Monday, March 18, 2019

The National Debt still matters.


by Rod Williams - When President Obama was president, conservatives wrote news articles and scholarly position papers and produced memes and videos explaining the dangers of a growing national debt and it was an important Republican talking point. Democrats had no concern about the national debt. Now, things have changed. Just like the Republicans were the party concerned about the constitutional separation of powers and Democrats didn't; now, Democrats do and Republicans don't. Same with the national debt. Now Democrats care, and Republicans don't.

Answers about what to do about the national debt are not simple. The tax cuts may have contributed to the national debt, but that does not mean the tax cuts were bad. Tax cuts also spur economic growth and bring in more government revenue. Of course, economic growth is not just about bringing in more revenue to the government. Economic growth lifts people out of poverty and keeps people from losing their jobs and their homes and their savings. Increasing taxes may actually cause the National Debt to increase because higher taxes slow economic growth. We can't tax ourselves into solvency. If at the new tax rates, growth could be maintained at about 4% it is believed that government revenue would increase sufficiently to start bringing down the debt.

For more on the relationship to economic growth and the National Debt see,  CBO Shows Faster Growth Is Important for Fixing the Debt.  

Despite Republicans no longer caring about the National Debt it is still important. This article from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation explains why.

Top 10 Reasons Why the National Debt Matters


At $22 trillion and rising, the national debt threatens America’s economic future. Here are the top ten reasons why the national debt matters.
  1. The national debt is a bipartisan priority for Americans.

    Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) agree that the managing the national debt should be a top-three priority for the President and Congress, including 71 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Republicans.
  2. The return of trillion dollar deficits.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the budget deficit will rise from $897 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion by 2029, resulting in a cumulative deficit of $11.6 trillion over the 10-year period from 2020 to 2029.
  3. Interest costs are growing rapidly.

    Interest costs are projected to climb from $383 billion in 2019 to $928 billion by 2029. Over the next decade, interest will total nearly $7 trillion. We will soon be spending more on net interest costs than we do in other essential areas such as Medicaid and Defense.
  4. Key investments in our future are at a risk.

    Higher interest costs could crowd out important public investments that can fuel economic growth — priority areas like education, R&;D, and infrastructure. In addition, growing federal debt reduces the amount of private capital for investments, which hurts economic growth and wages. A nation saddled with debt will have less to invest in its own future.
  5. Rising debt means lower incomes.

    Based on CBO projections from last year, growing debt would reduce the income of a 4-person family, on average, by $16,000 in 30 years. Stagnating wages and growing disparities in income and wealth are very concerning trends. The federal government should not allow budget imbalances to harm American citizens.
  6. Less flexibility to respond to crises.

    On our current path, we are at greater risk of a fiscal crisis, and high amounts of debt leave policymakers with much less flexibility to deal with unexpected events. If we face another major recession like that of 2007–2009, it will be more difficult to work our way out.
  7. Protecting the essential safety net.

    Our unsustainable fiscal path threatens the safety net and the most vulnerable in our society. If our government does not have sufficient resources, these essential programs, and those who need them most, could be put in jeopardy.
  8. A solid fiscal foundation leads to economic growth.

    A solid fiscal outlook provides a foundation for a growing, thriving economy. Putting our nation on a sustainable fiscal path creates a positive environment for growth, opportunity, and prosperity. With a strong fiscal foundation, the nation will have increased access to capital, more resources for private and public investments, improved consumer and business confidence, and a stronger safety net.
  9. Many solutions exist!

    The good news is that there are plenty of solutions to choose from. The Peterson Foundation’s Solutions Initiative brought together policy organizations from across the political spectrum to develop long-term fiscal plans. Each of those organizations developed specific proposals that successfully stabilized debt as a share of the economy over the long term.
  10. The sooner we act, the easier the path.

