Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mayoral campaign turns dirty as in trash truck dirty

Today's Tennessean reports of squabble over campaign signs on the side of the garbage trucks of Gray Disposal.  I have seen candidates signs on the side of Gray Disposal garbage truck in campaigns for years and just assumed Edwin Gray was a civic-minded citizen who was showing his support for his preferred  candidate.  I did not know the space was for rent. 

According to the Tennessean some months ago Charles Robert Bone contracted with Edwin Gray and paid Gray $10,000 to let Bone have his signs on the side of Gray's trucks though the September election. Well, Bill Freeman gets in the race and goes to Gray and agrees to pay him three times what Bone had contracted to pay and persuades Gray to break his contract with Bone. Gray returned Bones money and will now display Freeman signs on his trucks.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Bob Ries is seeking the Chairmanship of the Davidson County Republican Party.

Bob Ries
Press Release - Bob Ries is seeking the Chairmanship of the Davidson County Republican Party. He is now at a place in his life where he has the time, life experience and desire to contribute to the growth of the Republican Party on the ground level, and thereby attempt to repay the many folks who helped him in his previous bid for US Congress.

Bob is tired of conceding elections to the Democrats in Davidson County. He believes we had too many good Candidates this year for both the Judicial and State Offices to win only one race. He believes he has ideas that can lead to more victories in the future.

Ries thinks divisions within the party, and votes based on single social issues are contributing to the loss of elections. He wants to unify the Davidson County Republican Party under one philosophy: If you believe the State and Federal Governments should follow their respective Constitutions and balance their budgets, as well as believe in the Free Enterprise System and smaller government, you BELONG in the Republican Party.

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How the Metro Council voted in supporting President Obama’s EPA Clean Power Plan.

In the Metro Council meeting of December 2, the Council passed RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1300  sponsored by Council Member Peter Westerholm which expressed the will of the Council in supporting efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supporting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

Here is the way the Council voted:
“Ayes.” Barry, Steine, Maynard, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Pridemore, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Todd, Mitchell (24).

“Noes.” Garrett, Tygard, Bennett, Hagar, Glover, Stites, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Weiner, Blalock, Dominy, Duvall (12),

“Abstaining.” Evans, Johnson (2).

While the Council passed the resolution, I am delighted that 12 members voted against it. All of the Council members who I think of as the "good" councilmen, because they have in the past had a conservative voting record or identify as Republicans or just seem like rational, reasonable people voted against the bill with the exception of Carter Todd who is identified as a Republican but who voted for it. Emily Evans who I think of as one of the "good" council members voted to abstain.

I was also very pleased to see Karen Johnson vote to abstain. I personally like Karen Johnson a lot, but she does not self identify as a Republican or conservative, but I am proud of her for voting to abstain on this bill rather than voting for it.

In the past the Council has unanimously voted for some atrociously bad bills similar to this. A special recognition goes to Josh Stites who is on the Rules Committee. All memorizing resolutions go before this committee and Josh was the lone "no" vote in committee. If not for his "no" vote, this resolution would have been on the "consent" agenda and may have passed without descent or discussion. Also Council Member Duane Dominy deserves special recognition for his argument against the resolution on the floor of the Council.

Recently the State Senate Government Operation Committee took a look at the same EPA action that the Council voted to support and heard testimony from leading state and industry officials regarding this EPA rule. Of this EPA policy, Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell had this to say:

The testimony we heard Tuesday makes it very clear that the rules proposed by the EPA not only overstep their jurisdiction, but if enacted will cost Tennesseans greatly in terms of higher electric bills, job loss and productivity. The founding fathers never intended for the federal government to be preeminent in every facet of our daily lives. These rules go far beyond their constitutional authority, stripping the state of its authority in this regard and encroaching on the personal liberties of our citizens.

Tennessee Commissioner of Environment and Conservation Bob Martineau briefed Committee members on 97 pages of comments that the state made in response to the Clean Air Act rule. He said the state requested that the carbon emission reduction targets set by the EPA for Tennessee be “reduced and adjusted.” Several presenters at the meeting called the targets “unattainable.” They also said the proposed rules punish states, like Tennessee, which made early efforts to reduce carbon emissions prior to the 2012 benchmark used in calculating state-based reduction targets.

Paul Bailey of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy said their studies project an average annual increase in retail electricity prices of 14% to 18% over the next decade.


Justin Owen, President and CEO of the Beacon Center, told committee members, “These federal rules ignore the different and unique energy portfolios, needs and problems faced by each individual state. For example, because Tennessee relies more heavily on electricity generated by coal-fired plants, our state citizens will be burdened more severely than those in other states.”

