Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lamar Alexander has put his legacy at risk | Opinion

by Rod Williams, Guest columnist, The Tennessean, Published  Aug. 30, 2019 -

Alexander needs to bring the Restore Our Parks Act to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pass this legislation once and for all.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has long been known as an advocate for Tennesseans. He’s represented our state as governor, president of the University of Tennessee and as the state’s senior senator for more than four decades. He’s a man born in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains who never forgot where he came from, and he has built a legacy of improving health care, education and our national parks across the nation. But all good things must come to an end. Early this year, Alexander announced he will retire at the end of 2020.

Yet if he leaves office without one final detail, there will be a gaping hole in his legacy.

Our national parks face a $12 billion backlog in deferred maintenance projects, including $162 million in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone. The backlog represents thousands of roads, bridges, bathrooms and facilities, and emergency response systems that are in dire need of repair. And with 318 million visitors in 2018, our national parks are only getting more wear and tear.

 Smokies improve local economy 

Alexander understands the importance of our national parks. Not only are they vast oxygen tanks for our environment, national parks improve the local economy around them. In 2017, visitors spent more than $154 million along the Natchez Trace Parkway, ending in Nashville. In Rutherford County, Stones River National Battlefield saw its fourth-highest visitor attendance in 2018. That same year, the Smokies drove $953 million in visitor spending to the East Tennessee and western North Carolina region. That spending supports local restaurants and hotels, tourist attractions, tour guides, fly-fishing companies, sports outfitters and other businesses that rely on the millions of people who go to the Smokies each year. Yet if we let our national parks fall apart, the unreliable bathroom facilities, closed roads and precarious trails will only drive away visitors and the money they spend. East Tennesseans understand the importance of getting rid of the backlog. Just look at Ian and Charity Rutter, who took the time to make the case for our national parks to U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett this past spring. As business owners in the Townsend community whose customer base includes a healthy number of tourists, they know the longer we wait, the harder it’ll be to restore our parks. 

Restore Our Parks Act introduced 

I know Alexander understands the importance of our national parks. He introduced the Restore Our Parks Act in 2018 to cut the backlog in half by creating a dedicated revenue stream that can help fix our parks. He’s talked about getting rid of the backlog during his visits to the Smokies, during congressional hearings and even on social media. Several members of Congress, including Tennessee Reps. Phil Roe, Chuck Fleischmann, Burchett, Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper, have cosponsored a companion bill in the House.  Yet restoring our parks does not seem to be a priority to Alexander. Maybe it’s a sign Alexander has been in Washington too long. Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time in the Smokies over the last few years. Maybe he’s forgotten the region he came from. Maybe if he were running for re-election, he’d have gotten this legislation passed already.

Yet I don’t want to believe that.

I know Alexander cares about our community, and he wants to ensure our national parks remain a vital part of it for generations to come. That’s why, with just over a year left in the Senate, Alexander needs to bring this legislation to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pass the Restore Our Parks Act once and for all. Anything less is a $12 billion broken promise.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

The cadre of new progressives elected to the Metro Council will have minimal impact on policy.

by Rod Williams - If the new cadre of progressives elected to the Metro Council could have their way, I would be concerned, but they can't.  Their impact on our city will be minimal. When the reality of what they can actually accomplish hits them, they will be frustrated.

We are not going to see Nashville become a sanctuary city. We are not going to see a $15 an hour minimum wage. We are not going to see illegal aliens vote in our elections. We are not going to see policies adopted that cause a proliferation of homelessness. In some progressive cities, homeless camps are not removed, laws against aggressive panhandling are not enforced and laws against minor infractions are not enforced.  The homeless are treated "humanely" and the number and visibility of the homeless increase. I don't see that happening in Nashville.

We are not going to see a total ban on short-term rentals.  We are not going to see a law that makes Uber and Lyft drivers and food delivery drivers employees, rather than independent contractors. We are not going to see inclusionary zoning or rent control. We could, but most likely will not, see higher taxes as a result of a more progressive council.

What we may see are symbolic things. We may see some outrageous things that will make you mad but they won't fundamentally change the city.  We may see an end to Council meetings opening with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I doubt it, but it could happen. We probably will see a proliferation of meaningless memorializing resolutions. We will probably see memorializing resolutions advocating medicare for all, condemning Donald Trump, advocating Green New Deal policies, celebrating homosexuality, advocating the right to abortions and condemning abortion restriction, condemning immigration enforcement, and a bunch of others.  Memorializing resolutions express the opinion of the Council. They are not even signed by the mayor.  No one pays any attention to them.

