Sunday, February 17, 2019

Nashville is 14th most dangerous city in America

by Rod Williams, Feb. 17, 2019 - If you have an impression that crime is getting really bad in Nashville, it is not an illusion.  Often in can be. Media focuses on crime and a few bad episodes, such as the horrific murder of a 24-year old musician by five teens last week, can cause one to think crime is worse than it really is.  However, it really is bad. 

According the travel site EscapeHere, Nashville is the fourteenth most dangerous city in America.  According to the report: "In the year 2017 there were 110 homicides in the Nashville metropolitan area. Also, the crime rate was 1,138 per 100,000 residents and the poverty rate sat at about 18-percent. The murder rate in this city is so bad that the Oasis Center of Nashville which works to help at risk youth in the area called it an epidemic, according to 24/7 Wall St."

Cities with a worse crime rate than Nashville include Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois;  Baltimore, Maryland and the most dangerous city in America, St Louis, Missouri.  Also, surprising to me, two other cities with worse crime than Nashville and among the most dangerous cities in America are Memphis as the second most dangerous city in America and Chattanooga at number 7.  For three Tennessee cities to be among the nations top 14 most dangerous does not speak good for our state. Crime however is a local problem and the state government can not do much to combat it.

Among cities that one may think of as dangerous cities but actually rank as less dangerous than Nashville, is Newark, New Jersey at number 22.  I have a daughter who lives in New Orleans and I have visited the city several times. I love New Orleans.  In many ways it resembles a third world country and it has long had a reputation of a dangerous crime-ridden city. New Orleans is not near as dangerous as Nashville however. It ranks as the 24th most dangerous and it has a violent crime rate of 1,121 per 100,000 residents and 157 homicides. The poverty rate of the city was 26.2-percent. 

None of the cities with which we are often compared such as Austin, Texas or Charlotte, North Carolina  or Raleigh-Durham are on the list.  Neither is Atlanta on the list. Note that the study is called 25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2019, but the data being analyzed is 2017 statistics.  My impression is that crime is considerable worse in Nashville now than two years ago.  It may be an impression that is false but it sure seems to me that things are getting worse.  I also have the impression that whereas in the past, a lot of the crime was Black on Black crime, now it is more general throughout the community. Also, I have had an impression that in the past most crime was either related to interaction between people who knew each other, such as domestic violence crime, or due to things like drug deals gone bad.  Now, there seems to be many more random acts of violence and targeted crime. A front page article in today's Tennessean report that gun thefts from cars was up 85 percent in two years.

We know that cities can be safe and big at the same time. We should not just accept that Nashville has a high crime rate.  Something shoud be done. We know that our police department is undermanned.  I hear complaints when talking to members of the community who are in a position to know, such as councilmen and lawyers, that for non-emergency interactions with the police such as reporting minor crimes, that there are long waits.  Also, the growth in the police department has not kept pace with the growth in tourism and population. 

To address our rising crime, we need new leadership in Nashville, including a new mayor and new council members who will prioritize essential services. Also, while I think Chief Anderson is a good man, it may be time for him to retire. We may need new leadership at the police department.  Since the Chief of Police serves at the pleasure of the mayor, a police chief can only be so vocal in calling attention to the needs of his department, but Chief Anderson could do more to highlight the growing problem of crime in Nashville. Crime is becoming a major problem in Nashville and we need to treat it as such.


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Saturday, February 16, 2019

The "Green New Deal" is a Green Disaster

Rep. Phil Roe
by Phil Roe - Elections have consequences. Under the House Republican majority in the previous Congress, we focused on creating jobs, growing the economy, improving our security, taking care of our veterans, and making America energy independent.  Now that House Democrats have the majority, they have replaced our agenda with an agenda much more closely aligned with socialist principles and government control over all aspects of life. As President Trump pointed out in his State of the Union speech, history is littered with examples of the destruction caused by socialism, with Venezuela being the most recent. No document better lays out Democrats’ embrace of socialism than their recently-introduced “Green New Deal.”

The resolution, H.Res. 109, has the support of 68 House Democrats and 12 Democrats in the Senate on their version. Senate Democrats supporting this resolution include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), among others. The resolution puts forth a goal for the United States to meet 100 percent of the U.S. power demand using zero-emission energy sources. This would require stopping the production of oil, natural gas, and coal – three of our most abundant energy sources and the energy sources that power 80% of our economy. The resolution also calls for updating or replacing ALL U.S. buildings, and calls for “guaranteeing a job . .  for all people of the United States.”

Some of their proposals are far too extreme and unrealistic to achieve in their 10-year goal. For instance, the resolution calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” and “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), put out a FAQ along with the resolution to illustrate some of the policies the resolution calls for. The FAQ states they “aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” - you can’t make this stuff up! Why on earth would anyone want to eliminate air travel or livestock from our agricultural system?