Owen said a Suffolk University study shows that emission rules on new power plants could cost upwards of $208 million in Tennessee. The rule for existing plants could cost $394 million according to the study, while the mercury emissions rule could cost $727 million, for a total of more than $1.3 billion. 

While the State Senate held hearings on the issue, our Metro Council voted for the new EPA rules without any studies or hearings being done or any insight as to what the new rules would cost Tennesseans.  These issues are complicated and in my view the Council should recognize they are Councilmen and not U.S. representatives and should avoid putting the Council on record about things of which they have little knowledge


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Kenneth Eaton Announces Candidacy for Nashville Mayor in 2015

Kenneth Eaton
Press Release - Automotive and real estate entrepreneur and innovator, Kenneth Eaton, a Nashville Native and local business owner for nearly 40 years, announced his candidacy for Mayor of Nashville in the 2015 election today.
Eaton for Mayor has appointed a Treasurer to start raising money, a step in becoming Nashville's next Mayor for the August 2015 election, Kenneth knows now is the time for conservative budgeting and opening our arms to further business and artistic development in Nashville. Eaton believes we will all thrive if we motivate our decisions based on the will of the Taxpayer. He also knows once he’s got his hands on the Davidson County budget we can easily correct the current administrations Laissez-faire, almost (and on occasion definitively) wasteful budgeting, at the same time he intends to reduce the debt built by this administration and ensure the underfunded programs in this community are reinvigorated with the assistance our city government once provided for them.
 
Kenneth States, “Monitoring the city budget over the last 10 years, it’s obvious Nashville is thriving as a tourist destination; But this tourism focus is negatively impacting our tax payers and neglecting the needs of our citizens.  The city is also faced with high debts, unfunded programs, and currently counting on future income to ensure we stay on budget to fund these issues; or what is commonly known as ‘passing the buck’. The current administration wants to pass the buck to our children and their children.”
Kenneth Eaton, won the straw poll as the Best Choice Mayor Candidate from the Davidson County Republican Party.
 
Kenneth Eaton, is opposed to the 175, million dollar AMP bus transit system. He sees it as a waste of taxpayer money, and possibly a detriment to the layout and design of our unique city.
Kenneth Eaton, is for keeping the historic Tennessee State Fair Grounds in place for the taxpayers use.
 
Kenneth Eaton's Business Background:
 
Over the past 39 years Kenneth’s business experiences include investments in several different business partnerships, his main focus has always stayed in automobiles and real estate.

Kenneth Eaton recently owned and operated over 100 pieces of investment, commercial and rental property, and has bought and sold over 20 million in Real Estate in the area. Kenneth Eaton's Automobile Dealership had sales in excess of 75 million a year and employed over 75 employees, Kenneth Eaton's new car dealership's won several awards for being the top Dealer in the TN market, and awarded the top customer satisfaction award for sales and service.

Kenneth Eaton's mastery of large-scale business operations, show he has the qualifications to run a business with a large-scale income, and a large number of employees. He knows how to develop and maintain management teams that ensure employee productivity and happiness. Kenneth knows how to reduce the waste in overhead and expenditures, as well as stop unnecessary spending.

This is why we need a business person running this city, Kenneth Eaton is that business man.
“A Business Man, Not a Politician”
Kenneth Eaton

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Statement of Bill Freeman regarding his intentions of running for Mayor

Bill Freeman
I take great pride in being a Nashvillian. I was born here. I was raised here. I met my wife here. I have worked here and we’ve raised our three children here. Nashville is a part of me, and I would not have it any other way. I truly love this city and the people who make it such a special place.

Thirty-five years ago, with my business partner Jimmy Webb, we started our company, Freeman Webb, right here in Nashville. At that time all we had was one employee, one apartment complex and one big dream.

Today, through years of hard work and perseverance we are a billion dollar business that employs almost 500 people and either manages or owns 15,000 apartment units across the southeast.

For me, for my family and for that company that started with just one big dream – Nashville has been very good to us.

During the 35 years that we have been in business and the lifetime I have lived here, past Mayors of our city have had a vision for Nashville. Think of the vision that went into building Nashville as a center for scholarship and learning, for music culture and entertainment, and the vision to make Nashville a regional and national center for business and commerce. And along the way, these visionaries maintained the traditional culture of our city where people can still raise their families, look after their neighbors and, more often than not, do business on a handshake.

Right now we face a critical moment in the stewardship of our extraordinary city and determining what it will look like 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

Mayor Karl Dean is fond of saying, “I believe Nashville’s best days are still ahead.” But those “best days” are no forgone conclusion. Rather, they are dependent on the steady vision and leadership from a Mayor ready to guide Nashville into the next generation.

