East Side Buzz, January 21

The January/February edition is upon us! Featuring a cover story by Andrew Leahey on the inimitable Adia Victoria, as well as profiles of the 2021 East Nashvillians of the Year. Mimi Gerber of East Nashville Family Medicine is the business award recipient, and the citizen award honors Jessica Doyle. Other goodies include the “Artist in Profile” feature on Andee Rudloff; “Know Your Neighbor” Jackie Paul Sims (who also happens to people Adia Victoria’s mom); and more! Grab your very own copy today or click below to read it online.


And heads up! A handful of folks we‘ve previously featured on our cover — Lilly Hiatt, Tristen, Joshua Black, and Becca Mancari — will be among those performing at the “Rock For Roe” livestream at Third Man Records, benefitting Tennessee Advocates For Planned Parenthood, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Dan Einstein, Beloved Bakery Owner, Passes Away

Dan Einstein, the owner of Sweet 16th Bakery and a trailblazing figure in the music industry, has passed away at age 61 after fighting a prolonged illness. 

Dan and his wife Ellen, who opened the bakery together in 2003, were well-known and loved throughout East Nashville for their kindness and passion for the community. A GoFundMe online fundraiser created after Dan entered hospice care last week to help with medical costs has raised nearly $150,000.

“I’ve lived literally all over the world and all over this country and [the bakery] is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been, and it’s because of them,” longtime friend Meghan Hayes said last week. “They’ve just created a haven for people and I think this outpouring of support is just a fraction of what people are able to just try to begin to give back to them.” 

Prior to opening the bakery, Einstein rose out of the L.A. punk scene to become a trailblazer in the music industry and was largely responsible for creating artist-owned record labels such as Prine’s Oh Boy Records and singer/songwriter Steve Goodman’s Red Pajamas Records, while working for Al Bunetta Management. He won a Grammy for producing the 1986 live album A Tribute to Steve Goodman

“He created the artist-owned and operated industry at a time when the industry thought you had three paws in the grave (if you did that),” longtime friend and journalist Holly Gleason said. “Dan was a pioneer. He saw what nobody else recognized and didn’t just do business: he created magic.” 

The Einsteins were named the 2020 “East Nashvillians of the Year” (Business Award) by the Historic East Nashville Merchants Association. Randy Fox profiled the couple for The East Nashvillian in February 2021.

Einstein’s obituary in The Tennessean can be found here.


Republican-backed Redistricting Plan Draws Continued Protest

A redistricting map proposed by Tennessee Republicans, which Democrats say will weaken Nashville’s Black and minority vote, cleared another hurdle Thursday with Senate Republican approval.

“This map, it actually hurts me as an African American because I think it undermines the equal protection of Black voters in ways that we have not seen in decades,” said Sen. Brenda Gilmore, a Democrat from Nashville, while debating against the proposed maps, according to the Associated Press. “In every single instance of this new map, Black voters will not have an opportunity to vote for their candidate of choice.”

House Republicans first revealed their map last week, which sees Davidson County carved up into three congressional districts. The plan would weaken the county’s vote, and likely deliver Republicans another congressional seat, according to The Tennessean

Currently, Davidson County, a Democratic stronghold, sits in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District and is represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville. 

But under the new plan, Northwest Davidson County — including the historically Black North Nashville — would move into the 7th Congressional District, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Clarksville. East Nashville would be included in District 6, which extends to Kentucky. 

The new congressional map has been condemned by many, including Cooper, who said, “All Nashvillians should feel insulted and abused by the new map,” and Odessa Kelly, a Black Nashville Democrat who has planned to run for Cooper’s seat, who, while speaking to the Associated Press, likened the proposal to “the new Jim Crow, where racist politicians will do anything to erase us and strip power from us.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under then-President Barack Obama and is the National Democratic Redistricting Committee chairman, told the Associated Press that Republicans in Tennessee are “effectively relegating their [Nashville Black voters’] interests to the political backburner.”

The Tennessee NAACP, according to the Associated Press, said the plan dilutes the strongest base of Black urban voters in Middle Tennessee by “placing them in lily-white, rural districts that are remote — as far as 103 miles — from Nashville-Davidson County.”

The Tennessee Senate also approved its own redistricting map Thursday, also first proposed last week. However, the proposed State Senate redistricting is far less egregious in terms of its overall impact on voters in Davidson county. The most significant change is to District 17, currently represented by Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, which would extend from Wilson County into Davidson to include portions of Donelson and Hermitage, along with areas near the Nashville International Airport and Percy Priest Lake. 

Crowds gathered at the Tennessee Capitol on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to protest the maps, according to the Tennessee Lookout

The protest, “Fight Back, Stop These Maps!” was sponsored by the Nashville Justice League, which is comprised of The Equity Alliance, TIRRC Votes, and the Central Labor Council of Middle Tennessee. 

“It is clear that with the maps presented the goal is to dilute the minority voting and political power in Davidson County specifically,” the Nashville Justice League said in a statement, according to the Tennessee Lookout. “The proposed redistricting maps presented by the TN GOP break the minority vote in Davidson country upwards of three ways diluting the political power and eliminating fair representation for Black and brown voters.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, defended the maps as “fair and legal,” according to The Tennessean, while Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, said the maps potentially dilute the voting power of minority populations in the state and unnecessarily split up counties. “It’s hard to imagine you don’t see this in litigation at some point,” Yarbro said. “I can’t imagine people don’t look at this and say there are legal deficiencies.”

