Monday, September 18, 2017

Tennessee to reinstate work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients

by Anita Wadhwani, USA TODAY NETWORK, Tennessee - Tennessee will reinstate work requirements for food stamp recipients a decade after they were eased during the height of the economic recession, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday.

In most Tennessee counties, able-bodied adults without dependents will have to put in at least 20 hours per week on a job, an approved volunteer program or a qualified education or training program to get benefits. The measure goes into effect Feb. 1, but recipients will have 90 days from that date to comply with the new rules.

The requirements are expected to impact 58,000 of the approximately 1 million Tennesseans getting the grocery buying assistance, according to a news release. About 36,000 people who are able bodied and without dependents are already meeting the work requirements while getting food stamps. (read more)

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Scottie Nell Hughes accuses Fox News host of rape in new federal lawsuit

Trump surrogate and Tennessee conservative Scottie...
Trump surrogate and Tennessee conservative Scottie Nell Hughes says she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by Fox News host Charles Payne, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday in New York. Read more.

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Lots of help needed in the Keys but we got turned away.

The below was posted by Albert Tieche on Facebook. With his permission I am reposting here. This is not only a well-written story of one's frustrating experience while trying to do good, but explores how modern government discourages risk taking, thwarts efforts of people to be self sufficient and take initiative, even in times of crisis. It ask, what is the proper roll of government? Rod

Lots of help needed in the Keys but we got turned away. Here is what happened:

Albert U. Tieche
by Albert U Tieche - Don and I were turned back at the roadblock going into the Keys on Thursday afternoon, Sept 14. It was very disappointing because we were well prepared. We had 150 gallons of gas in the boat tanks with a transfer pump built in, 60 gallons of water, 250 lbs of ice in a giant cooler, enough food for several weeks, 2 gas-powered generators, a chain saw, tow chains, lots of tools, tubeless tire patching kit, portable air compressor, personal protective equipment and a SatPhone. We had a portable toilet with chemicals plus sleeping quarters in the boat we were towing. We were also prepared to legally protect ourselves and our property if that situation arose.

We had acquired detailed satellite photos of the conditions at Don's house on Cudjoe Key and his immediate neighbors' houses. Don's place is on stilts as are his neighbors. That helped. His place had some damage but it was minimal due to his good prep work last week. Nothing structural, so the house was livable. Some of his neighbors had more serious damage. All of them had 4' of seawater in their ground level areas. That water damage would have to be remediated. All had damaged or downed trees.

We knew from the good sat photos that one of Don's neighbors, who had been camped at the roadblock for a while, had driven a sedan the 100 miles from the roadblock all the way to Cudjoe Key. We could see his car in his driveway in Wednesday's sat photos. It was not there on Tuesday. So we knew US 1 was passable, just as the news reports said it was.

However, it turned out that the neighbor had actually defeated the police roadblock in a way we could not replicate. We learned that piece of info right AFTER we were turned away. (ATT restored cell service to their customers on Cudjoe Key on Thursday afternoon. The neighbors began to get word out to us because one of them had an ATT cell phone.)

It is an unfortunate situation. We could have helped the people who rode the storm out in that neighborhood and others, too. We were very well prepared and well provisioned. We stayed overnight in Ft. Lauderdale with friends who also have a house on Cudjoe Key.

This morning, Friday, the emergency management people told us by phone that they will not allow
any Lower Keys homeowners to return until the 911 system is restored and the medical facilities are functional. They said they cannot guarantee everyone's safety until that happens. Only First Responders are currently allowed in. (And God bless the First Responders!)

It appears the Emergency Management people are moving the roadblock further into the Keys every few days as electric service is restored to the Keys piece by piece from the mainland. But, from Big Pine Key to Key West is where the worst damage was done. And Cudjoe is in the middle of that. News reports say it could be as much as a month before electricity is restored to Cudjoe. I don't see how EMS can plausibly keep homeowners out that long. Mold growth will get started within a week in flooded houses that have not been quickly "torn out" and sprayed with the proper chemicals. That's the voice of experience.

Did I mention that Don and I both have personal experience at flood remediation? And that we have both been safety trainers and project planners in our professional lives? Did I mention that I have done Disaster Preparedness and Recovery training for companies and local governments? But, I digress.