It is imperative that we make Nashville a place where people not only want to, but can, raise their families, educate their children and make an honest living. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a Nashville like that and the next Mayor of Nashville must be prepared to make the important decisions about the kind of city we are going to be in 10 years or 20 years. I want to be that next Mayor.

The next Mayor of Nashville will not have time for any “on the job training.” In order to sustain the momentum our city has built, Nashville needs a Mayor who can step in and on day one, make the critical decisions and get right to work.

I can be that next Mayor.

I have a sense of what those critical decisions are and I have strong feelings about what makes this city great. I’d like to put my experience and skills to work and lead Nashville forward at this truly exciting time in our city. Every day I walk into Freeman Webb and make critical decisions for employees and the thousands of people who live in the apartments we own and manage. No “on the job training” will be necessary for me if elected the next Mayor of Nashville.

To me, being a Mayor is the most satisfying job you can have in public service. You see and experience the direct results of your decisions every day; unlike you can in any state or federal position. The decisions you make have a direct result on the family in front of you in line at the grocery store. They affect the schools where your children and grandchildren attend, and directly impact the lives of those who sit next to you at church on Sunday.We need a Mayor of Nashville who understands that. The next mayor has to understand that even seemingly mundane tasks are something vitally important to the people of Nashville and their day-to-day lives.

The next Mayor of Nashville also has to understand the gravity and importance of decisions that will make our schools the leaders of innovation, and not those playing catch up. The next Mayor of Nashville has to understand the importance of not only keeping businesses in Nashville, but recruiting others to relocate not just near Nashville, but inside our city limits.

I want to be that next Mayor.

Today is December 19 and there are still eight months until the citizens of Nashville will elect a new Mayor. In the coming months there are a number of items I will be talking about, such as:

  • How Nashville schools need to be better, and how we will accomplish that.
  • How to tackle the mass transit challenges we are facing.

  • How to keep Nashville trending upward with successful economic development.

For now though, we are only six days away from Christmas and everyone should be focused on spending time with their families. We will talk more about my vision for Nashville in the New Year, but I want you to know the answer to the most important question, why I am running for Mayor of Nashville.

I am running for Mayor, because I want to add my unique point of view to this conversation.

I am running for Mayor to give something back to the city that has given me everything.

I am running for Mayor so I can do everything I can to ensure that my grandchildren and the children across our beautiful city have the opportunities in front of them to do what Jimmy Webb and I did 35 years ago.

The decisions the next Mayor of Nashville makes will have an impact on their lives years form now and determine the kind of city that Nashville will become.

Growing up in Nashville set the stage for me to become the successful businessman I am today. Now, I want to be the Mayor of Nashville that sets the stage for the next generation. If the people of Nashville choose to come together behind my ideas, I’d be honored to lead this great city into its exciting future.

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Setting the Stage to Fight the President’s Unconstitutional Actions on Immigration

by Phil Roe, 1st Congressional District Tennessee - Last week, the House passed a spending bill that funds the government—except for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—through next September. DHS, the agency in charge of implementing the president’s “executive amnesty,” is only funded through February, setting up a major battle early in the next Congress. While the spending bill was far from a perfect package, I voted for it because two critical things: 1) it requires Congress to pass new legislation that funds DHS—which is implementing this immigration plan—when Congress has a Republican Senate and a strengthened Republican majority in the House, and 2) it continues House Republicans’ effort to keep discretionary spending at pre-Obama Administration levels. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you why I felt this vote was necessary and clear up some misconceptions about the measure.

Since the president’s November announcement, I’ve heard from thousands of Tennesseans who are concerned about his unilateral, unconstitutional executive action to allow five million illegal immigrants to remain legally in this country. I could not in good conscience support legislation that would implement this policy, but this spending package does not do that. Instead, it only funds operations for the Department of Homeland Security until the end of February, which will allow the new Republican-led Congress to act on overturning this executive action. Within the first two weeks of the next Congress beginning in January, the House of Representatives will act on legislation to defund “executive amnesty”.

It is painfully clear the president has no intention of truly working with Congress, but the election proved that American voters want change in Washington. By electing a Republican Senate, voters have empowered Congress to push back against President Obama’s policies. With this majority, the president will have no choice but to listen to Congress on the issues – including immigration.
This bill does not provide a blank check for the administration to push executive amnesty as some have claimed, and since outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who urged the President to “go big – big as he can” on immigration – would not allow a vote on the president’s plan, the best solution was to consider this issue when Majority Leader-Elect Mitch McConnell will not only bring it up, but also actively support a vote on stopping this executive action.

