By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst
November 18, 2022
THE RAPID PLACE OF CHANGE IN NASHVILLE HITS HOME ON ELLISTON PLACE; THE LAME DUCK SESSION OF CONGRESS PROMISES TO BE ANYTHING BUT LAME; TRUMP ANNOUNCES RUN FOR PRESIDENT FOR A THIRD TIME DESPITE GROWING REPUBICAN MISGIVINGS; INSIDE POLITICS EXPLORES IF DEMOCRACY REMAINS IN PERIL AFTER THE 2022 MIDTERM ELECTIONS? MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DEBATE OVER THE TITANS $2.1 BILLION ROOFED STADIUM; METRO COUNCIL ENDS PARKING REQUIREMENTS FOR MUCH OF URBAN NASHVILLE; THE TICKET FIASCO; NEXT WEEK
THE RAPID PLACE OF CHANGE IN NASHVILLE HITS HOME ON ELLISTON PLACE
If there is a single street in Nashville that has, in so many ways, shaped my almost 71 years of my life in Nashville, it’s Elliston Place.
And this week alone, the street changed so much, that it’s now a part of Nashville, I am quickly wondering how long I will recognize it.
I lived my first 10 months on earth with my parents in a home at 207 22nd Avenue North just off the corner of 22nd Avenue and Elliston Place.
The home belonged to my paternal grandparents. It’s where they both suffered fatal heart attacks when I was less than 2 and 3 years old. Most of my memories of them came from that home although I was so young, I wonder if what I really remember are the photos I’ve seen of them or the stories I’ve been told.
One is a story about sitting on the front porch with my grandfather. We’d watch the city buses come down 22nd , then turn around on Elliston Place and go back up back up 22nd towards Charlotte Avenue. That’s when, watching my granddad, I learn how to spit. It’s a habit I then demonstrated at my pediatrician’s office (Dr. Ethel Walker) not far away over on West End Avenue. I quickly got blessed out by Dr. Walker’s nurse. I still don’t spit anywhere, anymore.
My grandfather also predicted my future when I was young. Watching me mesmerized by the wonders of a new-fangled invention called television, he looked at the longtime family nursemaid who was watching me. Shaking his head, he said to her: “That television. It’s going to be the ruination of that boy!” Not really, I guess!
That home on 22nd was gone just a few years after my grandparents died. It made way for an expansion of the office and commercial buildings on Elliston Place. That included the Sportsman Store where my Dad bought me my first baseball hat. For reasons, I don’t remember, and probably couldn’t explain, I wanted a hat for the old Washington Senators. I guess I just liked the way it looked. I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan most of my life. I think I first heard of the Cardinals when my Dad lived briefly away from Nashville working a construction job in that city.
My Dad often took me to the other end of Elliston Place to what became my second home at Rotier’s Restaurant. He’d have a few cold ones, and I would get a Coke and a piece of the pie. I also got to sometimes play the pinball machines. They paid off in those days, although I was never good enough to win any money.
My Dad and Mom were good friends with John and Evelyn Rotier. I played with their kids and I was there all the time with my father. I was even there on one Sunday morning before hours. In those days you couldn’t serve or sell beer on Sunday morning. When a policeman came by and rapped on the front door with his baton, I had never seen people move so quickly to remove beer bottles or anything else that might have gotten us in trouble.
We didn’t get in trouble that day, and I always had a great time at Rotier’s over the years, when I was in high school just up the street at Father Ryan or when I was at Vanderbilt. My wife, Betty Lee, and I always loved to go there to eat, even when grilled cheeseburgers, fries and a milkshake were no longer supposed to be on our diet.
I guess I thought all the fun would never end. But it did in February 2021. The Covid pandemic helped hasten the restaurant’s closure, although given the commercial pressures growing in the neighborhood, it was probably just a matter of time. If the closure of Rotier’s in 2021 was like a death in the family, it was like reliving it this week, as the building that housed the restaurant since the 1940s, was demolished.
It is not the first time I mourned a loss on Elliston Place. When Father Ryan was demolished after the school moved out to Oak Hill in the early 1990s, I tried not to drive by there for a while, just too many memories would flood back.
