Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Steve Cavendish, Pithmaster, Named Editor of Washington City Paper

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2015 at 3:20 PM

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Steve Cavendish, news editor of the Nashville Scene and NashvillePost.com and the former editor of the late Nashville City Paper, was today named editor of the Washington City Paper. The award-winning Washington, D.C., alt-weekly gave boosts to talents such as the late David Carr, author-journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.

"I’m excited for the opportunity, but very sad to be leaving Nashville and a Scene staff that I don’t think I could love any more than I do," Cavendish said. "It’s such a great collection of journalists and even better group of people."

The hire takes Belmont journalism alum Cavendish back to D.C., where he worked for the Washington Post in the early Aughts as a news editor and sports designer. Before signing on with the Nashville City Paper in 2011, the former Nashville Banner assistant design editor notched up an impressive resume that includes stints with the Chicago Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News and the St. Petersburg Times.

From the Washington City Paper article:

"Washington City Paper is a place with a tradition of journalistic excellence and rabble-rousing that I’m lucky to join," Cavendish said via email. "I’m very excited to return to D.C., a city my wife and I love and have missed, and I look forward to working with the talented staff already there to put out one of the best alt-weeklies in the country." ...

"Steve Cavendish is one of the most talented editors I have ever worked with," says Chris Ferrell, president of Southcomm, a Nashville-based company that owns both Washington City Paper and Nashville Scene. "Although I know readers in Nashville will miss his work, I can’t wait to see what he can do at the helm of the Washington City Paper."

Nor can we. Cavendish is a remarkable multi-talent whose expertise extends to covering politics, food and sports with equal gusto. He's also the kind of guy who makes a workplace a joy to enter in the morning. We'll miss his pith helmet (and his Pith helmet), his passion for beer, barbecue and World Cup soccer, and those amazing florentine-like cookies I could never get right even with his recipe. Best of luck to Steve and Jen.

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Cannabis Oil Is OK, but One Toke Is Over the Line

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Every once in a while, you read a news story that makes you think that everyone who serves in the state legislature should be required to smoke one joint before they pass any laws regarding marijuana unless they can verify that they have, indeed, smoked pot before. Dave Boucher's story in the Tennessean about Haslam legalizing cannabis oil for some narrow medical use is just such a story.

Haslam and other supporters argue the bill is not the first step toward legalizing marijuana for recreation use, but there is certainly a push in Tennessee toward a broader legalization of medical marijuana.

[...]

There were limitations to the bill — it didn't allow smoking marijuana for any reason — and medical marijuana advocates said in some parts the bill went too far — anyone who wanted to use medicinal marijuana had to surrender his or her drivers' license. But the bill was discussed more than the Democrats' perennial push for medical marijuana this year, and is set for at least some further discussion among lawmakers over the summer.

On the one hand, God bless 'em for taking any steps toward legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. But the idea that lawmakers are sitting around wringing their hands about people smoking marijuana or wanting people to surrender their drivers license before using it medicinally is just too silly.

Marijuana use is already ubiquitous and the only thing bad coming from it is that we have a lot of people in prison for using marijuana and that those laws are unfairly applied more heavily to black people than to white people. If Tennessee's lawmakers want to know what widespread legalization of marijuana, both medicinally and recreationally, would mean for the state, merely look around. Then imagine life as it is right now, but with the taxes that could come from legal pot and with the happy farmers that could openly grow it.

I think that, if legislators tried pot, they'd find it a lot less scary than they currently seem to believe that it is.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Daily Links: The Fight, Star Wars, and Ultron

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Vulture: Dear Movie Supervillains: Quit Trying to Destroy the Whole Planet

From Gawker: The Triumph of the Hype

From Vanity Fair: Adam Driver’s and Lupita Nyong’o’s Characters Revealed in Exclusive Star Wars: The Force Awakens Photos

From Screen Rant: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma Revealed

Continue reading »

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#MayoralChatter: Rev. 'Tex' Thomas Backs Bone

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 4:33 PM

Rev. James “Tex” Thomas, pastor of the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, has endorsed Charles Robert Bone for mayor.

The Bone campaign announced the endorsement Monday afternoon and released this statement from Thomas:

“When I looked across the field of candidates and pondered where we as a community have been and where I think we need to go, the choice was clear. The person we need to lead Nashville so that it can reach new heights is Charles Robert Bone.”

How important are endorsements, really? How many votes will come with Thomas' blessing? We'll see. But, as the Bone campaign was happy to note, Thomas has been at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist, one of Nashville's oldest African American churches, for more than 40 years, and has a way of picking winners. In that time he has only endorsed three candidates for mayor — Phil Bredesen, Bill Purcell and Karl Dean.

Bone makes the fourth, and although he received it he certainly wasn't the only candidate looking for the endorsement of, or at least the perception of proximity to, Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist. The church appears in one of Bill Freeman's television ads, and Freeman just tweeted out this photo from this past weekend's celebration of the church's 128th anniversary.

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A Clear Look at Our Flooding Issues

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Tom Wilemon's piece in the Tennessean is really important and I think everyone should read it. Aside from making the points that I've made regularly — that it's alarming that people are still living in the flood plains and that we can't be acting like terms like "500 year flood" or "1,000 year flood" mean we have nothing to worry about for the rest of our lives — he also looks hard at the ways Nashville is still letting new development go on in flood plains.

Check this part out:

But three months after the May 2010 flood, Country Meadows MHC LLC asked Metro government for permission to place 2,184 cubic yards of fill within the 100-year floodplain of Mill Creek. This tributary is more prone to flooding than others in the city. It previously reached flood stage at Antioch in March 1955 and May 1979.