President Obama’s number one talking point to distract the media and voters from serious issues in this country is that Republicans are only interested in shutting down the government. By passing this bill, we’ve taken that talking point out of his arsenal and focused the fight early next year solely on his this executive action. I can promise you this: within the first couple weeks of the 114th Congress we WILL vote to defund the president’s actions. With a Republican-led Senate, we can actually get this bill to the president’s desk. He can veto it if he chooses, but the money for DHS will run out. Unless he wants to be responsible for single-handedly shutting down this part of the federal government, he’ll have to work with Congress to reverse his plan.

You might also be pleased to know that I have signed on to a legal brief challenging the constitutionality of the president’s actions on immigration in the Supreme Court. I’m sick of this administration ignoring Congress, and I am proud to take this fight to the court. Please rest assured I will continue fighting the president both legislatively and legally. I won’t allow him to get away with trampling our Constitution any longer, and I look forward to continuing this fight in the next Congress.

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Nashville Busineess Journal names Lee Beaman as Newsmaker of the Year

NBJ names Lee Beaman as the 2014 Newsmaker of the Year

.....made a significant impact this year on a critical debate about Nashville's future. Notably, how the city will respond to its rapid-fire growth. .... Beaman brought his bullhorn — and his money — to the StopAmp movement. He set out to stop the bus line in its tracks. And he did.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Guess who came to the Davidson Co. GOP Xmas Party? Bill Freeman

The last person I expected to see show up at the Davidson County Republican Party Christmas party

Bill Freeman
tonight was Bill Freeman. He showed up, worked the room shaking hands with everyone. He was accompanied by Chip Foster, former head of the Tennessee Democratic Party, and a couple other men. No one's head exploded and everyone was cordial.

Bill Freeman, in case anyone doesn't know, is probably the most powerful Democrat in Tennessee. He is a major real estate investor in Nashville and a principal in Freeman-Webb. which is the largest owner/manager of apartments in the Nashville area. Bill Freeman is a big bundler for Democrats raising millions for the Party's candidates and was a  major fund raiser for President Obama.  He recently chaired the committee that narrowed the nominees for chair of the Party down to three candidates.

Freeman has been playing coy about weather or not he was running for mayor of Nashville, having set tomorrow as his deadline to announce if he was running or not.  After showing up tonight campaigning at a Republican Christmas party, I think it is save to assume he is running.

I only stayed about an hours but enjoyed the good food and  saw lots people I had not seen in a while and enjoyed chatting with different people but left after about an hour.  There were three gentlemen from the Stampede Group at the party who are working for David Fox, another mayoral candidate.  If any other mayoral candidates or their representatives showed up, it was after I left.

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Campaign ethics report filed against Williamson Strong

Press Release - This week, a complaint was filed with Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance regarding the activities of the group Williamson Strong. The complaint indicates heavy involvement and collaboration between the group, incumbents running for re-election this summer, sitting board member Rick Wimberly and Williamson County Director of Schools, Mike Looney.

Members of the Williamson Strong team sent incumbents and Morris an email indicating they should be re-elected one week prior to issuing surveys to opposition candidates. The email offered campaign support and even stated it was all being done "with Dr. Looney's blessing." The email was from Jennifer Smith, President of Hillsboro PTO, the same PTO missing funds in excess of $20,000. Another team member cc'd on the email is Susan Drury, a Research and Strategic Campaign Director for SEIU.

Williamson Strong founders appear to have collaborated with Wimberly and Looney to identify which candidates to support and oppose as early as May 30th. Surveys were issued by Williamson Strong to opposition candidates on June 22nd, almost a week after the organization conveyed support to incumbents and District 2 Candidate, Melody Morris.

The complaint was filed by newly elected board member, Susan Curlee. Curlee submitted an open records request in September and was pressured by members of Williamson Strong and Director of Schools Mike Looney to drop her request. According to an open letter Curlee sent to local media and posted on her Facebook page, Dr. Looney assured her there was nothing to hide.

Unfortunately, her findings may be the tip of the iceberg as it appears Williamson County Taxpayer funded resources were used to support the group. The complaint is slated to be heard by the Bureau of Ethics & Campaign Finance on January 14th in Nashville.




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Haslam’s ‘Insure Tennessee’ Garners National Attention

TnReport, Dec. 16, 2014 - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s announcement this week that his administration has reached a tentative agreement with the federal government to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has drawn interest across the country.

The plan — which the governor hopes is palatable to the state’s supermajority Republican-controlled General Assembly — is a two year pilot program that in part calls for providing vouchers to lower-income Tennesseans to help subsidize their health insurance.