Here’s the most troubling part of the Green New Deal: it’s not about climate change, it’s about centralizing control of our economy with the government. Within the FAQ, the bill’s sponsors indicate the goals of the new deal include: providing “economic security for all who are…unwilling to work;” to “create millions of family supporting-wage, union jobs;” “guaranteeing…higher education;” and to “ensure a just transition for all communities and workers…that have historically relied on fossil fuel industries.”

Their plan to pay for this legislation is through credit extended by the Federal Reserve or by new public banks, or a carbon tax. California’s failed plan to build a high-speed rail is a prime example of how this “deal” would bring devastation to our country. The rail was estimated to exceed $77 billion in costs by the time of completion, and since abandoning the project, California has to return $3.5 billion to the federal government. The Democratic resolution isn’t a “green dream”, as Nancy Pelosi called it – it’s a green nightmare and a socialist fantasy.

If we are interested in reducing emissions, local communities are already leading the way with commonsense changes that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are good for the economy and taxpayers at the same time. While I served on the Johnson City Commission, including my time as Mayor, we worked to cap the gas coming out of our landfill – which is made up of methane – and used it to heat and cool the Mountain Home VA Medical Center instead of burning the methane off into the atmosphere. For that, we received a national award from the EPA. We also audited all our public buildings for energy efficiency and established a ‘Green Team’ that could work with entities to find ways to help them be more environmentally friendly. Johnson City was the first municipality in Tennessee to offer curbside recycling, and we replaced stoplight and streetlight bulbs with energy efficient bulbs that save energy and taxpayer dollars.

I’m all for solutions that will leave our children and grandchildren a healthier planet, but the extreme Green New Deal is not the answer.

Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.  

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Democratic lawmakers propose reforming Tennessee Democratic Party structure

Democrats in the State legislature have filed a bill to change the structure of the State Democratic Party.  Currently, the Party's State Executive Committee is composed of committee members from each State senatorial district with each district having the same number of people on the Executive Committee. The bill's lead sponsor in the Senate is Jason Powell.

The bill does not mandate how the Committee should be restructured but calls for the Party to have a state-wide convention to do so.  The argument for doing this is that the current structure gives Democrats in overwhelmingly Republicans Senatorial Districts the same number of votes in determining Democrat policies as do Democrats in heavily Democratic Senatorial districts. That is not considered fair.

I am totally in favor of the proposed change. It is fair.  And, it will tilt the party even further to the left with intercity Blacks, progressives, socialist, and younger people having a stronger voice in the party. This will quicken the pace at which sensible old style "conservative" Democrats realize they are no longer at home in the Democratic Party.  They will realize that the new socialist Democratic Party is not their daddy's Democratic Party and it is time to migrate to the Republican Party.

For more on this, follow this link.

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Senator Lamar Alexander: Trump's declaratiion of National Emergency is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution

Lamar Alexander
Senator Lamar Alexander - The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. It is unnecessary because significant additional money already has been approved by Congress that he could spend on border security without declaring a national emergency. In fact, the president announced today that he would spend $3 billion of this additional funding to fund construction of the border wall. This $3 billion is in addition to the $22 billion Congress appropriated on Thursday for detention beds, technology, border patrol agents, ports of entry, replacing existing wall and 55 miles of new wall.

It is unwise because if this president can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next president can declare a national emergency to tear it down; or declare a climate change emergency to close coal plants and build wind turbines; or a health care emergency and force into Medicare the 180 million Americans with health insurance on the job.

It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

A $23 million hole in the Metro budget as land sales fail

by Mike Reicher, The Tennessean - Nashville Mayor David Briley’s attempt to plug a $23 million budget shortfall by selling publicly-owned real estate isn’t going so well. 

One sale was scrapped by community opposition. Another parcel attracted just a single bidder and sold well under the appraised value. A third received no bids at all. .... Briley hasn’t said how he will cover the year’s operating expenses without the proceeds,... At-large councilman John Cooper criticized how the city sold the parcels through its online auction platform. That system is typically used to dispose of unused office furniture, school buses and other surplus city property. 

Rod's Comment: To summarized the rest of the article, one reason we could not sale the property in addition to trying to sell it on a webpage normally used to sell surplus office furniture, is that the city required the sale to close within 30 days. Usually a lot of due-diligence goes into such a sale on the part of the buyer and such a sale would take six months to close. Also, Metro requires ten percent down which is about double what would be required in a normal sale.

Selling property to fund operating budgets is a bad idea. Using one-time money for reoccurring expenses is just not wise. We have been terribly mismanaged and continue to be. We are having massive cost overruns on projects, we are paying consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars on days they spend socializing with Metro officials, we let contracts without taking bids, we spend $60 million dollars to build three and half miles of sidewalk, and we give million of dollars in "incentives" to one of the richest companies in the world. At the same time all of this is happening, we are understaffed in police protection, our roads are falling apart, we have not added new fire halls to reflect the city's growth, Metro employees could not get a promised cost of living raise, and our schools are failing.

It is time for a change in leadership and new mechanisms need to be put in place so it is less easy to hide mismanagement and corruption.

