Saturday, March 28, 2020

57th Annual State of Metro Address, Tuesday 3-31-20120

The 57th Annual State of Metro address is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31st, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

In accordance with CDC protocols on gatherings and social distancing, the 2020 State of Metro address will be livestreamed on Metro Nashville Network, and audience access will be restricted only to program participants in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the media, elected officials, Metro department heads and employees, and the general public are encouraged to watch a livestream of the 2020 State of Metro Address via Metro Nashville Network:

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Friday, March 27, 2020

I may have been wrong. I am reviving my opinion.

by Rod Williams - I may have been wrong. I am reviving my opinion.

When this virus hit and it became clear that we were going to impose an economic shut down, I thought this is the end of life as we have know it. Businesses will close, never to reopen. Whole industries may close. I envisioned massive inflation. Real shortages would occur. I feared massive deaths, not from only the virus, but mostly from the economic collapse that would occur. As things deteriorated, I predicted roving bands of thugs or maybe private armies raping and pillaging and taking what they want. The government would have to impose martial law. As we barricaded ourselves in our dark homes and bartered for food, we would tremble in fear as the world around us collapsed. This was the apocalypse!

I though surely, I would find other wise voices that would confirm my evaluation. Well, no. A look at Forbes, Barons, WSJ, The Economist, National Review and other sources do not say it is going to be as bad as I said it would be. I assume they are better judges than I. Most say this could be as bad as the 2008 crisis. That was bad. If you recall the market was in free-fall. However, it did end and in a few years we recovered. If this is no worse than 2008, it is not the end of the world.

Other comparisons are to 9-11. We survived that.  A newsletter from National Review today quotes Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who says we’re getting the economic equivalent of a Hurricane Katrina, all around the country, simultaneously. That sounds pretty bad to me. That sounds like the sitting for the apocalypse. However, NR says, "Economic analysts are now looking past the current quarter projecting that the economy will shrink by 2 percent for the year — and that’s simply not knowing how quickly we can start the economic engine back up again."  Two percent shrinkage is not the end of the world.

The only people who were saying the same thing I was about how dire this was going to were Alex Jones and Lew Rockwell. That is not good company to be in, so while I still have my suspicions and fears that this may get real bad, I trust the opinion of WSJ, Barons, Forbes, and National Review more than I trust my own. So, I am falling in line with main stream responsible conservatives voices. My new view is that this may get bad, but it is not the end of the world.

I am pleased that Donald Trump is saying that he wants this to be over by Easter. Some are no doubt saying we need to listen to the health experts and stay in lock down mode as long as health care officials recommend it. We do need to listen to health experts but that is not the only experts from whom we need to here. I think Trump is right in saying the cure could be worse than the disease. We need to listen to health experts and economist and people who can see the big picture. This is a health crisis, but not only a health crisis.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Now would be a good time to read a good book. Rod's recommended reading list.

by Rod Williams - In this time of lock down and quarantine, it is a good time to put free time to good use.  Instead of watching reruns of Seinfeld, now would be a good time to catch up on some quality reading. Below is some recommended reading.

What I'm reading now.

Victory by Peter Schweizer
This book tells the story of how Reagan's leadership led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The prevailing wisdom at the time Reagan took office was that the best the US could do in its cold war conflict with the Soviet empire was to contain Russia and we were not doing a very good job of doing that.  Reagan wanted to defeat the Soviet Union.  Under Reagan's leadership the U.S. engaged in economic warfare denying Russia hard currency. We tightened the screws on those who sold technology to the Soviet Union and we made it harder for the Soviet Union to steal Western technology. We supported the resisting mujahideen in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and  we helped support the Solidarity movement in Poland.  We kept Russia guessing as to weather or not the U.S. would use military might to stop Soviet aggression.  We engaged in a new round of weapons development in which Russia did not have the means to match our effort. It is no accities cident Communism was defeated.  If Jimmy  Carter had been reelected and then he followed by Walter Mondale, we would still probably be facing a menacing Russia and pursuing a losing policy of containment.  The book is well documented and the author interviewed a host of active players involved in the strategy to defeat Communist Russia.

What I recently read and recommend

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Masters of the Cross Roads by Madison Smart Bell.
This is a great book. It is about the formation of the State of Haiti and exploits of the Haitian General Toussiant Louverture. It is fascinating to learn of the culture of Negro slaves and how people of mixed blood were viewed and the role of Voodoo in the society. The book is full of military strategy and shifting alliances and the role of international relations.  All Souls Rising also by Madison Smart Bell is  about the Haitian slave rebellion a few year prior to when Cross Roads occurs and it also a great book.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
This may make by "100 best" list.  This is a dystopian novel in the fain of Brave New World or 1984.  It is set in a future century.  People live in enclosed doamed cities like giant bubbles.



The best 100 books I ever read.
This list is a work in progress, so check back for more detail, reviews, links and additions to the list.

