Monday, June 1, 2020

The thugs who committed violence should be prosecuted to the full extend of the law. Chief Anderson should resign.

by Rod Williams - Police have made an arrest in the case of the courthouse arson.  Westley Somers is charged with felony arson, vandalism, and disorderly conduct. He was booked into the Metro Jail and his bond was set at $255,000. He has prior criminal charges in Tennessee, including in Davidson and Sumner counties. Court records show that in 2017 he pleaded guilty in a domestic assault case and was charged with child neglect in a separate case.

If he is allowed to plead to a lesser charge and gets a slap on the wrist I am going to be very disappointed.  These thugs cannot be permitted to get by with destruction of property and violence. Every person who spray painted a building or broke a window should be arrested and punished.

Saturday night I got on my computer about 5pm and caught a live feed from The Tennessean.  I have attended a few peaceful rallies in my life but never a riot.  It was fascinating.  I couldn't stop watching. The Tennessean live feed had no narration just a cameraman amongst the crowd filming.  I watched till after 10 O'clock.  Part of the time I also watched live reports from local news stations. When one thinks of a riot, you imagine rage and energy and maybe a running mob.  It was not like that at all.  It was like it was in slow motion. And, people were having fun.  They were laughing and socializing and it seems everyone was taking pictures with their cell phone. It was a social event.  It was a party.  Someone would start trying to tear lose a bench or light pole and then someone would join them.  They were having fun!

Some of the destruction reminded me of kids who will try to outdo each other in doing something reckless or daring.  Someone would break a window, then people would cheer and then after a while someone else would throw a rock and break a window.  It was like they were egging each other on.  The setting of the fire was like that.  It slowly unfolded.  I kept saying, "where are the police?"  "Where is the fire department?"  I was afraid the city was going to let it just burn down.  Response was slow.  Also, most police were on bicycles or normal street uniform.  The police were not in riot gear.  I guess the logic is that a show of force is provocative.  I am very disappointed.  Police should protect property and enforce the law.  People could commit destructive acts right in front of the police and there was no police response at all.

All of those people who violated the law are on film doing it.  A lot of people should go to jail.  I also think Chief Anderson should retire.  He failed to protect this city.




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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Vice Mayor Announces Plan for June 2 Budget Public Hearing

Metro press release - Vice Mayor Jim Shulman has announced a plan for holding a virtual public hearing on the Mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020-2021 operating budget and the Capital Improvements Budget at the June 2, 2020, Metro Council Meeting.

Details of the plan and participation instructions

The plan will allow members of the public to provide public comment during the meeting using their telephones from the comfort of their own homes. This is the same the process that was used for the May 5, 2020 Council zoning public hearing. Members of the public wishing to speak on either the operating budget or capital improvements budget may call 629-255-1931 toll free to provide live input when the agenda item is called up during the course of the meeting.

The majority of the Councilmembers will be joining the meeting virtually, but there will be some Councilmembers physically in the Chamber who will be socially distanced.

While the public is strongly encouraged to use the call-in feature, constituents may physically come to the courthouse to provide public comment. The Council Office will be taking preventive measures to ensure proper social distancing and will be disinfecting the podium after each speaker. For the purpose of determining spacing requirements, those desiring to provide public comment in person at the Historic Metro Courthouse are requested to send an email to ConstituentServices@nashville.gov not later than noon on Monday, June 1. These persons are requested to include their first name, last name, and street address in the email.

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CM Glover and CM Sharon Hurt asked Mayor Cooper to address injustices in "a different way," opposed rally.

Mayor Cooper showed a failure of leadership by endorsing the "I will breath" rally.  Due to his own policy of banning gatherings of more than 25 people he had every reason to disavow the rally.  Instead of urging members of the Council to attend the rally, he should have urged people not to attend.

Council member Sharon Hurt, head of the Council's Minority Caucus urged Cooper not to support the rally and said she would not be attending.  That was plenty of cover for Cooper to have made a different decision. 

When the rally tuned violent, by toppling statues, destroying police cars, and breaking windows the police should have moved in in force and made arrest, rather than waiting until rioters set the court house fire. 


Here is the communication from Mayor Cooper urging Metro's leaders to attend the rally.  It is too bad he did not take the advise of Council members Sharon Hurt and Steve Glover.


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Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Competing Nashville budget proposals.

