Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Insufferable Become Sufferable: The Evolution of A Never-Trumper

Gene Wisdom
by Gene Wisdom - There are few things that does the soul good like admitting you’re wrong. Having officially entered the ranks of the elderly in turning 60, I have certainly had my share of those occasions. But fortunately, just as “love means never having to say you’re sorry” (OK, that’s a lie, right, men?), being a conservative means rarely having to admit to error. Well, now it’s my turn.

When Trump entered the Presidential race (which I’m convinced he decided to do when President Obama ridiculed his “birther” position, shortly after Obama was elected, at a White House correspondents’ dinner) I was like most, I think, surprised at that move. Throughout the nomination process I remained a devoted Ted Cruz supporter. I still think he would have made a better President. Whether he would have beat Hillary, who knows?

As you might guess from my support of Cruz, I am a lifelong Reagan Republican. The postwar (WWII, I suppose I now should add for clarification) conservative intellectual movement consisted of three legs of a stool: traditionalism, represented by Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet; libertarianism, best represented, at least early on by Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman; and the anti-Communists which included James Burnham, Whittaker Chambers. As the differences sharpened between these three groups, there was an effort to bring these strains of thought together, to fuse them. Hence, “fusionism”, propounded by Frank Meyers. The best-known examples of individuals who combined all three influences together were William F. Buckley, Jr., who was arguably the founder of the movement, and Ronald Reagan. I have spent my life reading, studying, and advancing the ideas of conservatism. I know what it is and I are one.

Donald Trump, I am convinced, is not. There is nothing in his biography that gives any hint that he has said or done anything to advance conservative principles. As is well-known, he contributed to Planned Parenthood and a list of Democratic (i.e., not conservative) candidates. His history as a successful businessman was often advanced as suggestive of someone who would make sound decisions but it says nothing of what he even believes. It certainly doesn’t make one a conservative unless one wants to put George Soros, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos on the Right side of the divide. Further, his record of ruthlessness and bankruptcies in business says nothing about principles except a readiness to sacrifice all, including his creditors, in pursuit of the dollar. Between God (or other principles) and mammon, his choices in favor of the latter have been clear.

Even while “God’s spokesmen” lined up to support and endorse him. Shamefully so, in my opinion.

Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail gave me no further reason for confidence. There is no doubt that he lacked polish; he also doesn’t have the judgement, character, or temperament to occupy the Oval Office. And there is much reason to have such doubts to this day. He plays fast and loose with the truth. His virtually daily outbursts on Twitter display the maturity of a stunted 12-year old. A pathological narcissist and adolescent.

We conservatives became well-known—and mocked by the media and Hollywood elites--in the 90’s for insisting that character still matters. Congress not only impeached Bill Clinton but we cast aside our own for sexual misconduct: Bob Packwood, Bob Bauman, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig. And it still matters as Republicans wrestle with the proper response to the candidacy of a very popular Senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

But in Trump’s case, at what point do his negatives cancel out accomplishments of his Presidency? Do they require that the positive entries in the ledger never be considered or even entered? We know that the media rarely give even a passing glance at them. For myself, I have remained a continual critic of Trump while acknowledging those “few” things he got right.

It is time for me to take a second look. And there is much there for conservatives to celebrate. My friends, who often accused me, rather ridiculously I might add, of being a Hillary supporter during the campaign, often reminded me of Trump’s commitment to appoint solid conservatives to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. And then came Neil Gorsuch. A knock out of the park. Trump came through. Though Reagan’s legacy also included Antonin Scalia and Ed Meese, who arguably began the originalist debate and revolution, his appointments also included Anthony Kennedy whose proximity to the Right side is belied by his reputation as a “swing” voter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch’s legacy, I will be presumptuous to predict, will equal the intellectual heft, if not the wit, of Antonin Scalia, and the fidelity to text and history of Scalia and Clarence Thomas. And Trump’s appointments to the appeals courts will only deepen that legacy as we see with the appointments of Kyle Duncan and Davis Stras.

