Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gov. Lee Appoints Former Rep. John DeBerry to Cabinet

Press release, Monday, November 30, 2020, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that former member of the General Assembly Representative John DeBerry of Memphis will join his cabinet as a senior advisor. 

“John DeBerry is a respected leader and man of faith who has served our state with integrity for decades as both a legislator and civil rights champion,” said Gov. Lee. “John has fought to protect life, provide better education options for Tennessee students, and to reform our criminal justice system and I’m honored to have his counsel within the Cabinet.” 

DeBerry has represented the 90th House District of Tennessee since 1995. He is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and the University of Memphis and currently preaches at the Coleman Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis in addition to churches and organizations across the country.

“It’s been an honor to serve my constituents for the last 26 years,” said DeBerry. “I am proud of the work accomplished throughout my time with the Tennessee General Assembly and I look forward to serving Tennesseans in this statewide role.”

DeBerry will begin on Tuesday, December 1. In his role, DeBerry will serve on the governor’s Executive Leadership Team and his office will be in the Tennessee State Capitol.
###

by Rod Williams -Representative John Deberry was kicked out of the Democrat Party in May of this year because he was pro-life and favored school choice or as he put it, he would not be a "brainless idiot" for the Democrat Party. He ran for reelection as an independent but lost to Democrat candidate Torrey Harris who garnered 52% of the vote in the heavily Democrat district. (link)

As the Democrat Party has moved further to the left, there has been less tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints.  At one time there were a number of pro-life Democrats but now it is hard to find any.  On this and other issues the Democrat Party has imposed a strict orthodoxy.  Still, it took many by surprise when the Party prohibited a Democrat legislator of 26 years of the right to run as a Democrat.  The vote to strip Deberry of his Democrat credentials was not even close.  The Party's executive committee voted 41-18 to do so.

I am pleased that Governor Lee found a place in his administration of such a man of integrity and talents. 


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Monday, November 30, 2020

Laurie Cardoza-Moore is a bad pick for the Textbook Commission.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore
by Rod Williams - Recently Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton appointed long-time activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook Commission. In my view this was a bad pick. Her appointment should be rejected.

Ms. Cardoza-Moore leads a non-profit organization called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), which is committed to fighting anti-Semitism.  The organization exposes incidents of anti-Semitism, supports the State of Israel, and fights efforts to force companies and universities to divest their portfolio of investments is Israel. If all I knew about Ms Cordoza-Moore was her leadership with this organization, I would say she is performing a needed service. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called PJTN a hate group, but I don't see it.  The SPLC often classifies groups that are pro-life and support traditional morality or are simply conservative  as "hate groups."  They carry very little weight with me.

My objection to Ms Cordoza-Moore's appointment to the text book commission is based on two things.  The first is her opposition to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro. In Murfreesboro a few years ago a group of Americans of the  Muslim faith wanted to build a mosque. The mosque met the zoning and land use requirements of the property, yet there was a public demand that the building of the mosque be stopped. There is a fear that all Muslims are actual or potential terrorist and that this mosque would  be a terrorist training school.   Now, I know that there have been incidents of young immigrants radicalized at mosque in America.  I hope the FBI has undercover agents infiltrating  every mosque in America and monitoring the sermons of the imams.  

Believing law enforcements should be aware of the danger however and proactive in protecting America from terrorist attacks does not lead me to support policies that say the first amendment does not apply to Muslims in America.  I know some on the right have taken the position that Islam is not a religion. I can not fathom that one adheres to that position. Behind Christianity, Islam is the second most popular religion in the world with 1.5 billion followers.  Islam is not monolithic. There are divisions within Islam and it is ridiculous to think of all Muslims as potential terrorist.  It is other Muslims who have most often been the target of Islamic radicals.  You may not like the Muslim faith but to say it is not a religion is non-sense. I don’t want to deny basic rights to other American citizens because they practice a certain religious faith or because of their appearance or ancestry. 

A democracy means more than simply majority rule. If we don’t hold the right to freedom of religion sacred, if we do not respect our constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, if we can change the rules and deny someone the right to develop their property just because we don’t like what they are going to build, are we any better than the socialist of the left? Our rights are not to apply just to the majority. The majority do not need a Bill of Rights. If today we can deny a Muslim congregation the right to build a mosque, tomorrow we can deny the Mormons or Church of Scientology the right to build a house of worship. Is freedom of religion only for members of the Church of Christ and Baptist? I viewed her fight against the Murfreesboro mosque a fight against the  First Amendment. 