The application was tied to the reconstruction of 20 mobile homes. Residents there can buy the trailers but they lease the land.

Delgado, who still lives in the family home on Waikiki Boulevard, saw the dirt hauled in. Next came the new trailers, which sit on pads just large enough to accommodate them.

John Kennedy, deputy director of Metro Water Services, which oversees city flood control measures, said elevating the trailer lots gave the property owner the legal right to bring the trailers back in.

The story goes on and on with examples of people who've found loopholes that allow them to redevelop in our flood plains. And most of these projects required the approval of the city council. So, the people we rely on to oversee the growth of our city and to make sure that it's not rock-stupid are letting people move back into places we know flood.

I get why protecting downtown is the right thing to do. And I get why we might spend money on that and not on buying up the last 80 houses that flooded in 2010. I even get why we would not interfere with some stubborn jackass who might want to continue to live some place that floods, since that person knows the risks and is taking them for himself.

But why would we let someone put up buildings that other people who don't know the flooding risks or who might assume that a person wouldn't be allowed to put up homes if flooding were still a danger are going to rent? The city has failed at some basic level if we can't say "No, you can't gamble other people's lives and property that we're not going to flood again."

If there's one lesson we should all take from Wilemon's piece it's that we are not doing what needs to be done to prevent another tragedy like we saw in 2010, and, in fact, we're often allowing development that assures there will be more tragedy the next time it floods.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

#MayoralChatter: Fox Asks School Board to Halt Superintendent Search

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM

David Fox is asking the Metro school board to "hit the pause button" on its search for a new superintendent until a new mayor is elected.

The school board had set a goal of identifying top candidates to replace Dr. Jesse Register by June 2 and making a decision by July 1. More than 40 people have applied so far, according to the search firm assisting it.

In a letter to school board members, Fox says he hopes other mayoral candidates will join him in making the request.

"As a former school board member myself, I fully understand the impulse to retain full control over the hiring process," Fox writes. "I am not asking that the school board cede or compromise its control. The only chance any new director will have to be successful is to have the broad support of his or her board. I am asking that you wait until we have a new mayor who can assist the board and increase the odds that Nashville hires an A+ director of schools."

In all likelihood, that would mean hiring a new superintendent well after the beginning of the new school year.

Fox goes on to say that there are many reasons to pause the search, including that "at this late date, most attractive candidates considering new assignments already have made their choices" and that "most capable directors understand that their partnership with the mayor is a critical ingredient in their own success."

You can read the whole letter here.

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Five Things to Know About Mayor Dean's Last Budget

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Mayor Karl Dean delivered his eighth and final State of Metro speech Thursday morning in the Grand Reading Room of the downtown public library, the same room where he delivered his first address in 2008.

Dean took the opportunity to reflect some on seven-and-a-half years in office, citing what he sees as major accomplishments and seeming to defend some of his bigger projects and economic development strategies, particularly the Music City Center. He also worked through various items in his $1.96 billion budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

Here are five things to know:

Continue reading »

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Cooper Blasts Diane Black's D.C. 'Religious Liberty' Bill

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 10:32 AM

Betsy Phillips touched on this earlier this week, but Diane Black has been using the city of Washington, D.C., as a puppet in her and Ted Cruz's fight to make sure employers can fire women for their choice of birth control.

On a 228-192 vote last night, the House voted to pass House Joint Resolution 43, which would overturn the D.C. City Council's Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. Because the District is not a state, the federal government retains the right to slap down whatever laws they want — or, in this case, use the city as a symbol of broader culture-war items they often are unable to pass for the country.

From The Washington Post:

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act broadens the definition of discrimination in the District to include an employee’s reproductive health decisions. Under the law, employers will not be able to discriminate against employees who seek contraception or family planning services. Employers also cannot act against an employee when they know she has used medical treatments to initiate or terminate a pregnancy.

Some conservatives have interpreted the act to mean that employers in the District, including churches and antiabortion groups such as March for Life, could eventually be required to provide coverage for contraception and abortions. The D.C. Council passed a temporary fix to make it clear that religious organizations would not be responsible for such medical care, but Republicans said the fix was insufficient.

That's right: The city enacted a measure to keep a company from firing you for having an abortion, and Black said, nope, that's religious liberty.

Nashvillians, in particular, are familiar with being bigfooted on non-discrimination matters.

Continue reading »

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School Board Touches on Ed Funding, Charter Accountability and Director's Search

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 7:56 AM

Metro School Board members attended a battery of meetings Thursday to clean up old business, make new rules and decide what direction they want the director’s search to go. Here’s what they got done:

Time to Call a Lawyer About Education Funding
After defeating a push to explore the district’s legal options in light of a brewing legal fight over education funding, the board decided to give it another try. This time, after much debate along many of the same lines, the board voted almost unanimously to seek legal counsel.

The move adds Metro Schools to the list of school districts across the state exploring the legal landscape as seven school districts await their day in court to defend their lawsuit challenging how the state funds K-12 education. However, instead of hiring a high-powered education attorney with a background in Tennessee education funding, as some wanted, the group agreed to hear first from its default lawyers at Metro’s legal department.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Daily Links: Rough Rides, Bernie Sanders, and the Hulk

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The New York Times: American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says

From The New York Times: Freddie Gray’s Injury and the Police ‘Rough Ride’

From The Atlantic: The Bullish Charisma of John Kasich">The Bullish Charisma of John Kasich

From The Atlantic: The Baltimore Riot Didn't Have to Happen

Continue reading »

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