We soon saw President Trump’s much-maligned and miss-distorted travel ban. He campaigned on tightening immigration, both from south of the border and of Muslims. He sought to clamp down on immigration from nations that did not adequately vet those leaving. Those nations included Venezuela and North Korea. The Supreme Court recently validated this executive prerogative in a 7-2 decision.

On the national defense side, the pluses start with the appointment of General “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Need I say more? OK, I will. Among the military accomplishments was the elevation of Cyber Command to a “Unified Combatant Command”, raising their profile and priority. For a glance at how far that capability has come I suggest that you read Fred Kaplan’s Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War. There was also the reversal, by President Trump, of President Obama’s decision to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military.

Diplomacy is again being used to advance U.S. interests. As a recent example, North Korea has again finally been re-designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism”. Long overdue. Just this week, Trump declared that the U.S. embassy will be moved to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, by which policy will reflect reality. Again, long overdue. The Trump State Department is also cutting funds to some United Nations organizations, such as the UN Population Fund.

The Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions (a particular favorite, being formerly a strong conservative Senator from my home state of Alabama) is a particular bright spot for conservatives. While there is a significant negative in Sessions’ commitment to civil asset forfeiture, he has sought to restore the rule of law in cracking down on sanctuary cities. Toward restoring the integrity of the election process, he demonstrated commitment to election integrity with the DOJ’s recent stand with Texas on its voter ID law. Justice also recently ended the Obama-era Operation Chokepoint initiative which sought to block some businesses, including firearms dealers and payday lenders, from having access to bank loans.

The Obama Administration’s collaboration with the far Left in the “sue and settle” strategy was ended. With “sue and settle” an environmental group, for example, would sue the Environmental Protection Agency and then reach a settlement by which a consent decree would be entered effectively extending regulations without benefit of legislation or even the formal regulation process. Regulation by litigation. Over.  For more on “sue and settle” read the Heritage Foundation study at http://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/regulation-through-sham-litigation-the-sue-and-settle-phenomenon.

President Trump promised to trim down the Leviathan of regulation, saying he would do away with two regulations for every new one implemented. In this case, he has over-accomplished. In a presentation I heard from a representative from Freedom Works this past weekend (which was the inspiration behind this essay) I learned that the ratio is actually SIXTEEN to one.

A list of Trump accomplishments would be incomplete without mentioning the absolute paroxysms of hate and rage his election and presence in the White House has elicited. Oh, the joy this gives me. Beginning with the feminist protests and their pussy hats immediately after the inauguration to snowflake college students who simultaneously require safe spaces on the hearing of Trump’s name while also violently protesting conservative speakers, much of the “resistance” has more ideological affinity—and sympathy--for Venezuela’s government and Jane Fonda than protecting American interests. CNN programming is a continual drumbeat of anti-Trump “news”. Positives? If mentioned at all, they are covered as negatives.

Am I now a Trump supporter? Don’t rush out and get me a MAGA hat. Trump is still Trump. But Trump’s accomplishments? Many would make Reagan proud.

Gene Wisdom, a retired naval officer, is a lifelong conservative Republican.  He is a native Alabamian, and he and his wife have recently moved from Nashville, where they lived for ten years, to Knoxville. While in Nashville Gene was moderator of the Conservative Fusion Book Club. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sheila Butt retiring from House

Nashville Post - State Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) has announced she will not run for re-election. Butt (pictured) told the Columbia Daily Herald that she will work full-time for Christian women's organization Sisters, Servants and Soldiers after her term is up next year. (link)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Eric Church to headline private fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee

Eric Church to headline private fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee
 The invitation said tickets for the concert and barbecue cost $1,000 and that an additional option for a private reception with Church sold out.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Former Gov Phil Bredesen set to announce US Senate run

Former Gov Phil Bredesen set to announce US Senate run
The Tennessean - ... Bredesen's candidacy is widely seen as a game-changer, perhaps turning Tennessee into a battleground. ... In October, political analyst Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report said Tennessee’s Senate race would become a tossup if Bredesen run. ...Bredesen has significant personal finances that could bolster his effort to turn a seat long held by Republicans. ... Bredesen, a former health care executive, served as Nashville mayor from 1991 to 1999.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What happened at the 12-5-17 Council meeting: Rope Christmas lighting banned, more oversight of corporate welfare deferred, Law firm selected.



