Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Proposed Charter Amendment Would Be Self-Inflicted Disaster For Nashville, say an official Metro Nashville press release.

Would cause massive cuts to city services including layoffs to first responders 


Metro Nashville press release -  An array of Nashville leaders stands united to oppose Nashville from being gutted by an upcoming charter amendment proposed by an entity calling itself “4GoodGovernment.” The amendment would create a $332 million deficit for this fiscal year, threaten Metro’s credit rating, constrain the city’s ability to set property taxes to pay for services, and result in a suspension of capital projects. The proposed amendment would result in dramatic cuts to essential services such as emergency response, schools, trash collection, and road repair throughout Nashville.

Retroactive application will eliminate city services, reduce property values, and render schools “unrecognizable” 


If passed, midway through the fiscal year, the amendment would retroactively reverse the property tax increase passed by 32 of 40 Council Members. The FY21 budget provided for a continuity of city services during the pandemic and began to restore Metro’s dangerously thin cash reserves. 

This proposed charter amendment comes at a time when Nashville’s financial position was already destabilized by a $216 million decline in sales tax and other activity taxes this fiscal year, in line with state forecasts. With this amendment, Nashville would be left unable to make up for the lost revenue. The proposed amendment would immediately move the budget out of balance and create a $332 million shortfall for the current fiscal year. As a result, Metro would be compelled to take immediate corrective actions to comply with state law and the Metro Charter’s balanced budget requirement. Few parts of Metro Government, including emergency services and schools, could be spared significant reductions or eliminations, and nearly all capital projects would be required to be halted. 

The proposal would immediately and directly hurt Nashville residents. “It will negatively impact property values and drastically reduce city services for all Nashvillians,” said Kristy Hairston, Board of Directors President for the Greater Nashville Realtors. 

Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of MNPS, is also alarmed by the proposal and said the resulting cuts would “render the school district unrecognizable to students and families.” 

Neighborhood infrastructure and Nashville’s credit rating will be devastated 

In addition to requiring a referendum for raising property taxes beyond two percent, the proposed amendment would also require a referendum for the issuance of bonds for projects exceeding $15 million, with vague exceptions for construction of “educational classrooms”, public libraries, public healthcare buildings, police and fire stations, and “Charter-protected facilities.” 

This aspect of the Charter amendment would cripple Nashville’s ability to make neighborhood infrastructure investments, such as building community centers, repairing roads, adding affordable housing, building new schools, and improving our park system, without a costly referendum. 

Financial rating agencies would likely downgrade Metro’s financial outlook and outstanding bonds if the charter amendment is even placed on the ballot. This may result in increased borrowing costs and limit Metro’s ability to complete significant transactions and refinancing. A credit rating downgrade would make every city project more expensive for taxpayers. 

Special election will cost $800,000, prompted by a tax levy that restores Nashville’s traditional low rates 


The Davidson County Election Commission has verified that a sufficient number of signatures were collected to place the amendment on a special election ballot on December 5, 2020. According to the Election Commission, the special election will cost Nashville taxpayers approximately $800,000. 

Even with this year’s increase, Nashville still has a lower property tax rate than Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga and other peer cities. Nashville’s current rate is in line with historic traditional levels; the tax rate of $4.22 remains below Nashville’s 25-year average of $4.30. Nevertheless, the proposed Charter amendment would require county-wide voter referendums for any property tax increase over two percent – a limitation that would prevent keeping pace with inflation and result in violations of state law during appraisal years. 

