Friday, October 20, 2017

Public Hearing on Proposed Major League Soccer Stadium

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 9, 2017) - Vice Mayor David Briley announced today a public hearing to allow members of the public to voice opinions to Metro Council members regarding the Major League Soccer stadium proposed for development at the Fairgrounds Nashville site .

The public hearing will be held Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at 6:00 pm in the Creative Arts Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville . Members of the public are encouraged to attend and to relay candid opinions and assessments of the proposal (within individual time limits) for the benefit of Metro Council members who will soon consider legislation to authorize financing for the proposal.

"Before the Council makes a decision on the proposed soccer stadium, we need to hear directly from the public. By conducting our public hearing at the Fairgrounds, both the public and the Council will get a firsthand impression of what's being proposed ," the Vice Mayor stated.

WHO:  Vice Mayor David Briley; Metro Council members
WHAT: Public hearing regarding proposed MLS soccer stadium
WHEN: Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 6:00 pm
WHERE: Creative Arts Building, The Fairgrounds Nashville 625 Smith Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203 
The Resolution authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the stadium is expected to be considered by the Metro Council on October 17, 2017, although a deferral of the Resolution until November 7, 2017 is anticipated.

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Tennessee gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd's plan to have Jeb Bush headline fundraiser spurs attack from rival

Tennessee gubernatorial hopeful Boyd's plan to have Jeb Bush headline fundraiser spurs attack from rival

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I didn't know there was a sexual predator metal.

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Nashville sales tax rate would tie Chicago for nation's highest under Mayor Barry transit plan

by Joey Garrison, USA Today Network - Tennessee - Nashville’s combined sales tax rate would be tied with Chicago's atop the nation in six years if voters approve Mayor Megan Barry’s funding proposal to pay for a $5.2 billion transit plan.

Over that same time, Nashville would move up the list of cities with the highest effective tax rates on hotel stays, moving to sixth overall and to second among the nation’s 26 largest markets, behind only Atlanta. (link)

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sen. Rick Santorum Endorses Dr. Mark Green for Congress

Press release, FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced his endorsement of Dr. Mark Green for Congress today. A longtime leader in the conservative movement, Santorum was the winner of the Tennessee Republican presidential primary in 2012, where he also handily won the 7th congressional district.

“Mark Green has been a true champion for conservative values in the State Senate, and I’m confident he’ll bring that same much-needed leadership to Washington. Our country desperately needs bold conservative leadership, and Mark is the right man for the job,” stated Senator Santorum.

Since announcing his run for Congress, Green has coalesced support from Republicans all across the 7th district. Yesterday, Green announced Doug Grindstaff, the influential former Chairman of the Williamson County, as his Treasurer, and the strength of his candidacy was recognized with an early endorsement from the Club for Growth.

A resident of the 7th congressional district since 2002 when the Army moved Mark to Clarksville with his family, Green recently sold his Clarksville-based healthcare company founded in 2007 that has grown to $200 million in annual revenues. In the State Senate, he has served as lead sponsor of the Hall Income Tax elimination bill, sponsored the Teachers’ Bill of Rights and numerous veteran and small business support bills, and worked against the expansion of Obamacare by passing a health savings account pilot program. A graduate of West Point, Green has served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of a Bronze Star and Air Medal with V device for valor under enemy fire.

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Tennessee sues Nashville schools for not turning over student contact information

The state of Tennessee sued Metro Nashville Public Schools on Wednesday for refusing to turn over the contact information for students zoned to failing schools. (Read more)

My Comment: Our school board wants to protect students from being offered an opportunity to escape the failing school to which they are assigned.

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Meanwhile, as Nashville builds a transit system of the past, ...

"The research adds to another study published this month by researchers at the University of California, Davis, who found users of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are less likely to use public transit. The Davis study — which looked at Boston and six other metropolitan regions — says that the trend away from public transit could have broader implications once autonomous vehicle technology becomes commercially viable and a feature of ride-hailing apps." (link)

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What happened at the Oct. 17th Council meeting? Not much. Soccer stadium funding bill deferred.



