Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bobbie Patray of Tennessee Eagle Forum explains Amendment 2

While I am in favor of amendment number two, I realized that many conservative activist are opposed. I am not going to have a falling out with anyone over this issue.  It is an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. In this Facebook post from May 10 Bobby Patray explains why politics is often the art of the possible and Amendment 2 is all we can hope for and is better than what we have now. Rod
Bobbie Patray May 10 · Nashville, TN
There seems to be a lot of confusion about Amendment 2. I would like to bring some clarity to the discussion.

Let me start by saying -- unlike some of the posts I am reading, if amendment 2 is defeated, we WILL NOT HAVE DIRECT ELECTION OF JUDGES! We will go back to only the 'retention' elections like we have now for Supreme Court justices and appellate judges.


The debate about this issue was hot and heavy. As the debate unfolded in the General Assembly, there were three schools of thought: 1. Maintain retention (what we have now); 2. return to direct elections as the Constitution requires (which, for many reasons, does give me a bit of heartburn) or; 3. the compromise which is on the ballot.

It was only the compromise that could get enough votes to get through the long amending process and to get on the ballot. And while it certainly isn't perfect, I think it is much better than going back to the flawed present 'retention' process. And who knows how much longer it would be before we could get another amendment on the ballot. So there you have it.....one more case of "Politics being the art of the possible."

What was finally decided was to do something similar the the federal requirement for justices.
What the amendment will do is give Tennesseans three votes in the selection of our appellate judges:
• By voting for the governor, who will make the appointments.
• By voting for our state senators and representatives, who will confirm or reject the appointments.
• By voting to keep or fire the judges at the end of their respective terms.

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GOV. WINFIELD DUNN THROWS SUPPORT BEHIND DIANA CUELLAR IN STATE SENATE RACE

Gov. Winfield Dunn and Diana Cuellar
Press release, Nashville, TN – Governor Winfield Dunn threw his support behind Diana Cuellar, Republican nominee for State Senate in District 21 this week.

“I am honored to have received the support of Governor Winfield Dunn. He is a wonderful man who has been a huge asset to our state throughout the years. I am equally humbled by the kind words he recently had to say,” said Cuellar.

Governor Dunn released the following statement regarding Diana Cuellar: “I am so proud to support Diana because she is a fine example of one who wishes to serve,” said Governor Dunn.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You Don’t Know Bo. The Bo Mitchell link to Barry Stokes, mastermind behind most destructive Ponzi scheme in Tennessee history.

TNGOP releases documents, unveils YouDontKnowBo.com revealing a disturbing link between Bo Mitchell and one of the most destructive Ponzi schemes in Tennessee history

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn.- When $19 million dollars goes missing, people ask questions. When an elected official has a connection to the company that lost it, voters get mad.

Metro Councilman and State Rep.
Bo Mitchell

The Tennessee Republican Party today made public a series of court documents and personal correspondence, as well as various media reports, that reveal a disturbing link between current State Representative Bo Mitchell (D—Nashville) and Barry Stokes, a shadowy figure behind one of the most destructive Ponzi schemes in Tennessee history.

Stokes was the mastermind who, as CEO and sole owner of 1 Point Solutions, LLC, a Dickson, Tennessee-based company, “engaged in the business of third party administration for various types of employee benefit plans such as 401(k) retirement plans, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)” for numerous companies and government entities. A U.S. Department of Justice press release reveals Stokes was charged with 78 counts of embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering, and mail fraud. He embezzled “over $19 million from thousands of victims’” accounts. Stokes pled guilty to the charges.

A deeper look through court filings and rulings reveal a familiar name was connected to Stokes: Bo Mitchell. In a personal memo, Mitchell admitted to being “hired (to 1 Point Solutions, LLC) by Stokes…to establish a market share of sales within the public sector.“ In other words, Bo Mitchell was hired to target taxpayer-funded government entities. Later in the memo, Mitchell takes credit for securing “over 17,000 participants and…billing in excess of $60,000 per month.” In April of 2006, both the Stokes Ponzi scheme and the fact that 1 Point Solutions was a front company for the scheme were uncovered. Soon thereafter, Stokes and 1 Point Solutions, LLC, filed for bankruptcy. With the scheme’s house of cards caving in, Mitchell parted ways with the company and appears to have pursued a career in political consulting.  Ironically, 2006 was also the year Stokes made his largest single contribution to the Tennessee Democratic Party to the tune of $20,000. Bo Mitchell—Stokes’ just-departed employee—worked as a consultant for the TNDP. Mitchell collected almost the same dollar amount Stokes contributed to the TNDP as detailed in 3rd quarter, pre-general election, and 4th quarter financial disclosures.