Atlas Shrugged by  Ayn Rand

Witness by Whitaker Chambers

Miracle at Philadelphia by

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, or the Living Reed. I have read numerous of her books, I mostly read them as a teenager so I don't know if they would still up out, but I loved them at the time.

The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Soltzenitzen.

The Quest for Community by Robert Nesbitt
Follow this link for the Conservative book Club review.

Captain Cort├ęs Conquers Mexico by William Weber Johnson

Animal Farm by George Orwell and/or

1984 by George Orwell

Everything ever written the husband and wife team of Will Durant and Ariel Durant. Excellent books that explore the philosophy and cross currents of ideas and history of the period being studied.  Ones that I most highly recommend or The Age of Reason, and The Age of Revolution.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and/or

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
It has been a long time since I read them, but everyone needs to read some Mark Twain

The Call of the Wild by Jack Loundon.  I read it as a young teen. Loved it. I was later to learn that Jack Loundon had been a Communist but that does not distract from this being a great book.

Something by William Faulkner. Maybe,  As I Lay Dying or Absalom, Absalom! It has been a long time since I read anything by Faulkner and I could not even tell you what these books are about but I remember enough to know that I recommend one read Faulkner.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Something by Franz Kafka.  I like The Castle. Metamorphosis is his most famous work. Castle, like many of his works, is a story of frustration about forces beyond your control.  The impersonal bloated bureaucracy frustrates the protagonist at every turn. Is novels make you feel like you are in a dream of running in thick mud in slow motion.

Lord of the Flies by

This is a draft of a work in progress. Check back for refinements and additions to the list.

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MNPS Hosting Virtual Town Hall, Answering Questions About Impact of COVID-19

From Metro Nashville Public Schools - The COVID-19 public health emergency has upended

everyone’s life. With schools closed until at least April 24, students, parents, teachers and school staff have questions about what it all means for classes, grades, tests, work schedules, high school graduation and more. The leadership of Metro Nashville Public Schools wants to provide answers.

With social distancing protocols still in place, MNPS will host a virtual town hall meeting from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, March 30, that will be available via livestream on the Metro Nashville Network. Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle and other MNPS leaders will answer questions from the Board Room.

Submit Your Questions 
Please submit your questions by 5 p.m. Friday, March 27 using this online form.

Questions will be reviewed for common themes and MNPS staff members will be on hand to address each topic.

Dawn Efionayi, a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School, will read the submitted questions aloud at the town hall. The event will not be open to the public to participate in person due to the need to limit large crowds.

“No one has ever been through anything like this before, so we understand the need to ask and answer questions about the impact this crisis is having on everyone,” Dr. Battle said.

“Our team hasn’t stopped working since schools closed, and we look forward to answering as many questions as we can Monday afternoon.”

COVID-19 updates
You can find Metro Schools updates on the COVID-19 resource page. The page includes information on things such as meal distribution, digital tools for students, links to community resources, blog posts and news for MNPS employees.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

City establishes Small Business Task Force to help small businesses hurt by COVID-19 and the tornadoes.

Metro press release- Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, in partnership with Mayor John Cooper and the Metro Council, has formed a Small Business Task Force to address the issues facing small businesses in Metro Nashville/Davidson County that have been affected by COVID-19 and the March 3rd tornadoes.
“While we take necessary steps to protect our population, the Metro Council, Mayor Cooper and I agree that we must quickly determine what we can do–short term and long term–to help small businesses,” Vice Mayor Jim Shulman stated. “The Task Force is expected to focus on establishing available federal, state, and privately-sourced small business assistance and to determine how best to obtain and distribute such assistance locally.”
The Task Force is chaired by Metro Councilmember At-Large Steve Glover and Community Leader Cristina Allen. The Task Force’s twenty-four (24) members represent the diversity of Nashville’s business environment, including hospitality, retail, services, construction, manufacturing, creative/music, healthcare, real estate, and finance. The Task Force will work to aid and assist small businesses with their financial stability. The plan will be finalized in mid-April. Visit the Small Business Task Force’s website for more information.
Metro Small Business Task Force:
  • David Andrews, Bakery
  • Andy Bhakta, Hotel
  • Chris Carter, Retail
  • Sam Davidson, Retail
  • Kamel Daouk, Real Estate
  • Bridgette Edwards, Fitness
  • Nancy Edwards, Manufacturing
  • David Fox, Financial
  • Santos Gonzalez, Broadcast and Real Estate
  • Don Hardin, Construction
  • Barrett Hobbs, Hospitality
  • Michael Johnson, Barber
  • Katie Lentile, Mayor’s Representative
  • Kathy Leslie, Restaurant
  • Andy Mumma, Restaurant
  • Elizabeth Murphy, Local Farmers
  • Josh Mundy, Dry Cleaners
  • Ashley Northington, Public Relations
  • John Ozier, Music
  • Mayur Patel, Grocery
  • Adam Saba, Grocery
  • Julia Sullivan, Restaurant
  • Deborah Varallo, Marketing/PR
  • Alex Vaughan, Retail
  • Sheri Weiner, Healthcare

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Metro closes dog parks and imposes other restrictions on park use.

