the state set aside $129.1 million in highway funds for Shelby County and $119.5 million for Davidson County.

“That’s not a bill that I would want to file, but it’s a bill that I’m certainly willing to file if Nashville and Memphis continue down this extraordinarily reckless and unjust path,” he said. Continue reading

Nashville sues state over education funding

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville is suing the state over what it says is inadequate funding of public education, in violation of the Tennessee Constitution.

Nashville joins Shelby County and a cluster of seven counties that includes Hamilton, which have filed their own lawsuits over the state’s funding of the Basic Education Program, or BEP. That’s the method the state uses to meet its constitutional obligation to provide free K-12 public education.

According to the Nashville lawsuit filed Thursday, lawmakers have not provided enough money for the school system to hire the legally required number of teachers and translators for its English language learners.

Nashville has the highest number of students who come from a non-English language background in the state, according to the lawsuit. They make up about a quarter of total Metro Nashville Public School students and include more than 16,000 Spanish speakers, more than 3,000 Arabic speakers and more than 1,000 Kurdish speakers. Continue reading

Black Caucus backs marijuana decriminalization

News release from TN Black Caucus of State Legislators
NASHVILLE- The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators (TBCSL) is announcing its support for efforts in the state’s two largest cities to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Metro Council in Nashville has passed on first reading a new ordinance that would lessen the penalty for possession of a half-ounce of marijuana to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service. Last week, the Memphis City Council passed a similar ordinance out of its Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and it is scheduled to be considered by the full Council in September.

TBCSL Chair Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) said the efforts of these cities go hand-in-hand with Caucus efforts to target criminal justice reform across the state. Continue reading

Nashville political activist Betty Nixon dies, age 80

Betty Chiles Nixon, a trailblazing woman in Nashville politics, a mentor for progressives and a relentless advocate for neighborhoods amid the city’s steady growth, died on Sunday. She was 80 and had suffered from cancer for some time..

Further from The Tennessean:

Nixon served on Metro Council from 1975 to 1987, representing District 18, which includes neighborhoods near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities, and helping spearhead a pro-neighborhoods movement.

Nixon later became the first woman to run for mayor of Nashville in 1987, finishing third behind winner Bill Boner. She ran for mayor again in 1991, losing to the better financed Phil Bredesen in a landslide.

Nixon remained a voice for her home neighborhood well after her public service. As recently as this past May, Nixon spoke at the Metro Council to oppose a proposed apartment complex that she said was out of character with the area.

“Betty Nixon was an amazing woman, leader, and friend who taught our city a lot of lessons about public service, the importance of neighborhoods and the power of women,” Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement.

…Professionally, Nixon worked as assistant vice chancellor for community, neighborhood and government relations at Vanderbilt University before retiring in 2007. She served as chairman of the board of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, a speech and hearing center, and was also a board member for the Nashville Electric Service.

Note: Emailed statement from TNDP Chairwoman Mary Mancini: “We are saddened by the loss of the amazing Betty Nixon. She was not only a role model for women, but for a generation of activists and candidates she befriended and helped with an encouraging word, a bit of sage advice, and an energy that was as boundless as it was invigorating. Her legacy will live on in the work she did for her community, for Nashville and for the state of Tennessee. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends and all who loved her.”

Tennessean to sell home property, relocate

The Tennessean is putting its longtime offices up for sale, as the media company considers a new downtown Nashville home better suited for its expanding digital operation.

So reports The Tennessean. Further:

Though no sales price has been named, the 10-acre property at 1100 Broadway covers a full city block adjacent to the booming Gulch neighborhood and is expected to fetch a sizable price for The Tennessean’s parent company, Gannett Co. Inc.

Laura Hollingsworth, president of The Tennessean and USA TODAY Network –Tennessee, said plans call for moving the news, business and sales operations to a yet-to-be-identified space in Nashville.

With more technology, open and collaborative spaces and specialized work areas, that new location would align more closely with the multimedia company’s digital focus, she said.

“We believe this to be critical to our continued success and growth,” Hollingsworth said, adding that the newspaper’s current location was built for the manufacturing era.

Commercial real estate firm CBRE is handling listing of the property’s three adjacent parcels, totaling roughly 435,600 square feet of land area. The site could draw strong interest considering that there are only a few large developable tracts in the downtown area, but real estate observers also see a limited number of potential suitors that could afford it.

Proposed Nashville ordinance reduces pot penalties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An ordinance (proposed) in Nashville seeks to reduce the penalty for people caught possessing or exchanging small amounts of marijuana.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/2aBZ0QF ) reports that under the new ordinance, people who possess or exchange a half-ounce of marijuana or less would face a civil penalty of $50. A court could also choose to suspend the civil penalty and order 10 hours of community service. Current state law calls for a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year behind bars and a $2,500 fine.

Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg said the current law is time-consuming for police since they have to arrest people over a marijuana misdemeanor. He also called the current state law unproductive and “needlessly expensive.” Continue reading

Judge dismisses gun show operator’s lawsuit against Nashville fairgrounds

A Nashville judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit brought by a gun show operator who has held events at Nashville Fairgrounds and fears they will be stopped under a new policy, according to The Tennessean.

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy, in a ruling from the bench, granted Metro’s motion to dismiss the case and denied the motion of plaintiff David Goodman of Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Shows for injunctive relief.

…McCoy said that Goodman does not face immediate and irreparable harm to warrant an injunction and also lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because she said his rights had not been violated. Goodman, whose company has rented space at the fairgrounds for gun shows for more than 30 years, filed the lawsuit against Metro in April with a co-plaintiff, the Tennessee Firearms Association.

The ruling, which came after more than two hours of oral arguments, marked the first time a judge has weighed in on the Metro fair board’s controversial vote in December to halt future gun shows beginning next year unless new rules are in place for the events. McCoy found that the board was within its authority.

“I cannot find that there is a right to contract with Metro,” McCoy said. “You can try to contract with Metro. You can be the best business person in the world, but there is no right that the courts can enforce to require Metro to contract with that person or that entity.

“It may be that they decide to lease to Mr. Goodman. They may decide to lease to Mr. Goodman’s competitor. They may decide to lease to an entity that is not fully unknown at this point in time. But it’s not for the court to interfere with dictating to the fairgrounds and its board how those premises should be used through injunctive relief.”

Goodman’s attorney, Timothy Rudd, would not say whether he plans to appeal the decision.