Monday, September 24, 2018

"Ragged Old Flag"




Ever since Nike chose as the public face of their brand the leader of the movement to disrespect the flag, I have been thinking about the divide between those who approve of Nike's decision and those of us who don't. I don't think there is any common ground.  We might as well live in two different worlds. Our views are an ocean apart. For those who think it is cool to disrespect the flag and who care why we who don't think so feel the way we do, maybe this old song by Johnny Cash will help explain it.

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Volunteers needed for the Davidson County Republican Party

From DCRP:
As we are reorganizing, we are in need of volunteers for AND poll workers to ensure our election process is being followed correctly and to the law.  Please email us at DavidsonCountyGOP@gmail. com if you have availability to help us turn Davidson County RED!

Get involved and volunteer today and join the fight to turn
Our County, Our State, and Our Nation in the RIGHT direction.  

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Mark Green for Coungress Bourbon Tasting event


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Nashville Young Republicans Board Elections

Reposted from DCRP - The Nashville YR Board will hold elections on October 15, 2018, for the chair and secretary positions of the organization. Learn more about those positions on our website and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the current chair, Rachel Miklaszewski.

On Thursday, October 4 at 6:00 p.m. the Nashville Young Republicans will be hosting a cocktail hour for dues-paying members and those interested in running for a board position. To attend, please RSVP no later than October 2.

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'No crisis,' Mayor Briley says of Nashville's finances,



Mayor Briley
'No crisis,' Mayor Briley says of Nashville's finances, affordable housing. Others push back

The Tennessean, ....Mayor David Briley told an influential group of business and political leaders last week there's "no crisis." ....

A rebuke on Briley's remarks on the fiscal situation — in which a shortfall in expected tax revenue made for only modest budget improvements even as Nashville's economy is booming — came from At-large Councilman Bob Mendes at Tuesday's council meeting.

Mendes took the floor to discuss an ordinance he's introduced to overhaul tax increment financing incentives that the city uses to spur downtown development. The bill, which seeks to protect tax revenue for public schools, advanced on a second of three readings.

He cited figures that place Nashville second in debt per capita among the nation's top 50 populated cities, trailing only New York and directly ahead of Chicago.

"We're out of whack," Mendes said, defending his push to "reset" TIF incentives that were originally adopted 35 years ago. "We're having problems with fundamental equity for employees in the city.
"There is a crisis in the city when it comes to its finances," he added, "even if the people downstairs don't want to use that word."

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Help Judd Cowan win District 50 State House. Help him raise $10K in 10 days.

Judd Cowan is a Republican running against Democrat Bo Mitchell in District 50. While Davidson County, along with Shelby County, are Democrat strongholds in Republican Tennessee, it is not a

Judd Cowan
fool's errand to run as a Republican in District 50. District 50 is just barely Democratic. It is winnable!

District 50 includes Bellevue, and goes north along the western edge of the County and takes in Joelton. It is one of the more middle-class suburban and rural parts of the county. This is the kind of seat a Republican can win. 

In 2016 challenger Nathan Massey got 48% of the vote to Michell's 52%. In 2014 Troy Brewer got 49% of the vote and in 2012 Republican candidate Charles Williamson came within 157 votes of beating Mitchell. We have an attractive candidate in Judd Cowan and he is working hard. We can flip this seat!

Here is his bio from his campaign website
My name is Judd Cowan, and I am proud to be a Nashville native and a product of Davidson County public schools. I attended high school at Hume Fogg. Upon graduating, I went to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where I earned my degree in mechanical engineering.

In order to pay for my education, I owned and operated a small business, gaining valuable experience as a small business owner in the process. I also founded a newspaper on campus and served as the editor-in-chief for three years. After graduating from college, I began practicing as an engineer in Nashville.

Currently, I am employed as a full-time machine designer and project manager at Industrial Design and Fabrication, where I oversee the production of manufacturing equipment. I also work part-time as an aerospace engineer at the Smyrna Airport for Resource Air Charter. I am a self-taught machinist, a hobbyist woodworker, and an amateur historian.

I grew up in a religious household and now attend St. Henry's Catholic Church. In high school, I earned recognition as an Eagle Scout and continue to be involved with the Boy Scouts.
To be competitive Judd needs money. He is attempting to raise $10K in 10 days and is only $3,257 away from achieving that goal. I just sent him a contribution, please join me in supporting his campaign. To contribute follow this link.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Scottie Nell Hughes is now a registered foreign agent for Russia

Scottie Nell Hughes
Scottie Nell Huges has taken a job with the Russia Today news network (link). RT is a news organization funded by the Russian government. Everyone has to work somewhere but I find this despicable. I have watched maybe two or three episodes of RT over the years and do not recall it appearing to be overtly propagandist, however the fact that it is funded by the Russian government means it has Russian interest at heart.  I do not see how a patriotic American could work for a propaganda organ of Russia.