Barry Stokes, the politically
ambitious con man died
in prison in 2010
In 2007, Mitchell was elected to the Nashville Metro Council.

In 2008—two years after the shocking revelation of the Ponzi scheme and the sudden downfall of both Stokes and 1 Point Solutions, a Nashville City Paper profile of Mitchell confirms he “had the unfortunate distinction of working for 1 Point Solutions” and being connected to Stokes. In fact, it states Bo Mitchell was introduced to political insiders by Stokes. From the article, “more than one councilman said their initial introduction to Mitchell came through Stokes.”
 
Then in 2009, two years after he was elected to Metro Council and a year after Stokes pled guilty to the charges, Bo Mitchell filed two separate claims. One showed he cashed out his entire 401(k) Account in 2006—just prior to 1 Point Solutions filing for bankruptcy—taking the employer contribution to the account with him.

The second claim was for $40,000—money Mitchell claimed was owed to him by the bankrupt Ponzi scheme company for signing up 17,000 people. He asserted this was post-employment commission money that he should be paid. Keep in mind, this was well after it was made public the company was a front organization for a Ponzi scheme and after Mitchell should have learned he brought people into it. The second claim was rejected by the court for “insufficient documentation.” A review of the filings show Mitchell took credit for signing up Nashville Metro schools, Metro government, Hamilton County schools, and several other school systems, government entities, and companies. All told, Mitchell's clients’ losses accounted for nearly one million dollars of the $19 million lost in the Ponzi scheme, a substantial portion of which was taxpayer money.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “These documents reveal an alarming connection between Barry Stokes, the Bernie Madoff of Tennessee, and Bo Mitchell. Representative Mitchell’s actions raise serious questions about his judgment and integrity as an elected official in charge of taxpayer dollars. How does one learn that he’s responsible for signing 17,000 participants into a Ponzi scheme and then, in good conscience, attempt to go back and get more money that was obtained in such a destructive way? The voters of Nashville should be very concerned.”

To provide documentation relating to the case, the TNGOP has posted the documents and a timeline at: www.YouDontKnowBo.com.

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What happened at the Council Meeting of 10-21-14: The Gulch-Pedestrian-Bridge-is-approved meeting.


To find a copy of the staff analysis, council agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

This council meeting is conducted by Lonnell Matthews, Jr., President pro tem of the Council whose duty it is to conduct the meeting in the absence of the Vice Mayor.

There are 14 appointments of boards and commissions rapidly confirmed as always is the case. The Council nominates two people for election to the Health and Education Facilities Board which will occur at the November 4th meeting.  I am not that knowledgeable about what this board does and do not know the nominees.

All resolutions on the Consent Agenda pass and one resolution is withdrawn at the request of the administration. Included in those that pass are these resolutions of interest:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1253 which is part of the deal to build a new $35.5 million parking garage downtown. This resolution ups the price of the project to $42 million while reducing the number of parking spaces from 1183 to 1000. 
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1254 which appropriates $250,000 through a grant contract with Oasis Center to provide support for the Mayor’s Scholars Academy.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1265 which approves an agreement between the state department of transportation (TDOT) and the Metro Arts Commission for the installation of the sculpture called ''Stixs" at the new Korean Veterans roundabout. 
All bills on first reading pass without discussion as is customary. All Bills on Second Reading pass without discussion and none of them are of much interest.

Bills on Third Reading: 
BILL NO. BL2014-670 is the Gulch pedestrian bridge bill which authorizes the acquisition of easements and right of ways to build the bridge.  The bridge is already in the capital improvement budget and funding is authorized, so if the Council had wanted to delay or kill the $18 million bridge this was the opportunity to do it.  Back a few months ago, the Council was presented with this proposal and they defeated it. At that time, it was to be funded by bonds paid for out of general revenues, and the Mayor came back with this revised proposal to fund it by Tax Increment Financing. To see my commentary on why I think the financing method is nothing more than a shell game and why I opposed moving forward with this project at this time, see this. Last Council meeting, the Council passed this on a voice vote.  I am pleased to see there was a recorded vote on this.

The council votes 30-7 to approve this bill without discussion. Those voting "no" are council members Charlie Tygard, Steve Glover, Emily Evans, Larry Hagar, Bruce Stanley, Robert Duvall. and Carter Todd.