We may see a ban on plastic straws and single-use plastic bags.  We may see increased conflict between Police and the Community Oversight Board and the Council siding with the Board.  We may see an attempt to trample property rights by the occasional down zoning of property. It will probably be rare and rarely successful. We may see the process of rezoing property slowed. 

We already have a policy that treats homosexuals as a preferred class in awarding contracts to businesses seeking to do business with the city. We may see more of this type of special treatment for the LGBTQ community. We may see policies that promote quotas for members of this community for employment with the fire department, police department, schools, and maybe all of Metro. We may see more displays of the gay rainbow flag on public buildings and a greater city-sponsored celebration of  homosexuality. We may see a more robust government celebration of all types of "diversity."

There are several reasons why I do not think this new bunch of progressives will have much impact on our city. One, John Cooper was elected and not David Briley.  John Cooper is a Democrat and probably a liberal democrat, but he is not a progressive social warrior.  One did not see John Cooper looking goofy wearing a pussy hat. Cooper has an agenda of getting our financial house in order.  I do not believe he is going to let his agenda get derailed by policies that could hurt our city. I don't expect Cooper to pick a fight with progressives either, however.  He probably won't veto a ban on single-use plastic bags for instance, but he is not going to let them adopt policies that cause a proliferation of homelessness, for instance.

Another reason the progressives will be frustrated is because there are a handful of  conservatives and pragmatic mainstream liberals on the Council. Conservatives like Steve Glover, Robert Swope, Courtney Johnston, Thom Druffel, Larry Hager, probably Robert Nash, and sometimes Angie Henderson will lead the push-back against the more radical proposals.  And then there are a bunch of liberal but mainstream pragmatic council members who are not going to want to pick fights with the State or who will not support the more  radical proposals that would harm our city.

Another reason, is that some policies cannot be changes by a city alone.  To change the way Uber drivers are classified, for instance, would require a change in State law.  Another reason that progressives will be frustrated is that there are non-profit national and state legal firms such as the Institute for Justice and the Beacon Center that will be watching if Metro violates property rights or the right to earn a living.  Institute for Justice has been active in Nashville before when the city tried to trample property rights. If Metro adopts policies that go to far, the city will be challenged in court.

Another reason the progressives will be frustrated is that the structure of our city government provides for a weak council and a strong mayor. The mayor has veto power and it takes two-thirds vote to override a mayor's veto. Cooper won his election in a landslide.  It will be extremely rare that the Council could muster a two-thirds majority against a popular mayor. It won't come to that, because when this reality sinks in the more radical proposals will not even move forward. 

Also, it will prove difficult for the Council to impose a greater tax increase than what the mayor proposes.  The way budgeting works in Nashville is that the mayor's budget becomes the city budget unless the Council passes an alternative budget. To pass a different version of the budget other than the mayor's budget, takes the vote of two-thirds of the Council. We may have a tax increase and with the new progressives in power it will strengthen the mayor's hand if he proposes a tax increase, but the progressive will not be able to pass a greater tax increase than what the mayor proposes.

The greatest reason the new progressives will be frustrated is that the State legislature keeps Metro on a short leash. The State has already weighted in when Metro tried to ban short-term rentals, when Nashville moved toward becoming a sanctuary city, when we tried to impose additional restrictions on businesses, and when the city considered inclusionary zoning. If Metro gets too far out of line, the State will yank that leash.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Look to these Council members to lead the push to make Nashville a more "progressive" city.

Last night's saw the election of quite of a few council members of the stripe we have never seen before.  Several "progressives" were elected.  It is not that the city government has not been dominated by Democrats ever since the Civil War.  It has. However, when I served in the Council in the 80's, many of the Democrats would call themselves "conservative Democrats."  About the only thing that could get one labeled "conservative" or "liberal', was how one stood on raising taxes and spending money.

Over time, the Democrats serving in the Council became more liberal and I suspect their views became more closely aligned with the typical national Democrat. Still however, few were outspokenly ideological. The Metro Council is a non-partisan body and for the most part, party identity has not been a factor. The most recent Council did move further to the left as evidence by some memorializing resolutions that were passed and the position of the individual Council members on issues such as favoring illegal immigration and a few other issues. Still, there were few people that one would point to as radical or liberal firebrands. Actually, there are only a few votes that one could point to and say, that person took a conservative position or a liberal position. I think with the new Council that may have changed. Why did this happen?

For one thing, the typical Democrat is much further to the left than a Democrat of the past. Another thing that happened is that Nashville has changed.  There are now probably more Nashvillians from other places than there are native Nashvillians. Many of these transplants are from places like California and they bring with them their California values or the values of where ever place it is from which they came. Many want to turn Tennessee into a place like the failed places from which they fled.