    It makes sense to get started soon. According to CBO, we would need annual spending cuts or revenue increases (or both) totaling 1.9 percent of GDP in order to stabilize our debt. If we wait five years, that amount grows by 21 percent. If we wait ten years, it grows by 53 percent. Like any debt problem, the sooner you start to address it, the easier it is to solve.
Addressing our national debt is an essential part of securing America’s economic future. These key fiscal and economic issues should be at the forefront of the policy conversation in Washington, and our leaders should seize the opportunity to pursue sensible reforms that will put our long-term fiscal trajectory on a sustainable path.


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Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

 Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

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Tennessee has lowest debt of any state!

While Nashville is ranked as one of the most debt-ridden cities in America for public debt, the state of Tennessee is ranked as the state with the lowest level of public debt. Below is the ranking as a percentage of state GDP.


 Looking at debt as a dollar amount per capita, Tennessee also ranks as the state with the least debt obligation.

So, how does Tennessee compare to the most debt-ridden states? Here is the states with the most debt as a percentage of GDP:


Here are the most dept-ridden states ranked by dollars per capita.

For more information, follow this link.

It matters who governs!

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Steve Glover announces run for at-large city council

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If you oppose men exposing themselves in the girls bathroom, you might be a Nazi.

Men, even a man wearing a dress and makeup and even a man who has tits, who use the women's bathroom could be guilty of indecent exposure if proposed bill HB1151 becomes law.  The bill has passed an important House committee.

The bill expands the offense of indecent exposure to include incidents occurring in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, or shower, designated for single-sex, multi-person use, if the offender is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use. So, if this passes, a person with a penis could not shower with the girls even if he calls himself "Mary."

Libs are gong ballistic. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.  The Tennessean reports of protestors being on hand to protest the bill as it was being deliberated in Committee on Thursday. A protester called Ragan a "Nazi" as he walked out of the room."

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Putting school choice in parents' hands helps neighborhoods. How it works.

by Lee Barfield and Bartley Danielsen, Guest Columnists, The Tennessean - Gov. Bill Lee has a unique opportunity to combine good education policy with effective economic development and environmental policy for low-income communities across the state.

Public school assignment policies currently place heavy burdens on low-income neighborhoods. Since children are assigned to schools based on where they live, financially secure families leave areas with bad public schools and cluster in areas with good schools.

For example, the most recent census shows that Williamson County has 34 percent more children ages 5-to-9 than should be expected given the number of preschool children. Next door, Davidson County has 16 percent fewer 5-to-9 year olds than we should expect.

As wealthier families "vote with their feet" for high-quality schools, their neighborhoods thrive. Jobs are plentiful, incomes are higher, crime rates lower and grocery shelves are stocked with healthy options. Those left behind in concentrated poverty suffer from joblessness, lower incomes, higher crime rates and food desert conditions.

Children who grow up in these neighborhoods suffer life-long consequences, and it's not just because their schools are bad. Recent research finds that growing up in concentrated poverty is even more damaging than attending a high-poverty school, probably because we spend much more time in our neighborhoods than in our schools. You get the picture. When school assignments end up concentrating poor people in poor neighborhoods, everyone in those neighborhoods suffer.

Of course, there are solutions. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposes requiring suburbs to build more low-income housing so that inner-city families can be transferred into these communities.

This program has proven to be effective for younger children, but it is expensive to implement on a large scale.

Fortunately, a less expensive option exists - one with the environmental benefit of attracting middle-income families back into cities.
Recent research shows that school-choice programs have a significant positive impact on communities that lack good public schools because their programs allow families to disentangle housing choices from education choices.

When parents can choose their child's schools, they are no longer concerned about a bad school assignment. They can choose a more convenient neighborhood near work, enjoying a shorter commute (an environmental positive) and maintaining a higher quality of life.

And this effect is not limited to dense urban areas. Positive neighborhood effects from school choice programs have been found in suburban and rural communities too.