At under an hour long this is a short meeting. Nothing very interesting happens and their is not much need to watch it. The most significant item on the agenda was RESOLUTION RS2017-910 which  would approve the issuance of $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds by the Sports Authority all for the purposes of financing a Major League Soccer stadium proposed for the Nashville Fairgrounds. This was deferred a meeting.

To access the agenda, the agenda staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link. No one "takes a knee" during the pledge. Below is other items of interest.

RESOLUTION RS2017-900  and RESOLUTION RS2017-909  would have approved a housing incentive grant agreement between the Metro and Miken Development for the conversion of two units of workforce housing  located at 1211 51st Avenue North. These were withdrawn at the request of the administration. Why, I don't know. The developer would have converted two units to workforce housing and received a grant of $18,204 per year for 15 years. That seems like an expensive way to build  housing for people with an income that is between 60% and 120% of the median income

“Workforce housing” is defined as housing that costs the consumer no more than  30% of his gross income for households earning more than 60% but  not more than 120% of the median household income in Davidson County. For a family to two, the median income is $52,026. So a couple with income of 120% of that, or an income of $62,300, could pay rent of $1560 a month and still live in a unit that was subsidized.

RESOLUTION RS2017-911 which provides $1 million in funding to favored non-profits passes on the consent agenda.  Twenty-seven non-profits get funding including  $25,700 to Southern Word to teach skills in spoken word poetry to prevent violence. For a full list of agencies getting funding see the staff analysis.

BILL BL2017-802  on Second Reading is deferred indefinitely. This is a bill concerning right of way closures and work performed in the right of way. There have been several bills on the topic of right of ways in recent months.  This would impose increased penalties for closing a right of way without a permit and provide an easier means for the public to report right of way problems and do some other minor things. I suspect this will come up again.

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Understanding the Soccer stadium deal.




Metro is proposing to build a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds to be financed by $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds. Revenue bonds are paid off by the revenue generated by the project. That is the way we finance the building of public parking garages, convention centers, and sports stadiums. One thing the public should keep in mind is that if the revenue is insufficient to pay for the bonds, the bonds become a general obligation of the city. If the city should get a soccer franchise and then five years down the road we should lose the franchise, what happens?

There are ways to mitigate the risk to the taxpayers. One way the risk is mitigated is by partnering with private developers who will also be at risk. The greater the investment by the private sector, the less risk the public carries. Other options are bonds that insure against failure.  Other factors that need to be addressed upfront is who is responsible for upkeep and modernization. Some cities lose a franchise when a team leaves a city because the city will not upgrade a facility to the satisfaction of the team owners.  All deals like this carry risk to the tax payers but some deals are much worst than others.  The details can matter.

If you really want to get into the weeds on the soccer stadium issue, a good place to start is by reading the resolutions and watching this meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee. For more details you may want to watch the special meeting of the Sports Authority at this link.

Watching committee  meetings also informs you of which council members ask probing intelligent questions. While not everyone is on the Budget and Finance Committee and only committee members can vote, any member may attend meetings of the committee and participate. The real work of the council is done in committees. Unfortunately the sound quality in this video is not that great at the start of the video but it gets better a few minutes  in.

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CAFFEINATED CONSERVATIVES MEETING Saturday, October 21

12 Noon to 2pm, Uncommon Grounds, 1053 Donelson Avenue, Old Hickory, 37138

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Liberty on the Rocks, Oct 19th


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Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast special guest Bill Lee

Bill Lee
When: Saturday, October 21, Social &Breakfast 8:30 - 9:00 am. Program/Guest Speaker 9:00 - 10:00
am
Where: Shoney's, (Nolensville Rd & Thompson Lane)
Who: Guest Speaker, Bill Lee, Gubernatorial Candidate

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Expect Metro's transit proposal to have major cost overruns if built. Real cost probably $8 billion to $11 billlion.

Mayor Megan Barry released her plan for mass transit yesterday. It calls for 26 miles of light rail, improved bus service and a subway for downtown drilled through solid limestone.