Passage of the Charter amendment would result in massive cuts to city services 

At mid-year, a $332 million spending reduction could affect 35-58% of the six-month remaining Metro Government operating budget. If a potential 35% cut were spread evenly across Metro operations, the following impacts could occur: 
  • Public Works Trash collection service reduced to twice monthly, with complete elimination of recycling collections. 
  • Fire 35% cuts to the NFD Operating Budget, resulting in cuts of approximately 557 positions, including 12 ambulances, 31 fire companies, and 17 fire inspectors. Dramatic increases in response time delays.
  • Police Reductions in force of one-third of MNPD officers (450-480 officers) through layoffs and a hiring freeze; Closure of four of MNPD’s eight precincts due to officer shortages; Dramatic increases in response time delays. 
Other Departments 
  • Partial to complete closure of parks, recreation centers, and libraries. 
  • Severe reductions in services for the Hospital Authority, Metro Transit Authority, and the Sports Authority. 
  • Significant delays and bottlenecks for permits, licenses, and inspections. (Metro Government is undertaking further work to review potential impacts) 
Effect on Metro Nashville Public Schools 
  • At mid-year, a $332 million spending reduction could impact up to 25% or more of the six-month remaining MNPS operating budget. 
  • Budget cuts to every single school in the district would be required. 
  • MNPS would likely be compelled to significantly reduce education resources, including: 
  • Increased class sizes; 
  • Transportation service adjustments resulting in longer bus ride times; 
  • Reductions in social work, counseling, community connections, and other services for families in need; 
  • Reductions of supplemental services for students in robotics, career connections, college preparation, and other advanced academics; 
  • Elimination of Social and Emotional learning (SEL) initiatives; 
  • Reduced technical assistance and professional development for teachers and schools; and 
  • Elimination of stipends for extra duties such as coaching and other extracurricular activities.

Reactions to proposed charter amendment 

“This would cripple our city and gut essential city services. After two natural disasters this year, we don’t need a self-inflicted one. This would severely weaken Nashville at a time when we need to build Nashville stronger.”— Mayor John Cooper 

“Cutting 25% of the MNPS budget would, unfortunately, render the school district unrecognizable to students and families. We owe our students an exemplary education, and it takes resources to hire the teachers and staff needed to serve students academically and socially emotionally.” — Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools 

“Greater Nashville Realtors remains committed to a vibrant and financially strong Nashville. Based on our independent study of Metro’s finances earlier this year, the city must make changes to become more financially stable, but this proposal is not the answer. This change would only harm the well-being of this city and its residents. It will negatively impact property values and drastically reduce city services for all Nashvillians.” — Kristy Hairston, Board of Directors President, Greater Nashville Realtors 

“At first glance, the implications for the people of Nashville and Metro’s fiscal stability are significant and will alter the current positive trajectory of our city.” — Ralph Schulz, President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce 

“The aftermath of the Nashville tornado and ensuing pandemic has created a time for our city to come together not pull apart. A property tax cap would be another disaster especially in the African-American community, but this time it would be self-inflicted. Nashville already has the lowest property tax of any other large city in our state so let us all pull together and give our city and ourselves the funding we desperately need to survive and thrive.” — Pastor Chris Jackson, President, Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship 

“No council member was excited about raising property taxes, but the new tax rate is still below the 25-year average and below the rate in FY2017. 32 council members, including me, recognized the need to vote for an increase because we understood that the stability of Nashville depends on being able to pay our bills, so that we can continue to provide needed services to residents.” — Councilwoman Kyonzte Toombs, Budget and Finance Chair, District 2 

“I voted against the property tax rate increase, but mandating a 2% cap is just as fiscally irresponsible as the rampant spending and poor fiscal policy that got us to this point in the first place. The city wouldn’t be able to provide basic services; essential services like public safety and schools would suffer. It would essentially cause a government shutdown which, believe me, no one wants. In the long term, a 2% cap wouldn’t even allow us to keep up with inflation. We absolutely need fiscal responsibility, but a 2% cap is just not practical or sustainable.” — Courtney Johnston, Metro Councilwoman, District 26 

“Gutting city services, slashing schools and eliminating first responders during a pandemic is a terrible idea and would hurt working families in Nashville.” — Vonda McDaniel, President, Central Labor Council 

“This proposal is just another dangerous far-right attempt to destroy the progress that we’ve made in Nashville. It would prevent Nashville from being able to pay our bills, invest in our schools, and maintain neighborhood infrastructure.” — Anthony Davis, former Councilman and owner of East Nashville Beer Works

Rod's Comment: 

We need a realistic rebuttal telling us just how painful the cuts will be. 


by Rod Williams- Keep in mind that the above is not a balanced argument from some neutral party but is the response of the Mayor's office. I expect a certain amount of alarmism and awfulizing.  The threat to cut essential services is always made anytime an effort is made to deny government a tax increase or cut a tax. Like Chicken Little hollering, "the sky is falling, the sky is falling," or a global warming prophet making apocalyptic claims that we only have x number of years to save the planet, I have become somewhat  immune to these claims of how terrible it will be if we don't raise taxes. 