Tennessee legislators are now discussing whether (and how) to adopt Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs. From an economic development perspective, ESAs are the most flexible (and therefore most powerful) school choice tool ever developed. ESAs don't just allow parents to choose a better education option for their child, they allow parents to choose the absolute best option that they can find.

Recently, Environmentalists for Effective Education and the American Federation for Children have worked together to develop a blueprint for implementing "Tennessee Economic Development Zone ESAs."

This program would ensure that residents of low income neighborhoods have access to ESAs. Initially, almost all of the recipients would be low-income families because financially secure families have avoided these neighborhoods. But over time, these neighborhoods will benefit from increasing diversity.

Of course, some critics argue that only the poorest children should get an ESA. The children of doctors, nurses and engineers should be excluded. But this misses the bigger issue. We should celebrate when our communities are economically and culturally diverse. We all know that ending concentrated poverty benefits poor children and brings jobs for parents.

The best way to fix the problems of high-poverty neighborhoods is to reform how education is delivered in them. Economic Development ESAs are good education policy, good environmental policy and good job creation policy.

Lee Barfield is a retired attorney who lives in Nashville and serves on the board of directors for the American Federation for Children. Dr. Bartley R. Danielsen is president of Environmentalists for Effective Education, and a finance and real estate professor at North Carolina State University. 

Originally published in The Tennessean

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Mayor Briley Releases FY 2020 Budget Conversations Schedule

Metro Nashville press release -Mayor David Briley and Finance Director Talia Lomax-O'dneal today released the schedule of the FY 2020 budget discussions. These meetings provide an opportunity for Metro departments and agencies to present their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The FY 2020 discussions will begin Monday, March 25 and conclude Thursday, March 28, with the exception of Metro Nashville Public Schools which will present on Wednesday, April 17. The discussions will be held in the first floor media room of the Metro Courthouse and simulcast on Metro Nashville Network.

A full schedule can be found below:
Mayor's FY 2020 Budget Discussions Schedule

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Williamson County Schools requiring teachers to take Southern Poverty Law Center White Privaledge training.


From Williamson County GOP - All teachers in all schools are attending a four part inservice training based on the work of Dr. Peggy McIntosh and a book she wrote over 30 years ago titled, White Privilege UnPacking the Invisible Knapsack. Dr. McIntosh coined the phase just 16 years after the 1964 civil rights movement and years before a black man raised in a single parent home became President twice.

The Tennessean recently reported on a WCS slavery homework assignment which resulted in two teachers resigning. The Tennessean went on to document two racist incidents occurring in our schools on Friday. Today we learn that these incidents were grossly exaggerated when a parent stepped forward to talk to a reporter at the TN Star.

WCS is moving forward with Dr. Looney's agenda and has planned a "Tolerance Teacher Workshop" taught by the radical left leaning, Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC has gained notoriety for both their lawsuits and for their list of hate groups which includes national Christian organizations and extremist like Senator Marsha Blackburn. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently established the, "SPLC Action Fund" which is a PAC designed to allow them to fund their legislative agenda and elect like minded candidates to office. Conservatives, like Senator Blackburn and Congressman Green can expect to be targeted by the SPLC.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's goal is to create the next generation of voters. They are not concerned about educating your children.

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Metro budget "discussions" begin March 28th.

by Rod Williams - Metro will start the formal budget "discussions" March 28th. They were always called budget "hearings" prior to Mayor Megan Barry rebranding them as "discussions."  "Discussions" sounds so much more "collaborative" and all  touchy-freely. I prefer "hearings."  I hope the next mayor goes back to having budget "hearings."

What happens at these "discussions" is that each department appears before the mayor and presents their budget request. What really happens is that prior to the discussions the mayor's office has already told each department head that there is not going to be a tax increase this year so most department heads will present a budget request that only calls for a modest increase. In years in which the mayor is going to ask for a tax increase, Department heads say houses will burn, police will not be able to stop a crime wave and libraries will close if they do not get a big budget increase. It is somewhat a sham. Some department heads really will plead for more money but they will not go overboard, they kind of already know what to expect. Never does a department head say they need less money than previously.