BILL NO. BL2014-838 is the bill that would remove historical overlay protection for part of lower Broadway.  This is a complex issue and the Council engages in some adept and rare parliamentary procedures. To understand the issue and the maneuvers on the bill you must watch the video carefully. To see the discussion see time stamp 27:02- 50:30. Below is how the Tennessean described this issue:
In other business Tuesday, historic preservationists scored a victory, with the council voting down a plan that could have led to a makeover of the historic Trail West store building on Lower Broadway.
At issue is a block of property at Broadway and Third Avenue South still unprotected by the rest of the area’s historic overlay, as a way to accommodate a Westin Hotel proposed in 2007 but never built.
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, who represents downtown, had proposed an ordinance to extend the historic overlay to include this block, but at the last minute had sought to exclude the Trail West property at 217-219 Broadway. There, broker Marshall Karr, who recently purchased the property, is eyeing a three-story, open-air structure anchored by a steakhouse.
Gilmore’s amendment to exclude the Trail West building from the overlay, however, failed by a 14-20 vote. Later, Gilmore’s motion to withdraw the legislation, which could have enabled the demolition of the building, failed as well by a 12-21 vote.
“Historic preservation is what makes downtown Nashville great,” said Councilwoman Emily Evans, who sought to protect the Trail West building. “It is the golden goose. Let’s not kill it.”
There are two memorializing resolutions on the agenda.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1252  request President Obama and Congress "to select public infrastructure improvements as the priority activity of the United States to upgrade the current substandard infrastructure of the nation, strengthen the national economy, and support healthy and vibrant communities in the United States."  It is deferred again having also been deferred last meeting. I do not think the Council should be weighing in on national policy issues such as this and I hope the sponsor will withdraw this resolution or it is voted down when it comes back up.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1268  sponsored by Charlie Tygard is a resolution requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to allow the Metropolitan Council to make Metropolitan Government General Sessions Court judicial elections nonpartisan. The resolution had failed in the committee to which it was assigned and fails in the Council 10-13-7. Most of the "good" council members voted for it. (To see the discussion see 1:03:01- 1:07:37.)
To see the Tennessean's report on the Council meeting, follow this link: Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge cleared for construction.
 


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More on the Metro Council Agenda tonight: the historic integrity of Broadway threatened.

I missed the importance of this bill when reviewing the agenda. This was posted to Facebook by Council member Emily Evans.
 
Friends of historic preservation, please be aware of a little bait and switch going on at Council tomorrow night. The bill intended to replace the 2006 SP (sponsored by Mike Jameson) that protected the historic integrity of Broadway between 2nd and 3rd will (if the sponsor gets her way) be substituted by an unpublished bill which will carve out 2 properties allegedly controlled by Steve Smith giving him more latitude to develop these parcels than anyone else in the historic district downtown. You may be familiar with Mr. Smith's approach to land use rules: http://www.jrn.com/newschannel5/news/Proposed-Downtown-Diner-Has-Critics-May-Not-Happen-270410741.html. Most folks downtown are.
This carve out is not fair to other property owners and defeats the original intent of the 2006 zoning initiatives to save the Trail West Building. Please write Council at Councilmembers@nashville.gov and ask them to defer BL 2014-838 for further discussion and debate on the impact to the historic integrity of the area.

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What is on the Council agenda for Oct. 21? Stix and a Bridge.

Council meeting can be really, really boring if you don't know what the council is voting on. If you have your own copy of the Metro Council agenda and the staff analysis the meetings are still boring, just not really, really boring.

There are 14 appointments of boards and commissions to be confirmed. Since the Council never rejects or questions anyone, all will be rapidly confirmed.

There are 14 resolution on the consent agenda. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is

Ghost Dance
deemed non-controversial and it stays on consent if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Items on the consent agenda pass by a single vote rather than being voted on one at a time. However, any member may ask to be recorded "no" or may ask for a bill to be pulled off the consent agenda. These resolutions on the consent agenda spend a lot of money and they accept a lot of grant money, but I see nothing that I think will be controversial but I am pointing out a few that I find interesting:
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1253 is part of the deal to build a new $35.5 million parking garage downtown. This resolution ups the price of the project to $42 million while reducing the number of parking spaces from 1183 to 1000. Still, the pro forma shows parking revenue should be sufficient to repay the bonds.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1254 appropriates $250,000 through a grant contract with Oasis Center to provide support for the Mayor’s Scholars Academy. The Scholars Academy is a free summer enrichment program to help students succeed in high school and
    Musica
    prepare for college. In the most recent budget $650,000 was allocated for this program. In addition to the $250K, Oasis is providing another $185K in funding from other sources. I wonder if that other money is real money or in-kind services? I hope someone in Budget and Finance ask that question. I have written grants and reviewed grants. I know that some grant applications show an awfully lot of inflated "in-kind" match. Also, I wonder why this is not provided by the school system itself. Was a Request for Proposals issued or was Oasis awarded the grant without considering any other potential providers? Among the impressive members of the Board of Directors of Oasis is former Mayor Bill Purcell and Councilman Fabian Bedne.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1265 approves an agreement to between the state department of transportation (TDOT) and the Metro Arts Commission for the installation of the sculpture called ''Stixs" at the new Korean Veterans roundabout. That is the new roundabout near the Music City Center where 8th and Murfressboro Road come together. I am not opposed to public art. However, I think $750.000 is a lot of money to pay for 30 painted telephone poles. Now I know some people don't like the
    Schermerhorn fountain
    nude dancers at the Music Row roundabout. I like that one a lot. No, I don't wish they were wearing clothes. I also like that a philanthropist donated it rather than the city buying it. I also like that it is by a local artist. I think Ghost Dance across the river from the dead end of Lower Broad looks like some left over construction debris or a roller coaster under construction. I like both the fountain with the sculpture in front of the Schermerhorn and I like the one of the angle writing on a CD while looking at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I also like that they were not paid for with public money. I think we ought to rethink spending money on public art. I think some average citizens should sit on the board that makes the recommendations instead of people with an arts background, I think local artist or regional artist should be given preference and maybe from a selection of several they should be submitted to a referendum or a poll.  Assuming Stix is build we are going to put up with it forever. For $750K could we not have gotten a fountain or something better? Instead of spending public money, maybe the luxury of art in public places should be a civic project funded by donations. 
There are only three bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. They are all lumped together and passed as a group. Bills are not evaluated by the Council until second reading.

There are twelve bills on Second Reading and I don't find any of them of particular interest and don't see any of them as controversial.

There are seventeen bills on Third and final reading and only one of interest:
  • BILL NO. BL2014-670 is the Gulch pedestrian bridge bill. It authorizes the acquisition of easements and right of ways to build the bridge.  The bridge is already in the capital improvement budget and funding is authorized, so if the Council wants to delay or kill the $16 million  bridge this is the opportunity to do it.  I am not opposed to the project. I think it would be nice addition to the growing downtown.  However, given that we have failed to build very many new sidewalks in residential neighborhoods and given the cumulative debt the city has taken on, I think this project should be put on hold maybe until after the next mayor is elected. The funding mechanism the mayor has proposed is Tax Increment Financing. TIF pays off the debt for the project with increased revenue generated by development attributable to the project.  We often finance projects like this.  In some cases the increased revenue would certainly not have occurred had not the project occurred. In the case of the pedestrian bridge that is a hard argument to make.  If financed by TIF, the debt for the project will be  paid
    The Gulch Pedestrian Bridge
    for by revenue from the area before those developments start paying money into the general fund. So, this is kind of like making a decision to pay for something out of one pocket versus a different pocket. It really doesn't make a lot of difference, it still cost the taxpayers money. When this was on second reading it passed by a voice vote and no one asked to have their vote recorded. Why, I don't know. It only takes five councilmen to ask for a roll call vote and there then must be a machine vote. Any member may ask to have their vote recorded. I will very disappointed if this is not a recorded vote. The council should not hide behind a voice vote on this issue. If a member of the Council is reading this, please call for a roll call vote. 
There are two memorializing resolutions on the agenda. A memorializing resolution simply expresses the will of the council. That however does not mean they are not important and should not be taken seriously. Sometimes there are national campaigns to get cities to all ask something of the federal government, such as last year when the Council passes a resolution asking for strict EPA enforcement of CO2 emissions.  I think the Council should refrain from expressing its will on national issues. It has enough to do managing city affairs. 
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1252 request President Obama and Congress "to select
    Stix
    public infrastructure improvements as the priority activity of the United States to upgrade the current substandard infrastructure of the nation, strengthen the national economy, and support healthy and vibrant communities in the United States." 
    While our nation does have infrastructure problems, I don't think the Metro Council ought to be advising Congress of what the budget priorities should be.  We have elected Senators and Congressmen to make those decisions on our behalf. So, unless the Council is going to evaluate the entire federal budget and become as knowledgeable as Congress about the choices we face, then the Council should focus on the Metro budget and let Congress focus on the federal budget. I would vote against this if I were in the Council. This was on the agenda last meeting but was deferred. I hope this is defeated or withdrawn.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1268  A resolution requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to allow the Metropolitan Council to make Metropolitan Government General Sessions Court judicial elections nonpartisan. I am not sure how I feel about this. I would have to think about it. Republicans did not succeed in getting any of their nominees elected last time, and I am almost certain that some of the elected judges are Democrat in name only, so this may be good idea. Also, Council and Mayor run as non-partisan candidates, so why not candidates for judge?
Maybe the Gulch Pedestrian bridge could be deferred until the next mayor comes into office and Stix also deferred. Since the pedestrian bridge is a work of art rather than just a utilitarian sidewalk, maybe we could take the money in the public art sit aside, including the $750K for Stix, and spend it on the bridge.