This meeting is one hour and 54 minutes long. If you are going to watch the meeting you may want to get a copy of the agenda and analysis. To access the agenda, staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link: What's on the 12-5-17 Council Agenda: Banning rope lighting, more oversight of corporate welfare, hiring a law firm, banning some Air B&B, ...

There are no special ceremonial presentations and no messages from the mayor.  Below are bills and items of interest.

Appointments to Boards and Commissions
Normally all mayoral appointments to boards and commissions get a unanimous recommendation from the Rules Committee and are approved without dissension by the Council.  This time, Roy Dale and Ms. Anna Maddox who were both up for a confirmation for a reappointment to the the Stormwater Management Committee received a recommendation of a deferral by a committee vote of 5 to 3 and the Council voted to defer the confirmation of appointment. The Committee chairman says the recommendation was due to unanswered questions from constituents.  It is very rare that an appointment is not just rubber stamped.  If I had a staff of reporters working for me, I would seek an explanation.  Roy Dale is a former member of the Council and a major developer in town.  This is just a guess but I would bet some members of the public saw his roll on the Sormwater Management Committee as a conflict with his roll as a developer.  However, both Dale and Maddox received a recommendation of deferral. If anyone has any insight as to why these two nomination for reappointment ran into opposition, please share it.

A General Session Court vacancy
The Vice Chairman announced that General Sessions Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton was resigning her position to accept an appointment to a higher court. This creates a vacancy. Most often when such a vacancy occurs the Council fills it with one of their own. Nomination can be accepted until December 12. When such a vacancy occurs the Council is subject to intense lobbying to pick someone to fill the vacancy. The Council will fill the position at the meeting of January 2.

Public Hearing
There are 28  bills on Public hearing. The bills on public hearings are all rezoning bills or related to planning and zoning policy.  None of the bills on Public Hearing encountered serious opposition and members of the public only spoke on only one of them. Below are the only bills on public hearing I find of interest.

SUBSTITUTE BILL BL2017-937 addresses home sharing  also known as Short Term Rental Properties or Air B&B. The Council has been working on this issue for over a year. This bill is deferred until January 2, 2018 in conjunction with BILL BL2017-981(Withers) and BILL BL2017-982 (Withers) which similarly addresses short term rental properties. All three ordinances would then be scheduled for third reading on January 16, 2018 in conjunction with BL2017-608 (Hagar and others) whose sponsor has likewise notified Council members of his intent to defer reading from January 2 to January 16, 2018. For those who want to know what is in the works, read the bill and the staff analysis.
Resolutions
There are 11 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda except one.   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 public sidewalk. Resolutions on the consent agenda are lumped together and passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Below is the one resolution not on consent.

RESOLUTION RS2017-966  authorizes the Mayor to employ the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann &Bernstein, LLP, as special counsel to pursue claims against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids that have "wrongfully caused drug addiction in Davidson County." In some cases the law firm could get up to 20% of any money awarded the city. This was deferred last council meeting primarily due to concern on the part of Black members of the Council that the firm did not have a sufficient number of Black lawyers in the firm. Those with concerns are not placated and move to defer the bill again.It is explained that there are only a few law firms capable of litigating a case like this and the firm must have deep pockets to front the expenses and that there is an urgency to proceed or Nashville could miss the boat.  The motion to defer is defeated by a voice vote and the bill is approved by a machine vote of 30 in favor, 6 opposed and 4 abstentions. To see the discussion on the resolution see timestamp 43 to 1:13:40 in the video
Bills on First Reading. Normally all bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote. Bill do not go to committee until after First Reading. In an unusual move some bills are taken out of the group  of bills and considered separately. The bills pulled are all rezoning bills and are substituted for what appear to be minor technical corrections and all bills on First Reading are approved.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 22 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-952 says that private consultants and contractors who offer services assessing the initial cost, feasibility or adoption of a public project would be prohibited from subsequently bidding on the actual project.  It was on second reading last meeting and deferred to this meeting. This is a good bill. It passes without discussion.