The state’s highest ranking lawmakers — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville — have said the governor’s Tennessee-style Obamacare embrace appears at first glance to be based on “conservative” and “free market” principles. But both are holding back full-fledged support until they and other legislators dive more deeply into the details of Haslam’s plan. The plan must win formal approval from both the Tennessee Legislature and the Obama administration’s Medicaid services agency.

Here’s some of the coverage from national news and opinion sites:

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Liberty on the Rocks finale meeting of the year, Thursday, December 18th, 5:30-9:30pm

Who: A group of people, numbering anywhere between 8 and 25, who love liberty and who range in age from 18 to 80, and who vary in occupation from students to laborers to attorney's and businessmen, who are generally labeled "right of center" and may call themselves, libertarian, tea party, Republican, conservative, constitutionalists, Objectivist, and maybe an occasional anarcho-capitalist.

What: Liberty on the Rocks which is a get-together that involves eating and drinking and talking and respectfully disagreeing and exchanging of ideas usually about some political topic (but not always) which could be the news of the day, or foreign policy, or the monetary system, or the roll of the family and gay marriage, or legalization of drugs or prostitution, or privacy and the NSA, or the welfare state, or education reform, or criminal justice and prison reform, or the death penalty, or immigration policy, or morality, or just whatever topic one brings up. There is no program.

When: Thursday, December 18 from 5:30 until everyone leaves which usually people start leaving about 9:30, but sometime later but you can come as late or leave as early as you please.  

Where: Mafiaoza's on the patio, 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN.

Why: For the enjoyment of good conversation with like-minded people.

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Davidson County Republican Party Christmas reception.

http://gopnashville.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Christmas-Party-2014-791x1024.jpg

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From Darkness to light. Maria's story

This is a heart-warming story of local couple, Lynn and Steve Hendrich, who felt let by God to go on a mission trip to Moldova, where there they met a young 15-year-old girl named Maria who was blind. They became attached to her and burdened to help her. Upon returning from their mission trip they made contact with Doctor Ming Wang. They were able to bring Maria to America and Dr Wang operated on Maria and performed a very difficult surgery that restored her sight and for the first time in her life she could see. In this short video they tell this story and you see Maria experience sight for the very first time:

She looked into the mirror… she stared at it and studied it intently…and all of sudden it dawned on her that the beautiful girl she saw looking back at her was actually herself! Maria squealed with delight and exclaimed, “Sunt frumoasa!” (“I am so pretty” in Romanian), as she was seeing herself for the very first time!
Doctor Wang says that if there were more people willing to serve as host families that they could help more orphans like Maria.  Please spread this video.  Anyone interested in being a host family can contact the Wang Foundation for Sight Registration at drwang@wangvisioninstitute.com .

For more information follow this link:  The Wang Foundation for Sight Restoration.

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Rand Paul agrees with Obama: Opening up Cuba is ‘a good idea’

Rand Paul agrees with Obama: Opening up Cuba is ‘a good idea’

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Please support the Institute for Justice



From time to time I make modest financial contributions to organizations and candidates I believe in. One of those organizations I support is the Institute for Justice. They litigate for the cause of liberty in four primary areas: economic liberty, property rights, political and commercial speech, and school choice.

Cases they have taken on range from defending homeschoolers  to hair braiders. I know of two occasions were they have been active in Nashville defending the little guy against local government tyranny.

One, is the case of Joy Ford from 2008. Ms Ford who had a long career in the music business owned a small piece of land on music row. The neat but simple brick building housing County International Records was located in the middle of a redevelopment district. MDHA sought to acquire the Ford’s property on behalf of the developer who planed a $70 million office tower on the adjacent property. Ms Ford did not want to sell, so the city closed an alley behind her property so tour buses could not access her property. She still did not break, so MDHA deemed her property “blighted” and tried  to take the property by eminent domain condemnation.  The Tennessean's Gail Kerr brought attention to this case as well as radio personality Phil Valentine. The Institute for Justice stepped in and represented Joy Ford in Court and slowed the condemnation process. MDHA then offered a land swap. Ms Ford got to keep her building and swapped part of her parking lot for parking on the other side of the building.  Had it not been for IJ, MDHA would have taken her land by eminent domain.  For more on this story, follow this link.