At the conclusion of the budget discussions, the Mayor and the Finance Director draw up a budget.  On May 1, the Mayor and/or the Finance Director present the Recommended Budget to the Metro Council. The Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee files the budget and tax levy ordinances. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) then prepares the Recommended Budget Book for Council's review. This is known as the "mayor's budget."

During April to June, the Council and the Budget and Finance Committee conduct public hearings as well as hearings with each individual department. The budget is approved on three readings, and may be amended or substituted on the third reading. OMB prepares a substitute budget ordinances for the Budget and Finance Committee as required. This is called the "substitute budget," or the "council's budget." Even if taxes are not going to be increased, the Council always shifts some money around and changes the mayors budget.

On June 30, the Council passes the budget ordinances, and the Mayor signs the budget ordinances into law. If the Council fails to pass a balanced budget by June 30, the Recommended Budget and tax rates take effect by default. In other words, if the Council does not pass their substitute budget the mayor's budget become the budget even if Council does not vote on it.

As anyone who had read my blog for any time knows, I am a conservative. I would like to see Metro cut non-essential services and not raise taxes.  I would like for the city to stop the massive fraud and waste and corporate welfare. I would like to see the city close General Hospital and abolish the Human Relations Commission and make other cuts. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.  Without  Metro being willing to make cuts to services we need a tax increase. We probably should have had a tax increase last year. I could support a modest tax increase. This being an election year Mayor Briley is not going to propose a tax increase. The cooperative press is not going to write stories about how we are on the brink of disaster. We are not, but be sure that that is what we would be reading if the mayor was proposing a tax increase.  While we are not facing a disaster, employees deserve a pay increase and fire and police are under staffed. Also, we need to budget more money to debt service to pay down Metro's debt.

Look out next year! If Briley is reelected, in 2020 he will propose a whopping tax increase.  No matter who is elected, I expect a proposal for a substantial tax increase in 2020.

The budget "discussion" will be on line for viewing if anyone is interested. They each only last a few minutes and are pretty shallow affairs. They are also open to the public if one wants to go and observe in person.  Below is the City's press release and budget discussion schedule.

#

Metro Nashville press release - Mayor David Briley and Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal have released the schedule for upcoming meetings related to the 2019-20 budget.
The Mayor's Budget Discussions will be aired live on Metro Nashville Network and Nashville.gov. All budget discussion videos will be archived and available on YouTube and shown throughout the following weeks on Metro Nashville Network.

Schedule for Thursday, March 28, 2019

Conservation and Historical

  • 9:30 a.m. – Codes
  • 10:00 a.m. – Planning Commission
  • 10:15 a.m. – Beer Permit Board
  • 10:30 a.m. – Historical Commission

Health and Social Services

  • 10:45 a.m. – Community Education Commission
  • 11:00 a.m. – Human Relations Commission
  • 1:45 p.m. – Social Services
  • 2:00 p.m. – Health Department
  • 2:30 p.m. – Hospital Authority
  • 3:00 p.m. – Metro Action Commission
  • 3:15 p.m. – Justice Integration Services

Location

Historic Metro Courthouse
1 Public Square
Mayor's Media Room
Nashville, TN 37201

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David French to speak on "Polarization: The True Threat to the First Amendment," at The Federalist Society


Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM (CDT)
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP
511 Union Street
#Suite 2700
Nashville, TN 37219


David French, an attorney and senior writer for National Review, will discuss polarization and its threat to the First Amendment. His background includes time as a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, as well as being a veteran of the Iraq War and a former major in the United States Army Reserve.
Space is limited so please RSVP by Monday, March 18.