BILL BL2017-953  imposes various regulations regarding commercial solicitation  including restricting door-to-door commercial solicitation to daylight hours. As one who once sold cable TV door-to-door when Viacom was new to Nashville, this seems overly restrictive, especially in the winter when it is dark at 5:00PM. When I was selling cable, I often worked till 8PM. This was on the agenda on Second Reading last meeting and deferred to this meeting.It is deferred again.
BILL BL2017-983 would require certain information for the assessment of economic and community development incentives offered in the form of PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements and Council approval. PILOTS are a form of corporate welfare used most often to entice businesses to locate or expand in Nashville. It is often offered by the Industrial Development Board but has recently been offered by the Metro Development and Housing Agency in order to encourage the development of affordable housing. Under a PILOT agreement, the business is exempt from paying property taxes but instead pays a fee in lieu of those taxes which is considerably less than the company would pay in taxes. Currently companies getting incentive grants have to provide Metro with certain information such as how many jobs they will create and other things and then the Council has to approve the incentive grant.  This bill would apply those same standards to those getting PILOT deals.  This is a good bill.  Currently the PILOTs are awarded without Council oversight.This is deferred one meeting.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 17 bills on third reading. Most are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission or are approved subject to modification as recommended by the Planning Commission. Below are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-903 is the 'Grinch  kills Christmas bill' which  would ban decorative "rope lighting" on any building, sign, or property with non-residential zoning located adjacent to an arterial or collector street except those in the downtown area. A previous version of this would have banned it everywhere on all property. Rope lighting is that lighting that you have probably seen that outlines a tree or structure. It is often used as Christmas decorations but sometimes is used year-round. Why one would want to ban this I have no idea.. The sponsor says it is for the safety of the motoring public and to protect people with epilepsy. I am not buying that explanation for a minute. This is an overreach of government. This was on Third Reading last meeting and several members spoke against it and on a voice vote it was deferred to this meeting. There is no discussion It passes by a machine vote of  24 to 12 to 1.

BILL BL2017-949 codifies what is already a policy of metro and establishes a debt management policy for the city.  Metro would be prohibited from issuing or incurring any debt in violation of this debt management policy unless approved in advance by Council resolution. To understand the policy, see the bill and the staff analysis. This is a good bill. It passes.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Nashville Murder Rate Nearing All-Time High


Channel 5 - Statistics from Metro Police show 96 people have been murdered in Metro Nashville this year.  A total of 83 homicides were reported in 2016. The city’s all-time homicide record was 112, back in 1997. (link)

My Comment: It seems that major media never ask the questions I want asked. I would like some context.  Who killed who?  How many of the murders were domestic violence?  How many were victims of Black on Black crime?  How many were drug related?  Where the killer is known, how many were illegal aliens?  I don't know, but inquiring minds would like to know. Just because the murder rate is up may be no reason for individuals to feel less safe, if the murders are acquaintance murders or within a demographic to which you do not belong.  

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West backing Diane Black for governor

Gubernatorial hopeful Black rolls out county leadership teams across the state

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

lij Shaw and Pat Raynor fight back against Metro Government's effort to put them out of business


Shaw and Raynor vs. the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

The Beacon Center, December 5, 2017 -Who would have thought it would be illegal to make music in Nashville? Unfortunately, the city’s ban on home-based businesses means local musicians, hairstylists and other aspiring entrepreneurs face steep fines and potential imprisonment if any customers physically come to their homes to do business. Nashville residents Lij Shaw and Pat Raynor have both lived this nightmare.
 
Lij operates a successful recording studio in his home, while Pat undertook an expensive renovation to her home to open up a hair salon that met all of Tennessee’s health and safety standards. Both Lij and Pat ran their businesses for some time without any trouble. Then one day, the city government threatened to fine and take them to court unless they shut down their home-based businesses.
This ban has done real damage to their ability to earn an honest living. Lij has lost significant revenue since being ordered by a city officer to stop publishing his address in advertisements for his business. Meanwhile, Pat has been forced to rent a costly and inconvenient commercial studio just to keep her hairstyling practice in business.