One thing that needs to be rejected in the above press release is that we are undertaxed.  A lower tax rate than some other cities does not mean we pay lower taxes.  I had an occasion to go house shopping with a young couple recently.  In the greater Woodbine area there are lots of two-bed-room, one-bath, 758 sq. ft. houses fetching $300,000.  If in Chattanooga or Knoxville, the same home in a similar neighborhood might sale for half that. The tax rate is only one factor in the formula that determines how much property tax one pays. I reject that we are undertaxed.

Also, if a tax rollback would cause severe pain, the fault lies with the mayor.  The tax cut would be much less severe if we had started the year off with the lower rate.  If the mayor really believes the tax rollback will cause the dire outcomes he cites, then he should immediately make cuts so that they will not need to be as drastic as he outlines. He could get a three months jump if he did the cuts now instead of waiting until December. It he starts cutting now the cuts would be 25% less severe. If he doesn't start making drastic cuts, then I don't believe he believes what he is saying. 

With the above said however, one should not think that the cuts will not be painful.  We were already in dire straights with low reserves, and an underfunded fire department, and a budget that did not balance when Mayor Cooper took office. If this passes, we will feel the cuts.  

Some of the cuts should have been made years ago, anyway.  General Hospital should have been closed shortly after the passage of Medicaid  It is a disaster and closing General would save $50 million a year.  

We should stop running empty buses while we work on breaking the mold of yesterday's system of mass transit and develop a pubic transit system that focuses on on-demand paratransit. In the meantime, we should ask United Way to step up to the plate and develop a charity program of assistance for those dependent on mass transit.  

We should suspend the recycling program. It cost $1.5 million more than last year and a large part of what is collected goes to the landfill anyway. What percentage, I don't know because public works will never answer that question. 

We should suspend the program that develops bike lanes and suspend the building of sidewalks.  We need to do both anyway. The bike lanes reduce roadway capacity and contribute to traffic gridlock and congestion and I almost never see them being used.  We need to stop building sidewalks until we can figure out why we build so few new sidewalks but tear up and repour perfectly serviceable sidewalks at an enormous cost. 

Cutting the school budget could provide an opportunity to improve education.  We could embrace charter schools and make the schools that are not charter, more like charter schools by giving school principles more authority, responsibility, and autonomy.  This would allow for the slashing of overhead and central office.  We could reimagine public education. 

Doing the above will not balance the budget, however and to do some of this would take time.  Not all saving would be immediate. I don't doubt that the tax rollback would require closing some parks and some libraries- maybe most of them for a while.  How far we would have to cut, I don't know.  I hope that the parties responsible for getting the proposed referendum on the ballot will develop a rebuttal to the mayor's sky-is-falling alarmism and give a realistic picture of what cuts would be required. I helped gather signatures to help get the proposed referendum on the ballot. I plan to vote for it but I am ready to accept some painful cuts. We need a realistic rebuttal however, telling us just how painful the cuts will be, so voters can make an informed decision. 


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Assumed Senator-elect Bill Hagerty's statement on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Bill Hagerty
Nashville, TN — Bill Hagerty, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, released the following statement following the news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. 

 “My family and I join Americans across the country in praying for Justice Ginsburg’s family during this difficult time,” said Bill Hagerty. “For more than two decades, Justice Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court, and she blazed trails for women and believed deeply in public service. 

President Donald Trump can – and should – nominate a constitutionalist to fill this Supreme Court vacancy; the future of our nation for generations to come depends on it.”

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Tony Tenpenny, Rest in Peace.


Condolences to the family and friends of Tony Tenpenny.  He was a good man and a good public servant. He passed  away as a result of complications from the Coronavirus. 

Here is a Facebook eulogy from Melissa Lening Smithson: 
Just heartbroken of hearing the news about our dear friend and fellow Woodbine brother Tony Tenpenny. What a giving soul, a fighter, a true spirit of being a blessing to others. We will deeply miss you here on Earth, but know you are with our Lord Jesus Christ and Almighty, visiting those that went before you and watching over us. You will always be with us, thinking of you when we are fighting the good fight, and your legacy will live on in your son and beloved wife. Rest in Peace brother! We WILL see you again.
Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Luke 20:36: For they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

 The Tennessean: Former Nashville councilman Tony Tenpenny dies from COVID-19 complications

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Senator Alexander's statement on Trump's intent to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

 From Facebook:


Rod's Comment: I am pleased but not surprised. To all of those who say Republicans are hypocritical because they opposed the Merit Garland nomination, Alexander responds to that.  If Republicans are hypocritical for opposing a  nominee to the Supreme by a Democrat in an election year but now support a Republican nominee in an election year, are not Democrats equally hypocritical for advocating the appointment during an election year and now opposing it when Trump tries to do it?  That argument is obviously phony.  If Democrats had the votes, they would block an appointment. 