Of course, we were not asking for anyone to guarantee our safety. We were prepared. I do understand that if authorities had allowed just anyone to go in, there might have been people who went in totally unprepared, got in some sort of physical distress, and then needed help. Non-resident gawkers might have gone in to "see the damage" and created problems. If that did happen, the press, that has been allowed in all along, and are reporting non-stop, would have immediately blamed "officials" for any hardships that befell any unprepared person who went in. That's what the press tends to do. They usually blame the government, not the individual. Officials know that and fear that criticism. Rightfully so.

It is unfortunate that officials are not willing to make any distinctions between fully prepared, able bodied people who can help the situation and unprepared individuals who may well cause more problems than they solve. I understand that it would be difficult for officials to make such judgements for each case. But, just because it's difficult doesn't mean you can't do it. In our case, our provisions and equipment were easily viewed at the roadblock, But the cop was not the least bit interested in our level of preparation and provision.

Having been denied access by road, we have developed a workable plan to make the run to Cudjoe by boat from the area of the roadblock-maybe 50 miles by water. Every house in Don's neighborhood is on a canal with access to both the Atlantic and the Gulf. All have small private docks. Many of the homeowners have boats that can make that run. I don't see how the Coast Guard could stop a homeowner from boating in and docking at their own docks. If the roadblock goes on for weeks, that may be the only way to get in and start repairs and clean up.

UPDATE SATURDAY MORNING: Homeowners will be allowed back in to Cudjoe Key on Sunday morning, Sept. 17.

It comes down to a difference in how one sees the role of government: 

I believe in freedom of the individual and that government should not prohibit property owners from taking care of their property in a situation like this, even though there are risks to the individuals. Local governments properly are charged with building and maintaining infrastructure and keeping the peace. And our local governments do that pretty darn well, even in major disasters.

But, modern government officials seem to now behave as if their job is to guarantee the safety and well being of all individuals at all times, even if that means denying property owners the right to protect and repair their property for an extended period of time. That is beyond what government should be allowed to do.

I cannot imagine government officials in the 1800's standing at the gateway to the west and telling people in wagon trains that they are prohibited from going further west because the government "cannot insure their safety" on the trip. The thought is comical.

With this particular disaster, there is room to improve. Keeping homeowners from doing repairs to mitigate damage for extended periods of time is not a proper role of government. Well prepared homeowners should have already been allowed back in. As someone volunteering to assist a homeowner, I would have been willing to provide ID and sign a liability waiver on the way in.
These two competing views of the proper role of government undergird much of the division in our modern culture. Some think governmental power is basically unlimited if they have good intentions. Others think governments must be limited and that they overstepped their bounds in this situation. Governments often seem to regard citizens as helpless creatures. The citizen response to Hurricane Harvey in Houston demonstrated the good things that citizens can do very quickly. They came from all over and saved people and property. The citizens did very well. But, I think common sense got cast aside by authorities in the aftermath of Irma in the Keys. It was easy to "close the Keys" because there is only one road in or out for over 100 miles. So they did. And they kept well prepared homeowners out because it was easier than making judgement calls on who was prepared to go in and who was not.

The decisions made by Emergency Management about homeowner access to the Keys in the aftermath of Irma need to be reviewed and critiqued in the interest of continuous improvement. They have done a lot of things right. But they made some bad decisions, too.

Albert Tieche is a Project Manager at Tieche Training and Development and a former Administrator of Elections for Davidson County, Tennessee. He lives in Nashville. 

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Update: Can You Pass A U.S. Citizenship Test?

Can You Pass A U.S. Citizenship Test?

Update:  The citizenship test is so simply one would think any American should be able to pass it.  However, I am constantly amazed at the ignorance of  people.  Back when Jay Leno was on TV, he would do a segment called "Jay Walking," where he would go out on the street and ask people the simplest American history questions or current events question or geography question or ask then to identify by name a picture of the Vice President or some other well-know public figure. It is amazing how many people could not answer the question.  When O'Riley was on Fox, he had a similar segment called "Watters' World," in which the reporter would ask people on the street very basic questions that one would think everyone would know the answer to, but most did not. 

These segments of Watters' World and Jay Walking were funny.  However, I always suspected that these were not representative.  I suspected that these segments edited out the knowledgeable people, because if people knew the answers it would not be entertaining.  