The other Nashville case in which IJ was involved was that of Metro Livery. In 2009, a new service which has since come to be called "Black Cars" made there appearance in Nashville.  This new type service was introduced to our city by a Pakistani immigrant named Ali Bokhari. For as little as $25 his company offered luxury rides from the Air Port to downtown.  These plain large vehicles such as Crown Ford Victoria's or other large luxury cars were much nicer than a taxi but not orientations like a stretch limousine and they were driven by driver wearing suits. The established limo companies made an all out effort to drive him out of business. The city's Transportation Licensing Commission had inspectors exercising police power illegally.  The inspectors for the Metro Transposition Incensing Commission harassed drivers for Metro livery.  Eventually the police chief intervened and forced the MTLC to cease illegally acting as law enforcement agents. 

In June 2010, the council passed a limousine price-fixing bill that protected the big limo companies from competition. The ordinance imposed a minimum $45 fee for limo services, it prohibited the use of leased vehicles, and imposed vehicle age and mileage restrictions. And while customers of Metro Livery called for a Black Car by calling the driver's on his cell phone, this new ordinance required vehicles be dispatched from a central location. They also prohibited drivers from serving more than one car an hour and mandated a minimum of a 15 wait for a vehicle. Metro Livery fought back. This fight went on and on for years.  Institute for Justice joined in the case and litigated on behalf of Metro Livery and other Black Car drivers who had started providing the same service.  Eventually IJ lost in court, but Metro failed in an effort to get the case thrown out and it went to trail.

The delay in allowing Metro to force Metro Livery out of business eventually resulted in publicity for Metro Livery and victory.  The case was picked up nationally by John Stossell and George Will and others and as more people began using the service, the city realized it would be difficult to kill this service and then with the appearance of services like Uber and Lyft making a Nashville appearance, the council rewrote the law that they had passed which was designed to force Metro Livery out of business. Most likely if not for IJ's intervention, Metro would have succeeded in driving this company out of business and keeping Uber and Lyft from entering the Nashville market. I have blogged about this case numerous time, if interested in learning more, follow this link.

These are two examples were the Institute for Justice fought for the little guy against the city of Nashville and justice was served.  They are doing this all across the country when cities want to ban alternative transportation or food trucks or  hair braiding or unjustly take property by eminent domain or only want caskets to be permitted to be sold by funeral homes or restrict home schooling and various other  infringements on economic liberty and free speech.

If you are in the giving mood this Christmas season, I know of no organization more deserving of support than the Institute for Justice. You can donate at this secure link.

Below is IJ' solicitation to me: 

Dear Mr. Williams.

As 2014 draws to a close, I hope you will consider renewing your support of the Institute for Justice.  With 51 active cases in 26 different states and the District of Columbia, IJ is The National Law Firm for Liberty.  Please renew your support now to help us make even greater gains for liberty in 2015.

Generous donors like you enable IJ to fight for everyday heroes who choose to stand up to government bullies and oppression rather than take the easy way out.  Here are just a few of the victories your past support has made possible this year:
  • Tens of thousands of mom-and-pop tax preparers can continue to run their small businesses without fear of unconstitutional licensing requirements from the IRS.
  • More than 1,800 children in North Carolina are able to attend the school that best meets their needs, despite multiple attempts of the teachers’ unions to revoke their scholarships.   
  • People in Arizona can now speak freely about important political issues without first having to register with the government.
  • Transportation entrepreneurs in Milwaukee are now free to start their own taxi companies and pursue their American Dream.
The stakes for liberty are high and impact the lives of all Americans.  In the coming year, we must, and will, bring our best efforts to bear as we defend the Constitution.  If your check is already in the mail, please pardon the reminder.  If not, then please visit www.ij.org/donate to renew your support today.

Thank you for making our work possible.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Chip

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Normailizng relations with Cuba: It is about time!

Today President Obama moved to normalize relations with Cuba. I am going to shock some people who may assume they think they know what I think; I applaud President Obama's action to normalize relations with Cuba.

This is a bold step and in my view about 35 years late. Cuba, along with North Korea, are the last two real Communist Countries left in the world. Sure, there are still several other one-party states ruled by a Communist party but they are no longer totalitarian. There are Communist parties ruling these countries but they are not Communist countries. They are authoritarian states. They may exercise absolute political power but not totalitarian authority. A totalitarian state allows no other spheres of influence. In a totalitarian state, thought control is exercised and the state must suppress the influence of family, religion, economy, and arts. Every function of society must serve the state.

There is a difference between being a state where all political power is held by a single party and a state which controls absolutely every aspect of person's life. Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, and Ho Chi Migh's Vietnam were totalitarian. Not so today. Russia is no longer communist at all, of course. In China and Vietnam, there is a thriving private sector in those countries and there is room for different points of view, different taste, access to other ideas and an opportunity for entrepreneurship and pursuit of happiness.  China has millionaires. People can read western books and watch western movies and their is glamour and fashion and pre-communist culture is not suppressed.