The second reason I question Ms Cordoza-Moore's fitness to serve on a text book commission is she lead a fight opposing a text book used in an Advanced Placement human geography book in the Williamson County Schools. She rallied citizens to turn out to protest anti-Semitism in Williamson County Schools and got them to turn out at a school board meeting to protest.  Specifically what was being protested was a textbook that, according to Ms Cardoza-Moore, "confuses 'terrorist attacks' with 'political violence.'" The specific example she sites is this: 
If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions? 
I am myself not convinced that that was an example of antisemitism and I really doubt the Williamson County School Board was guilty of promoting antisemitism. If the book is age-appropriate for the students, the quoted excerpt very well may be an appropriate means of getting students to think about current events and take an interest in the subject matter. I would bet that most students would answer the question by saying that killing teenagers in a restaurant is terrorism. 

This was a college level text book used in an advanced placement class. This is a book used to teach smart college-bound kids. Soon they would all be in college and be challenged to question and think about many complex issues.

I am pleased that we have a text book commission that includes citizen representation. Education is to important to be left up to just educators and anything that can reverse the left-wing indoctrination centers that our schools have become is welcome.  However, Ms Cordoza-Moore is the wrong person to place on that commission.  The Tennessee General Assembly must still confirm her appointment.  She should be rejected. 

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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Mayor Cooper Celebrates Passage of Green Legislation. Hyping a routine overdue required update.

Ordinance is simply a mandated update, no big deal.

by Rod Williams - Before any one pops a champagne cork or, on the other hand, criticizes the mayor for giving in to environmentalist at a time when we are broke and can ill afford it, the truth is this is no big deal.  First look at the press release.  One would think we had done something revolutionary and important.  Here is the press release: 
Metro Press release, 11-6/2020 - Mayor John Cooper today signed an ordinance that moves Nashville a decade ahead in sustainability. 

 Legislation advanced by Mayor Cooper’s administration (BL2020-458) substantially updates Metro’s building codes and energy standards, which previously relied on 2012 model codes with guidelines dating as far back as 2009. The new upgrades significantly improve energy efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of building design and construction and strengthen home construction requirements for tornado resistance. 

 “Our homes – just like Nashville itself – require investments and modernized standards to operate more efficiently and more cost-effectively,” Mayor Cooper said. “When those improvements not only lower home energy costs, but also reduce the city’s carbon footprint and further protect homeowners, it makes even more sense to adopt them.” \

Mayor Cooper thanked local construction, home efficiency, architecture and design professionals, as well as members of the Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, who worked to support the ordinance. 

 He also recognized Metro Council co-sponsors Colby Sledge, Tom Cash, Brett Withers, Freddie O’Connell, Kathleen Murphy, Ginny Welsch, Burkley Allen, Sean Parker, and Emily Benedict. Tonya Hancock, Brandon Taylor, Angie Henderson, Delishia Porterfield, Erin Evans, and Zulfat Suara. 

 Mayor Cooper’s building codes upgrades include three key benefits: 

Reduce Energy Consumption and Save Homeowners 
Money Tennessee’s energy production costs are among the nation’s lowest, yet average residential electric bills in Tennessee are higher than most - the result of poor energy use and insulation standards. Furthermore, lower-income residents are more vulnerable to higher utility costs that result from inefficient building standards. Mayor Cooper’s measure is designed to reduce energy use by up to 30 percent, providing net lifetime savings of $8,034 for every single-family dwelling unit, according to analysis by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. 
Attract Investment 
As cities compete for businesses that set their own carbon reduction goals, the adoption of energy-efficient building codes has emerged as a key technique for attracting industry, according to Michael P. Vandenbergh, Professor and Co-Director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt University Law School and a recent appointee to Nashville’s Electric Power Board. 
Make Homes and Buildings Safer 
Mayor Cooper’s measure also raises the threshold for tornado and high-wind resistance from 90 miles per hour to 115. Today was another step in Mayor Cooper’s efforts to create a healthier, more sustainable Nashville. His sustainability advisory committee, formed in 2019, continues to work on broad recommendations.
I don't want to make too much out of nothing but calling this "Mayor Cooper's measure," and  acting as if this is some big Green breakthrough is disingenuous. Look at what the staff analysis says about the bill. The highlighting is mine. 
An ordinance amending Title 16 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws to adopt updated building codes.
 
This ordinance adopts a more recent edition of several standard building and fire codes. Copies of the new editions of the standard codes are on file with the Codes Department. Metro is required by state law to keep our codes current within seven years of the latest published edition of the model codes.

Metro is currently operating under the 2012 edition of the fire, life safety, building, residential, gas/mechanical, and plumbing codes, and the 2008 version of the energy code. The various building and fire codes are typically adopted at the same time to avoid conflicts between the codes. The Codes Department has notified the various construction trade associations of Metro's intention to adopt the 2018 codes. The adoption of the 2018 codes has been discussed at multiple stakeholder meetings over the last two years. Nashville’s building code standards are based upon the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), each of which are updated on a periodic basis. 