House lawmakers are expected to vote on the maps Monday. 


Metro Council, School Board Redistricting Given Final Approval

After months of gathering public feedback and multiple draft map revisions, Metro Council gave the final approval for new Council and Metro School Board district maps on Tuesday. 

Nashville’s redistricting process, carried out by the Metro Planning Department, began in October. The Metro Charter ensures that Nashville’s Council and School Board district lines are redrawn every ten years, following the U.S. Census, to reflect changing population patterns. (This is separate from the congressional and legislative redistricting being discussed at the state level.) 

The Council passed the new maps unanimously, with a standing ovation for the Planning Department, according to The Tennessean

Both maps show considerable changes to East Nashville’s Metro and School Board districts and can be viewed in a side-by-side comparison on the Planning Department’s interactive redistricting website, along with an FAQ. 

For example, Madison’s District 8 is being dissolved entirely (and moved to South Nashville). Downtown Madison is moving into District 7. 

“I love the idea of having downtown Madison as a part of our district because I think it is natural … that growth that is coming, we’re already experiencing that here in the south,” District 7 Council Member Emily Benedict said in November, adding, “I’d love to be a part of the cool things that are happening in Madison.” 

The East Bank — the future home of the Oracle campus, River North, and other large-scale development — will be moved from East Nashville Districts 5 and 6, and consolidated into downtown Nashville’s District 19. 

“The Planning Department recommended unifying the riverfront in a single district and I agreed with their analysis,” District 6 Councilmember Brett Withers said last month. “The East Bank is not part of East Nashville: it is part of the NashvilleNext Downtown Community Plan. It is located within the Central Precinct, not the East Precinct. More importantly, the East Bank is not going to develop with mostly single and two-family homes which characterize East Nashville neighborhoods, with a few exceptions.

“Whatever residential buildings are constructed on the East Bank will all be multifamily; most likely mid-rise or high-rise buildings. Therefore, the neighborhoods that emerge in the East Bank will have more in common with the multifamily or high-rise neighborhoods in District 19. … This means that having a Council Member who is familiar with those particular vertically-integrated mixed-use quality of life concerns will be important for the future East Bank residents.”

District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker, however, has made the argument that the East Bank should remain part of East Nashville. 

“We know it’s slated for a tremendous amount of investment and growth,” Parker told the planning commission, according to WPLN. “People want that political accountability to East Nashville moving forward for those areas.” 

Council and School Board members will continue to represent the districts that elected them until the next election. 

Mayor Cooper Announces Funding For New Traffic Management Center

Nashville will fully fund a new traffic management center with federal dollars, Mayor John Cooper announced Thursday, as the city continues to improve transportation in neighborhoods and reduce drive times along busy corridors.

A $3.65 million grant — a state award of federal dollars, with no matching local funds required — will fund a technology-driven hub, where the Nashville Department of Transportation & Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) can better manage traffic signals, gather traffic-flow information, and share updates with drivers in real-time — all to improve safety and reduce congestion.

Since Nashville adopted the Metro Transportation Plan in December 2020, the city has secured eight grant and partnership awards — for a total of nearly $44 million in fewer than two years.

“Today’s achievement affirms our transportation strategy: have an adopted plan, leverage that plan to unlock state and federal funding, and recruit and retain experts who will focus solely on delivering results for residents,” Cooper said.

At the Traffic Management Center hub — located at 700 Second Ave. S. — NDOT engineers and technicians will use advanced traffic signal control systems, sensor-based traffic monitoring technologies, and other tools to monitor traffic and better manage congestion.

The center will be a clearinghouse for traffic-flow updates, which NDOT will share in real-time on roadway dynamic message signs, on social media, on nashville.gov, and with partners like the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and other Metro agencies.

TDOT selected Nashville for the grant, which is funded through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. A funding agreement now heads to Metro Council for approval.

“We’re so grateful to TDOT for awarding us the federal CMAQ grant, and we know this new Traffic Management Center is going to transform the way we manage congestion here in Nashville,” said NDOT director Diana Alarcon. “Our department is committed to providing residents with a complete, connected transportation system, and managing traffic is a major component of that.”

Quick Bits

  • A woman was caught on camera stealing gear from Drum Supply House.
  • Mayor John Cooper announced that curbside recycling is to resume on Feb. 1. “Today’s news is about city employees getting innovative to solve problems,” Mayor Cooper said in a statement published on the nashville.gov website. “I want to thank Metro Water Services and the employees at its Waste Services division for working long hours to cover for the failures of a private company and get curbside recycling back on schedule. I am committed to starting every-other-week recycling by the end of this fiscal year.”
  • An Atlanta hotel developer has paid $4.2 million for an East Bank warehouse with an address of 206 N. First St. — located two blocks from Topgolf — and is planning to build a Residence Inn by Marriott hotel at the site, according to the Nashville Post.
  • A Main Street commercial property near Smith & Lentz Brewing has sold for $3.4 million according to the Nashville Post.
  • Police are working to identify two men who allegedly posed as Amazon employees and burglarized an East Nashville home on Jan. 15.
  • The 20th annual Nashville CARES event, Dining Out For Life, in which restaurants contribute a percentage of their proceeds to fighting HIV, is scheduled for May 17.
  • Over 20 Tennessee craft brewers are participating in the Pick-Up for a Pint anti-litter campaign, where one can enjoy a free pint by picking up litter. 
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