Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15
New Donelson Branch Library Groundbreaking, Petition Signing Brunch & Lunch Tour and Why I Voted No on Amazon’s Incentive
Dear Friends –
I’m excited to announce that the closing happened on the piece of Donelson Plaza where Castner Knott was located and as they say the “keys have passed and checks have cashed”. The people of Nashville-Davidson County own a central piece of property in the heart of Donelson where we will start a new era in Donelson’s future with a beautiful new 25,000 square foot Donelson Branch Library. To celebrate this and kick off the work about to commence, I invite you to join Mayor David Briley and me at a groundbreaking on Monday, May 13th at 10:00am. What will begin to occur soon is roadwork improvements, sidewalks and other related infrastructure upgrades. The library construction likely won’t begin until early next year once the groundwork is laid with all the infrastructure. Exciting times are ahead. Keep tabs on the new website for Donelson Plaza.
I’m so thankful to everyone who came out to my Birthday Party and Re-Election Kick Off. My big thanks to Barrett Hobbs and all the staff at Scoreboard Bar & Grill. They did a fantastic job and it was a special night. Thanks to each and every one of you who came and showed your support. Big thanks to my Treasurer, Jenny White, former 15th District Beautification Commissioner Naomi Regensburg and my son Joey for managing the front table where folks signed in and contributed. Scoreboard’s regular Wednesday night musical entertainment was of course among the great singer, songwriter and musicians, Randy Moore. Check out his incredible career here. Everyone who contributed helped create a truly strong foundation for this campaign that will help ensure success in August on Election Day. So again, my sincere thanks! Here’s a few pictures of the evening. Thanks to everyone for singing Happy Birthday to me. It was a fun night!
The next step in the election process is to secure signatures of my 15th District neighbors to get my name on the ballot. So, in keeping with the theme of having an enjoyable time on this campaign, I thought I’d do a “Brunch & Lunch Tour of Donelson”. We’ve had so many great restaurants open up over the last handful of years in addition to the ones we know and love, so I thought as part of this process, we’d support local and gather together for coffee or a meal and I can also hear your thoughts, ideas or any issues you’d like to chat about. Here’s the schedule of where I’ll be and when and I hope you’ll come out to support our local restaurants, sign my petition and chat about Donelson.
- Phat Bites – Sunday, April 7th 10am – noon
- Party Fowl – Saturday, April 20th 10am – noon
- Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace – Sunday, April 28th 10am – noon
- John A’s Restaurant – Saturday, May 11th 11am – 1pm
- Nectar: Urban Cantina – Sunday, May 12th 10am – noon
- Caliber Coffee – Tuesday, May 14th 11am – noon
I’ll have a newly printed batch of fridge magnets. They’ve been a big hit during this past term and I ran out about six months ago. I’ll have them at all of our brunch & lunch meet-ups.
As you may have read in the Tennessean, I spoke out against Amazon’s job incentive package. To reiterate what I said on the Council floor, I welcome and support Amazon’s investment in Nashville. It is historic in that it’s the single largest jobs announcement in Tennessee’s history. I also don’t have a problem with supporting the standard jobs incentive package that we’ve been using for years. From a broader perspective, I understand the discussion on whether or not we need to use these incentive packages. The reality is that most all cities across the US are authorized by their State governments to use them and they do so as a competitive tool. Unless there is some change at the federal level that equalizes their use, they’re not going anywhere and we will lose out on quality economic development in Metro if we don’t compete. That said, what crosses the line for me with Amazon’s incentive is the correlation between asking for a jobs incentive while at the same time at the federal level, fighting against an equitable royalty rate for streaming services that is a fundamental income stream to the job of being a songwriter. This coming month, I celebrate 20 years working at BMI, where I’ve worked tirelessly to line the pockets of songwriters, not shareholders. While the streaming rate in question is a totally separate copyright than the area I’m involved with in my day job (mechanicals vs. public performance), songwriters have struggled immensely to maintain the stability of their own jobs over the last two decades as digital technologies have brought massive change to the way we all listen to music. That has resulted in a stark drop in working songwriters right here in Nashville. Even so, Nashville remains the place where the most concentration of songwriters live in any city in the world. With the recent unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act in Congress that paves the way for stability for the industry and the January 2018 decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (a panel of federal judges that set the standard rates for royalties), we are finally getting to a place where songwriters will be able to eventually make a living wage for their craft again. We can never take for granted what makes use Music City, USA. Amazon, Spotify, Google and Pandora have all appealed the CRB’s gradual raising of the streaming rate. Only Apple Music decided not to appeal. My objection to Amazon’s jobs incentive deal is taking a stand with our neighbors here across Davidson County who do not deserve to be asked by a massive company that generated $11.2 billion in profit last year to take more money from their pockets if they are not going to respect an equitable rate for songwriter royalties. That said, I’ve had respectful conversations with Amazon and while I will voted No on their jobs incentive, I pledged to work with them and engage them in our music community.
As the Chair of Metro Council’s Parks, Library & Arts Committee, I was proud to sponsor a resolution recognizing Metro Art’s 40th Anniversary. A presentation of the resolution was presented at Metro Council recently.
Metro Arts Annual Report for FY18 was released and I’m especially proud that they have positively impacted every district in the county. I encourage you to read it here.
Also as Chair of Parks, Library & Arts, I had the duty to address the issue of the imminent destruction of the cherry trees at Riverfront Park. Upon learning of the shocking news that 21 cherry trees would be cut down to make room for the NFL Draft stage, the public outcry was intense and rightfully so. I am pleased that we were able to work with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation and the Mayor’s Office to stop that plan and instead only transplant 10 trees. It is indeed a difficult time of year to transplant trees successfully, but I have faith in our horticulturist with Metro Parks who believes they can be saved. During our regular Committee meeting, I asked our Parks Director, Monique Odom, Randall Lantz, Parks Horticulturist, and Butch Spyridon, CEO of our Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, to give us an update on the situation. To ensure that we had enough room to fit everyone who wished to be part of the committee proceedings, I moved the committee meeting to the Council Chambers. We all learned a lot and I have a better understanding of how to improve the overall coordination and transparency of our urban forestry and tree policies. As I stated in the proceedings that you can watch here, I pledge to continue working towards that end. Here is a fact sheet from Parks about the cherry trees.
The Davidson County Election Commission is hiring poll workers. Please see below for more info. Don’t forget that if you’re new to Davidson County or have moved, the link above will give you all the information you need to register or update your voter registration and provide a full calendar of this year’s important election.
I was happy to have had the opportunity visit WKRN News Channel 2 before the March 5th Council Meeting to discuss the agenda and the latest happenings at Council. I enjoyed my time with anchors Nikki Burdine and Neil Orne.
Speaking of happenings at Council, I was very happy to learn of Mayor Briley’s announcement that all Metro employees would be receiving their cost of living adjustments as well as step raises in his proposed budget. That is a good start. We’ve unfortunately been seeing plenty of strife happening with Metro Schools with Board Member Will Pinkston resigning and Director Shawn Joseph announcing he won’t be seeking a contract extension past 2020. I’m very thankful for our District 4 School Board Member Anna Shepherd’s calm and confident leadership. She has always been a presence of stability on our school board. Ensuring we fully fund our schools is another essential aspect to the upcoming budget cycle and it will be vitally important we work closely with the school board and administration to pass a budget that reflects that Metro schools are indeed a top priority. Metro employees, schools and public safety need to be made our top priorities in the upcoming budget.