Even before the end of he Cold War, some countries of Eastern Europe had already essentially abandoned Communism as an economic theory. The agriculture sectors had already been reprivatized in many countries, because otherwise the Communist could not freed their people. People were wanting consumer goods and little by little countries like Yugoslavia and some others were beginning to change.

Actually, I think the time to lift the Cuban embargo would have been about a year after the fall of the Berlin wall. Once Cuban lost their mentor and benefactor the Soviet Union, I think it would have been impossible for Cuban to remain doctrinaire Communist, if we would have ended our embargo. With contract with the outside world and visitors wanting to spend money in Cuba, and Cubans' with money wanting to spend, Cuba would have succumbed to the opportunity for a private sector to flourish.  We have already seen some of this. Cuba has allowed people to have the deed to their homes, they have allowed a larger private sector, they have allowed a private sector taxi service and allowed people to own computers and cell phones. With visitors with money visiting the inland, entrepreneurs would have gained more influence even without the right to vote for their leaders.

If we would have ended the embargo thirty-five year ago, you would have seen joint partnership to develop hotels and resorts with Cubans and Cuban would have had to modify their communist economy to make those investment more attractive and secure. I think it we would have ended our embargo 35 years ago, Cuba would be a much freer country today. The greater contract with outsiders would have created a greater demand for consumer goods and greater realization that Cuba was not a workers paradise. It would have proven difficult to maintain revolutionary fervor in a country in which people interacted with the enemy and benefited from interaction with the enemy.

In my view, U.S. sanctions have served to remove the positive influences that American businesses, workers, religious groups, students and tourists would have had in promoting U.S. values and human rights.  I doubt Communist Cuba would be communist country today, had we not isolated them and given them the American enemy to rally against.

I can understand the view of those Cuban refugees and Americans of Cuban descent, who want Cuba to crumble and the old order restored. I don't think it will ever happen, but I do think Cuba can evolve and join the rest of the world.

We lost 50,000 American lives in Vietnam, but still eventually normalized relations with that county; why not Cuba?









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The Council meeting of Dec.16th. The Prove-a-necessity-before-competing-with-Pedal-Pubs, Pay-the-Bridgestone-Bribe, defer-bailing-out-NRC meeting.

 

This is a short meeting at just over an hour. Council meetings are more interesting if you know what the Council is doing. To get your own copy of the agenda, staff analysis and my agenda summary and commentary, follow this link

All appointments to boards and commissions were approved including the appointment of someone to the Human Relations CommissionVoting against an appointment to the Human Relations commission could have been an opportunity for someone to symbolically voice opposition to a useless agency that does not much more than promote political correctness and voice opposition to Metro's sponsorship of the twink booth at the Gay Pride festival. Maybe when a new council is elected we will have have at least one person with gumption enough to take a stand.

Other appointments were to the  Employee Benefit Study and Formulating Committee. This will allow the city to continue to study pension obligations and their impact on the city. Council meeting before last, there was a resolution before the Council to extend the life of the Benefit Study and Formulating Committee and it was killed.  The reason it was killed is due to pressure from the SEIU, the largest metro employee union and the reason they wanted to not extend the life of the committee was because the committee was exploring the merits of changing metro's pension plan from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.

Any such proposal from the Study Committee, of course, would have been debated by the Council and had to be passed by the Council and would have been phased in to effect future employee's not current employees. The SEIU did not even want the issue discussed. Employee pension plans are bankrupting cities all over America and forcing cities to raise taxes and robbing cities of funding for other services in order to meet pension obligations. Our own pension liability is underfunded. To see how they voted when this was before the council before, and for a greater understanding of the issue, follow this link: How the Metro Council buckled to the SEIU and voted to continue fiscal irresponsibility. 

In appointing members to a new Employee Benefit and Study and Formulating Committee, Councilman Bo Mitchell and Bruce Standley speak against it. There is a voice vote and some "no's' are uttered. The vice mayor calls for a machine vote but says the machine vote will be for all appointees to boards and commissions. No one challengers her.  I am sure the "no" votes were against the Study and Formulating Committee only, not all of the appointees to all committees. Why did not Bo Mitchell or Standley or one of the other "no" votes not call for a point of order and demand the vote on appointees to the Committee's be one at a time or at least separate the vote for appointees to the Study and Formulating committee, to be separate from all other appointees? 

