Saturday, September 21, 2019

Dr. Manny Sethi advocates health care reform at First Tuesday speech.

Dr. Manny Sethi at First Tuesday
by Rod Williams - Yesterday I attended the First Tuesday luncheon and enjoyed hearing from our guest speaker Dr. Manny Sethi.  This is the first time I had ever heard Sethi speak and I was very impressed.

In a contested race, if there is more than one acceptable candidate, I don't commit early.  I want to hear from all of the candidates before I decide who I am going to support and weigh all of the factors that go into my decision, but I must say, Dr. Manny was very impressive.

What I liked most about Sethi was his passion for health care reform and firm ideas of what changes need to be made in the American health care system.

I have been disappointing with the Republican response to Democrat proposals for health care reform ever since Hillarycare was proposed in the early 90's. Most recently, I have been disappointing by the Republicans failure to repeal and replace Obamacare after years of pledging they would do so. For a while, Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress but could not replace Obamacare.

Face it; Republicans have no health care plan.  All Republicans can do is defend the status quo or the pre-Obamacare status quo.  The status quo is not working and it was not working prior to Obamacare.  The status quo is not acceptable.  Americans spend more on health care per capita than any other advanced country and we have worse outcomes than most.  It is true that we have some of the best healthcare for difficult operations and we do not have long wait periods for selective operations, but on most metrics we do not excel.

Not only is American health care not very good, it is getting worse. Obamacare may have given more people health insurance but it did not bend the health care cost curve as was promised; cost continue to rise and that is not sustainable.  Too many people are without health insurance and too many households have bankruptcies because of exorbitant health care cost.  Health care is the only product we buy that one buys without having any idea what it will cost you. The price of health care services depends on who is paying the bill, as much as what service is delivered. Americans may pay a hundred times the price for what the same drug cost in other countries.  I am convinced that unless Republicans offer real market-orientated solutions as alternatives to Democrat proposals, we will end up with a single-payer health care system and government rationing of health care.

I did not record his speech or take good notes of Dr.Sethi's comments yesterday and I am relying on memory, but he addressed the deficiencies of  our system of health care.  He spoke of a need to support preventive care and said the way we compensate doctors is wrong.  He said we pay doctors for treating decease but not for keeping people healthy.  He said medical schools do not emphasized the importance of diet and living a healthy lifestyle.  He says too many doctors to not get to know there patients and establish a relationship that shows the doctor cares. He said when the doctor has a relationship with the patient, often the doctor can convince the patient to quit smoking or change their diet. He says one of the most costly and deadly deceases is diabetes and it is largely preventable.

Dr. Sethi spoke about the need to create a vibrant individual health care market place with the ability to purchase insurance across State lines. I agree.  I want to learn more about how Dr. Sethi proposes to make that happen and I do not want to put words in his mouth, but it is my believe that we must transition away from employers providing insurance and getting the tax deduction for doing so, to a system in which the individual gets the tax deduction for purchasing insurance.   One should no more get their health insurance from an employer than they do homeowners insurance or auto insurance or groceries.

Dr. Sethi has a compelling life story. His parents legally migrated from India to the United States and settled in Coffee County Tennessee where both of his parents were physicians and where he was born and raised.

Dr. Sethi described himself as an outsider conservative. He has never ran for any public office before.  He said that in addition to focusing on health care reform, other areas of emphasis would be supporting fixing the the immigration crisis along the southern border and combating the opioid epidemic. Dr Sethi is the founder of the preventative health nonprofit organization Healthy Tennessee. Sethi has traveled across the state holding health fairs and clinics and providing health education.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Picnic celebratng Davidson County Republican victories


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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Blackburn, Ernst Lead Bicameral Bill to Protect Migrant Children from Human Traffickers at Southern Border

Marsha Blackburn
Press release, WASHINGTON, D.C. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first two Republican women to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have introduced legislation to combat asylum fraud and protect children arriving at the border from falling victim to human trafficking. S. 2420, the End Child Trafficking Now Act of 2019, amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to require a DNA test to substantiate the familial relationship between an alien and an accompanying minor. The legislation will prevent drug traffickers and gang members from trafficking children.

“It is horrifying that children are becoming victims of trafficking at our southern border,” said Senator Blackburn. “By confirming a familial connection between an alien and an accompanying minor, we can determine whether the child was brought across the border by an adult with nefarious intentions. The current crisis at our border is multifaceted and requires a holistic approach. By tackling these problems piece by piece, we will get this situation under control.”

“During my visit to the southern border this summer, I heard directly from Customs and Border Patrol agents about children who are tragically being trafficked across the border by illegal immigrants who falsely claim they are related. These children are being used as a ‘passport’ to get across our border, and this needs to stop. One way to address this problem is by having DNA testing in place so we can ensure that an unaccompanied minor is actually connected with the person claiming to be their family, and not being used as an innocent pawn to skirt our immigration laws,” said Senator Joni Ernst. 

Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Senators Blackburn and Ernst are respected leaders in the fight against human trafficking. Their knowledge and insight will help us achieve our common goal of ending the exploitation of children on our southern border,” said Rep. Gooden. 

BACKGROUND
False Family Ties Fuel Fraudulent Asylum Claims and Child Trafficking. More than 5,500 fraudulent asylum claims have been uncovered at the Department of Homeland Security since May 2018. Earlier this year Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) implemented a pilot program that found 1 in 5 claims of kinship were proven fraudulent. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reported that unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border are especially vulnerable to trafficking, as coyotes, drug cartels, and local gangs force children to serve as mules and perform sex acts. As a precaution, CBP now administers pregnancy tests for women as young as 12 upon arrival at most centers.

Amend Law to Require DNA Tests and Penalize Traffickers. The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with DHS, to administer DNA tests for all adults accompanied by minors claiming a familial relationship without legal documentation at a port of entry. To deter asylum fraud, the bill requires DHS to immediately deport alien adults if they refuse a DNA test and mandates a maximum 10-year prison sentence for all alien adults who fabricate family ties or guardianship over a minor. If family ties or legal guardianship cannot be proven with the accompanying adult, the Act requires HHS to process the child as an unaccompanied minor under current law. The Act allows proven family members to move forward with the immigration process in accordance with current procedures.

End Child Recycling. Traffickers rely on loose asylum laws to use and reuse exploited children to cross the border. To address this cyclical abuse, the Act criminalizes “child recycling,” which happens when the same child is used repeatedly to gain entry by alien adults who are neither relatives nor legal guardians.

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Nashville's New Mayor Seeks A Better Relationship With State Leaders

WPLN - Nashville Mayor-elect John Cooper says he wants to improve the relationship between the city and the heavily Republican state legislature. He says it's been "needlessly hostile" in recent years.
So one of Cooper's first acts after winning in a landslide last week was to have lunch with Republican Gov. Bill Lee.(link)

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How the search that led to the hiring of Dr. Joseph Shawn was manipulated and how Shawn steered contracts to his friends.

An article appearing Afternet explores the school leadership disaster and how "Private companies work an insider game to reap lucrative contracts."  Examples from across the nation of school systems that are manipulated by education consultants are presented.  Consultants get their candidates put in decision making positions, then these people award contracts to others connected to the consultants that recommended them. The story of Nashville's experience with Joseph Shawn is presented starting about paragraph twenty in the article. Readers may know bits and pieces of the story.  This article ties the pieces together.  Below are excepts:

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells “software solutions” to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company’s conference and he had touted the company’s software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an “inside track” to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph’s backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI’s affiliated companies—including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies—had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.
Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph—Jim Huge and Associates.

“The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated,” Frogge told Our Schools in an email, “and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph’s previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies.”

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members—over charter schools, school finances, and other issues—indicated the district was “‘too dysfunctional’ to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate.”
I hope the school board has learned a lesson and is never shamelessly manipulated like this again.


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1st Tuesday, Friday Sept. 20th, guest speaker Dr. Manny Sethi

From Tim Skow: 

1ST TUESDAY Members, frequent guests and friends 

Nashville's Metro elections have concluded and we have victories to celebrate!! Several of the winner 1ST TUESDAY supported are joining us on FRIDAY ! 

NOW ... comes the race that local Republicans and Tennesseans around the State REALLY CARE ABOUT ! 

As of this week the stage seems set. ''The REPLACE LAMAR RACE'' is leaping into full swing !!

Joining us for his 1st visit to 1ST TUESDAY as a candidate to replace the retiring Senator Lamar

Dr. Manny Sethi
Alexander is Vanderbilt Trauma Surgeon, the notable DR. MANNY SETHI. Manny's accolades too are numerous to completely list. But it is fair to say that Manny already has the support of a small army of TN Republicans because he has earned them!! 

