Mayor's office, council squabble over social media statements on Titans stadium vote

TJ Ducklo
Posted at 5:28 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 19:03:26-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Days before Christmas, Metro Council and the Nashville mayor's office are turning the attention away from the holidays and severe weather. Instead, elected officials argued about the usage of social media sentiments made toward the Tennessee Titans stadium vote.

In letters exchanged late Thursday, 18 council members called out Mayor John Cooper's communications director TJ Ducklo for what council members thought to be an inflammatory tweet made against some who voted or abstained from the vote that would move forward negotiations for a new and enclosed Titans stadium. Two-thirds of the council voted for a non-binding term sheet and a 1% hotel/motel tax increase for the deal. Others dissented, abstained or simply weren't there for the last council meeting of the year.

After the vote, Ducklo tweeted: Tough night for the loudest voices in the room.

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Now, two days after that tweet, which has since been deleted on Thursday, council members said they were taking issue with it due to civility.

"We expect better of our administration in terms of public attitude and outlook," the letter stated from the 18 council members. The letter questioned whether the mayor's office was OK with an alternative outlook and reservation about the stadium.

Hours later, the mayor's office fired back, asking the council to "self-reflect" on some of its own statements made on social media about the Titan's vote, including Councilwoman Ginny Welsch's own tweet that included the f-word regarding the stadium.

"TJ’s tweet, 'Tough night for the loudest voices in the room' comes after months of heated rhetoric from Council Members directed at our office," the mayor's office letter stated. "It was sent in the spirit of something said by President Biden just a few months ago as he was signing the Inflation Reduction Act, which narrowly passed Congress after much debate: 'Too often we hand the biggest microphone to the critics and the cynics who delight in declaring failure while those committed to making real progress do the hard work of governing.'"

Response from Mayor Cooper's office went on to say they would like to establish a better tone among its communications with council in 2023.

"In that spirit, TJ has graciously offered to delete the tweet so we all might begin the New Year anew," the letter stated. "TJ is a Nashville native whose family lives here, and like all Council Members, cares deeply about the future of our city. In exchange, we’re hopeful that Council Members might engage in some self-reflection, and delete any posts they believe might violate this standard we are setting for ourselves."

Already, some council members are finding the mayor's response brash, like Councilman Colby Sledge.

"The tweet was rude, but the Mayor's Office's response ... is something else entirely," Sledge wrote. "The lobbyists were doing damage control Wednesday with us, so I can't imagine they agree. Also, 'we're hopeful that Council Members might engage in some self-reflection got me.'"

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