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Top Business Groups Across Tennessee Support Amendment 2

Press Release, Nashville, Tenn. – Top business organizations from across the state are urging their members and supporters to Vote YES on 2 this November.

 Amendment 2, the second of four proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November , brings greater clarity and accountability to the way we select the state’s appellate court judges so we get the fair and impartial judges that Tennesseans want and need.

“Our ability to attract and keep businesses in our state relies in part on having a stable , fair and impartial judiciary,” said Clay Thompson, Chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce &Industry, and President of Caterpillar Financial Insurance Services in Nashville . “Amendment 2 gives voters the chance to put an end to the legal challenges the current process has faced which threatens to destabilize our judiciary and weaken our state.”

Amendment 2 keeps the best parts of our current system by continuing to have the Governor appoint the most qualified persons as appellate judges, while adding a new layer of accountability by having our elected representatives in the legislature confirm or reject the Governor’s appointees . Most importantly, Amendment 2 protects the right of Tennesseans to vote to retain or replace the judges at the end of their respective terms.

“Tennessean’s want fair and impartial judges held accountable to the people,” said Gary Shorb, President of the Tennessee Business Roundtable, and CEO of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis. “We think Amendment 2 strikes the right balance in meeting that test. We encourage all Tennessee businesses to work in support of it.”

Some of the state’s major business organizations already working in support of Amendment 2 include:

•  Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
• Tennessee Business Roundtable
• Tennessee Bankers Association
• Tennessee Hospital Association
• Tennessee Business Partnership
• Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
• Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce
• Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
• Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
• Knoxville Chamber of Commerce
• Kingsport Chamber of Commerce

Amendment 2 has also been endorsed by a diverse and bipartisan group of top leaders from across the state , including Governor Bill Haslam, former Governor Phil Bredesen, former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, former Governor Winfield Dunn, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, former U . S . Attorney General Albert o Gonzales, large bipartisan majorities in the State House and Senate who voted to place the amendment on the ballot, as well as other leading organizations including the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, League of Women Voters, Fraternal Order of Police, Tennessee Bar Association, and the Women’s Political Collaborative.

Election Day is November 4, 2014, and early voting begins October 15, 2014. For more information, visit VoteYES2.org.

My Comment: I am in favor of all four proposed amendments. Some conservatives are opposed to amendment two because they are angry because they believe we are not currently following the Tennessee Constitution that says appellate judges shall be elected. Currently the governor appoints a judge from a panel of three submitted by a judicial selection committee. The judges serve a period of eight years then stand for a retention election.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a retention election is an election.  I think the Supreme Court is wrong. I am sure when the writers of our constitution said judges would be elected they did not intend that election to be a retention election. Some opponents of amendment two see a vote for the amendment as a capitulation. I understand that.  However, I think on its merits, the proposed amendment two is a superior method of selecting judges. It mirrors the way federal appellate judges are appointed. It improves our current system by requiring a governor's appointee be confirmed by the legislature.  If amendment two fails, we will not start having contested elections for appellate judges. If amendment two fails, nothing changes.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Marsha Blackburn discusses Ebola crisis on MSNBC

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Diana Cuellar Lands Major Endorsement In Nashville Senate Race

Press Release, Nashville, TNDiana Cuellar, Republican nominee for the District 21 State Senate seat, just received a major endorsement.  

Dr. Carol Swain, Vanderbilt University Law Professor, award winning author, and frequent guest on National news, has endorsed Diana Cuellar in the 21st District State Senate Race.