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9-17 Society event was the motivating boost and shot of enthusiasm I needed.

by Rod Williams - I have been a little down recently.  Much of it is personal which I won't go into in detail but I am not getting to see my wife or touch and hold her due to her being isolated in a nursing home during this pandemic and she no longer knows who I am.  That hurts. I also miss my daughter and my young grandson and hated to see them go after a short visit, and I have family members with health problems and  some other personal things going on that bring me down.  Also, however, in addition to the personal, I have been feeling really down about the direction of our country and feeling anxiety over the upcoming election.  I have never let political circumstances affect me so. 

As I witness riots that have been going on for all across America for over 100 days, I at times feel like the America I knew is being lost before my very eyes.  We, "are going down hill like a snowball headed for hell, ..." Cities burn, innocent people are pulled from their car and beaten, police officers are assassinated, statues of our founders are pulled down, innocent people simply trying to enjoy a meal out  at an outdoor café are harassed, and senseless violence and harassments and destruction abounds and it appears people who identify as Democrats condone it or at least refused to condemn it. 

On top of that our youth embrace socialism and crazy unrealistic proposals such as defunding the police and the Green New Deal.  I don't think they know of the 100 million victims of Communism that was socialism in action.  I am appalled they they can argue real socialism has never been tried and think they are smart enough to get it right when we have the examples of Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro  and countless others tyrants who resulted from others who experimented with socialism. They would willingly, joyously march themselves and us into the Gulag and the cattle cars. "We are going down hill like a snowball heading for hell." 

I am feeling a lot of anxiety about the upcoming election.  I plan to lay out a more detailed explanation of my hypotheses of what could go wrong and share the mechanics of what could happen, but in a nutshell, I see Trump apparently wining the electoral vote, Biden the popular vote and various complications resulting from mail-in ballots and other nefarious things that result in a contested election with the side that loses not accepting the outcome of the election and, perhaps, by inauguration day us still not knowing who won the election. In my worst-case scenario we descend into either a civil war or at least a period of intense uncertainty with a major increase in violence. On top of this, we could have another uptick in Cova-19 cases, a new lockdown,  and an economic collapse. 

On Thursday night September 17th my sprits were lifted.  I attended a celebration of the 9-17 Society.  It was good to see old friends and socialize but the program was inspirational and lifted my spirits. The mission of the 9-17 Society is to, "to empower every 8th grader with the knowledge of their individual freedoms and provide them with their very own lasting copy of the U.S. Constitution as a "rite of passage" into American Citizenship and celebrate Constitution Day each September 17th."'

The pocket constitutions are handed out and signed and dated and includes the citizenship pledge that immigrants take when becoming citizens.  Reports are that 8th graders take this very seriously and see it as a big event.  Remembering when my own child was an 8th grader, I think that is the perfect age to do this.  They are smart enough to grasp complicated concepts but have not yet become know-it-all resentful teenagers.

The 917 Society is the brain child of Joni Bryant.  She has a bubbly personality and her passion for what she is doing is contagious.  It is hard to be around Joni and not feel better.  She started the project just a few years ago with nothing but a conviction that is something she ought to do.  She started small with boxes of the constitution in her car and went county by county, school by school distributing copies of the constitution.  It has taken off and now has covered Tennessee and expanded to several neighboring states.  Her dream has grown and now she has a vision of spreading the project to encompass all 50 states. 

At Thursday night's event the program was exciting and motivational.  We heard from several luminaries.  Dr. Ming Wang told of his escape from China with $50 in his pocket and how he barely avoided being sent to the countryside for a life of poverty and hard labor during the cultural revolution. He has risen to being the premier Lasik ophthalmologist in America, maybe the world. He spoke of his love for this country and what America means to him. 