Home-based businesses have been a common and legitimate use of property for entrepreneurship for centuries. They cost less to get off the ground, they promote healthy work-life balance, and they create jobs that otherwise might not exist. Anyone who has taken a piano lesson in their teacher’s home or sent their child to daycare in a neighbor’s home has been a client in a home-based business.
Even Nashville’s government knows it would be outrageous (and impossible) to find and destroy every home-based business in the city, so it enforces its client prohibition with an unwritten don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. Rather than reform this unfair law, the city solicits anonymous complaints on its website, turning neighbor against neighbor and shutting down home-based businesses without any evidence of harm to anyone.

Most Nashville home-based business owners never get in trouble for violating the client prohibition. Many aren’t even aware of it. But the ban can be as disastrous as a lightning strike for the unlucky few who get caught. Those local entrepreneurs, like Pat and Lij, find their very livelihoods threatened.

This arbitrary law has nothing to do with regulating traffic or noise in residential neighborhoods. The city zoning code allows home-based daycares and short-term rentals to serve up to 12 clients a day on the property. People who live in historic homes are also allowed to use their homes for special events such as wedding receptions and catering dinners up to several times a week.

Lij’s and Pat’s outlawed home-based businesses are as neighborhood-friendly as the businesses Nashville already permits. There’s no good reason for Nashville to shut them down, so Lij and Pat are fighting back. They’ve teamed up with the Institute for Justice and the Beacon Center of Tennessee to vindicate their constitutional right to use their home to earn an honest living.

Home-Based Businesses: Finding the American Dream at Home
Home-based businesses offer people an accessible path to entrepreneurship. There are many reasons people aspire to start a business. Perhaps they want to be the next Mary Kay or Steve Jobs, who famously launched the multi-billion dollar company that is now Apple from his garage. Perhaps they are tired of the 9-to-5 and want to be their own boss. Or perhaps they want to fill a need in their community and earn an honest living doing it. Whether their dreams are modest or ambitious, starting a business out of their homes can make it more cost-effective for would-be entrepreneurs to succeed.
Opening a brick-and-mortar business can cost thousands of dollars more, depending on industry and location. In Nashville, for example, rents for office and retail space are at an all-time high—around $23 per square foot for office space and $25 per square foot for retail space—making it difficult for small and independent businesses to thrive. And that’s on top of other costs necessary to open a business, including acquiring all of the necessary permits, insuring the business and hiring employees. These high startup costs can prevent people with great business ideas from ever pursuing them. That’s bad for everybody.

Home-based businesses, however, allow an entrepreneur to figure out what works and what doesn’t before taking on the expense of commercial space. One study found that most needed less than $25,000 to get going—a sum many business owners can pull together from personal savings or loans from family and friends. Particularly in lean economic times, the low cost of starting a home-based business can significantly reduce the risks inherent to starting a business.

Additionally, some small businesses just make more sense in the context of the home, particularly those operated by only one person. An overwhelming 60 percent of home-based businesses are run by people who work by themselves. For an individual who just wants to personally offer tutoring, tax preparation or music lessons, it likely will never make sense—or be financially viable—to obtain commercial space.

Nashville’s Home Occupation Law
Nashville, Tennessee is a booming city with a diverse economy. World-renowned for its thriving music scene, the city bills itself as “Music City, U.S.A.,” but many of its roughly 685,000 residents also find work in the healthcare, publishing, banking, and transportation industries. Many others—the focus of this lawsuit—work from home.

The Institute for Justice analyzed Nashville’s business records and found at least 1,600 home-based businesses operating within the limits of Nashville’s consolidated city-county jurisdiction. These businesses provide a valuable contribution to Nashville’s economy, and to their proprietors, they provide a livelihood.

Unfortunately, many of them are illegal. A provision contained in Nashville’s residential zoning ordinance prohibits any so-called “home occupations” from serving clients on the property. This home-business client prohibition was added to the city’s zoning code in 1998 without public debate or any record of why the law exists.