Russia may no longer be Communist, but they are authoritarian and aggressive toward their neighbors and attempted to subvert our 2016 election. Their leader would like to put the old Soviet Union back together. She is working for an enemy of the United States. As an employee of RT she has had to register as a "foreign agent" with the Department of Justice. Scottie Nell Huges should not be welcome in polite society.

Hughes began her career as an executive producer on the Steve Gill Show here in Nashville,and then she moved up the ladder and went on to produce various other talk shows. She also served as a columnist for Townhall and some other conservative publications. During the Trump campaign she was on the campaign trail as a Trump surrogate. She eventually landed a job at Fox News but after accusing Fox Business Network host Charles Payn of raping her, she was fired from Fox.

In 2015, she sought the position of Chair of the Tennessee Republican Party (link). As far as I know, I have never met her but she is well-known in Republican circles.

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Take a break and let me show you my garden.



One man's weed is another
persons flower. I cultivate poke
I like the cluster of white flower
the purple stalk and dark purple berry.
by Rod Williams, Sept. 18, 2018 - Fall arrives today and the weather is going to be turning cooler and the leaves turning and flowers with wither and die.  However, unless we have an early frost my Zinnia will be pretty for some weeks yet. They are past their prime but still pretty. I need to deadhead them everyday to prolong their beauty and if we have another dry spell I need to continue to water them.

I have two types of yellow sunflower-type flowers that will continue to show after the Zinnia have all died. They grow tall and are covered in blooms. One is already blooming and the other does not have its first bloom yet. They are very hardy and unless we have a real hard heavy frost they will bloom till thanksgiving.

I love going out and getting the newspaper every morning. I love to hear the trickling of the water in my worn old fountain which has aged gracefully. If there is the slightest breeze I hear the soft tinkling of the wind chime. When I reach the curb and look for the paper its not uncommon to see twenty butterflies flutter about. I do not know the names of them all but I have counted about eight or nine varieties  of  butterflies. There are the Monarch, the Black Swallowtail, and a yellow swallowtail, and a little lemon yellow one with a orange dot, which I think is called a Clouded Sulphur. In addition to the showy ones there are several other less showy smaller ones including one solid white one. There are also grasshoppers and bumblebees.

The garden and the moving water of the fountain also attacks birds.  I also keep a bird feeder full for the birds. The Golden Finch is too shy to come to the bird feeder but they love the Zinnia.If you watch closely you can see them pull petals off one by one and drop them. I guess they get to the nourishment at the base of the petal.

In addition to flowers I grow some herbs and vegetables but I have given up on growing tomatoes.  About the time the tomatoes is ready to start tuning red, I fill will find it on the grown with one bite taken out. After trying for several years, the squirrels won so I don't grow tomatoes.

Anytime I am feeling stressed or starting to get upset about something, spending time in the garden improves my attitude and lifts my spirits. Working in the yard, trimming hedges, pulling weeds and digging in the dirt I find very therapeutic. When I am pulling weeds I think about nothing but the task at hand. And, it feels good to get sweaty and dirty and muscle sore.

Sometime after thanksgiving the last of the sunflowers will die. Our winters are not long however. The first warm day in February my flowering quince will bloom but then those blooms will be killed by another frost. It never fails, but then it will bloom again when it warms back up. I look forward to that first flowering of the quince. Following the quince, will be the daffodils, primrose and red bud and then I can start digging in the dirt again.

There are just not that many people who garden anymore. I wonder why. It seems like gardening used to be much more popular.  As I drive around, I see lots of landscaping but not much gardening. My mother gave me a deep appreciation for flower gardens and always had beautiful flowers in bloom.  I had to work in the vegetable garden with my dad and while I didn't like it, I found it rewarding to watch things grow.  If you have never tried gardening, you may like it. Start small by just growing a few Zinnia .They are easy to grow and showy.

Passion flower
Some of these pictures were taken this week and some about a month ago.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

What happened at the Council meeting of 9/18/18: Tax increment financing (TIF) reform advances.




At one hour and 48 minutes long this is a relatively short council meeting. Nothing of great controversy was on the agenda. To access the council agenda, council staff analysis and my agenda commentary follow this link.

Six Council members were absent this meeting. That is an unusually high number. Those absent were Pardue, Huezo, Weiner, Pulley, Bedne and Dowel. The meeting starts with a couple of ceremonial presentations and does not get down to business until timestamp 19 in the video.  The Vice Mayor announces the establishment of a special committee to look at school safety issues and the establishment of some other special committees and announces that new committee assignments have been made for the coming year. There are no surprises in the confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions and all are approved.