The Emma’s Flowers building on West End, which connected to Rotier’s, was also demolished this week. Known as the “Superlative Florist”, my mother ordered flowers there for my date to the first-holiday dance I attended as a high school freshman. I was so clueless I didn’t recognize she wasn’t wearing a corsage when my Dad and I picked her up. My Mom was so mortified when she found out. She called and apologized to my date and her mother. Then she called Emma’s and used words I never thought she knew. The flowers were then delivered free of charge.
I also got one of my first jobs on Elliston Place. It was as a sack boy at the Hurry Back Market. Mr. Rotier owned the place, and he needed help on Saturday nights. I wasn’t old enough to sell beer (I was a junior at Ryan), but I could bag it up and get ice out of the outside cooler for customers to buy. One of my other duties was to go back to the large walk-in cooler to make sure the Vanderbilt students weren’t putting the beer inside their coats and walking out with it.
This week it appears the Hurry Back, now a bar, will soon be closing as it lease ends at the end of the year. The same will be true by Thanksgiving for the Exit Inn next door, the icon music venue that opened not long after I moved on from the Hurry Back, and my brother Bill took my sack boy job.
The building owners say the Exit Inn will remain open under new management but details and exact future plans have not been announced.
I have visited the Exit Inn several times over the years, including to see and hear the band, Blood, Sweat and Tears perform. Betty Lee and I really enjoyed it, but the cigarette smoke was so bad, we were reluctant to go back often.
My most memorable evening at the Exit Inn was April 26, 1974. I was set to be married the next morning. My groomsmen did not feel I had had enough to drink at the rehearsal dinner. So, they took me to the Exit Inn where they made sure I was overserved. It finally came to an end when I tried to get into a protracted conversation with the artist on stage. For the longest time, I could not remember who the performer was. Maybe that had something to do with quite dunking.
When I told this story to Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse, he quickly helped me learn it was RCA performing artist Alex Harvey, also known as a prolific songwriter. He penned such mega-hits as “Ruben James” for Kenny Rodgers and “Delta Dawn” for Tanya Tucker. The Exit Inn has had many great artists performing there every night for over 50 years. Hopefully, that will continue.
I don’t much remember much more about my Exit Inn visit the last night I was single. The next morning my dad was concerned. He said to my groomsmen: “You sure poured a lot of liquor into Pat last night.”
They did. When I got home that night, I just threw off my clothes and fell into bed. Amazingly, I woke up in the morning without a hangover. I dressed and went to church for the 10:00 A.M. Nuptial Mass. I was feeling pretty good actually (except I didn’t want to see or taste anything carbonated that whole day). I remember being in such chipper condition on my wedding day rather amazed (and annoyed) my groomsmen.
That was almost 50 years ago, and much like Elliston Place, many things have changed or are gone for forever. Therefore, I am particularly grateful that the Elliston Place Soda Shop has survived and is thriving. Yes, it has moved next door, but thanks to the ownership of Tony Giarratana, and the management of Jim Wyatt, the Soda seems just like it was where I and my Vanderbilt classmates used to eat there so many times during our years in school. I just hope we can find some way to include the Soda Shop with my VU Class of 1973 50th Reunion set in the fall of 2023.
I will always remember and miss the Elliston Place of the past. But Nashville has been, and I think always will be, a great city generating good times and great memories in lots of places and neighborhoods. That’s the way Elliston Place has been for me, for over seven decades, and while no doubt it will be different in the years to come, I hope it will always be a special place for future generations to come.
THE LAME DUCK SESSION OF CONGRESS PROMISES TO BE ANYTHING BUT LAME
Usually, the rump or lame-duck session of Congress, which occurs every two years after our federal elections, is pretty quiet time in Washington.
But not this year. On Wednesday of this week, the Senate took a step towards something historic. By a vote of 62-38, all 50 Democrats and 12 Republican senators voted to place into federal law the protections for same-sex marriage made legal by a Supreme Court ruling a few years back.
The vote was preliminary but critical. The 62 votes mean the filibuster cannot be used to stop the bill. The full Senate is now expected to give final approval of the measure by the end of the week, and with the House already passing it, the legislation goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The impetus to approve these same-sex marriage protections came after the recent High Court decision that ended any federal right to an abortion. At least one Justice, Clarence Thomas said he wanted the Court to do the same to same marriage and contraception. That can’t happen when this new bill is signed into law.