It is a amassing how little this Council uses parliamentary procedure and thinks on their feet. Maybe that is a function of term limits. With term limits a new council comes in office not understanding parliamentary procedure and they have no one to learn from. Anyway, the appointees were approved, 27 voting "yes," 4 voting "no," 4 voting "abstain," and 6 not voting. I am pleased to see that this committee was reestablished.  It is time we look at our pension liability.  The mayor must have twisted arms harder than the SEIU twisted arms to get this passed. I am not sure it  the "not voting" were absent or simply sitting on their hands. Look for a future post where I will list who voted which way and who was absent for the meeting. To see the discussion see time stamp 2:51- 9:25.

Resolution and bills  of interest:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1319  passes on the consent agenda. It authorizes the the purchase of property known as Kellytown, and the acceptance of  $400,000.00 from Friends of Kellytown. This property is 6.72 acres at the corner of  Hillsboro Rd and Old Hickory Blvd and was an Indian settlement from the 1400's and artifacts have been found on the property. The purchase price is $750,0000. The land will become a park.  I favored this resolution.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1289 passes on a machine vote with Councilman Josh Stites voting to abstain. This is the bill to offer incentives to Bridgestone to get them to stay in Nashville and expand.   
  • BILL NO. BL2014-953 on second reading is taken out of order following the above resolution. It is part of the Bridgestone deal and approves the 20-year tax abatement. It also passes with a machine vote with CM Stites voting "no" and Robert Duvall voting to "abstain." There is no floor discussion of either of these Bridgestone bills.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1315  passes without opposition. It appropriates $9.3 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund (the 4% fund)  for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments.  This is routine business.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1316 is deferred at the request of the sponsor. It would approve $100,000 to the Neighborhood Resource Center This non-profit has fallen on hard times recently having lost their United Way funding and some other things.  I do not think the city should bail them out. The NRC is essentially a political organization teaching political activism with leaders of the organization trained in the Saul Alinsky tradition. From time to time the NRC promotes a leftist agenda such as they did in 2011 when they hosted a  Contract for the American Dream workshop. You can learn more about this leftist project here. I urge the public to call your council member and urge them to oppose this bill when it comes back up in January. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-952  on third reading passes on a machine vote 32 in favor, none opposed, and two voting to abstain. There is no discussion. This bill regulates non-taxi livery services such as Uber and Lyft. Uber and Lyft have been operating in Nashville for about a year unregulated and this regulates them. There has not been push-back from the industry against this bill so I assume it is something they can live with. The proposed regulation requires a certain levels of insurance and require the drivers to get an annual permit and some other things.  While I would have voted for this bill if I were in the Council, people who believe in a market economy need to be cautious. 
When "Black Cars" made their appearance in Nashville, in an attempt to drive them out of business and protect the limo companies, the council passed a $45 minimum for a limo ride and made Black Cars operate under limo regulations. Last year  the Council removed the $45 minimum for a limo ride and they set a minimum at three times the flag drop for a taxi ride which would come to about $9. This bill abolished the $9 minimum and says the MTLC can set a minimum subject to Council approval.  I do not think the city should be setting minimum prices for any service. A minimum fare does not protect consumers, but protects providers from competition and it stifles innovation. Since the Council could set a minimum with or without this bill, if I were in the Council, I would have voted for this bill, but we need to watch and make sure the Council does not come back later and set a minimum fare for Uber and Lyft. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-925 on third reading passes. It regulates pedicabs and pedal pubs. Pedicabs are the three wheeled non-motorized vehicles that travel in the 2nd Ave and lower Broad area. Pedal pubs are those traveling taverns powered by the customers, about eight on each side. These regulations require a certain amount of insurance and certain safety requirements. Under this bill new ones can only enter the market after they prove a necessity for the vehicles. Metro can say "we have enough" and not allow new providers to get in the market. I would have voted against this.  I don't think any business should have to show a need to enter the market and there is probably never a "need" for a pedal pub. Requiring a certificate of necessity for new entrants into the market simply protects those already operating. I say, let whomever wants to try to make a go at it, have a shot. No one should be protected from failure or competition. What if one had to show a need before one could open a new restaurant? We would not have the great restaurant we have today, but we would have some really mediocre restaurants. There is no need to improve your service if you are protected from competition.  One pedal pub may succeed because of the type of beer they sale or the price of the beer or the bartender tells good jokes or the barmaid is cute and shows cleavage. I say, let them compete and let the market determine which ones survive. Also, the drivers of these vehicles must wear a uniform? Why, I don't know. I am terribly disappointed that out of a 40-member council there is not a single council member who thinks it is ridiculous that you have to show a "necessity" for another pedal pub before you can compete with existing pedal pubs. Maybe next election we can find at least one council member who agrees with me. 

Here is the Tennessean's coverage of the meeting: Bridgestone secures $56M in incentives with council vote

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