We heard from Carol Swain. She rose from being one of twelve children raised in a two room shack without running water by poorly educated parents to become a graduate of Yale Law School and went on to be a professor at Vanderbilt, an esteemed scholar whose work has been quoted in Supreme Court cases, an author and a political commentator. She spoke of the greatness of American that made such a transition possible. 

The highlight of the evening for me, was the speech by Rep. John DeBerry.  He is an orator! He has served in the House of Representatives since 1995 as a Democrat representing a district in Memphis.  This year, too late to qualify as either a Republican or an independent, the State Democratic Party stripped him of his status as Democrat candidate. He would have been unable to run, had not the House stepped in and changed the rules. He is now on the ballot as an independent.  The State Democrat Party kicked him out of the party because he has voted for pro-life policies and policies that favor school choice.

He gave a humble but motivational speech that left me standing and cheering when it was over.  He spoke about the how he was taught to love this country and the wisdom found in the Constitution. He warned of how America has turned its back the values that made up great. He spoke of the character of America and the courteous fights to overcome injustices and the struggle and challenges that brought up thus far. He left me with a message of hope that all is not lost.  America is still the beacon of liberty in the world. 

My view of the potential for a struggle over the outcome of the upcoming election and the potential for a disastrous outcome has not changed.  I still view the embrace of socialism by many in this county as troubling.  The future is in the balance and it could go either way. History is not laid out.  The outcome of history is up to those who push it one direction or the other.  We could be like Venezuela in a short period of time.  The threat is real and the future hangs in the balance. 

I left the meeting, not feeling like the challenges we face are less than I did when I went into the meeting, but with a new determination to face the challenges.  I felt hope.  I felt revived. 

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Art Break: A new portrait mural being painted on the side of Zanies at Douglas and 8th Ave South.

September 2020

 

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Governor says "no" to Metro's request for additional COVID-19 relief funds. Politely blast Metro's strategy for economic recovery and the massive tax increase.

 


 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday he would not be giving additional COVID-19 recovery funds to Nashville after Mayor John Cooper's request last week. He says to give money to Nashville is to take away funding from 94 other counties. He says he disagrees with Metro's approach to the crisis, that he thinks we should be cutting budgets; not raising taxes. He says Metro Nashville is the least rapidly recovering Metro economy in the United States. In my view, says the Governor, Metro Nashville's strategy for dealing with the economic impact of Cova-19 is not an effective one.

I agree with the Governor. Metro has not been a good steward of the money it has received and does not deserve a bail out. 

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Certain virtues must prevail to avoid great and lasting damage to our republic.

by Richard Upchruch- I agree with many these days who are seriously worried about the unusually high levels of hostility and mutual recrimination that have become a part of the current contest for the presidency. 

A famous quotation from one of our country's founders, James Madison, reminds us that the written constitution we cherish is only a part----although a precious and essential part--- of what really constitutes us as a nation. I think he is telling us that we cannot survive as a free people unless we as individual citizens have attained certain attributes of maturity, and that these attributes have got to be somehow effectively passed from one generation to the next. These observations seem always relevant but especially so now. 

I believe that certain virtues enjoined by traditions both religious and secular, if better followed, might help us to a place where we might still have the necessary robust public discussion of policy issues these times call for, but with less chance that chaotic behavior might prevail and do great and lasting damage to our republic. I believe that chief among these virtues is a kind of civic humility, a tough belief that one's opponent may not be entirely evil or deranged, but rather that he may indeed be advocating for the good as he sees it.

Translated into terms more obviously relevant in this election cycle, perhaps this would mean that those on the Republican side need to admit that their candidate has chosen a rather extreme form of polarizing rhetoric to keep his supporters excited and committed, that his manner seems deliberately brusque and provocative; and, on the other hand, that the left has indeed rushed to adopt radical techniques of advocating change, redefinition of marriage, calling into question the most essential aspects of human personal identity, at the very foundation of human society, in addition to advocating for more mundane economic and social policy---changes that many consider deeply harmful and destructive to both society and government.

Each faction needs to listen and try to understand the point of view of the other. The question cannot be, "are these two sides irreconcilable?" It must be, rather, can these conflicting visions, and these contending energies, be contained and expressed within our constitution and used to guide us into a future that as always requires both preservation and adaptation. We all need to obtain news and comment from a variety of points of view. And also, very importantly, from friends and acquaintances of various beliefs and affiliations. 