Share this event:
 
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Please vote for Nick Lamattina in District 29. Election day is Tuesday March 19th.

by Rod Williams -The District 29 runoff election is Tuesday March 19th. Please vote for Nick Lamattina. For more information on Nick, visit his website at  Nick for District 29.
#
Early Voting Turnout Light
Election Commission press release -Residents of District 29 will elect a new Council representative in a special runoff election this Tuesday, March 19. Early Voting ended Thursday evening, concluding two weeks of light voter participation.

“We hope there is strong turnout on Tuesday,” said Jeff Roberts, Davidson County administrator of elections. “Every election is significant, so we encourage all registered voters in District 29 to cast a ballot for the person who will best represent them.”

Nick LaMattina and Delishia Porterfield led the field of candidates in the February special election, but since neither received a majority of the votes cast, Tuesday’s runoff is required.

On Election Day, March 19, residents must vote at their assigned polling location, printed on their voter registration card or found via the Polling Place Finder at www.nashville.gov/vote. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Polling Locations
District Location
29-1 Priest Lake Presbyterian Church
2787 Smith Springs Road
29-2 Lakeview Elementary School
455 Rural Hill Road
29-3 Hamilton United Methodist Church
3105 Hamilton Church Road
29-4 Smith Springs Community Center
2801 Smith Springs Road
All voters must present a Federal or Tennessee state government-issued photo ID, unless an exception applies.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

I applaud Lamar Alexander, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and other Republicans who took a principled stand for constitutional governance.

Twelve courageous Republican senators voted for the bill to terminate President Trump's emergency declaration yesterday. I am pleased that Tennessee's own Senator Lamar Alexander was among them. Alexander and the other who voted for the bill to terminate Trumps emergency declarations were not against the wall but were against President Trump's end run around the Congress to get it.  The Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriated money. Trump tried to get wall funding from Congress, Congress did not give it to him, so he declared a national emergency to reallocate funds. This is as much a blatant abuse of power as anything President Obama ever did. 

Most of the Senators who were outraged at President Obama's abuse of power and who wrapped themselves tightly in the Constitution were deafeningly silent when it came to Trump's abuse of power. There was not a louder critic of Obama's abuse of power than Senator Ted Cruz but he apparently developed a bad case of laryngitis. During the 2016 Republican campaign for the Republican nomination for president, I was tempted to support Senator Cruz and was torn between Cruz and Rubio. I ended up supporting Rubio. I am pleased to see Rubio was one of the twelve who voted for the bill to terminate President Trump's national emergency. I supported the better man. Curz is a strong advocate of the Constitution when it would frustrate a Democrat objective but not so much when constitutionalism would frustrate a Republican agenda. Rubio is principled.  

There is an argument to be made that technically President Trump's use of  calling a national emergency to get his funding for the wall is legal. It may withstand a constitutional challenge, but I hope it doesn't. It is time we returned to constitutional governance. The Congress have given too much power to the executive branch. The Executive branch has power never envisioned by the founders. Congress has passed vague bills and let the bureaucracy make rules and have given the bureaucracy the right to also adjudicate those rules.  Presidents have gradually assumed more power and Congress has let them.  President Obama famously ruled by a "phone and a pen." He unilaterally changed laws and got by with it.  He greatly expanded the power of the executive. I had hoped that a Republican president would reverse the trend toward the imperial presidency but President Trump is accelerating it. When a future Democrat president declares a national emergency to take money from the military to build wind mills because of the crisis of global warming, Republicans will have no right to complain. That president will be doing the same thing President Trump is doing.

Significant legislative powers were given to the executive branch by the National Emergencies Act of 1976. It gave the President the power to call a national emergency and provided Congress the option of  terminating the President's emergency declaration. In the past the power of the president to call a national emergency has been used occasionally, but never as a tool for the president to get by means of declaring a national emergency what he could not get legislatively. It has usually been used to respond to a crisis that could not wait for Congressional action. 