A similar effort to make abortion rights legal under federal law has so far not been to achieve the same level of bi-partisan support the same-sex marriage bill has.
As for other important legislation in the rest of lame duck session, a seemingly age-old issue looms ahead. One more time, the government faces a credit crisis and a partial government shutdown if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by early next year.
The Democrats had hoped to get the issue dealt with before they lose control of the House which they will when the new Congress convenes in January. But any chance to get a bi-partisan deal this year seems to have faded away. That raises the question, will a debt limit agreement, or agreement on almost anything, be even harder under divided party control of Congress?
The lame-duck session also began with Republican recriminations among their members over the party’s poorer-than-expected election showings in the House and the Senate. Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and would be GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy survived challenges to their leadership in party caucuses this week. Senator McConnell’s re-election as Minority Leader is assured.
But the selection of the House Speaker must be voted on the House floor. With the single-digit majority Republicans have and with over 30 GOP members of Congress voting against him this week, Kevin McCarthy, the GOP Speaker nominee still has lots of work to do.
One thing it is likely House Republicans can unite on is investigating the Biden administration including everything from the business dealings of President’s son Hunter to the debacle of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and even, one more time, the origins of the COVID-19 virus. There are also Republica calls to impeach President Biden.
Democrats will need a new House leader and leadership team. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already announced she would not seek another term. Thursday, she revealed she will not remain in leadership for the Democrats in the new Congress. That opens the door to a younger generation for leadership and ends her historic era of achievement as the first female to serve as Speaker of the House, and for over two decades, becoming the most powerful woman in American history.
Congress still must pass a massive defense bill, as well as consider a new request from the Biden administration for $37.7 billion in new aid to Ukraine for its ongoing war against Russia. It is a request that might be harder to pass with Republicans controlling the House next year.
Finally, with “Democracy on the ballot” turning out to be a major issue in the midterm election will this Congress pass a bill in its waning days to close the legal loophole President Trump and the January 6 rioters try to use to overturn the 2020 presidential election?
TRUMP ANNOUNCES RUN FOR PRESIDENT FOR A THIRD TIME DESPITE GROWING REPUBICAN MISGIVINGS
Finally disclosing one of the worst-kept “secrets” in American political history, former President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night he is running for President for the third consecutive time in 2024.
When he first started hinting about a very important announcement he would be making at his Mar-a-Lago home, it appeared Mr. Trump was seeking to capitalize the “Republican wave” on November 8 when the party was to take over both houses of Congress.
But the wave never happened. In fact, due to the former President’s poor choices of Senate candidates in key battle states, many in his party said they lost their chance to retake the Senate. They also blame Trump for endorsing “election deniers” in state and federal races across the country that led to an overall midterm outcome that leaves the GOP in control of the House but with one of the smallest majorities in history.
Going ahead with an announcement that appears at best ill-timed or completely tone-deaf, not surprisingly support for Trump running one more time among Republican leaders is understandably rather negative.
But among Republican primary voters, support for the former President, while tending down, remains rather strong with newly re-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also now looming as a major factor.
INSIDE POLITICS EXPLORES IF DEMOCRACY REMAINS IN PERIL AFTER THE 2022 MIDTERM ELECTIONS?
As we move towards Thanksgiving and the rest of the end of the year holiday season, political issues and concerns continue to bubble, just under the surface, about the future of our democracy.
One of those concerned is outgoing Nashville State Representative Mike Stewart.
He is our guest this week on INSIDE POLITICS.
We welcome Representative Stewart back to the program.
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MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DEBATE OVER THE TITANS $2.1 BILLIION ROOFED STADIUM
Mayor John Cooper and the Tennessee Titans won a major endorsement this week from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for their plan to build a $2.1 billion dollar roofed stadium on the East Bank of the Cumberland River near the present Nissan Stadium.
The endorsement came on the same day that the Mayor and the Titans announced a partnership with a local non-profit to provide $15 million to all of Nashville high schools to upgrade their sports facilities.