The public comment period starts at timestamp 32:35 and only two people speak and they speak on issues of local concern. So far, the public comment policy is going better than I expected. I thought all kinds of activist would take this opportunity to vent and it would turn into a lengthy session of grandstanding but that has not happened yet.


Resolutions. Most resolutions passed on "consent" which means they were all lumped together and passed by a single vote. Any member could have had a "no" vote recorded or have had an item taken off of consent. Below are the ones I found of interest.

 Resolution RS2018-1385 by Councilman Blalock  is a resolution requesting grocery store operators within Davidson County to take effective measures to reduce the use and/or impact of single-use plastic carryout bags and report the measures being undertaken in this effort, and encouraging the use of reusable bags by residents and businesses within Davidson County. In a previous council meeting Blalock had sponsored legislation that failed to ban plastic bags. In may view this needed to fail also. However, it only "request" grocery story to do this so grocery stores can just ignore it. It passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1390  approves a PILOT for renovation of an affordable housing  apartment complex. I have some concern that this subsidy  may become an expectation for any developer who develops anything except luxury apartments. I admit I do not have enough information to know if this concern is justified. I hope the city is using this tool judiciously. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1391  approves the sale of $775 million in General Obligation bonds. These are all bonds authorized by other legislation actions of the council. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1411  confirms the mayor's appointees of members of a Blue Ribbon Commission to recommend Metro cost saving and improved efficiencies. It is an impressive list and includes former Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz, ex-Metro Councilmember Emily Evans, real estate developer D.J. Wootson, SEIU Local 205 President Brad Rayson and former school board chair Gracie Porter. I am especially pleased to see the appointment of Emily Evans. I observed her when she served on the Council. She is smart and had a firm grasp of Metro financial issues. Dave Goetz seems like a good choice.  I don't know much about the qualification of the others. I am hopeful that this committee will come up with some meaningful recommendations.  The establishment of the Blue Ribbon Commission was an initiative of Councilman John Cooper. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1393 was a resolution approving an agreement between the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Metro through the  Nashville Police Department, to provide police assistance to the Middle Tennessee Drug Enforcement Task Force. I assumed this would be routine and be on consent but it was not. The purpose of the Drug Enforcement Task Force is to gather intelligence data and conduct undercover operations related to illegal drug trafficking. I do not know the basis of the opposition as there was no discussion of the resolution. The vote was 28 to 3 with Sledge, O'Connell, and Rosenberg voting "no."

Resolution RS2018-1395  was to appropriate $360,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment for the Nashville Fire Department. It was deferred indefinitely. The sponsor explains that the requested funding for the equipment will be in a different resolution in the near future.
Bills.
Bill BL2018-1283  on Second Reading would prohibit the use of funds from the sale of Metro owned property from being used to fund the operating budget. While I do not think it is wise policy to use one-time funds for reoccurring expenses, I do not think it ought to be strictly prohibited. If this passes it would leave a hole in the current budget because the budget did rely on revenue from the sale of some property that has not sold yet. That problem could be easily fixed by changing the effective date of the prohibition to future budgets and exempting it for the current budget year. Nevertheless, I think this bill should be voted down.  It should be noted however, that anything done by legislation can be undone by a legislation so if this did pass and a future council wanted to undo it they could do so. Passed by voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1314  on Second Reading establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission wold be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. Resolution 1411 above is the confirmation of the five appointed by the mayor. This is deferred one meeting on a voice vote without discussion.

Bill BL2018-1319  on Second Reading would amend the law regarding Tax Increment Financing.  TIF is a program that provides that property taxes generated in redevelopment areas and authorized by Council do not flow to the General Fund but instead are used to subsidize the development and repay the cost of infrastructure improvements in the area. Much of downtown development does not contribute to the tax revenue of Nashville but flows to MDHA because of this. This bill would impose a formula requiring that a portion of the property tax revenue would flow to the general fund to support schools. it is Passed by voice vote and referred back to Budget and Finance. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:13:05- 1:32:19.  This is a complicated issue. A sort of shell game is played with some of the TIF tax revenue in which some money is included in the school budget but the schools must pay that money to MDHA. I think TIF should be greatly reduced and there needs to be more transparency brought to the issue. Hopefully that will happen. This is a good bill and deserves to pass.

Bill BL2018-1315 on Third Reading creates a  Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This sits out the composition of the committee and what they are charged with doing. This is a positive development. Passed 32 to 0.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nashville council issues $775M in bonds to pay for previously approved projects

The Tennessean: Nashville council issues $775M in bonds to pay for previously approved projects

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Bredesen Supports Fully Funding Abortion Provider Planned Parenthood

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Franklin ranked among top 10 places to live in the U.S.