Today I got a fund raising letter from Intercollegiate Studies Institute which argued that liberal college professors prevent our founding principles from being passed to the next generation. It referenced an ISI survey of 2,500 undergraduate students and said, "incredibly, 51 percent could not name the three branches of government."  That is astounding! Think about it.  These are college students who probably think they are smart and who probably vote, and yet they can not name the three branches of government. 

With this kind of ignorance, I fear for our country.  We must work to turn this around. Citizens should demand that civics be taught in schools and that students have a certain basic level of civic literacy before they graduate. Parents who can afford it need to send their children to good private schools. Even if one can send their own child to a private school or even if one has no children, we all have a interest in having an educated citizenry.  People need to get involved. Education is too important to be left up to educators. Conservatives and even good liberals who believe people should have a basic level of civic literacy should run for school boards. The field of education, like the field of journalism, has been dominated by liberals for a very long time. More conservatives need to be encouraged to become teachers. We should support with our charitable giving those organizations like Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the 917 Society and others that are trying to change things.  If we cannot turn this around, we may be part of the last free generation.

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Read the Constitution

If you have not read the Constitution in a long time, please read it. Here is a link.

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Happy Constitution Day

I fear for the future of our Republic. So many people have no concept of our structure of government. They do not understand limited power and checks and balances. They seem oblivious to basic concepts.  It is mostly on the left but also some on the right.  You see this in the opposition to the Electoral College.  People who oppose it do not even know why we have it.  You see this in support for executive orders from a president. Many people both left and right, want policies adopted they support.  They are much more concerned about the policy than that it be adopted by constitutional means.  They think a president should have the power to rule by royal decree. I don't know if ignorance of the constitution and basic civics is worst than in the past, but it certainly seems like it.

The 917 Society has a goal of giving every 8th grader in Tennessee a pocket copy of the Constitution. Please support there effort by making a contribution. Follow this link.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

What's on the Council Agenda of 9/19/2017: Not much really. This should be a meeting that is more boring than most.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. There is nothing on the agenda that is likely to cause controversy or debate.  This is a pretty boring agenda.

If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

Proposed Rule Change There are several Council rule changes proposed all of which deal with the time frame or some other aspect of consideration of the Capital Improvements Budget. Most likely the Council will follow the recommendation of the Rules Committee and I would not expect this to be a matter of controversy.

There is an election to fill three vacancies on the Industrial Development Board. While this is not of interest to the average citizen sometimes there is stiff competition for a seat on the Board and council members may get lobbied to vote for one candidate over another.  This board controls a lot of money and members of this board are in a position to help those they favor. The candidates for the three seats are Ms. Cristina Allen, Ms. Lindsey Cox, Mr. Eddie Gray, Ms. Ginger Hausser and Ms. Saletta Holloway.

There are nine appointments to Boards and Commissions on the agenda.  The appointments are made by the mayor and must be confirmed by the Council. The Council always confirms. To my knowledge, this Council has never turned down a Mayor's appointee.  They will all be approved without discussion.

There is only one resolution on Public Hearing
and it is to exempt an establishments from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.

There are 24 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a resolution pulled off of the consent agenda or have their "no" vote or abstention recorded. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Below are the resolutions of interest. 

RESOLUTION RS2017-779, RESOLUTION RS2017-780 and  RESOLUTION RS2017-781 all deal with the temporary closing of right of ways and the fees charged for getting a permit to close a right-of-way. It is likely that all will be deferred a meeting. 

RESOLUTION RS2017-882 is a memorialize resolution, which simply expresses an opinion of the Metro Council, asking the news media to show greater sensitivity and decorum regarding reports of juvenile deaths. I don't know which incident of reporting prompted this and which media outlet is the target of this and the resolution does not say.  
Bills on First reading: There are 10 bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading. I do not read them until they get to second reading. Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 21 bills on Second Reading. None are very important and likely to generate controversy. These are the ones of a little interest:
BILL NO. BL2017-801  and BILL NO. BL2017-802, both deal with obstruction or closure of public right of ways. These were on the Council agenda on July 18th and deferred to this meeting. Bill 801 would impose additional requirements for any permit exceeding a six month period and it would require a quarterly report be provided to members of the Council regarding all right-of-way closures. Bill 802 would increase the penalties for an improper right-of-way closures.
Bills on Third Reading: Most are rezoning bills approved by the Planning Commission. There is really very little of interest among the bills on Third Reading. BL2017-849  is a bill in Councilman Scott Davis' district that was  disapproved as submitted but approved with a substitute proposed by the Planning Commission. The sponsor did not substitute at Second Reading but he indicated he would at third.  I assume he will, in which case this is of no interest. A disapproved bill requires 27 votes of the Council to pass, which can sometimes be difficult to get. 