Even the Metro Council this week approved its first piece of legislation regarding the stadium. The resolution would allow city officials to begin a process of how it will redevelop the land the city owns that would surround the new stadium. But the Council also added an amendment that says approval of this bill does not indicate any commitment by the Metro Council to approve any other pending or future legislation related to the East Bank or a potential New Stadium.
The Council again also deferred an ordinance that would raise the city’s room tax by 1%. That is a major part of the city’s financing for the stadium. But with a special Council committee holding public hearings about the stadium proposal across the county the next few weeks, the Council appears intent to hear what the public has to say before moving ahead any further.
In another big sports-related project being championed by Mayor Cooper, it appears his administration has reached a final agreement with officials of the Bristol Motor Speedway to renovate the historic Fairgrounds Speedway facility and bring NASCAR sanctioned events back to the city, after many years of absence.
The proposal could be voted on by the city’s Fair Board in January before goes on to the Sports Authority and the Metro Council, where it will need a 2/3 or 27 votes for approval.
The state of Tennessee has millions in funds committed to both the new stadium and the Speedway project. It is thought the Mayor would like to move things along quickly so Republican lawmakers, still miffed the Metro Council declined to host the 2024 GOP National Convention in Nashville, don’t decide to pull the state’s funds when go back into session in January.
METRO COUNCIL ENDS PARKING REQUIREMENTS FOR MUCH OF URBAN NASHVILLE
Across the country, there has been a trend in cities to eliminate minimum parking requirements. Such a bill passed Tuesday night in the Metro Council regarding in the city’s Urban Zoning Overlay which is a large amount urban Nashville.
Minimum parking requirements require property owners to build and maintain a certain number of automobile parking spaces onsite to be granted development permits and operate.
Urbanists say this will end overbuilt parking, while encouraging transit use, without requiring it. They say it could also cut development costs for commercial and residential developments which could in turn reduce future rental costs.
During the most spirited floor debate of the evening Tuesday night, some council members raised concerns that, in fast-growing areas such as Germantown and 12 South, with already strong commercial and residential components, the fight for on-street parking might become even more difficult as the city’s residential permit system has not proven effective. Suburban council members raised concern about where their constituents will park when they “head downtown” with the city’s transit system being of no help to them because of lack of convenient access.
The debate reached its peak when a two-meeting postponement was proposed. That effort was tabled. But that momentarily raised further concerns among supporters, because 20 votes the table received, was one less than what was needed to finally pass the bill. Quickly efforts were made to count the votes still in the Council chambers. One council member was even summoned back after he was on his way home. The bill passed with three votes to spare, 24-5.
Given the nature of all this debate, I think this issue is one the Council will get the chance to revisit, perhaps more than once, in the future.
There was one other Council development this week. Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, who serves in that position as full-time part-time job, is stepping away temporarily from his other full time post as an executive with a non-profit agency.This comes while an workplace investigation is being conducted by the agency’s board.
THE TICKET FIASCO
Tuesday morning thousands of fans in Nashville and across the country fired up their computer to try and score tickets for the upcoming Taylor Swift concert tour through a nationwide pre-sale.
Little did they know that some of those who managed to get tickets had to wait for up to seven hours! My wife had to wait for six. Many others just gave up in frustration and disgust as the Ticketmaster site froze and crashed, leaving them in limbo or kicked off the website. All this occurred even after Ticketmaster issued a pre-certification to “verified fans” in advance to help organize the ticket sales. That sure didn’t work!
The fiasco has gotten the attention of Tennessee’s Attorney General who is looking at launching an investigation.
The news coverage is global, including the BBC , with Capitol Hill in Washington stirred up too.
As the week went on, the Attorney General of North Carolina announced he is launching a probe and Ticketmaster decided it will cancel today’s (Friday) public sale of the remaining tickets for the concert tour. It seems the company is not sure now how many tickets do remain available for purchase.
As far as I can tell, Taylor Swift has not issued any statement about the matter.
There will be no Capitol View column next week.
Yes, the turkey may be smaller, and everything costs more, but I believe, that despite all the problems and challenges we face, as a city, state, nation and world, there is still a lot most of us have to be thankful for.
Look for the next Capitol View on Friday, December 2.