Another thing is that there was an organized push to elect progressives to the Metro Council. A few years ago, I heard that there was a concerted effort on the part of progressive forces to make Nashville "the San Francisco of the South."  I don't know the source of this rumor or if is is true and who would specifically would be behind it, but it sounds almost believable. It almost looks like Nashville was targeted.  Outside groups and local groups with a progressive agenda endorsed and funded candidates like never before.

Our Revolution  endorsed six candidates and they every one won. Our Revolution's stated mission is to "reclaim democracy for the working people of our country by harnessing the transformative energy of the “political revolution.” Through supporting a new generation of progressive leaders, empowering millions to fight for progressive change and elevating the political consciousness, Our Revolution will transform American politics to make our political and economic systems once again responsive to the needs of working families.  Our Revolution has three intertwined goals: to revitalize American democracy, empower progressive leaders and elevate the political consciousness."

These are the candidates supported by Our Revolution:

  • Zulfat Suara, Nashville Metro Council, At-large
  • Sharon Hurt, Nashville Metro Council, At-large
  • Ginny Welsch, Nashville Metro Council, District 16
  • Emily Benedict, Nashville Metro Council, District 7
  • Kyonzt√© Toombs, Nashville Metro Council, District 2
  • Brandon Taylor, Nashville Metro Council, District 
Another group that helped elect progressives is the Nashville Justice League.  It is a Political Action Committee composed of  several liberal organizations including the Equity Alliance Fund, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Votes, and the Central Labor Council. Their stated focus was on electing a more progressive Metro Council. A spokesman for the League said, "We’re going to fight for civil rights, immigrant rights and workers rights."  Below is a list of the people they endorsed.  They were not successful in getting Bedne or Lane elected but did elect the rest of their slate.
  • At-large: Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Fabian Bedne, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara, and Gicola Lane. 
  • District 2: Kyonzte Toombs
  • District 13: Russ Bradford
  • District 16: Ginny Welsch
  • District 17: Colby Sledge
  • District 19: Freddie O’Connell
  • District 29: Delishia Porterfield
  • District 30: Sandra Sepulveda
  • District 31: John Rutherford
  • District 33: Antoinette Lee.

A group dedicated to electing progressive women, WTF (Women for Tennessee's Future), endorsed several candidates. All won except for Mina Johnson. Below is the list of people they endorsed:
Councilwoman Burkley Allen for Nashville Metro Council at-Large
Zulfat Suara for Nashville Metro Council at-Large
Kyonzte Toombs for Nashville Metro Council District 2
Emily Benedict for Nashville Metro Council District 7
Ginny Welsch for Nashville Metro Council District 16
Councilwoman Mina Johnson for Nashville Metro Council District 23
Sandra Sepulveda for Nashville Metro Council District 30
Councilwoman Nancy VanReece for Nashville Metro Council District 8
Erin Evans for Nashville Metro Council District 12
Councilwoman Mary Carolyn Roberts for Nashville Metro Council District 20
Gloria Hausser for Nashville Metro Council District 22
Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield for Nashville Metro Council District 29
Another progressive group supporting candidates was LGBTQ Victory Fund.  There mission is "to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government."  All of the candidates they endorsed won. Below is the list:
  • Emily Benedict, District 7
  • Russ Bradford, District 13
  • Nancy VanReece, District 8
  • Bret Whiters, District 6
  • Zach Young, District 10.

Other progressive organizations that supported successful candidates included  Code Blue PAC and LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America).

If you look at the above list you will notice that many of the candidates were endorsed by multiple progressive organizations.  Unfortunately, there was no organized effort to elect conservatives or mainstream candidates to the Council. I think it safe to say, that if a name appeared on more than one of these list, they are safely far-left or "progressive."  Look to these Council members to lead the push to make Nashville a more "progressive city."

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What the Metro Council Isn't

Randy Foster
By Randy Foster - 1. Congress -- The Metro Council is the legislative branch of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Federal issues often impact local government, but rarely does the Council need to opine on the federal affairs of the day. If you want to reform healthcare or balance the federal budget, you should set your aim higher and leave the Council to those who want to affect local land use or decide how local government spends money.

2. The Tennessee General Assembly -- See #1 above. If your political interests run to regulating guns or outlawing abortion, you may find the Metro Council to be a narrow playing field.