The Nashville government evidently has some misgivings about this prohibition because it maintains a don’t-ask-don’t-tell enforcement policy toward enforcement. The local Department of Codes and Building Safety, known as “Codes,” investigates home-based businesses only when somebody complains.

“It’s not something you could drive by and notice,” explained Codes Assistant Director Bill Penn to a columnist for The Tennesseean in 2015. “It’s something neighbors would have to turn in.”
Nashville also doesn’t seem to want its home-business ban to apply as broadly as it does because Nashville allows at least three kinds of home-based businesses that serve clients: day care homes, owner-occupied short term rentals, and historic home events. Those businesses are allowed to serve 12 clients per day in most cases.

Amazingly, the home-business law’s defenders even boast about how well Nashville’s illicit home-based businesses fare under this enforcement scheme. “I’ve got tons of small businesses in my neighborhood, and nobody’s complaining about them,” said Nashville Councilman Carter Todd, explaining his ‘no’ vote on a 2011 bill that would have legalized home-based businesses. “I’ve got—down the street, there’s a tutor. Farther down the street, there’s a woman that teaches swim lessons. All these things technically may be against the law, but they don’t bother anybody, nobody complains about it, and [the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy] works.”

But that’s simply wrong. Neither Pat Raynor’s nor Lij Shaw’s home-based business could be seen or heard from the street, but Codes ordered them to shut down anyway, accusing them of no violation other than simply having a business.

In December 2016, Lij and Pat applied to the city to rezone their homes to allow Lij’s home recording studio and Pat’s hair salon to serve a limited number of clients. 

Their neighbors turned out overwhelmingly in support, presenting the Nashville Metro Council with petitions bearing the signatures of 39 and 44 of their neighbors, respectively. But it was not enough for the government. Several months and public hearings later, their applications were denied. Lij and Pat are left with no options other than to sue for their right to work from home.


Lij Shaw
Elijah “Lij” Shaw, a single father and lifelong record producer, moved to Nashville in 1991. He has recorded nationally renowned, Grammy Award-winning performers such as John Oates, Jack White, Wilco, Adele, and the Zac Brown Band. He’s been living in the same house in East Nashville since he bought it in 2000. When his daughter Sarayah was born in 2005, he was inspired to take charge of his work life and find a way to better support his family. So he invested thousands of dollars to convert his detached garage into The Toy Box Studio: a professionally soundproofed recording studio where he could record his musician clients on his own property, all while remaining close to Sarayah as she grew up.
It was a perfect setup. Well-respected musicians use The Toy Box Studio—the 2015 Grammy winner for Best Roots Gospel Album was mixed there—and Lij operated for 10 years without incident. His soundproofed studio can’t be seen or heard from the street, and his clients park in his driveway. None of his neighbors have ever complained to him about traffic or noise.

But now Nashville is threatening to destroy Lij’s investment and uproot him from his neighborhood. In September 2015, Lij opened his mailbox to a letter from the Nashville government ordering him to cease and desist the operation of his home recording studio. A month later, an officer from the Nashville Codes Department called and ordered him to shut down his business or be taken to court. Lij was able to ward off an inspection by agreeing to take his address down from his website, but the officer warned that if Codes ever caught him recording in his studio—or even podcasting—he would be taken to court and shut down.


Pat Raynor
Pat Raynor, a lifelong hairstylist, became interested in working from home after her husband Harold passed away in 2009. His 10-year battle with a debilitating medical condition left Pat with extensive medical bills, exacerbated by the loss of Harold’s income. Pat, who values hard work and cherishes her independence, resolved to do whatever it took to stay in the home she and Harold had bought together in 1999.

Pat still pays the mortgage and property tax on that home. Those are fixed costs, and Pat must work in order to afford them. But working comes with costs of its own. As a sole proprietor, Pat pays both income tax and self-employment tax to the federal government. She is 66 and must drive to and from work, which has become moderately hazardous for her in the dark and sometimes icy winter months. Renting a commercial hair salon costs $135 per week, no matter how much she makes. She realized that she could eliminate the costs of commuting and renting by moving her business into her home.