Manny's motivating issues are built around healthcare, the opioid crisis, border security and illegal immigration. Given Manny's parents LEGALLY immigrated to America, you will understand 1st-hand why issues related to this topic are so motivating to him. For more insights and details, please visit Manny's campaign website at http://www.drmannyfortn.com 

As usual, doors at Waller Law open at 11:00. As usual, our Event is $20.00 for Members and $25.00 for Guests. As usual, lunch is at 11:25 with Program starting at Noon sharp. Expect a spicy Q&A with Manny that concludes at 1:00PM 

Mark your calendars, secure you seats at Firsttuesdaynash.. Then share this invite with those you know who are ready for a HOT 2020 !!!!! 

See you at 1ST TUESDAY on Friday, September 20th !! 

Tim Skow 
Host of 1ST TUESDAY

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lamar Alexander has put his legacy at risk | Opinion

by Rod Williams, Guest columnist, The Tennessean, Published  Aug. 30, 2019 -

Alexander needs to bring the Restore Our Parks Act to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pass this legislation once and for all.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has long been known as an advocate for Tennesseans. He’s represented our state as governor, president of the University of Tennessee and as the state’s senior senator for more than four decades. He’s a man born in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains who never forgot where he came from, and he has built a legacy of improving health care, education and our national parks across the nation. But all good things must come to an end. Early this year, Alexander announced he will retire at the end of 2020.

Yet if he leaves office without one final detail, there will be a gaping hole in his legacy.

Our national parks face a $12 billion backlog in deferred maintenance projects, including $162 million in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone. The backlog represents thousands of roads, bridges, bathrooms and facilities, and emergency response systems that are in dire need of repair. And with 318 million visitors in 2018, our national parks are only getting more wear and tear.

 Smokies improve local economy 

Alexander understands the importance of our national parks. Not only are they vast oxygen tanks for our environment, national parks improve the local economy around them. In 2017, visitors spent more than $154 million along the Natchez Trace Parkway, ending in Nashville. In Rutherford County, Stones River National Battlefield saw its fourth-highest visitor attendance in 2018. That same year, the Smokies drove $953 million in visitor spending to the East Tennessee and western North Carolina region. That spending supports local restaurants and hotels, tourist attractions, tour guides, fly-fishing companies, sports outfitters and other businesses that rely on the millions of people who go to the Smokies each year. Yet if we let our national parks fall apart, the unreliable bathroom facilities, closed roads and precarious trails will only drive away visitors and the money they spend. East Tennesseans understand the importance of getting rid of the backlog. Just look at Ian and Charity Rutter, who took the time to make the case for our national parks to U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett this past spring. As business owners in the Townsend community whose customer base includes a healthy number of tourists, they know the longer we wait, the harder it’ll be to restore our parks. 

Restore Our Parks Act introduced 

I know Alexander understands the importance of our national parks. He introduced the Restore Our Parks Act in 2018 to cut the backlog in half by creating a dedicated revenue stream that can help fix our parks. He’s talked about getting rid of the backlog during his visits to the Smokies, during congressional hearings and even on social media. Several members of Congress, including Tennessee Reps. Phil Roe, Chuck Fleischmann, Burchett, Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper, have cosponsored a companion bill in the House.  Yet restoring our parks does not seem to be a priority to Alexander. Maybe it’s a sign Alexander has been in Washington too long. Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time in the Smokies over the last few years. Maybe he’s forgotten the region he came from. Maybe if he were running for re-election, he’d have gotten this legislation passed already.

Yet I don’t want to believe that.

I know Alexander cares about our community, and he wants to ensure our national parks remain a vital part of it for generations to come. That’s why, with just over a year left in the Senate, Alexander needs to bring this legislation to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pass the Restore Our Parks Act once and for all. Anything less is a $12 billion broken promise.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

The cadre of new progressives elected to the Metro Council will have minimal impact on policy.

by Rod Williams - If the new cadre of progressives elected to the Metro Council could have their way, I would be concerned, but they can't.  Their impact on our city will be minimal. When the reality of what they can actually accomplish hits them, they will be frustrated.

We are not going to see Nashville become a sanctuary city. We are not going to see a $15 an hour minimum wage. We are not going to see illegal aliens vote in our elections. We are not going to see policies adopted that cause a proliferation of homelessness. In some progressive cities, homeless camps are not removed, laws against aggressive panhandling are not enforced and laws against minor infractions are not enforced.  The homeless are treated "humanely" and the number and visibility of the homeless increase. I don't see that happening in Nashville.