There are five budget proposals that may be presented to the Council.  Here they are:

  • The Mendez  32% tax increase proposal:  At-large council member Bob Mendes, the council's budget committee chair, has proposed a budget that is very close to the mayor's budget.  It just shifts a little money here and there.  It raises taxes 32% or a $1.00 increase in the tax rate.
  • The Mendez 34% tax increase proposal: This proposed would increase the property tax rate $1.066. It would provide funding for step increases and 1% cost-of-living adjustments for city employees and $7.6 million more for Nashville schools as well as $4.9 million to bring minimum wage for the school district to $15 an hour.
  • The Emily Benedict proposal: It would increase the tax rate about $1.16 to include restoring raises for school employees and boosting funding for Nashville General Hospital and some grant funding.
  • The Freddie O'Connell proposal: Under this proposal, the city would borrow money from the federal Municipal Liquidity Facility program and the tax increase would only be $0.37 per $100 of assessed value.  However, city officials say Nashville is not eligible to borrow from this fund.
  • The Steve Glover proposal: Taxes would increase about 20%.
For more on this, follow this link. If none of the budget proposals can get the support of at least 21 members of the Metro Council, Mayor Cooper's budget is adopted by default even if no one votes for it.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

John Cooper's budget is based on flawed assumptions, misguided goals

by Ralph Bristol, Guest columnist, The Tennessean - ... Flawed assumptions.  Cooper’s budget was submitted before it was certain that more federal aid was on the way. .... There’s no longer any reasonable doubt about massive federal relief for state and city budgets. The only question is “how much.” ... Neither companies nor cities exist for the purpose of providing employment. That is a hard concept for politicians to grasp, especially when government employees constitute a large, highly funded and organized block of their political base. (read more)

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Nashville to continue sharing patient health data with police.

The Tennessean - Nashville will continue to share a list of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 with law enforcement and other first responders, as Metro Health Director Dr. Michael Caldwell says he is "puzzled" by the state reversing its policy of sharing patient data. ... Mayor John Cooper and Office of Emergency Management Director Chief William Swann stood in support of Caldwell and the city's policy Thursday, ... (link)


Metro Nashville data share draws controversy with Metro Councilmembers
 Heated exchange between council members and Metro health officials ensues on weekly conference call

Tennessee Outlook - A conference call between Nashville health officials and council members on Thursday revealed a deep and continuing divide over the city’s practice of sharing names and addresses of COVID-19 positive individuals with law enforcement. In one of the most heated moments of the 40-minute call, Dr. Alex Jahangir — chair of Nashville health department known for his calm delivery in daily COVID-19 briefings — angrily suggested that Council Member Freddie O’Connell pay for his own constituents’ testing at private labs if they were discouraged from seeking public testing. (link)

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Nashville ranks #5 for fastest year-over-year rent growth. Tax increase to push rents higher.

by Rod Williams - A new study from Apartment List finds Nashville rents have declined 0.2% over the past month, but are up moderately by 2.1% in comparison to the same time last year.


Currently, median rents in Nashville stand at $950 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,166 for a two-bedroom. Nashville's year-over-year rent growth leads the state average of 1.5%, as well as the national average of 0.8%.

Now, as Nashville is on the verge of passing a 32% property tax hike, we can expect rents to jump again. The average renter can expect rent to increase $1800 a year if the 32% tax hike passes.

There is a lot of hypocrisy about affordable housing in Nashville.  While many advocates bemoan the loss of affordable housing, the same people supports policies that lead to a loss of affordable housing.  Supporting higher taxes is one way, government destroys affordable housing.  Another way is by opposing rezoning or actually downzoning property to stop developers from building affordable housing. This happens.  Some of the most vocal councilmembers  for affordable housing do the most to kill affordable housing and trample property rights in the process.

Another way is by rezoning large swaths of the county from zoning that permits two housing units per lot to a zoning that allows only one housing unit per lot.  When you reduce density, you increase the likelihood of the development of higher priced homes.  This also contributes to urban sprawl.

Another way we destroy affordable housing is my beautifying parts of town that were home to lower income people.  When you ban pay day lenders, restrict the number of car lots on a major corridors, require decorative fencing in front of car lots, require all dumpsters to be behind fencing on reinforced concrete pads and do other things to beautify a part of town, you increase property values and make that part of town desirable to people who previously would not have wanted to live there.  That displaces low-income people.  Every corridor cannot look like Brentwood and remain affordable.  Currently there is a plan to beautify Dickerson Road.  The days of mobile home parks on Dickerson Road are numbered.  Hundreds if not thousands of affordable housing units will be lost.

While rents have been rapidly increasing in Nashville, rent is still not as outrageously high as many other large cities.  For more detailed information see the report from Apartment List at this link.


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