Franklin ranked among top 10 places to live in the U.S.

The Tennessean - Franklin is listed on Time Magazine's 10 best places to live in the U.S. The article, published Monday, weighed economic growth, quality of life and affordability. Franklin is no stranger to such lists. It was named by 24/7 Wall St. as one of the best cities to live in in 2017, and ranked the 8th fastest-growing city in the nation by the U.S. Census Bureau last year.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

What is on the Council Agenda for 9-18-2018: an attack on use of plastic bags, a Blue Ribbon Commission to look for cost saving, and studying Tax Increment Financing.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. This is a shorter agenda than that of recent meetings without lots of controversial issues.  This should be a shorter meeting and I am certain Council members will be pleased.  Recent meetings have been marathon session running four to six hours. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.
 

Below is legislation of interest.

Resolution RS2018-1385 by Councilman Blalock  is a resolution calling on grocery store operators within Davidson County to take effective measures to reduce the use and/or impact of single-use plastic carryout bags and report the measures being undertaken in this effort, and encouraging the use of reusable bags by residents and businesses within Davidson County. In a previous council meeting Blalock had sponsored legislation that failed to ban plastic bags. This needs to fail also. We do not need to be trying to force grocery stores to give up plastic bags and forcing them to report to metro on this topic.

Resolution RS2018-1390  approves a PILOT for renovation of affordable housing  apartment complex. PILOT is "payment in lieu of taxes." The company does not pay property taxes but instead makes a payment considerably less than what they would pay in taxes. Only in the last couple years have PILOTs been used to promote affordable housing. Prior to that they were used to entice businesses to locate to Nashville.  I hope someone is closely monitoring this program and thinking long-term. This will be the thirteenth such deal for affordable housing.  When we talk about "affordable housing" we are not talking about the projects.  Unless one had personal knowledge, most of what is "affordable housing" one would not know it was some how subsidized. The unintended consequence of using this PILOT tool to encourage affordable housing, is that it may become an expectation and subvert market forces. There is still a demand for housing that is not luxury housing, but if the expectation become that any developer who builds anything but luxury housing gets a PILOT or tax credits or other subsidies then no developer may build non-luxury housing without that subsidy. On the other hand, my fears may be unfounded. I just hope this tool is being used judiciously.

Resolution RS2018-1391  approves the sale of $775 million in General Obligation bonds. These are all bonds authorized by other legislation actions of the council. I do not expect this to be debated or controversial.

Resolution RS2018-1411  confirms the mayor's appointees of members of a Blue Ribbon Commission to recommend Metro cost saving and improved efficiencies. It is an impressive list and includes former Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz, ex-Metro Councilmember Emily Evans, real estate developer D.J. Wootson, SEIU Local 205 President Brad Rayson and former school board chair Gracie Porter. I am especially pleased to see the appointment of Emily Evans. I observed her when she served on the Council. She is smart and had a firm grasp of Metro financial issues. Dave Goetz seems like a good choice.  I don't know much about the qualification of the others. I am hopeful that this committee will come up with some meaningful recommendations.  The establishment of the Blue Ribbon Commission was an initiative of Councilman John Cooper.

Bill BL2018-1283  on Second Reading would prohibit the use of funds from the sale of Metro owned property from being used to fund the operating budget. While I do not think it is wise policy to use one-time funds for reoccurring expenses, I do not think it ought to be strictly prohibited. If this passes it would leave a hole in the current budget because the budget did rely on revenue from the sale of some property that has not sold yet. That problem could be easily fixed by changing the effective date of the prohibition to future budgets and exempting it for the current budget year. Nevertheless, I think this resolution should be voted down.  It should be noted however, that anything done by resolution can be undone by a resolution so if this did pass and a future council wanted to undo it they could do so.

Bill BL2018-1314  on Second Reading establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission wold be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. Resolution 1411 above is the confirmation of the five appointed by the mayor.

Bill BL2018-1319  on Second Reading would amend the law regarding Tax Increment Financing.  TIF is a program that provides that property taxes generated in redevelopment areas and authorized by Council do not flow to the General Fund but instead are used to subsidize the development and repay the cost of infrastructure improvements in the area. Much of downtown development does not contribute to the tax revenue of Nashville but flows to MDHA because of this. This bill would impose a formula requiring that a portion of the property tax revenue would flow to the general fund to support schools. This is better than nothing.  However, I think it probably should be deferred to see what the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee comes up with.

Bill BL2018-1315 on Third Reading creates a  Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This sits out the composition of the committee and what they are charged with doing. This is a positive development.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary

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