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

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Andy Ogles to challenge Bob Corker

by Cari Wade Gervin, Nashville Post - Andy Ogles, the former head of the Tennessee chapter of

Andy Ogles
Americans for Prosperity, announced Thursday he will run in the Republican primary for Senate in 2018. .... Ogles, a Williamson County native, is the first high profile Republican to announce a challenge to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker — although Corker still won't confirm that he's running for a third term. Corker has hired Ward Baker to run a possible campaign and has been fundraising; in recent days Corker's campaign Twitter account has become more active and his campaign website has been rebooted. However, Corker told CNN a few days ago that he was contemplating retiring from public office, and a source close to the senator confirmed to the Post that Corker still remains genuinely conflicted as to his decision. .... If Corker does run, he has plenty of money with which to do so — over $6.5 million on hand in his campaign account at the end of June. But Ogles, who worked as a national deputy director for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign in 2012, will likely utilize his AFP ties for fundraising. .... Rep. Joe Carr, who ran a close challenge to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2014 and lost a lopsided challenge to U.S. Rep. Diane Black in 2016, is seriously considering a run for Corker's seat. (link)

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Tennessee High School Graduation Rate Hits All-Time High

Tennessee education officials announced more than 89 percent of the high school Class of 2017 graduated, the highest rate on record. 

 By , Nashville Patch - Tennessee education officials gleefully announced that the state's graduation rate of 89.1 percent for the 2016-17 academic year is the highest on record, but Davidson County's dropped.

The statewide graduation rate is up more than half a percentage point since last year, and overall has increased 3.6 percent since the 2010-11 school year. This year, graduation rates increased in nearly 56 percent of districts with high schools.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Conservative economic icon Arthur Laffer endorses Diane Black for Governor

Architect of Reagan fiscal policy to serve as Economic Advisor to Diane Black for Governor 

Image result for Diane Black
Diane Black
Press release - Conservative economist and close Reagan advisor Arthur Laffer today endorsed Diane Black for Governor and will serve as Economic Advisor to Diane Black for Governor.  Dr. Laffer was a personal economic advisor to both President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher, serving on the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of President Reagan’s two terms in office.

“Diane Black knows exactly how to keep Tennessee’s economy growing rapidly by ensuring that Tennessee keeps tax rates low while paying its bills and protecting its taxpayers,” said Dr. Laffer.  “I moved from California to Tennessee eleven years ago for these very reasons, and I couldn’t be happier with my adopted home state.  There’s no one more qualified and prepared to lead Tennessee into a new era of prosperity than Diane Black.”

Dr. Laffer’s economic acumen and influence in triggering a world-wide tax-cutting movement in the 1980’s earned him the distinction in many publications as "The Father of Supply-Side Economics." The New York Times wrote, “we do know from official economic statistics that the seven-year period from 1982 to 1989 was the greatest, consistent burst of economic activity ever seen in the U.S. In fact, it was the greatest economic expansion the world has ever seen - in any country, at any time.”

“Art Laffer has the greatest fiscal policy track record of the last 40 years,” said Black.  “I am honored
Art Laffer
to have his endorsement and look forward to working with him to put conservative economic principles to work in Tennessee.  My team will focus on bringing jobs, low taxes and prosperity to every corner of Tennessee.”

Laffer is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an institutional economic research and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1965 and 1972, respectively.  He has served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, University of Southern California and Pepperdine firm in Nashville.  One of his earliest successes in shaping public policy was his involvement in California’s Proposition 13, the groundbreaking initiative that drastically cut property taxes in California in 1978.

Dr. Laffer received a B.A. in economics from Yale University in 1963.  He received a MBA and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1965 and 1972, respectively.  He has served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, University of Southern California and Pepperdine University.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

The future is here for cities that choose it. A better way to provide mass transit.

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