Eli Motycka

Eli Motycka

Writer based, born and raised in Nashville. Interested in land use, physical internet infrastructure, expos, and the fossil fuel supply chain. Motycka has written stories for the Lookout on marijuana alternative Delta 8, a guaranteed income experiment in North Nashville and the state's opioid crisis. Message me at [email protected] or on Twitter.

Kathy Yancey Temple (Photo: Ashli Blow)

Velsicol closed its chemical plant 10 years ago. Memphis still endures its toxic legacy. 

By: and - November 14, 2022

In North Memphis, milk crates and cardboard boxes sit under a pecan tree that doesn’t bear fruit anymore. Kathy Yancey-Temple is building raised beds for a community garden on her street. On a sunny autumn  morning she spends her time buying soil to fill these upcycled planters. She doesn’t trust what’s in the ground.  “It’s […]

Barbara Miller of White Bluff, lives near the originating point of the proposed pipeline. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Kinder Morgan, TVA expanding gas pipeline across Dickson County

By: - February 23, 2022

Houston-based oil and gas giant Kinder Morgan is pursuing a new pipeline across three Tennessee counties to deliver natural gas to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Cumberland Fossil Plant and residents of Stewart, Dickson and Houston Counties question the necessity of the expansion, citing safety and environmental concerns. Kinder Morgan operates 83,000 miles of pipelines and […]

Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced his administration will cancel some student loan debts. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Suicides at Vanderbilt highlight demand for mental health services

By: - February 21, 2022

Vanderbilt University has lost four doctoral students in the biomedical sciences program to suicide in the past two years, according to interviews with students and emails from the university.  The deaths have added stress in a community of only a few hundred students already struggling with intense professional pressure and heightened the demand for counseling […]

Sen. Katrina Robinson faces the Tennessee Senate Ethics Committee on Jan. 20. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Sen. Katrina Robinson: “This has been going on since the Reconstruction era.”

By: - January 31, 2022

Sen. Katrina Robinson describes 2019, her first year in the Tennessee Senate, as a productive one, having passed meaningful legislation that included a bill to expand career and technical education to middle school students. But by the next summer, federal authorities had charged her in a 48-count indictment with embezzling nearly $600,000 from a federal […]

Sen. Katrina Robinson hugs a supporter in April during legislative session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Memphis jury finds Robinson guilty on four counts

By: - October 1, 2021

A jury found state Sen. Katrina Robinson guilty of four counts of wire fraud on Thursday after six hours of deliberation. On the remaining count of fraud, jurors found Robinson not guilty.  Robinson and her lawyers indicated they would pursue several legal avenues in response to the verdict, including a motion for a new trial. […]

Shelby County Courthouse. (Photo:

Jury begins deliberations in Robinson trial Thursday morning

By: - September 30, 2021

Arguments in the trial of  Sen. Katrina Robinson closed on Wednesday in Memphis after Robinson testified in her own defense. The jury will begin deliberation on Thursday morning.  Judge Sheryl Lipman dismissed 15 charges late Sunday evening, including all counts of embezzlement, after determining that federal prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to put those […]

State Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, hugs Nashville activist Justin Jones at the Tennessee General Assembly in April. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Case against Sen. Katrina Robinson hits snag

By: - September 24, 2021

In Memphis Thursday, federal Judge Sheryl Lipman debated with prosecutors the merits of the federal government’s fraud case against state Sen. Katrina Robinson. Lipman dismissed the jury immediately after prosecutors rested their case.  Robinson’s attorneys asked the judge to dismiss all charges, citing lack of evidence and fundamental flaws in the prosecution’s financial analysis. The […]

Shelby County Courthouse. (Photo:

Week two of Robinson trial in Memphis: Prosecutors call former THI employees

By: - September 23, 2021

Trial continued in Memphis this week for state Sen.Katrina Robinson who is facing federal charges of embezzlement and fraud. The charges allege that she intentionally appropriated federal grant funds meant for her business, The Health Institute, which provides postsecondary education in nursing.  The week’s testimony has focused on discrepancies in annual reports made by The […]

State Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, hugs Nashville activist Justin Jones at the Tennessee General Assembly in April. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Prosecutors in Robinson trial try to prove fraud in first week

By: - September 18, 2021

The first week of state Sen. Katrina Robinson’s trial ended Friday afternoon as U.S. attorneys continued efforts to build a case for 17 counts of embezzlement and wire fraud. The Healthcare Institute, a Memphis business owned by Robinson, was awarded a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services in June, 2015. The […]

Sen. Katrina Robinson hugs a supporter in April during legislative session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Robinson trial to resume Friday in Memphis

By: - September 16, 2021

The trial of state Sen. Katrina Robinson resumes on Friday in Memphis, after opening with jury selection on Monday.  Robinson faces charges of embezzlement and wire fraud stemming from an FBI investigation opened in 2016.  Robinson is defending herself against allegations that she improperly used funds awarded by the federal government to The Healthcare Institute, […]

Eighty percent of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee during 2020 came from prescription and synthetic opioids.(Photo: Mint

Opioid overdose deaths jump in 2020

By: - September 13, 2021

Overdose deaths in Tennessee jumped nearly 50% in 2020 according to new data from the Tennessee Department of Health. Close to 80% of overdose deaths were caused by synthetic and prescription opioids. Tennesseans living with addiction point to two major factors in the spike in overdose deaths: support systems interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and […]

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 21: Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen announces that Purdue Pharma LP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription opioid OxyContin during a news conference at the Justice Department on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images)

Commentary: Tennessee plunges deeper into the opioid crisis 

By: - August 3, 2021

Alarming statistics indicate a sharp uptick in opioid-related deaths in 2020. About 90,000 people across the country died from drug overdoses in 2020, up nearly 30% from 2019, when overdose deaths were the leading cause of death in Americans under 50. Tennessee is far above the national average, with overdose deaths jumping 45% in 2020. […]