Axios Nashville

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Annnnnnnd we're back. Happy Monday, dear readers.

  • Today's weather: Rain is likely, possibly including a thunderstorm, with a high of 81.

Today's newsletter is 787 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Pro-transportation team taps former O'Connell aides

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Two former members of Mayor Freddie O'Connell's election team and a prominent attorney will play leading roles in the political campaign to pass the $3.1 billion transportation plan in November.

Why it matters: The proposal needs approval from the state comptroller, Metro Council and Davidson County Election Commission before it can go on the ballot. But pro-transportation organizers say they can't wait until then to fundraise and win over voters.

Driving the news: A group of businesspeople, mass transit advocates and civic leaders recently formed a pro-transportation committee, which is laying the foundation for a formal political campaign.

  • Jeff Morris and Scott Dietz, who worked for O'Connell's mayoral campaign last year, have been hired to top roles.
  • Charles Robert Bone, the attorney and businessperson, will serve as finance chair.

Between the lines: Morris tells Axios the political strategy will be centered on a robust door-knocking effort with the goal of reaching every neighborhood in the county. He called it a continuation of O'Connell's mayoral campaign, which overcame fundraising disadvantages last year to best a competitive field of candidates.

  • Bone says the goal is to raise between $3.5 million and $5 million. By comparison, the failed pro-transit effort in 2018 raised approximately $3 million.

How it works: Bone says supporters will create two nonprofit pro-transportation groups, a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4), in the short term to get started on fundraising and messaging. A pro-referendum political committee won't be formed until the measure is on the ballot, Bone says.

What he's saying: The 2018 transit proposal was rejected at the ballot by a margin of 64% to 36%.

  • The research shows that cities typically reject transit referendums the first time, and it takes five or more years to put the plan back on the ballot, Bone says.
  • "We're not taking anything for granted," he says. "We know this isn't going to be a cakewalk; it's going to be really hard."

What we're watching: The pro-transportation side scored a meaningful political win last week when the anti-tax advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announced it won't formally oppose the referendum.

  • AFP, which is funded by the Koch family, was against the 2018 referendum.

The other side: A formal opposition campaign hasn't yet emerged, but former Councilmember Emily Evans says there is a group of skeptics who have begun having conversations about their problems with O'Connell's plan.

  • "Top of mind is the regressive nature of the sales tax," Evans says. "Can a financing mechanism that punishes lower-income individuals be offset by gains elsewhere? The argument seems to be that people will only need one car, which from a practical standpoint is not very compelling, not to mention non-aspirational."

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2. Road trip idea: Iconic West Tennessee BBQ joints

The entrance to B.E. Scott's Bar-B-Que joint. Photo: Nate Rau/Axios

Nashville pitmaster Pat Martin's new series "Life of Fire" premieres tonight on the Outdoor Channel.

Why it matters: Martin shines a spotlight on barbecue gurus who have mastered the "old methods" of cooking over a live fire.

What to expect: The first episode focuses on West Tennessee pitmasters Daryl Ramey and Zach Parker.

If you go: Martin explained there are only three barbecue joints carrying on the West Tennessee whole hog tradition. Two of them — B.E. Scott's and Ramey's — are a breezy two-hour drive from Nashville.

The entrance to Ramey's Whole Hog BBQ
The entrance to Ramey's. Photo: Nate Rau/Axios

Nate took the trip a few weeks ago. The no-frills barbecue restaurants are located about 20 minutes apart. It's a lot of pork for one trip, but it's definitely worth it for enthusiasts.

Dig in: Read our story about Martin's new show

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3. The Setlist: TSU grads get cash surprise

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💵 Outgoing Tennessee State University president Glenda Glover gifted graduates $50 each at their commencement ceremony. (WSMV)

⚕️ Managing mental health issues for workers is a pervasive challenge in Nashville's restaurant industry. (Tennessean)

🍝 Franklin-based chef Frank Pullara is planning to bring Italian eatery Culaccino to the downtown Nashville Yards development. (Nashville Business Journal, subscription)

4. Music Monday: Put this playlist in the Hall of Fame

Mary J. Blige is among this year's inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images

This week's edition of our Music Monday playlist features songs by artists who will be inducted into this year's class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

  • That means hits by artists like Cher and Mary J. Blige. We also included songs by artists honored with the hall of fame's Musical Excellence and Musical Influence awards.

Be sure to follow our list on Spotify. Reply to this email with any songs you'd like us to add, or any ideas you might have for a future playlist theme.

5. Cheer up, Preds fans

The Predators' Juuse Saros tends goal during the team's Game 6 loss to Vancouver last week. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators' season came to an end Friday with a 1-0 loss to Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena.

Sources say Axios Nashville readers Elizabeth S., Julie D., Deborah D., Stephen S. Matt W., Shelley A. and Dan R. partied the weekend away after successfully answering last week's Friday News Quiz. We congratulate you.

Our picks:

Speaking of Dan R., Nate wishes a happy birthday to his dad, who should count on a round of IPAs and cigars soon to celebrate.

Adam's song of the day is "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd."

This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Katie Lewis.