Transcript:
Greetings, I’m Dr. Carol Swain.  November 4th is Election Day across the nation.  It’s the day we the people get an opportunity to elect news leaders and oust those who betray our values and principles.  In Tennessee’s 21st Senate District we have the opportunity to elect a woman who understands fiscal responsibility, the importance of balanced budgets, the value of hard work, and the need for our federal government to address problems with immigration.
 Diana Cuellar is a Latina woman, works as a financial advisor, she understands the needs of the district, and its rich diversity.  Diana is not beholden to special interest groups and big-pocketed lobbyists like her opponent. She will make the needs and interests of the people in her district her first priority.
If you believe it is time to elect a qualified candidate, that truly understands the needs of the people…one that will stand up to the lobbyists and special interest groups…then vote for Diana Cuellar on November 4th. This is your opportunity to be the people.
Elect a woman who will make a difference.
 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why I am not voting for Bill Haslam

I think Bill Haslam has made an excellent governor. He has governed with common sense conservative values. He and the Republican-controlled legislature have advanced education reform and cut taxes and increased government efficiency. I could hardly be more pleased with a governor that I am Governor Haslam.  So why am I not voting for Haslam in the upcoming election?  Because I am in favor of all four proposed constitutional amendments.

It is designed to be difficult to amend our State constitution. In order for an amendment to pass, it does not just have to have more people vote for it than vote against it. A proposed amendment must get one more vote than 50% of the number of people who vote in the Governor's race.

For sake of simplicity assume 100,000 people vote in the governor's race. Assume not everyone who votes will vote on the amendments.  There are some people who feel duty-bound to vote in every election but who may feel too uninformed about the amendments to cast a vote. Assume that 50,000 people vote for Amendment one and 45,000 vote against it. Does it pass? No. It would have required 50,001 votes to pass.

Now assume some people vote for Amendment one and do not vote in the governor's race. Assume only 95,000 vote in the governor's race and 50,000 vote for amendment one and 45,000 vote against it. Does it pass? Yes. One more than 50% of those voting for governor in this example is 47501. By not voting in the governor's race, you are lowering the threshold of the number required for an amendment to pass.

What is the risk of doing this?  Mark Rogers a local Republican Party activist whose opinion I value said there is considerable risk.  He spoke on this subject at a meeting of Caffeinated Conservatives yesterday. He said many of the vote-no-on-amendment-1 people will be driven to the polls by this issue alone. Despite that Charlie Brown is a clown and no one knows hardly anything about him and he has no credentials and experience, the no-on-one voters will vote for the Democratic nominee for Governor. Rogers says by failing to vote for Haslam, we could end up with Charlie Brown being our governor.

Is this likely? I seriously doubt it.  I just do not think that many people will vote for Charlie Brown.  If Haslam had a serious challenger I would not be advocating this strategy. While I respect Mark Roger's opinion, I think he is wrong.  Not that many people will understand the value of abstaining from voting in the governors race. So, I am going to risk it and vote for the amendments and vote in races down-ballot and abstain from voting for governor. To lower the threshold of the required number necessary for an amendment to pass, will not require that many people to abstain from voting in the governors race. A few people abstaining from voting in the governor's race could make the difference in the vote on the constitutional amendments.

If you understand what I have been explaining there no need to read further.  Some people cannot grasp that if more people vote for an amendment than vote against it, that is does not pass. Talking to them one-on-one and seeing their comments on Facebook, some people are just not convinced that that is correct. It is.

Here is the Wikipedia explanation:

Under the legislative method (which is a quite lengthy process), the Tennessee General Assembly must pass a resolution calling for an amendment and stating its wording, and must do so in three separate readings on three separate days, with an absolute majority on all readings. The resolution does not require the governor's approval.
The amendment must then be published at least six months before the next legislative election, but is not placed on the ballot at that time. Instead, once the legislative election is held, the proposed amendment must go another three readings, three day voting process. At this stage the amendment now requires approval of 2/3 of the legislature on each vote.
Finally, the amendment is placed on the ballot as a referendum coinciding with the next gubernatorial election. For the amendment to pass, the number of yes votes must be greater than one-half the number of votes cast for governor.
Here is the wording from the State constitution:
Article XI, Section 3 of the Tennessee State Constitution
Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Senate or House of Representatives, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals with the yeas and nays thereon, and referred to the General Assembly then next to be chosen; and shall be published six months previous to the time of making such choice; and if in the General Assembly then next chosen as afore-said, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, then it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people at the next general election in which a governor is to be chosen. And if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of this Constitution. When any amendment or amendments to the Constitution shall be proposed in pursuance of the foregoing provisions the same shall at each of said sessions be read three times on three several days in each house.

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