Benjamin Franklin, another of our brilliant founders, famously answered an inquiry by saying that "we have a republic, sir, if we can keep it." Without more and better listening to one another than we have now, we just may not be able to keep it. 

Richard Upchurch is a scholar and philosopher who lives in Nashville.

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13 Titans players take a knee during national anthem ahead of opener vs. Broncos

The Tennesseean- ...Thirteen members of the Titans took a knee during the national anthem ahead of their season-opening game against the Broncos on Monday. ...Titans coach Mike Vrabel said ahead of his team's season opener that if his players wanted to protest peacefully, they would have the organization's full support. (link)


Rod's Comment: Disgusting! Shame, shame, shame. 

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Cova-19 cases inflated by 13,800 by State health officials. Cases listed as "active," even after patients recovered.

The Tennessean: Coronavirus: 13,800+ Tennessee infections left as 'active' long after they weren't.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Leaked email shows there was no justification for closing bars and restaurants in Nashville.

This is a big deal and making national news.  The number of cases of coronavirus transmitted through bars and restaurant contact was so low, the mayor and health officials tried to keep the numbers a secret.  This has been picked up by national media outlets and even Donald Trump Jr. has weighted in tweeting, "The Dem Mayor of Nashville KNOWINGLY LIED ABOUT COVID DATA to justify shutting down bars & restaurants, killing countless jobs & small businesses in the process. Everyone involved should face jail time."  


For more on this story see link, Link, link,

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I will not attend the "A Rally for American Patriots" event and here is why.

 


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2020 AT 5 PM – 7 PM A RALLY FOR AMERICAN PATRIOTS: A call to preserve our Constitutional Republic! Franklin Tn Downtown Square.

by Rod Williams - This event was originally scheduled for September 17th and delayed until September 23 due to the threat of bad weather.  I will not be attending this event. While I would like to be part of such an event, I am not comfortable with the host.  If Ms Laurie Cordoza-Moore was just one member of a host committee putting on this event, I might attend.  But, I am not quit comfortable being part of a crowd that is her event.  

If you recall when a Muslim congregation was attempting and eventually was successfully in building a mosque in Murfreesboro, Laurie Cardoza-Moore was a leading opponent trying to stop that from happening.  The argument against it was that Islam is not really a religion and that Muslims were going to be building a terrorist training center in Murfreesboro.  While I hope the government is keeping close taps on what is going on in the Muslim community and while there have been radicalized American Muslims who have committed acts of terrorism, I am not comfortable with someone who claims the world's largest religion is not really a religion and who wants to deny First Amendment protection to other Americans. The First Amendment also applies to Muslims

The host of this event also once charged the Williamson County School Board with promoting anti-Semitism due to an objectionable portion of a text, taken out of context, in a social studies text book (link).  I doubt the Williamson County School Board is anti-Semitic.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has called Ms Cordoza-Moore's organization, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a hate group.  Now, I do not put much stock in what the SPLC says.  They have called a lot of good conservative groups, especially Christian groups, hate groups.  Any group that does not fall in line with the politically correct, woke, permissive, mainstream culture is considered a hate group.  If you are pro traditional marriage, believe boys should use the boys bathroom, or are pro life, you might be a hater. So while I don't put much stock in SPLC,  I do think it is worth noting.  Being listed by SPLC as a hate group may not make them what I think of when I think of a hate group, but it is an indication that they are outside the mainstream. It raises a red flag.  It tells me they deserve  a closer look before joining their cause.  

My concern in attended a rally for an event sponsored by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations is that I will become part of a cheering crowd that is a prop for some anti-Muslim rant or some weird conspiracy theory.  I don't really fault anyone else for attending.  It is not as if you are attending a Klan rally or anything, but for me, I am uncomfortable being part of a PJTN rally.  I am really not trying to convince anyone else not to attend, I am just explaining why I won't attend and hoping people will look closely at this event and the decide if it is for them. 