The stated price tag is $5.2billion. On any major government project like this, I think it is safe to assume major cost overruns, so realistically we are probably talking of a price tag of closer to $8 billion. Most rail project cost 40 to 50 percent more than projected and some final cost are greater than twice the estimate (link). 

When Denver's Regional Transit District (RTD) decided to build the West light-rail line, it projected that it would cost about $250 million. Adjusting for inflation, that’s was about $350 million in 2012 dollars when the project began; when the line was completed the cost was $707 million. A Boston-area subway-line extension was estimated to cost $1.4 billion  and came in at $2 billion, Cost overruns is the norm. For a list of other projects around the country and to compare the estimated cost to the real cost follow this link.

The $5.2 billion estimated price tag is only for construction. No estimate of the operating subsidy has been offered.  Projects of this kind never pay for themselves.  The fare box receipts do not cover operating cost.  More than likely, bus service will actually surfer it this transit system is built.  To fund the operating cost of the rail system, funds will likely be shifted from bus service pay rail operating cost.

For my views on transit issues follow this link.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Democrat Bredesen confirms interest in Tennessee Senate race

Democrat Bredesen confirms interest in Tennessee Senate race

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Fund raiser for Dr. Brent Moody for State Representative


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Nashville GOP chair urges voters to contact their councilman and voice concern over the soccer deal

From the Davidson County Republican Party:

A Note from our Chairman:
As everyone has seen in the news lately regarding the proposal of the new MLS Stadium at the Fairgrounds, the Mayor and this administration in the next month will be voting to do the following:
  1. Approve a new MLS Stadium to be built on the Fairgrounds using 10 acres and giving 10 acres of the land to the developer for private mixed-use development
  2. Thru the Sports Authority (metro entity) issue $225 MILLION in bonds for the construction of the stadium (basically co-signing for the Ingram-led investment group).
Whether or not you support efforts to bring a MLS team to Nashville, we must make sure any proposal does not leave Nashville taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns or revenue shortages, or give away/lease city land without ensuring it benefits and meets the needs of Nashvillians.  

I urge everyone to email or call your councilman, or email all the council members at councilmembers@nashville.org, to voice your concerns over this project. 

Read the Mayor's formal proposal here and learn more about this issue below: 

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 10/17/2017? Approving the sale of $225 million in bond sales to fund a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds.

The most important item on the agenda is a resolution to the authorize issuance of $225 million in bond sales to build a soccer stratum on the site of the fairgrounds. 

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are two mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed.  There are no bills or resolutions on Public hearing.

There are 29 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Resolutions on the consent agenda are lumped together and passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a resolution pulled off of the consent agenda or have their "no" vote or abstention recorded. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Below are the resolutions of interest.

RESOLUTION RS2017-910 would approve the issuance of $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds by the Sports Authority all for the purposes of financing a Major League Soccer stadium proposed for the Nashville Fairgrounds. Not part of the resolution, the stadium developers have pledged another $25 million. Before the bonds could be issued the team must be awarded a major league soccer franchise and some other conditions must be met. For a deeper understanding of the issue, you may want to read the bill and the staff analysis. There are several more provisions in the bill.  I expect this will be deferred do to the complexity and controversial nature of this issue.

RESOLUTION RS2017-911 provides $1 million in funding to favored non-profits.  Twenty-seven non-profits get funding including  $25,700 to Southern Word to teach skills in spoken word poetry to prevent violence. For a full list of agencies getting funding see the staff analysis.
Bills on First reading: There are 8 bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading. I do not read them until they get to second reading. Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 8 bills on Second Reading. None are very important and likely to generate controversy.BILL BL2017-802  is a bill concerning right of way closures and work performed in the right of way. There have been several bills on the topic of right of ways in recent months.  This would impose increased penalties for closing a right of way without a permit and provide an easier means for the public to report right of way problems and do some other minor things.

Bills on Third Reading. There are 25 bills on third reading. Most of them are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission. None of them are very interesting.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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