Although these model codes have been upgraded several times in the past decade, the Council Office has been advised that Nashville’s residential building code still adheres to certain 2009 standards, specifically as it relates to insulation requirements. The current ordinance proposes adoption of the 2018 editions of the IBC, IRC, and IECC, which are estimated to require 30% less energy use compared to 2009 standards. An analysis prepared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that upgrading Nashville’s current residential energy code to the 2018 IECC standards will provide a net life-cycle cost benefit of $8,034 per single-family dwelling unit. 

Metro typically also adopts some amendments to the standard codes that are local in nature, which are included as part of this ordinance. The local amendments are basically in keeping with prior code adoptions to make the code consistent with state law and Metro's appeal processes.
There you have it. If I served in the Council I would have voted in favor of this routine action, but if one wanted to advocate for housing affordability one could issue a press release titled, "City passes new code putting affordable housing out of reach of many."  That would be as honest as the way this is hyped. 

Any measure that increases the cost of housing puts housing that much further out of reach of low income people.  The benefit of the new code may certainly be worth the cost of reducing housing affordability but the fact is worth recognizing.  Many actions governments take have pros and cons, and while this routine update of the code may be of environmental benefit, it is undeniable that it will somewhat increase housing cost and that will push the cost of housing further out of reach of some.  

My point in this is not to say that passing this code was the wrong thing to do but to point out the opportunistic taking credit by the mayor of what was a routine government action, required by state law. 

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School is again the best public high school in Tennessee.

(The Center Square) – Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, where the average SAT score is 1330,
was ranked the best public high school in Tennessee, according to a review of school data by the website 24/7 Wall St. 


The school has an enrollment of 903 students and its average graduation rate stood at 99%, the analysis said. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information from the data clearinghouse Niche, including teacher absenteeism, test scores and parent surveys, to carry out the study.(link)

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Our Republic is hanging by a thread. We must win Georgia! Please join me in saving the Senate from a radical take-over.

by Rod Williams - One has heard so often that a particular election is the most important election of our lifetime that after a while it just becomes empty noise. They can't all be the most important. But this time, I really believe that the Georgia runoff elections for Georgia's U. S. Senate races may very well in fact be the most important election of our life time.  If we lose Georgia there is nothing stopping the Democrats from adopting their radical agenda. While I don't think Biden is the most dangerous candidate the Democrat Party could have nominated, he will not buck the radicals in the Party if the Democrats control both houses of Congress. I perceive Biden as someone who is weak and old and he will not stand up to the more radical elements in the Party. He has already essentially adopted their agenda. 


 The whole party has moved to the left and they will adopt policies that will destroy America if they have the votes. If David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose their races for the Senate in Georgia, Democrats will take complete and total control of Congress. Chuck Shumer becomes the Senate Majority leader.

 I don't tend to be an alarmist. There is often a kind of ebb and flow to politics. But I see our Republic as hanging by a thread. If we lose Georgia, we may be on the road to becoming Venezuela. Georgia stands between us and America becoming a socialist nation. We may never have another competitive fair election. Stacking the deck by giving statehood to D.C and Puerto Rico combined with the institutionalization of massive use of mail-in ballots and things like same-day voter registration and practices that prohibit making voters prove who they are, may mean Republicans never again win national elections. 

What can we look forward to if Democrats gain control of the Senate? Packing the Supreme Court, Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, loss of our Second Amendment rights, statehood for Washington D. C. and Puerto Rico, open borders and the most massive wave of illegal immigrants we have ever experienced, student loan forgiveness and free college tuition, higher taxes, cuts to military funding, a revival of the long dormant Equal Rights Amendment, abolishing the electoral college, defunding the police, a universal $15 an hour minimum wage, ending the filibuster and more. It also means no investigation of the Biden family influence peddling in Ukraine, China and Russia. 

The Green New Deal alone would impoverish the nation and destroy our economy. With the Green New Deal passed, government will grow to alleviate the misery caused by the policy.  Government will respond to the economic crisis caused by the Green New Deal with more redistribution, wage and price controls and more tax and spend. What is left of a free market economy will disappear and a growth in police state authority will follow. 

 "Wait a minute," some will say.  "Some of what you say will happen, they can't do. It would take a constitutional amendment to curtail the Second Amendment and abolish the Electoral College and the States would have to ratify statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico."  Normally, that would be true, but if Democrats control the Senate and they pack the Court, they can do whatever they want to do.  A Supreme Court dominated by liberal jurist will find ways to accommodate the desires of a Democrat Congress. 