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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Trump Administration Is Supporting the People of Tennessee

From Alexander Willette, Special Assistant to the President, Updated September 14, 2020:

 
Overview: Response and recovery efforts are locally executed, State managed, and Federally supported. Successful emergency management requires nationwide cooperation and unity of effort, combining the strength and ingenuity of our citizens and private sector with a sweeping, all-inclusive, and whole-of-government response. The below is a partial overview of Federal assistance provided to the State of Tennessee and the people of Tennessee to combat the Coronavirus. The information is bolstered by hundreds of additional actions by the Federal government to help the people of Tennessee. President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appreciated the strong State-Federal partnership with State and local leaders in Tennessee. 
  • The President quickly approved Tennessee’s major disaster declaration on April 2, 2020 and National Guard funding requests on and National Guard funding requests on April 2, 2020 providing additional Federal resources to supplement State response efforts. 
  • This year, over 5.7 M N-95 masks, 118 M surgical & procedural masks, 818 K eye and face shields, 7.8 M isolation & surgical gowns, and 592.5 M medical gloves have been shipped to Tennessee through private sector, State, and Federal collaboration. 
  • The Federal government has directly supported10 community based testing sites in Tennessee and will be providing 200,000 swabs and 200,000 media to support state testing needs in the month of September. To date, the federal government has provided over 1 M swabs and 100,000 media. 
  • The Federal government has and continues to coordinate the surge of resources to Tennessee Medicare & Medicaid certified nursing homes. And to supplement private sector supplies, the federal government is coordinating the provision of point-of-care COVID-19 testing to 267 of Tennessee’s Medicare & Medicaid certified nursing homes. 
  • Deployed a Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System to Tennessee that can decontaminate up to 80,000 N-95 masks daily. 
  • Coordinated donation of 205 cases (40 vials per case) of Remdesivir, and 630 cases of commercially available Remdesivir, to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Tennessee.  
  • Medical facilities and providers in the State of Tennessee have received over $3 B in COVID-19 related allocations from HHS. This includes more than $2.6 B from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and ensures uninsured Americans can get testing and treatment for COVID-19. 
  • The State of Tennessee and eligible local governments received over $2.6 B from the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to help address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the COVID19 public health emergency. 
  • The Small Business Administration has issued over $8.9 B in loans to 99,579 Tennessee small businesses. 
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury has made 3.4 M Economic Impact Payments totaling more than $5.8 B to hardworking taxpayers of Tennessee. 
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has made over $414.9 M in COVID-19 funding available to Tennessee grantees to help America’s low-income families and most vulnerable citizens via CARES Act authorizations. 
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided Tennessee agriculture producers with $124.2 M in financial assistance for price declines and additional marketing costs due toCOVID-19. 
  • The U.S. Department of Education provided $237.2 M to support postsecondary education students and institutions of higher education in Tennessee, authorized $63.6 M for the State from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and $279.9 M to ensure learning continues for all elementary and secondary students. 
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation allocated more than $229.7 M to help the Tennessee public transportation systems and $124 M to help Tennessee airports.

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Council considered and then deferred on second reading, until March 2021, the bill to end life-time health care benefits for metro Council.

by Rod Williams - On Tuesday night the council considered  and then deferred on second reading the bill to end life-time health care benefits for metro Council.  This was after earlier in the month getting the bill put back on the agenda after it was taken off of the agenda over the objection of the sponsor (link).  The bill was deferred until March 2021! I am usually OK with a deferral of one meeting or maybe two meetings of anything that is controversial.  People may need more information or they may just need to think about their vote before casting it.  However a six and a half month delay is an outrage.  The deferral vote passed 20-18. Check back. I will be posting the names of those who voted for this unheard of lengthy delay. 

The Council amended the bill so as to exempt from the impact of the bill anyone currently serving.  Those currently serving if reelected and serve a total of eight years would get the current deal.  That current deal is that when they leave office, former council members continue to get the Metro employee health insurance for themselves and family as if they were an employee.  That is, they pay a quarter of the premium and the city pays the rest.  This amendment probably enhances the chance that the bill will pass. 

An amendment by Freddie O'Conner is pending that would not end  the benefit for future Council members but would reduce the benefit to instead of the city paying 75% of the premium and the former Council member paying 25%, the former member would pay 75% of the premium and the city would pay 25%.  While I think the benefit should be abolished outright, if I were serving in the Council and thought that a straight repeal would fail, I would vote for this amendment.  A half loaf is better than none. 

See this link for more on this story, and this link, this link 

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