3. A partisan body -- In the Council chamber, there are no Democrats and no Republicans (although partisan politics sometimes intrudes). Some might argue that the Council is primarily populated by members of the “Know-Nothing” Party, but I would disagree! The Metro Charter is clear that candidates run in nonpartisan races. Pragmatic, nonpartisan politics means that a new coalition is formed for each vote, and you will be surprised who your allies may be. The old saw that “politics makes for strange bedfellows” could have been written with the Metro Council in mind.

4. The Executive Branch of Metro Government -- Councilmembers do not fill potholes, mow weeds, operate parks, fix stormwater problems, pick up the trash, teach our children, put out fires, patrol our streets, lend out books, represent the Metropolitan Government in court, or do the thousands of other things that are the responsibility of the Executive Branch, i.e., in most cases, the Mayor. If you want to be Mayor, file a qualifying petition, pull several hundreds of thousands of dollars out of your mattress, and go for it!

5.A springboard to higher office (for most people) -- Walk around the committee rooms and common areas of the Council office, and you will see framed Council District maps surrounded by the faces of Councilmembers you’ve never heard of, who came and went with hardly a peep. A relative few have gone to the General Assembly with a few more going to positions on the bench. But no Mayors…no Congressmen. A Councilmember is well served by remembering the humbling fact that, if someone shows him or her respect, it is likely he or she was likely mistaken for someone else far more important.

6. A place to become famous or popular -- People will curse you, revile you, mistrust you, and say upon first meeting you that you are “bought and paid for.” Neighbors will line up on both sides of an issue with you squarely between the rock and the hard place. You family will wonder who you’ve become and will make a life without you. And for all this, you’ll be paid a whopping $15,000 a year before taxes and spend your life at Council meetings, committee meetings, Planning Commission meetings, Traffic and Parking Commission meetings, Greenway Commission meetings, ribbon cuttings, office hours, constituent meetings, 9/11 observances, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout awards ceremonies. Also, you’ll think your phone has grown to your ear, and you’ll read thousands of emails. Oh, and don’t forget the time you’ll spend reading analyses of legislation and all the mail that Councilmembers are heir to. If elected, you’ll find that only 39 other people will really understand what you’re facing, i.e. the other members. Treasure them!

7. Your personal fiefdom -- I am not the Earl of Sevenmile Creek (although I think it would be a pretty title). You will not be royalty or nobility. You will, I hope, be a servant of the people you represent. A lack of humility and communication can lead to disastrous relationships with your constituents. It has been frequently been said that you can vote for just about anything and not irretrievably alienate your constituents if you will (a) return your calls, (b) return your emails, and (c) not get crosswise with your constituents over zoning issues.

Service on the Metro Council is a high calling and a heady experience, and I am deeply honored and humbled to have been elected twice to represent my neighbors. Having tread for a while the path that the 13th Metropolitan Council will continue, I recommend to those who will follow me the ancient words of Proverbs 16:18 which could have been written for all politicians everywhere: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 Randy Foster is a former member of the Metro Council. This was written by Randy several years ago but is as true now as then. I also once served on the Metro Council and agree with everything he says.  I wish every council member would read this essay, especially those newly elected members, and take it to heart.

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Steve Glover wins at-large seat!

Steve Glover
 Fantastic!

Big Win!



The four candidates that will join Bob Mendes on Metro Council are Sharon W. Hurt (15.30 percent of the vote; 40,300 total votes), Burkley Allen (13.18 percent of the vote; 34,723 total votes), Steve Glover (13.06 percent of the vote; 34,397 total votes) and Zulfat Suara (13 percent of the vote; 34,237 total votes).

All four incumbents in the runoff election lost. (link)




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In other races, Ed Kindal and DeCosta Hastings lose to more liberal candidates. Sandra Sepulveda beats Sherry Jones,

Councilman Ed Kindall lost to a much more liberal candidate, Brandon Taylor.


Councilman DeCosta Hastings lost to a much more liberal candidate, Kyonzte Toombs.
Sandra Sepulveda beats former State Rep. and Metro Council member Sherry Jones. I am pleased with this result.

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Courtney Johnston wins!

Courtney Johnston
Congratulations! 

 Fantastic!

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thom Druffel wins!

Thom Druffel
Congratulations! 

Big win!

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Tony Tenpenny loses to radical Ginny Welsch

Tony Tenpenny loses to radical Ginny Welsch

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David Briley concedes election, John Cooper to be next mayor of Nashville

The final totals for Cooper were 69.12 percent of the vote with 62,404 total votes and the final totals for Briley were 30.19 percent of the vote and 27,255 total votes. (link)

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"Liberal education" has become in many instances funding for indoctrination.



by Richard Upchurch- Although put forth as humor or hyperbole, State Sen Kerry Roberts' suggestion that funding "liberal education" has become in many instances funding for indoctrination of college students in leftist ideas and values rings true, in that it confirms the impressions and observations of many conservative or moderate parents who fear that their children are being indoctrinated rather than educated. 