Senator Mike Lee proposed a bill to take back from the executive the power to rule by declaring national emergencies. His bill would have said that a national declaration
would automatically end  after 30 days unless Congress voted affirmatively to extend the emergency.  This would still have given a President the power to call a national emergency but would have restored some balance to the balance of powers. His bill did not get any Democrat support. Democrats are no more concerned about constitutional governance than Republicans.  Like most Republicans, they are in favor of the Constitution when it advances their agenda and not so much when it would hinder their agenda. I applaud the twelve Republicans who took a principled stand for constitutional governance.  Below is a statement from several of the senators explaining their vote.

 
Senator Mike Lee:
Congress is supposed to be the first among the federal government’s three co-equal branches.For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the executive branch. While there was attention on the issue I had hoped the ARTICLE ONE Act could begin to take that power back. Unfortunately, it appears the bill does not have an immediate path forward, so I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration. I hope this legislation will serve as a starting point for future work on this very important issue.
Senator Rand Paul:
I stand with President Trump on the need for a border wall and stronger border security, but the Constitution clearly states that money cannot be spent unless Congress has passed a law to do so.
Senator Marco Rubio:
We have an emergency at our border, which is why I support the president’s use of forfeiture funds and counter-drug money to build a wall. However, I cannot support moving funds that Congress explicitly appropriated for construction and upgrades of our military bases. This would create a precedent a future president may abuse to jumpstart programs like the Green New Deal, especially given the embrace of socialism we are seeing on the political left
Senator Lamar Alexander:
I support the president on border security. I have urged him to build the 234 miles of border wall he has asked for in the fastest possible way by using $5.7 billion already approved by Congress. But his declaration to take an additional $3.6 billion that Congress has appropriated for military hospitals, barracks and schools is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution that I swore an oath to support and defend. 

Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway. The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.

This declaration is a dangerous precedent. Already, Democrat presidential candidates are saying they would declare emergencies to tear down the existing border wall, take away guns, stop oil exports, shut down offshore drilling and other leftwing enterprises—all without the approval of Congress.


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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Southeast Conservatives Breakfast Meeting

Saturday, March 16th
Breakfast at 8am, Program to Begin at 9am
Shoney's Restaurant on Thompson Lane

This month our speaker is Mr. Jeff Roach who works for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.  He will be speaking about all the construction upgrades and additions to the airport as well as the changes in roads in the area.  This should be a very, very interesting program for everyone in the Southeast Area of Nashville.

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Which Councilmen are not reading their email?

The Tennessean filed a public records request for the email records of all 40 council members and

found that a lot of Council members are not reading their email.

I served in the council before the days of email so did not have the challenge of dealing with it. I remember, however, occasions when faced when a particularly hot issues, that my phone answering machine would quickly fill up with messages and that my phone would ring almost non-stop for hours.  With the ease with which one may send email, I  understand that it can be challenging to read them all and very difficult to respond to all. If I served in the Council today, I would probably not actually read every email. I would mostly likely look at the subject line and delete those of no particular interest to me and not from my own constituents.  Others I would likely skim. I would pay a lot more attention to those from my constituents than those from people living in other districts.

When a particularly hot issue, such as a vote on the fairgrounds or a proposed tax increase is before the Council, the Council can get hundreds of emails in a single day. Some members are better at handling email than others. Below is the list of Council members least likely to open an email and the percentage of emails unread by that councilman in the last six months. 
  • District 30 Councilman Jason Potts: 94 percent.
  • District 27 Davette Blalock: 86.7 percent.
  • District 21 Councilman Ed Kindall: 84.7 percent.
  • District 5 Councilman Scott Davis: 83.75 percent.
  • District 2 Councilman DeCosta Hastings: 83.5 percent.
Not all Councilman receive the same amount of email. Some in districts with lots of rezoning issues receive thousand, while others receive very few. Scott Davis, the fourth worst offender for not reading his emails, during the time period analyzed had over 6,554 emails.. He should have done better, but I can cut him a little slack. Jason Potts, the very worst offender for not reading his email, only had 50. There is no excuse.

To read The Tennessean story, follow this link.



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