Metro press release - While it is important for residents to have safe and viable recreational options, it also is a priority of Parks & Recreation to help flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, too many people are gathering in large groups at certain recreational facilities in the city.
Out of an abundance of caution and safety and with the guidance from the Metro Health Department, as of today (3/25), we are closing all playgrounds, dog parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and skate parks.  These facilities will be closed to the public until further notice. Metro Parks and the Health Department discourages any type of activity that would negatively impact social distancing protocol.

Parks, greenways, trails and golf courses will remain open, however social distancing is expected and required.  Please note: golf club houses are closed, which means concessions, restrooms and cart rentals are not available.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Don't lose your home to foreclosure during the Coronavirus crisis.

by Rod Williams - I am retired now  but spend about the last thirty years working for a HUD-approved non-profit housing counseling agency.  Up until 2007 I worked helping low-income people become homeowners.  After the 2007 housing crisis hit and up until I retired I worked mostly in mortgage-default, helping people avoid losing their home.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have poor money management skills, to put it mildly.  To be less generous, I would say a lot of people are irresponsible.  I see reports that say 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.  That does not generate sympathy from me. They shouldn't.  It is irresponsible to not have some savings.  I know bad things can happen to good people and there are some people living on the edge who can't help it.  However, for the majority of people who are financially living on the edge, they never learned discipline and delayed gratification.  That being said however, I don't want them to lose their home, because they lost their job.

With the closing of bars and restaurants, a lot of people already find themselves unemployed. With the further lockdown, more people are losing their job.  The longer this crisis lingers, the more people will lose their job. A lot of people, when they lose their job will lose their house.  A lot of people lose their home because they do the wrong things.  If one has some savings, one has a better chance to keep one's home than if one does not, but the savings only delays the foreclosure unless one acts wisely.  With savings are not having savings, there are steps to increase the likelihood that you will avoid foreclosure.

 
Your solution for avoiding foreclosure and keeping your home can vary depending on several factors. Here are some of them:
  • Who actually owns your mortgage and what policy for foreclosure avoidance to they have in place.  The company you pay your mortgage payment to is most often a servicer of the mortgage and their options are limited by the entity that insures your mortgage or owns your mortgage.
  • How is your home titled? If you are married is the mortgage in both names? If you once owned a home jointly with a spouse and are now divorced and were awarded the home through divorce, did you ever have the ex-spouse's name removed from the mortgage and the title?
  • When you lost your job, did you just quit because the company was reducing staff or closing their doors or were you laid-off?
  • Your housing ratio, which is the percentage your gross income that it takes to pay the house payment, and your debt ratio, which is the percentage of your gross income it takes to pay all debt, are factors.
  • Before the crisis did you pay your mortgage on time?
It can be complicated. I am listing some general guidelines of what to do if you lose your job and own a home and don't want to lose it. This are general. Other recommended actions would depend on ones specific variables.
  • Immediately get on a crisis budget. Cut all unnecessary expenses. Prioritize. If you have two car payments and a house payment, it is probably better to lose a car than a house. As a housing counselor, I have seen people lose their home who could have saved their home if they would have tightened their belt and prioritized their spending.
  • If you have not applied for unemployment, do it!  If the unemployment office says you must have a separation letter from your employer,  get it.
  • Communicate with your mortgage company. 
  • Don't sent partial payments. Some people think paying half a mortgage payment or whatever they can afford shows good faith and helps them with their mortgage company. It doesn't.  If you are not making payments do not let the money you could have paid toward a mortgage payment just get adsorbed in other spending. Save it, so when you do get a workout offer, you have some money to pay toward your mortgage.
  • Don't think a "forbearance" means you can just skip some payments. A forbearance is a temporary plan to skip payment for a while but at the end of the period, the accumulated skipped payment must be paid or a plan put in place to catch them up.
  • See a HUD-approved housing counselor. A counselor can evaluate your situation, develop an action plan for dealing with the crisis and advocate on your behalf. Don't try to do this alone.
  • Be aware of scams. If someone ask you for money to help you avoid foreclosure, it is probably a scam.
  • Don't move out of your home.  Some people panic and move. If you are living in your home, you are more likely to be eligible for a workout plan or assistance than if you have abandoned your home.
If this crisis continues, there will probably be more programs to help people avoid foreclosure as there were when the housing crisis of 2007 hit.  Don't count on it but don't do stupid things that would disqualify you from taking advantage of whatever program may be offered.  Taking on more debt is one of the things people do in a crisis that is the wrong thing to do and may disqualify them from whatever workout solution or assistance for which they would otherwise be eligible.

Don't panic. Don't bury your head in the sand and just assume it will all work out. Be proactive. I wish all who are facing this crisis, the best. Here are some important links:
HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies
National Community Reinvestment Coalition.


 


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