Obviously the radicalized youth of the '60's and 70's have taken their places in our society, including positions as faculty, administrators and board members of many of our colleges and universities.  I believe there is validity in these parents' concerns. 

As Bob Dylan's classic song said, the times they are a-changin', indeed. Just as the word "liberal"may carry the new meaning of freedom from anything that hurts or offend us rather than its old meaning of freedom to understand and to act, so there has emerged a sharp divide in ideas of what liberal education is. The newer idea of liberalism, and of liberal education, is that knowledge and skills are valuable primarily as helping us to change the world in ways thought to eliminate inequality and injustice. The older idea of liberalism, and also of liberal education, is that the young should be "led out" (this being the derivation of the word "education") from some of the limitations of their particular time and place by learning the variety and richness of human experience through all of history, by reading and learning to discuss the best of what has been thought, discovered, imagined and passed along to our own generation.

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Update: My endorsements in the September 12th election.

For Mayor
John Cooper
For at-large
Steve Glover
Mayor:  John Cooper

Council member at-large: Steve Glover (I am voting for only one candidate. Here is why.)

Council District 2: Decosta Hastings (A sensible Democrat is better than a radical progressive. His opponent has the support of Our Revolution.)



Council District 7:  Clint Camp (I don't know a lot about Mr Camp but the other candidate has the endorsement of various progressive organizations including Our Revolution.That is reason enough to vote for Client Camp. A diligent search could not locate a picture of Camp.)


Council District 13: Andrew Dixon.(He appears to be a well-qualified,
For District 13
Andrew Dixon
For District 2
Decosta Hastngs
community-minded, sensible  candidate. His opponent has the support of Code Blue PAC, reason enough to to vote for him.)

For District 16
Tony Tenpenny

For District 21
Ed Kindall
Council District 16: Tony Tenpenny (He is a conservative and has been a leader in the effort to save the fairgrounds. Welsch is extremely liberal and if elected will be the most liberal person to ever serve in the Metro Council. She was a founder of the low-power, left-wing radio station, Radio Free Nashville.  She is often seen at left wing protest gatherings advocating the liberal cause of the moment. She has advocated for singled-payer universal health care, a minimum "living wage," and various other liberal causes. Her contributors included LiUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) and WTF (Women for Tennessee's Future). She received the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League  and Our Revolution. Those endorsement are reasoon alone to vote against her and vote for Tony Tenpenny.)

Council District 21: Councilman Edward T. Kindall. (He is a known entity,

a reasonable liberal. His opponent has the support of Our Revolution.)
For District 23
Thom Druffel
For District 26
Courtney Johnson


Council District 23: Thom Druffel

Council District 26: Courtney Johnson

Council District 30: Sandra Sepulveda


For District 30
Sandra Sepulveda

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Anna Shepherd and Amy Frogge to lead Nashville schools board as chair and vice chair

Anna Shepherd and Amy Frogge to lead Nashville schools board as chair and vice chair

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Dr. Manny Sethi Campaign Releases Statement on Mitch McConnell Endorsement

Press release. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Manny Sethi’s campaign released the following statement on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement of Ambassador Bill Hagerty for Senate.
"Today, Mitch McConnell--the same guy who brought us runaway spending, failed to repeal ObamaCare and not building the Wall--joined Mitt Romney today, endorsing moderate Ambassador Bill Hagerty,” said Chris Devaney, Campaign Chairman and Senior Advisor.
“Tennesseans want a conservative outsider like Manny Sethi—and we don’t want Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, or any other member of the DC Establishment ‘Death Star’ telling us who to vote for.”

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House Speaker Sexton blast Briley over sanctuary city executive order, threatens funding.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton has blasted Mayor Briley for his executive order discouraging Metro agencies from cooperating with immigration officials.  He warned Nashville that he might move to withhold State  funds over the issue.

He called the executive order "dangerous" and "a last minute political ploy and a slap in the face to all law abiding citizens and to our local law enforcement agencies."

"We are a representative republic of law and order, and no city or local mayor has the power to circumvent state or federal law", said Sexton. "The cities and the counties and the mayors don't have the ability to not follow the law,"

For more on this story see this link and this link.
Also see, Nashville warned to stop the obstruction of Federal immigration enforcement.
To read Briley's executive order see, Mayor Briley's Executive Order to fight sanctuary city status ban and to adopt sanctuary city policies.

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