Tennessee state law allows home salons, and Pat invested over $10,000 to renovate her home and obtain a Residential Shop license from the Tennessee State Board of Cosmetology. She opened for business on April 24, 2013. Pat is friends with most of her neighbors and counts many of them among her clients. It was easy for those neighbors to get to her house, and because Pat only works by appointment and didn’t put a sign out front, she wasn’t generating traffic from curious walk-ins the way a downtown barbershop might have. With no commercial rent and no commute, this arrangement was safe, comfortable and affordable—a perfect way for Pat to keep working in her “youthful old age.”

Alas, Pat’s home-based hair salon was short-lived. On November 26, 2013, Nashville sent her a cease-and-desist letter, ordering her to shut down her home-based business. Pat called the city’s Codes Department—which wouldn’t tell her who had complained—and learned that her state shop license was no protection against Nashville’s client prohibition. She was told to clear out her salon and schedule an inspection. After the city no-showed the first two times it told Pat to have her home ready, it sent three agents to verify that she was in compliance. They warned her never to cut hair in her home studio again, or she would be taken to court.

Legal Claims
Residential zoning laws are a relatively modern creation. They restrict property rights by their very nature, and the U.S. Supreme Court did not clear them as constitutional until 1926. In Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., the Court held that municipal governments, if allowed under state law, could exclude industrial uses from municipally-defined residential zones. But whatever an industrial use may be, it’s clearly not Lij’s or Pat’s quiet, by-appointment-only home studios. As originally authorized by the Supreme Court, zoning laws were not meant to tell people how to behave inside their homes.

Since 1926, however, zoning laws have grown far more intrusive in scope. In 1974, the Supreme Court held that a New York college town could use its residential zoning laws to prohibit unrelated graduate students from signing a lease together as housemates. Together with a follow-up case holding that zoning laws could not be used to prohibit grandparents from living with their grandchildren, the Belle Terre decision remains the Supreme Court’s last statement on the constitutionality of zoning laws. As a result, municipal governments today believe themselves free to abuse the zoning power to regulate or prohibit almost anything they want, even if doing so has no plausible connection to a legitimate government interest like health or public safety.

That is what has happened in Nashville. Lij and Pat are law-abiding citizens who have the overwhelming support of their neighbors, no criminal record, and a safe and unintrusive home-based business–far less intrusive than the many home-based businesses the city allows. It’s unfair of Nashville to single Lij and Pat out.

Nashville’s home-business law is “dishonest,” according to Metro Councilwoman Burkley Allen at a February 2017 Planning Commission hearing on Lij and Pat’s SP applications. City officials know that home-based businesses are everywhere, yet they adhere to a don’t-ask-don’t-tell enforcement policy that admits law-abiding Nashvillians are better off lying to the government about their home-based businesses.

Furthermore, residential zoning laws cannot be used to regulate a home-based business that can’t be seen or heard from the street. Residential zoning laws are meant to maintain the character of residential neighborhoods—not tell residents how to behave inside their homes. The Tennessee Constitution, which affords greater protection for substantive due process than its federal counterpart, prohibits such an intrusive regulation of someone’s use of her own home. The government could never prohibit Lij or Pat from having a friend over for a visit. It doesn’t make sense that the government could prohibit them from having customers over.

The Institute for Justice and the Beacon Center have teamed up to affirm Lij and Pat’s right to work from home. Their victory in court will expand legal protections for property rights, recognize meaningful limits on the zoning power, and vindicate the right of all Tennesseans to earn an honest living in their homes.

My Comment: I support the right of Lij Shaw and Pat Raynor to continue to earn a living by operating thir non-intrusive businesses out of their home. We all know of people who operate a business out of their home. Most do not get caught. When one routinely engages in activity that is technically illegal but the authorities just look the other way, that is not rule of law. That makes the authorities "the law" rather than the enforcer of law.  I support the work of the Beacon Center in fighting for justice for people like Lij Shaw and Pat Raynor.  To make a financial contribution to The Beacon Center, follow this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories