Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Desperation leads to conspiracy theory about a candidate's name. Will the real Carrie Searcy please stand up.

From the July 16th Tennessee Tribune
Things really get weird and silly this close to election and they don't get much weirder or sillier than in District 2 where Carrie Searcy is running for Council and is being attacked because her last name is "Searcy."

Searcy is  also the name of a prominent Black family here in Nashville. Walter Searcy is an attorney and Joyce Searcy, his wife, heads a large non-profit organization.

Not only are opponents of Carrie Searcy scrambling to ensure everyone knows that Carrie Searcy is not Joyce Searcy, or related to that Searcy family, but in a recent piece, opponents of Carrie Searcy alleged she purposely took the name Searcy to confuse people and to promote her law practice. A word of mouth campaign is spreading the theory that she has hid her white identity and has purposely let people think she was Joyce Searcy.  They allege Searcy is not really her name at all, but a name she just chose.

A piece published in CNN iReports by a community blogger shows multiple head shots of Carrie Searcy captioned as Carrie with various last names of prominent Black attorneys. (link)

Carrie Searcy is married to  James Searcy who works as a probation officer for General Sessions Court. When she married she took her husbands last name which is traditional and was the norm until fairly recently. Carrie says if those questioning her last name would just go to the Davidson County Clerk's office and check, her marriage certificate is on file.

The Tennessee Tribune, a newspaper serving the Black communality,  has called Searcy "Lilly white" and unable to represent an African-American community.

They have alleged she has hid her identity so people would not know she was white. They allege her campaign material does not show her picture.

I have seen her primary campaign piece and her picture is prominent and the press release announcing her candidacy that she sent me included a picture. Carrie told me that the only campaign material without her picture is her yard signs.  Most yard signs do not have a candidate's picture.  It sounds to me like her opponents are pretty desperate.

Just for the record, if I ever decide to run for office again or write a book or become a performer or do anything where name recognition is important, my name is "Rod Williams;" well, actually it is Rodney M. Williams (the "M" stands for Mark but that is not on my birth certificate.) "Williams" really is my last name but I am not related to Avon Williams, Robin Williams, Tennessee Williams or Hank Williams.

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Who I am supporting in the race for Mayor, Vice Mayor and members of the Metro Council and how I am voting on the proposed charter amendments.

David  Fox for Mayor
Below is the list of who I am supporting in the race for Mayor, Vice Mayor and members of the Metro Council and my recommendation on the proposed charter amendments.

This is just a list. For commentary on why I am making the recommendations, I am making, you may want to put the candidates name in the search box and anything I have written about the candidate will pop up.

In some cases I feel strongly about the candidate and am enthusiastically supporting that person. In other cases, I have simply chosen the least bad of two bad candidates.

Tim Garrett for Vice Mayor
I have not endorsed in every district, simply because I did not know enough about the candidates to have a preference in some cases.

In the at-large race, one may vote for up to five candidates but I am voting for only one candidate and that is Ken Jakes.  To win a seat outright, without a runoff, a candidate would have to get 20% of the votes cast.  If no one gets 20% of the total votes cast for at-large seats then the ten people who got the most votes will be in a runoff.  With 26 candidates running, I do not want to dilute the strength of my vote so I am voting for only one candidate. There are other good candidates running however, who I would like to see elected, so if one wants to vote for more than one candidate I am listing some additional good candidates.
Ken Jakes for at-large

Here are my recommendations:

Mayor: David Fox

Vice Mayor:  Tim Garrett 
Council member at-large: Ken Jakes

Other good at-large candidates: Robert Duvall, Jody Ball,
Adam Dread, James Keeton, and Karen Bennett
    District Council seats:

    In some of the races I am enthusiastically supporting someone and in some of the races, I am selected the least bad choice. In some districts, I do not know enough about the candidates to have a preference.
    Lioniel Green, Jr.

    District 1

    District 1: Lioniel Green, Jr. 
    District 2: Carrie Searcy 
    District 3: No recommendation 
    District 4: Robert Swope
    District 5: Scott Davis
    District 6: Brett A. Withers
    District 7: Stephen Clements
    District 8: Chris Swann
    District 9: Bill Pridemore
    Carrie Searcy
    District 2
    District 10: Doug Pardue
    District 11: Larry Hagar 
    District 12: Steve Glover
    District 13: No Recommendation
    District 14: No Recommendation
    District 15: Jeff Syracuse
    District 16: Tony Tenpenny
    District 17: Tony Watson 
    District 18: Burkley Allen 
    District 19: Amanda Harrison  
    District 20: Frank Stabile
    District 21: No Recommendation 
    District 22: Sheri Weiner
    District 23: Jim Roberts 
    Robert Swope
    District 4
    Steve Clements
    District 7
    Cris Swann
    District 8

    Tony Tenpenny
    District 16

    Jim Roberts
    District  23

      Tony Watson
      District 17
      Amanda Harrison
      District 19

      Lonnie Spivak
      District 35
      Davette Blalock
      District 27
      Melissa Smithson
      District 28

      District 24: Allen Grant
      District 25: Russ Pulley
      District 26: No Recommendation
      District 27: Davette Blalock 
      District 28: Melissa Smithson
      District 29: Karen Johnson
      District 30: Write in a name 
      District 31: Fabian Bedne 
      District 32: No recommendation 
      District 33: Sam Coleman
      District 34: No recommendation
      District 35: Lonnie Spivak

      Charter Amendment 1: Effective August 2023, Council terms would be increased from two consecutive four-year terms to three consecutive four-year terms: Voting "yes."

      Charter Amendment 2: Beginning September 1, 2019, this would increase the number of consecutive terms a council member could serve from two terms to three terms. Also, it would reduce the council from a 40 to 27 members and would reduce the number of districts from 35 to 24 and reduce the number of at-large council members from 5 to 3: Voting "yes."

      Charter Amendment 3: The would require that on any Metro tax-payer funded project with a value of over $100,0000 that the workforce employed by the project consist of a least 40% residents of Davidson County; Voting "No."  

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      Monday, August 3, 2015

      What is on the Council Agenda for Aug. 4th: A tax giveaway to Neighborhood Resource Center and a very long agenda. (update)

      The big item of interest on this agenda is a bill on second reading which would change the terms of an original deal in order to provide a windfall for the leftist Neighborhood Resource Center. See the analysis of BILL NO. BL2015-1304 below.

      If you don't know what the Metro Council is voting on and you watch a council meeting, you will find it really, really boring. If you have your own copy of the Council agenda and staff analysis the meeting will most likely still be boring, but you will at least know why it is boring.

      There are five appointees to Boards and Commissions on the agenda for Council confirmation. None of them are to the agencies that are problem or controversial agencies.

      There is one resolution on public hearing and it is to allow a restaurant that already has a state liquor license to be exempt from the distance requirement necessary to get a beer permit. This seems like a waste of time. In my view if you have a liquor license then you should automatically be eligible for a beer license.

      There are 30 bills on public hearing and I don't even try to form an opinion or even understand the issues involved in every zoning bill. Most zoning bills would only concern nearby neighbors. I am pointing out those bills that effect a large number of parcels, or are a zoning text change or for some other reason, I think, may be of general interest or controversial.

      • BILL NO. BL2015-1064 amends the zoning text to allow DADU's (detached Accessory Dwelling Units) on property zoned Commercial Limited. In June 2014 the zone text was amended to allow them in residential zoned districts. I approve of this change.
      Much of our current poor land use and urban sprawl were caused by policies that were thought the wisest land use policies at the time. Many of these policies were adopted after World War II to accommodate the automobile culture. Requirements for parking for x number of cars per x feet of commercial floor space or dining tables, in-front, off-street parking requirements and such were considered smart planning. Also the brightest land use professionals at the time thought industrial, commercial and residential should be strictly separated. Prior to that time, it was not uncommon for people to live in back of the shop or over the shop where they worked. A lot of what people may think of as a "new" concept in zoning is really going back to older concepts of land use that developed naturally, before land use became so heavily regulated. I guess my sermon of the day is beware of "best practices" and the best and brightest are not always right.What today may seem like a smart idea may not be so smart in years to come.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1167  by Councilman Scott Davis changes from SP to RS5 zoning on about 238 acres. “Specific Plan District,” generally known as “SP,” zoning refers to a type of base zoning district which is not subject to traditional zoning districts’ development standards. Under an SP zoning, design standards are established for that specific development and are written into the zone change ordinance. RS5 is a medium density residential zone requiring a minimum 5,000 square foot lot and intended for single-family dwellings, prohibiting duplexes. I generally think it is a bad idea to change zoning to a zone that permits less density, but not knowing the details of the current SP, I do not know if this does that or not. This was deferred from a previous meeting.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1168 also by Councilman Scott Davis and also deferred from a previous meeting effects about 636 acres and would change the current zoning by making applicable the provisions of the DADU overlay. DADU allows for accessory dwelling units, such as garage apartments, on a property and provides a way to create affordable housing options while also maintaining the character of the existing street-facing homes.  In general, I think this is good zoning and is a way to increase the stock of affordable housing without mandating developers build affordable units or engaging in price-fixing or rent control.
      •  BILL NO. BL2015-1255  would change the zoning text "to permit the transfer of development rights from historic properties in Metropolitan Nashville. This means someone could own a piece of property but could give or sell the right to develop it to someone else, meaning the historical property could not then be developed. That in itself would not protect the structure, but if one could not build on the site, there would be no incentive to tear down a historical structure. If the current owner did not own the development rights, developers would not be trying to buy his property.  Something similar is a tool used a lot in rural areas to preserve the character of rural property. A farmer may own a farm and wish to keep it as a farm, perhaps wanting to pass it own to his children.  He may give the "development rights" to a non profit conservation group.  It is much like a deed restriction that says the property cannot be subdivided or have additional homes build on the property. I was unaware of this as a tool for historic preservation but it makes sense. However, I am still not totally clear how this would work. It appears this transfer of development rights from the owner of the historical property to the party receiving the development rights would somehow benefit the party getting the development rights, but I am unclear how that would work.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1269  would make "applicable the provisions of the contextual overlay to various properties.." This involves 98 acres and a lot addresses. It is approved by the planning commission. I don't know what it does but effecting 98 acres I think it is worth pointing out.
      •  BILL NO. BL2015-1272 in Councilman Scott Davis's district would apply a DADU overlay to 672 acres. DADU is "detached accessory dwelling unit." There are restrictions on size of the accessory dwelling unit and access and other things. I think this is a great way to increase density and promote affordable housing.  As we grow, we are going to have to accept greater density if we are going to maintain affordable housing in the county and if we are to avoid more urban sprawl. Also, we need greater density if we are going to have a good mass transit system. I view this as a positive move but maintaining character of the neighborhood, keeping a neighborhood predominately owner occupied, and opposition to more local traffic are arguments against this.
      There are 13 resolution on the agenda all lumped together and put on the "consent agenda."  If a resolution does not pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously then it is not left on consent but is considered separately. Any council member may, from the floor, ask for a resolution to be pulled off of consent and then the resolution will be considered separately.  Here are the ones of interest.
      • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1586  approves an Amended Economic Impact Plan, providing for $15 million dollars of tax increment financing, for the Bellevue Mall Development Area. This is the same way we have financed a lot of downtown development. Under a TIF plan, the tax revenue generated from the project does not flow into the city coffers but goes to MDHA for development. Without this kind of financing, many projects arguably would not get built. The text of the bill explains in more detail how TIF works. While I think we have abused TIF for downtown development, Bellevue Mall has struggled so long, that if I were in the Council I would probably vote for it. 
      • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1592 authorizes the director of public property to exercise an option to purchase 568.2 acres of property located on Marrowbone Road and Whitlow Mountain Road for the expansion of Beaman Park. As an avowed conservative, some might think I would oppose government expenditures of this kind; I do not. As we grow, I think it wise to preserve open space and park lands and we should get critical lands and beautiful sites when they are available. A more crowded city needs good parks and places for people to commune with nature.
      There are no bills on First Reading. This term of the Council soon coming to a close, there is no time for a bill on first reading to become law, thus no bills on First Reading.

      There are 16 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones I find interesting:
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1098  concerns '“Community Education' siting" and would allow schools to locate in zoned districts where they are not now permitted and would relax the lot size requirements for a school is deferred indefinitely.  I think this is a good bill. Included in this is a provision that schools could now be established in IWD districts (Industrial Warehousing/Distribution, intended for a wide range of warehousing, wholesaling, and bulk distribution uses). The bill also provides for "adaptive reuse," meaning a school could be located in an existing building, regardless of lot size, that was not originally intended for a school. On the face of it this seems like a good thing to do. Why not allow a school to locate in a relocated church building or an empty mall? Some people in the Greenhills area are opposed to any relaxation of the current school siting requirements because they are concerned that Hillsboro High will relocate and the valuable land which is now Hillsboro High will be redeveloped. They want to make it very difficult for Hillsboro High to relocate simply because they oppose new commercial and multifamily development in Greenhills. The bill was on public hearing on July 7th and deferred indefinitely.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1212   would prohibit the sale of single cans or bottles of beer by off-sale permit holders located within 100 feet of a facility that provides food to homeless persons. I oppose this type of bureaucratic micro-management. The bill was previously on second reading and was deferred.
      Fire Hall # 1
      In June 2007, the city sold at a bargain price a historic piece of property to NRC, located located 1312 3rd Ave. North, known as Fire Hall # 1.  The property was sold for a price of $86,000 and was appraised for $147,000, meaning Metro essentially gave  $61,0000 to NRC.  However, the deed stipulated that if NRC ever failed to occupy the building, NRC was entitled to the $86,000 they paid for the property and the cost of any improvements to the property and the property would revert to metro.

      Since that time, NRC has fallen on hard times and now wants to sell the property, but they want to change the original deal. Now they want to pay Metro $100,909 for the property, sell it and pocket the difference. The property is currently appraised for $590,000. That would be a huge windfall for NRC and would fund their operating budget for a long time.
      The Neighborhood Resource Center is a non-profit group that while doing some non-objectionable, if not good things, also engages in some far left political activity, as they did in 2011 when they hosted a meeting to discuss how to implement the Contract for the American Dream.
      The Contract for the American Dream was a project of the far left MoveOn.Org. A whole host of other liberal and leftist organization were also partners in the Contract for the American Dream campaign including Planned Parenthood, Progressive, Progressive Democrats of America, Daily Kos, People for the American Way, and Code Pink.
      A long time staffer (unsure if he had the title Executive Director, but he was always the public face of the organization), Mike Hodge was a community organizer trained in the Saul Alinsky tradition.  Hodge now works for the progressive group NOAH.  In addition to that overtly leftist Contract for the American Dream effort, NRC often engaged in activity, that while not terribly offensive, was more suited to an organization such as a labor union or political organization rather than a non-profit claiming a charitable purpose.
      Some of what they do, such as helping neighborhoods start neighborhood watch programs is not at all objectionable but they do much that is objectionable. NRC is good at going into neighborhoods and getting people stirred up to stop projects which could actually help communities.  They often stir people up to stop affordable housing projects and they attempted but failed to stop the partnership between Metro Parks and Belmont University that lead to the massive investments and improvements to E. S. Rose Park.
      At one time NRC was heavily funded by United Way and received funding from other sources but lost most of their sources of funding. In December 2014 they attempted to get Metro to give them funding as a charity. After several delays, the Council turned down their request for funding.
      To learn much more about the Neighborhood Resource Center, follow this link.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1306  is another of those PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) sweetheart deals to encourage businesses to locate or expand in Nashville. This one would lure a company from Lavergne to Nashville and give them a $710,000 tax break.
      There are 96 Bills on Third Reading. Most of them are zoning bills. There are so many because this is the near the end of this term of the council and anything pending at the end of this council term must start all over. This may be a long meeting even if none of the bills generate debate. With so many bills, I am just doing a cursory review. I may miss something. I am not doing my normal careful review so don't depend on me to catch something that may interest you. Here are the ones that I find of interest. 
      • BILL NO. BL2013-569 amends the zoning text as it relates to car sales lots, car washes, auto repair centers and maybe some others. It does a lot of things including dictating the type of fence or wall that is permitted in front of the establishment, to requiring at least 1,000 feet between car lots. This bill was disproved by the planning commission. This bill was first introduced in October 2013.
      •  SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2015-1120  creates a DADU overlay district.This is how the staff analysis explains this bill: "This ordinance amends the zoning code to create a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU) overlay district.. In June 2014, the council approved a zoning text change to allow detached accessory dwellings on lots within the R districts with certain conditions. This ordinance would create a new DADU overlay district that could be used on properties that are not in an R zoning district. The design standards listed in the zoning code for other DADUs would apply within this overlay district, which include the following:... "
      •  BILL NO. BL2015-1147 is a less bad form of "inclusionary zoning."  Since Substitute Ordinance No. BL2015-1139 was approved on third reading at the July 21 council meeting, this less bad version of bad concept will be withdrawn.  
      •  BILL NO. BL2015-1153 creates some new zoning districts which would be deemed more pedestrian friendly.
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1210   is the bill that would amend the zoning code to say where a natural gas compression station could be located. This is an attempt to restrict them to certain industrial areas and keep them out of rural and residential areas.  This was primarily prompted by a planned natural gas compression station planned for Joelton and many people spoke in favor of this bill at the last public hearing. Without this bill the pipeline companies could build gas compression stations wherever they thought they were needed, subject to getting a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  However, the staff analysis says that Federal law prohibits local governments from regulating natural gas facilities through zoning so even if this passes the courts would likely rule it not enforceable. 
      • BILL NO. BL2015-1273 and BILL NO. BL2015-1274 are bills that create two new redevelopment districts. One in Bordeaux and the other in the James C. Casey Homes area off Shelby Avenue. This would make these areas eligible for Tax Increment Financing and other benefits.

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      Meet and Greet with Senator Ted Cruz, Monday August 10th.

      Ted Cruz To Visit Brentwood.  Ted Cruz will be at Southern Sweets for a meet and greet, Monday, August 10th, 1:30 pm, Cool Springs House, 1490 Volunteer Pkwy, Brentwood, TN 37027. The event is free but you must register. Follow this link.

      As with all of my announcements of political events, an announcement does not constitute an endorsement.

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      Saturday, August 1, 2015

      Tanaka Vercher plays the race card in responce to charges of failing to disclose a bankruptcy and more.

      Tenaka Vercher
      When all else fails, when you don't have the truth on your side and when one does not have ethics on your side, if you have it, you can still win an argument by playing the race card which can trump all other cards.  This week Tanaka Vercher  played the race card. 

      Vercher is one of three candidates running for the 28th Council District seat being vacated by Duane Dominy. The other two candidates for that seat are Melissa Smithson and Daniel Lewis. Councilman Duane Dominy is supporting Melissa Smithson. 

      On Sept. 15, 2006, Tanaka Vercher filed for bankruptcy and she failed to disclose that fact on a form filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission. 

      Much like divorce, bankruptcy is no longer considered a moral failing that should automatically disqualify one from seeking public office.  Everyone from Donald Trump to money management guru Dave Ramsey has had a bankruptcy and it has apparently not damaged their reputations. Still, I would prefer not entrusting my money or the public's money to someone who has had a bankruptcy.  My view is that if one can not manage their own finances, why should they be trusted with my money or the public's money.  In some profession one can not get or keep a license to practice their profession if they have had a bankruptcy.  In some professions, even if practicing the profession is not contingent upon having a state license, employers will not employ someone to work for them if they have had a bankruptcy.

      Serving in the Metro Council involves making important decisions about what to do with public money.  Everyone must make the decision for themselves if they want to cast their vote for someone to serve on the Metro Council who has had a bankruptcy.  That may not be the only factor one uses in deciding who one will support for public office but it may be a factor.  It may be a factor if  one knows about it. 

      On June 17th 2011 when Vercher filled out a disclosure form with the Tennessee Ethics Commission to run for public office she failed to disclose she had had a bankruptcy as required to do.  Vercher  was interviewed by News Channel 2 and she told them she was advised to answer "none" to the bankruptcy question by members of the ethics commission. Channel 2 contacted the ethics commissions and they said there is no way they would ever have told someone to falsify their ethics disclosure.

      Vercher when questioned about her bankruptcy and failure to disclose it, said, “This is dirty politics,” and she said, “It’s a smear campaign.”  She could not deny it was true. She then accused Duane Dominy of being a racist. Dominy did not initiate the contract with channel 2 but was contracted by them for an interview. At first he declined but after he was attacked as being a racist by Vercher, he  agreed to speak to them about the information which was a matter of  public record.

      The bankruptcy and failure to disclose it is is not the only ethical and legal problem in Ms Vercher's background. A 2006 judgement was rendered against Ms Vercher for selling a car to someone that had a lien on the title.  Ms Vercher did take the money management counseling required by law for someone getting a bankruptcy  but apparently did not learn much. There are several other judgements against Ms Vercher, filed since her bankruptcy including a judgement of $554 for failure to pay her homeowner's association dues.

      You can watch the News Channel 2 report at this link: Allegations of bankruptcy discrepancies emerge in Nashville council race. 

      Ok. I'm ready. Play the race card. 

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      Megan Barry is big labor's candidate.

      The Tennessean today reported, "Laborers' PAC puts money behind Barry in mayor's race."  Megan Barry is a favorite candidate among the most liberal elements in Nashville.  She is the preferred candidate of liberal academia getting numerous campaign contributions from those affiliated with Vanderbilt University. She is also the candidate favored by gay rights advocates and she performed the first gay wedding in Nashville. 

      She is the only candidate for Mayor who has said she will definitely vote for Metro Charter Amendment 3, the "local hire" amendment pushed by NOAH, the same group also pushing the home price fixing and rent control proposal that goes by the innocent sounding name of "inclusionary zoning." 

      Amendment 3 would amend the Metro Charter to require that 40 percent of Metro tax-funded projects be staffed with Nashville residents. While at first glance that may sound like a good idea it would be very difficult to achieve and would greatly add to the cost of all metro projects. Contractors bidding on Metro projects already have their own crews.  For a contractor to lay off their employees and hire local people would greatly add to the cost of Metro projects. While there may be a significant number of unemployed people in Nashville or people not in the labor force, that does not mean they have the skills needed for big construction projects. Most likely, to come up to the 40% local requirement, contractors would just add bodies to payroll to the degree necessary to reach that 40% threshold. One can see how this would drastically increase the cost of Metro public works projects. This is the kind of "make work" legislation favored by big labor.

      Megan Barry has also advocated a local minimum wage. She seems to have been outbid by Bill Freeman who has advocated a $12 an hour minimum wage, however.  Barry, on the other hand, as a member of the Metro Council spearheaded passage of a "living wage" for Metro employees. A "living wage" in Nashville is about $11.04 right now. She recently advocated a living wage for everyone when she said, "I firmly believe that we should have a wage that reflects what it really requires to live here, and that's a living wage." Although outbid by Freeman on the minimum wage issue, it was not by much.

      Tennessee Laborers' PAC consists of members of Laborers International Union of North America, or LIUNA. LIUNA appears to be the only organized national labor group that has backed any mayoral candidate.   Freeman has been endorsed by of the teachers, police and fire unions and SEIU, but these are local chapters of unions as opposed to a national union.  Megan Barry is big labor's candidate. 

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      Does the Constitution prevent Nashville from enacting a local hire law? Yes, it probably does.

      Daniel Horwitz, an appellate attorney in Nashville and a former Tennessee Supreme Court clerk, has a lengthy detailed article discussing potential constitutional concerns about Amendment 3 on his Supreme Court of Tennessee blog.

      Amendment 3 is the "local hire" amendment that says that at least 40% of the work performed on taxpayer-funded construction projects within Davidson County would have to be set aside for Davidson County residents. While there are practical reasons to oppose the bill, such as that it would drastically increase the cost of public projects, and philosophical reasons, such as it is protectionism; Horwitz concentrates on weather or not it is even legal. Ultimately, he concludes that:

      Amendment 3 will survive any constitutional challenge brought under either the Dormant Commerce Clause or the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution. However, as a result of the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Craigmiles v. Giles, and as a result of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision in Consumers Gasoline Stations v. City of Pulaski, Amendment 3 will probably not survive a constitutional challenge brought under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of Tennessee. 
      For anyone who wants a deep understanding of the legal concerns about Amendment 3, I urge you to read, "Does the Constitution prevent Nashville from enacting a local hire law? Yes, it probably does."

      Please vote "no" on Amendment 3.

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      Friday, July 31, 2015

      Community-wide info meeting about DADU's, Monday August 3rd

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      Boots & Jeans, BBBQ & Beans with Gov. Scott Walker, Sunday, Aug. 23rd.

      9th Annual Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans

      State Senator Jack Johnson

      Sunday, August 23, 2015 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM (CDT)

      I have attended these events on three previous occasions. They are a lot of fun. Last year's guest speaker was Governor Bobby Jindal.

      I don't know if Senator Jack Johnson will be performing or not, but in addition to being a great senator he is a great entertainer. He performs with the Austin Brothers band. If you like the music of Ray Price and Merle Haggard, you will love this band. They have performed in the past and I hope they perform again this year. The food is good and it is just a fun time. 

      I have seen Governor Scott Walker speak once before and he is someone you do not want to miss. In a crowded Republican field for the nomination he is currently among the top three contenders. He very well could be the next President of the United States.

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      National Federation of Republican Assemblies Conference & Presidential Preference Endorsing Convention 2015

      Friday, August 28, 2015 at 1:00 PM - Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 11:30 

      This is not the meeting of the Nashville Chapter of Republican Assemblies, this is the National Convention.  This is a big deal. If you have never heard of the Republican Assemblies, this is how they describe themselves:

      The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is a grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent America.

      In short, we are the Republican Wing of the Republican Party.
      Here are event details:

      The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is excited to hold our 2015 NFRA Conference & Presidential Preference Endorsing Convention in Nashville TN better know as Music City.  Our 3 day conference will be loaded with great national speakers, authors, and candidates but be sure to allow some time to take in some of the sights and sounds that Nashville has to offer.  With over 150 live music venues and loads of great eateries nearby there is something for everybody.
      Be sure to take advantage of discounted tickets by purchasing early.  Ticket pricing will increase as the event draws near as follows:
      Feb 22 thru Apr 15 $227.00
      Apr 16  thru July 4 $247.00
      July 5 thru Aug 18 $297.00
      Aug 19 thru day of event $350.00

      Your conference ticket includes admission to all NFRA events including Sunday Prayer Breakfast with Pastor Rafael Cruz..  A box lunch and full dinner will be provided on Saturday.
      The full conference schedule and speakers list will be published soon and will be added to this event page and the NFRA website. For more information follow this link.

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      Bill Freeman's spending surpasses $4.5M in Nashville mayor's race.

      While Bill Freeman has spend the most money and spend more of his own money than any other candidate, other candidates have spend heavily also. For the Tennessean's analysis of campaign spending in the mayor's race follow this link.

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      First Tuesday meets Monday August 3. Speaker is Representative Diane Black.

      Diane Black
      From Tim Skow, host of First Tuesday:

      1ST TUESDAY members and friends

       Hear the HOWLING coming from Washington DC Liberals ????

      For the first time in a memory...

      Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is in serious jeopardy of being interrupted !!!! The lady who has introduced the legislation and will be driving the bill is our next 1ST TUESDAY Speaker, Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black !

      Want to know the behind implications of Obama’s IRAN deal? How can Federal funding be cut from “Sanctuary Cities” like San Francisco?

      What more is coming that may make Planned Parenthood the next ACORN?

      MONDAY, August 3rd – Congresswoman Diane Black returns to 1ST TUESDAY. As a member of the House Budget Committee & Ways and Means Committee, she asked the following be shared with you. 
       In light of the undercover videos showing its employees discussing the harvesting of fetal organs, Congressman Black introduced The Defund Planned Parenthood Act – legislation placing an immediate moratorium on all federal funding of Planned Parenthood for one year while Congress conducts a full investigation.
      The Monday, August 3rd version of 1ST TUESDAY will be a powerful lunch you simply DO NOT WANT to miss!

       As usual, we will meet at Waller Law - 511 Union 27th floor. Doors open at 11AM. Many Metro candidates who are “friends of 1ST TUESDAY" will be there. Lunch starts at 11:30 and is $20 for Members & $25 for Guests.

      Secure seating for you and your guests at . Expect Diane and candidates to arrive before lunch begins. Look forward to seeing you Monday, August 3rd – if not before!

      Tim Skow
      Host of 1ST TUESDAY

      PS -- Election Day is Thursday August 6th. Please early vote

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      Wednesday, July 29, 2015

      Amendment #3 and Discrimination in Davidson County

      Braden H. Boucek
      by BRADEN H. BOUCEK, reposted from The Beacon Center -  On the ballot right now in Nashville is a charter amendment that, in a nutshell, would provide an employment preference for Davidson County workers on major public works projects. By mandating that Davidson County residents perform at least 40% of the work on publicly funded construction, the amendment would place workers who reside outside of Davidson County at a significant disadvantage under the law.

      If the local hire amendment becomes law, it will almost certainly see the inside of a courtroom because it has a number of constitutional problems, as thoroughly outlined here. One such constitutional problem is the unequal treatment of people under the law, also known as discrimination. The expected response of the courts is an illustrative example of both how courts have misapplied Tennessee’s Constitution, and the importance of addressing that problem going forward.

      Both the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions address unequal treatment under the law. Despite the obvious differences in wording, Tennessee courts generally think that the Tennessee and U.S. equal protection guarantees are identical, meaning that if discriminating against out-of-towners is OK under the U.S. Constitution, then it is OK under the Tennessee Constitution. This is a shame. State constitutions were expected to afford citizens greater rights than those under the federal constitution. One that did nothing more than the U.S. Constitution would be frivolous.

      The U.S. Constitution and Tennessee Constitution were prompted by a very different set of circumstances. The U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was part of the Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War to protect newly freed slaves. Tennessee’s prohibition against “private laws,” that is, laws that benefit some people but not others, was added in 1835, long before the U.S. got around to guaranteeing equal treatment. It was aimed at curbing the General Assembly’s habitual practice of passing preferential laws for certain individuals. Frustrated by the unfairness of preferential laws and, frankly, how time consuming it was to pass laws that just benefitted one party, the Tennessee Constitutional Convention tried to end the practice with this constitutional provision. The preferential laws mentioned at the Convention were all aimed at bestowing some financial benefit to someone, like giving them valuable liquor licenses, fish traps, and mill dams. After the 1835 convention, if liquor was going to be legally sold, then the legislature had to make it legal for everyone. No more would the legislature be able to single out certain groups for favorable treatment.

      This takes us back to the local hire amendment. If the amendment passes, Davidson County workers would be given preference under the law. If you live in a surrounding county, you could be denied work simply based on where you live. The amendment’s discriminatory character isn’t hidden; discrimination is the essence of it. This would be an obvious case of unequal treatment under the law. It creates an enormous financial benefit for Davidson County workers who are friendlier with the unions that are, not coincidentally, behind the amendment in the first place. We have not come far from 1835, only instead of fish traps and liquor licenses, here the politically connected seek to benefit from preferences in public works projects.

      Local hire may be acceptable under the U.S. Constitution, but courts should be far more skeptical of it under the Tennessee Constitution. A court would not scrutinize the amendment’s naked discrimination against out-of-town residents under the U.S. Constitution (the Fourteenth Amendment) with the same rigor that it would with racially discriminatory legislation—an unfortunate reality, but hardly surprising given the Fourteenth Amendment’s historical origin. But if a court was no more rigorous in considering local hire under the Tennessee Constitution, then it is outright disappointing. After all, it was economic discrimination, not racial discrimination, which prompted the Private Bill provision in the first place. Courts should be extremely wary.

      Nevertheless, Tennessee courts typically rule that there is no difference between the state and U.S. constitutions. This is bad history that can unfortunately lead obnoxious laws that really hurt working class people and do a disgrace to the basic right to be treated equally under the law. Tennessee’s Constitution is not merely redundant. It was crafted to put an end to laws that favor some at the expense of others. Time will tell if the Tennessee Constitution will regain its historical purpose and strength. If the local hire amendment passes, it may provide the fodder.

       Braden H. Boucek serves as General Counsel of the Beacon Center of Tennessee. He manages in-house legal matters and litigation for the Beacon Center, working to advance Beacon’s larger goal of promoting freedom and opportunity in Tennessee

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      What happened at the Council meeting of July 28th: Boring zoning changes. Nothing of general interest.

      There was a special council meeting on Tuesday July 28th to deal with the extraordinary large number of pending items on public hearing. When the current Council term ends, any pending rezoning items will have to start all over so that has led to a large number of rezoning request. The only items on the July 28th agenda were items on public hearing. To view the agenda, follow this link. There was no staff analysis accompanying this agenda or if there was it was not publicly posted. There were no zoning text changes or items of general interest so I have not even bothered to watch this council meeting. This is probably more boring than watching paint dry unless one of the proposed rezonings is next door to you. Anyway, here is the video of the meeting:

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      Vote NO on Amendment 3

      A coalition of 20 major business and professional organizations are actively opposing Amendment 3 to the Metro Nashville Charter during the Metro Elections, which end August the 6th.

      The principle reasons for the Coalition’s opposition are:
      • Increased taxes 
      • Increased cost of Metro Nashville’s public construction projects 
      • Harm local employment 
      • Delay completion of construction projects creating additional traffic congestion and safety concerns
      • Harm Nashville’s current reputation as “the place to be” 
      • Harm Nashville’s continued economic growth and development 
       The coalition members are:
      • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce 
      • Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Tennessee 
      • Associated General Contractors of Tennessee 
      • Associated General Contractors of Middle Tennessee 
      • Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers 
      • American Institute of Architects – Tennessee Chapter 
      • American Institute of Architects – Middle Tennessee Chapter 
      • American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee 
      • American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee – Nashville Chapter 
      • Homebuilders Association of Middle Tennessee 
      • Tennessee Road Builders Association 
      • Nashville Business Coalition 
      • NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association 
      • Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry 
      • Tennessee Association of Landscape Architects  
      • International Facility Management Association – Nashville Chapter 
      • Building Owners and Managers Association – Nashville Chapter 
      • National Association of Women in Construction – Nashville Chapter 
      • Tennessee Hospitality Association 
      • Tennessee Business Roundtable 
       For more information on The Coalition for Fair Employment in Middle Tennessee and Amendment 3, CLICK HERE

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      Rep. Bill Beck's drunk driving charge thrown out.

      The Tennessean today reports that yesterday a judge threw out the drunken driving charge against freshman state Rep. Bill Beck on the basis that the police officer did not have probable cause to pull him over in the first place. Beck was arrested  arrested April 17 after the arresting officer said he spotted Beck's pickup truck traveling with two wheels in the turn lane. After the stop, the officer said Beck had bloodshot eyes, a disheveled appearance and slurred speech. Am I the only one who thinks that if that had been me, that the case would not have been thrown out. Police arrest people all of time for drunk driving claiming the car was swerving or driving over the line. The arresting officer said Beck was ""absolutely hammered."

      Does anyone think maybe there was some special favoritism involved?

      As a public service I am reposting tips from the Rod Williams school of drunk driving with an added tip, "Be a state representative or know some real important people."

      Tips from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

      (1) Don't Drive drunk. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else. Don’t do it. If you are lucky and don't kill someone or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children, or maybe your marriage.

      If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you, if at a friends house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night. 
      Use the peer-to-peer livery services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient. You page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until your drunk to try to download the app.

      If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people then have a designated driver. Pick the designated driver before you start drinking. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.

      Having said all of the above however, I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk.

      I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are driving impaired I am providing these tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

      (2) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not however, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

      (3) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” Some people will go out with the intention of getting drunk; others will accidentally get drunk.  If  you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner drink, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.
      On occasion I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight beers in a four hour period, but it has happened.

      A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

      Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

      (4)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. When I go to the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway to party, I never park on Broadway. I live on the south side of town, so I park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. This means I do not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

      (5) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are "drunk." You may have had enough to register drunk, so use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Being aware will cause you to compensate.
      (6) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate

      to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

      (7) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

      (8) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

      (9) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

      (10) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

      (11) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk strait and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop. (link)

      This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

      (12) If you are seeing double, close one eye.

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