We are not going to see a total ban on short-term rentals.  We are not going to see a law that makes Uber and Lyft drivers and food delivery drivers employees, rather than independent contractors. We are not going to see inclusionary zoning or rent control. We could, but most likely will not, see higher taxes as a result of a more progressive council.

What we may see are symbolic things. We may see some outrageous things that will make you mad but they won't fundamentally change the city.  We may see an end to Council meetings opening with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I doubt it, but it could happen. We probably will see a proliferation of meaningless memorializing resolutions. We will probably see memorializing resolutions advocating medicare for all, condemning Donald Trump, advocating Green New Deal policies, celebrating homosexuality, advocating the right to abortions and condemning abortion restriction, condemning immigration enforcement, and a bunch of others.  Memorializing resolutions express the opinion of the Council. They are not even signed by the mayor.  No one pays any attention to them.

We may see a ban on plastic straws and single-use plastic bags.  We may see increased conflict between Police and the Community Oversight Board and the Council siding with the Board.  We may see an attempt to trample property rights by the occasional down zoning of property. It will probably be rare and rarely successful. We may see the process of rezoing property slowed. 

We already have a policy that treats homosexuals as a preferred class in awarding contracts to businesses seeking to do business with the city. We may see more of this type of special treatment for the LGBTQ community. We may see policies that promote quotas for members of this community for employment with the fire department, police department, schools, and maybe all of Metro. We may see more displays of the gay rainbow flag on public buildings and a greater city-sponsored celebration of  homosexuality. We may see a more robust government celebration of all types of "diversity."

There are several reasons why I do not think this new bunch of progressives will have much impact on our city. One, John Cooper was elected and not David Briley.  John Cooper is a Democrat and probably a liberal democrat, but he is not a progressive social warrior.  One did not see John Cooper looking goofy wearing a pussy hat. Cooper has an agenda of getting our financial house in order.  I do not believe he is going to let his agenda get derailed by policies that could hurt our city. I don't expect Cooper to pick a fight with progressives either, however.  He probably won't veto a ban on single-use plastic bags for instance, but he is not going to let them adopt policies that cause a proliferation of homelessness, for instance.

Another reason the progressives will be frustrated is because there are a handful of  conservatives and pragmatic mainstream liberals on the Council. Conservatives like Steve Glover, Robert Swope, Courtney Johnston, Thom Druffel, Larry Hager, probably Robert Nash, and sometimes Angie Henderson will lead the push-back against the more radical proposals.  And then there are a bunch of liberal but mainstream pragmatic council members who are not going to want to pick fights with the State or who will not support the more  radical proposals that would harm our city.

Another reason, is that some policies cannot be changes by a city alone.  To change the way Uber drivers are classified, for instance, would require a change in State law.  Another reason that progressives will be frustrated is that there are non-profit national and state legal firms such as the Institute for Justice and the Beacon Center that will be watching if Metro violates property rights or the right to earn a living.  Institute for Justice has been active in Nashville before when the city tried to trample property rights. If Metro adopts policies that go to far, the city will be challenged in court.

Another reason the progressives will be frustrated is that the structure of our city government provides for a weak council and a strong mayor. The mayor has veto power and it takes two-thirds vote to override a mayor's veto. Cooper won his election in a landslide.  It will be extremely rare that the Council could muster a two-thirds majority against a popular mayor. It won't come to that, because when this reality sinks in the more radical proposals will not even move forward. 

Also, it will prove difficult for the Council to impose a greater tax increase than what the mayor proposes.  The way budgeting works in Nashville is that the mayor's budget becomes the city budget unless the Council passes an alternative budget. To pass a different version of the budget other than the mayor's budget, takes the vote of two-thirds of the Council. We may have a tax increase and with the new progressives in power it will strengthen the mayor's hand if he proposes a tax increase, but the progressive will not be able to pass a greater tax increase than what the mayor proposes.

The greatest reason the new progressives will be frustrated is that the State legislature keeps Metro on a short leash. The State has already weighted in when Metro tried to ban short-term rentals, when Nashville moved toward becoming a sanctuary city, when we tried to impose additional restrictions on businesses, and when the city considered inclusionary zoning. If Metro gets too far out of line, the State will yank that leash.

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