Curtailing the Second Amendment will be accomplished by a mandatory "buy-back" program and liberal jurist will find it compatible with the Constitution.  Liberal jurist are not so immoral that they will just let Democrats do what ever they please, but the judicial philosophy of liberal jurist is that the Constitution is a living document. This judicial philosophy holds that the Constitution was intentionally written using broad language and concepts which should evolve as society evolves.  Liberal jurist look not to what the meaning was of the original text but what was the underlying purpose of the constitutional provision. This view can essentially remove any restraints on Congress. A Court packed with activist judges will find a way to allow curtailment of the Second Amendment, abolishing the Electoral College and Statehood of D. C. and Puerto Rico. With the Court packed there are no constitutional constraints. 

Liberals are going all out to win Georgia.  Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said herself that she is putting every effort into winning Georgia so she, “doesn’t have to negotiate with Republicans.” Democrats are pouring millions of dollars into Georgia to win votes.  An army of Democrats are pouring into the state to door knock for the Democrat nominees. They are even encouraging people to move to Georgia and register to vote.  While few Republicans could do that, there are a lot of young people without roots or jobs that tie them down that may very well temporarily become Georgians just so they can vote in this election.  

Republicans also have a disadvantage in this election, in that Georgia has permitted voter fraud to occur. Georgia is not the worst offender among the states that made it easy to cheat but this run off election may be so close that  little cheating goes a long way.  Georgia has not adopted mail-in voting, but has liberally allowed absentee voting. Over 150,000 people in Georgia voted absentee in the November election. There were proven incidents in Georgia of over 1000 people voting twice; voting absentee and then also voting in person. There is no way to know how many actually did this; 1000 were detected.  Along with some real fraud that occurred in Georgia, the Trump campaign has created a sense of mistrust among voters and these Republican voters may feel fraud is so widespread that they may not turn out at all for the run off.  

Georgia also allowed "ballot curing."  This is the practice of allowing one whose absentee ballot has been rejected due to a missing signature of for some other reason, up to three days to correct the mistake.  This is not fraud per se but Democrats had trained activists to help people “cure” ballots that had been rejected on Election Day."  I think this practice should be banned, but if it is not, then I hope Republicans also have an army of people available to help Republicans "cure" ballots. If Republicans do not get up to speed and commit to matching the Democrats in "curing" ballots, Democrats may win in a close election. 

Republicans must pull out all of the stops to win Georgia.  I am going to do my part.  I give money to candidates in races I care about from time to time, but my contributions are usually like a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there.  In this race I am doing more.  I have already given $1000.  I am not revealing this to get a pat on the back but to encourage you to do the same. If I can do it, you can too.   I am not a wealthy person.  I am of modest means. I am retired and have a modest income.  But, I really believe this may be the most important election of my lifetime.  There are some probably reading this, who could give $10,000 and not miss it.

If you can't give much money, there are other ways to help.  One can go to Georgia and knock on doors.  Contact your local or State Republican Party and ask how you can volunteer.  If you can't pay your own expenses for this, the State Party or the campaign of the candidate may be willing to pay your expenses. Ask. In addition to the Party sending volunteers to Georgia, organizations like Heritage Action are also doing so. 

Another way you can help besides giving money is to sign up to make phone calls.  Sometimes this would be from a party headquarters, but often one can do it from the comfort of one's home.  I have done this.  Computer programs give you the name and address of who you are calling, the list has been developed so one is calling Republicans or persuadable voters, and the computer program dials the next number for you. You then enter the results of the effort in the data base. This may be even more important than a cash contribution.  

Ever year about this time I give money to various causes other than just political causes.  Within the next couple days or so, I will be doing that.  One thing I usually give money to are agencies that help the homeless.  What better way to fight future homelessness than to join the fight to keep America from becoming the next Venezuela. I may shift most of my year-end giving to the Georgia race this year. I have already given $1000 to the Georgia race, I expect to give more.  I may double or triple by contribution or maybe more.  This year, I think giving money so Republicans hold Georgia is more important than a contribution to the Alzheimer's Association. I may dip into my child's inheritance.  I would rather leave her a free America than an extra thousand dollars. 

Some of you reading this, I know do more than I do, but some of you who could do something, don't.  If  you are an armchair opinionated Facebook patriot or a scholar of conservative thought but do not give money to things you profess to believe, now is the time.  Your country needs you. 

There are a lot ways to give money. The candidate's have their campaigns, which is how I have given most of my money, but there are also independent PAC's.  Here are some of the ways you can give. There are other PAC's also. 
Georgians for Kelly Loeffler, the candidates campaign. 
MCCONNELL SENATE COMMITTEE, Mitch McConnell's PAC
Protect Freedom PAC, which is Rand Paul's PAC

Please do it. Freedom is in the balance. 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 


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