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A President Trump Happy Valentine's Day














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When Cities Go To War: Why Tax Incentives Are 'Terrible' | Think | NBC News




This short video from NBC news, obviously not a hotbed of libertarian dogma, explains that you cannot create wealth by purchasing jobs and that the hype of the benefits of attracting the new company rarely lives up to the expectation.  The basic unfairness of taxing existing local business to subsidized new arriving wealthy companies is stated.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

MNPS faces morale crisis, confidential report warns

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Metro School Board Members Call For Outside Investigation, As Questions Surround Director

WPLN - During Tuesday night's school board meeting, several members said there ought to be an extensive independent investigation into whether the Metro Nashville Public Schools Director, Shawn Joseph, violated purchasing rules in his business contracts with vendors.

This discussion comes after the Metro Audit Committee voted to rejected an audit that had been favorable toward the director. ... Mark Swann, Metro's chief audit executive, agrees his team's review was limited in scope. .... (link)

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Robert Nash Will be a Candidate for the Metropolitan Council District 27

Robert Nash
From Robert Nash - Nashville has been a wonderful place to live and work. My family has loved our McMurray Hills neighborhood. Barbara and I were very blessed to raise our three children here since our move in 1978. We have seen much growth and many changes in that time, but the warmth, friendship and support of our neighbors have been constant.

I had a great career at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department where I served for 33 years and retired as Commander of the East Precinct. I am eternally grateful to the citizens of Nashville for that opportunity.

Public safety will certainly always be a priority interest for me. However, our city faces many issues that need the urgent attention of the Metropolitan Council – responsibly managing our growth, creating first class schools, easing traffic congestion, building affordable housing, being fiscally responsible, and maintaining and expanding our aging infrastructure.

My promise to the residents of District 27, if elected, is to do all that I can to keep our neighborhoods welcoming places in which to live, work and play. It would be an honor for me to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.

A more formal announcement will be issued when the campaign is officially launched.

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Dr. Joseph plays the race card in response to criticism over no bid handouts to cronies

by Rod Williams - At Tuesday night's School Board meeting, Dr. Shawn Joseph played the race card and said criticism of his administration of Metro Schools was the same product of the factors that led to the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the treatment of other African-American men.  "What we know is fear is a mind killer," said Dr. Joseph as pictures of Martin and others were shown on monitors around the board room.

At the heart of the recent controversy was recently uncovered evidence by NewsChannel 5 Investigates about companies that got no-bid contracts under Joseph's administration and how his administration misled the board about key details. His primary critic was School Board member Amy Frogge. School Board Chair Sharon Gentry defended Joseph.

For an understanding of the mood at the School Board, here is a description of what happened as reported on the blog Dad Gone Wild:

After the board opened the floor for comments on the recently completed audit/investigation by the Metro Government audit department, board member Amy Frogge read in a dispassionate voice a long list on transgressions that included several instances of laws being broken and board policy not adhered to. All of the charges included extensive supporting documentation.

At the end of her speech, comments from fellow board members focused not on fixing the problems of financial fidelity, but rather how the board could avoid continuing to be viewed as dysfunctional. There was little concern expressed about addressing an apparent inability to follow procedure and protecting taxpayer investment. Instead, the impetus was clearly on cleaning up the board’s image so that they could procure more of that taxpayer money.
I have been  impressed by School Board member Amy Frogge  in  her effort to expose corruption and mismanagement at Metro Schools.  Ms Frogge has not been one of my favorite school board members.  I am in favor of charter schools and Ms Frogge has been a consistent critic. However, Ms Frogge has risen in my esteem due to her persistence in opposing cronyism and mismanagement on the part of the current school administration. 

For more on this story see the followng from News Channel 5: Contract questions continue to haunt Metro School Board, Analysis: MNPS audit leaves unanswered questions,
 and MNPS official failed to disclose consulting fees from vendor group. For anyone who wishes to stay informed about Metro School issues, I would recommend following the blog Dad Gone Wild. It is a consistent good source of information and analysis.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Briley dips into reserve funds for over-budget fairgrounds buildings


A project has a cost overrun!

 When will we every learn that almost ever government construction project has a cost overrun. A good rule of thumb is to assume the true cost of a project is one and half times the official original estimate.  Some government projects are multiple times the original estimate.  A cynic may be inclined to believe that projects are purposely low-balled in order to get legislative approval and public acceptance knowing the real cost will be much higher.

This latest Metro cost overrun of a project is for  the new Expo Center buildings at the Nashville Fairgrounds. It was initially supposed to cost $25 million and that is the amount the Council approved. Now, the projected cost of the Expo Center project is estimated to be $37.6 million. Mayor David Briley is dipping into a contingency fund for $5 million more than what was appropriated by the Metro Council for the project.  While this is an expenditure for replacing some of the old buildings at the Fairgrounds, which need upgrading, this was part of the soccer stadium deal and most likely it would have been less costly to upgrade the fairground building if not for the soccer stadium. If I were a cynical person I would suspect that cost were manipulated to make the soccer stadium deal look less bad for the city.

For more details, follow this link.




 

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