Friday, December 30, 2011

Please Vote in my Republican Primary Preference Poll

I would like to know for whom the visitors to this blog would vote if voting in the Republican Iowa caucuses. Please look to the left and cast your vote.

The polling data coming from Iowa has been all over the place. The most recent CNN polling shows that Romney is on top just days before the caucus. Santorum has a promising rise, Paul is holding firm in second place but has dropped from the number one spot he had for a short while and Newt has dropped like a rock. This comparison of where they are now compared to where they were three weeks earlier is revealing.

                      Dec. 21-27              Nov. 29–Dec. 6
                             2011                 2011
Romney                   25%              20%
Paul                         22%               17%
Santorum                16%                  5%
Gingrich                  14%                33%
Perry                      11%                 9%
Bachmann                 9%                7%
Huntsman                 1%                 1%
Someone else (vol.) *                      *
None/ No one (vol.) *                     2%
No opinion                2%                 5%
Despite Ron Paul's favorable showing in Iowa, I think there is almost no chance he will be the Republican nominee. He is too far outside the political mainstream. Should he be the nominee, I think President Obama will be reelected in a landslide. Also, despite Romney's top spot in Iowa today and his consistent holding on to about 20% of the Republican support nationwide, I do not think he will be the nominee. He is simply too moderate for most Republicans and has flip-flopped too often. I have been a Newt supporter but quite frankly am not encouraged that he can win the nomination. If he is the nominee, I think he could provide a strong challenge to Obama simply because he is so much more intelligent and informed than Obama and can better articulate his positions and has a good game plan for winning. In a debate, Newt will run circles around Obama and Newt can force Obama to debate. However Newt has a lot of baggage and with Obama's vast campaign war chest we would see a very dirty campaign focusing on Newts negatives. 

I think we have a great chance to make Obama a one-term President but we must have the right candidate to do it. I don't know who that candidate is.

The Iowa caucus is January 3rd. Please cast your vote today in my poll. I would like to know who you support. This poll is only open 4 more days.

Please cast your vote in the poll to the left and then leave a comment telling me who you are supporting and why.

Thanks for participating, Rod

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More Occuy Nashville News: From Girl Brawls to Tents on Fire


How much longer is the State going to allow this nuisance to continue?

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What to look for at the January 3rd Council meeting. An update.

Signs and Chickens and not much else

This is a Council Meeting devoted to bills on public hearings and unless there is a zoning issue in your neighborhood that you care about, this council meeting will be even more boring than most council meetings. There are only two issues that will generate any general interest.

BILL NO. BL2011-30 will prohibit the conversion of nonconforming static billboards to tri-face billboards. This may sail though with no public comment but some neighborhood activist will be very much in favor of this bill and some sign industry people would be expected to oppose it.

The Backyard Chicken Bill (BL2011-47) sponsored by Karen Bennett establishes regulations and standards pertaining to the keeping of chickens. Currently, it is illegal to keep chickens in the city, this would permit that. Those wanting to keep Chickens would have to pay an annual $25 fee, could have no more than six hens and no roosters. At one time there was a lot of opposition to this bill, so I don't know if there will be a lot of comment or not but their could be.

There are also many people who strongly support this bill. There is even an organization with a Facebook page called Urban Chicken Advocates of Nashville (UCAN) which is pushing for passage of the bill.  I monitor several neighborhood websites and there has not been a lot of chatter about this recently. I am all in favor. I might raise chickens myself if this passes.

Update: Thanks to the Metro Council Member who informed me that currently the rule is that it is illegal to have chickens in the city if you have less than 5 acres. 
  

Another update: Charlotte Park Neighborhood Association opposes the backyard chicken bill. Posted in the Nashville Neighbors Google Group, Charlotte Park Neighborhood leaders Wallace and Janice Lampley post a letter sent to all Metro Council members urging them to vote against the Chicken bill.

We just think this is a bad idea, and will only cause many problems for neighbors and our Codes Department and Health Department, in dealing with all the complaints that will be coming in, if this is approved. As we've said before, Codes Department works hard, and so does our Health Department in trying to keep up with all the complaints in Davidson County, and this is just something that doesn't need to be added to their heavy complaints schedules already, and neighbors don't need to have to start dealing with something else in their neighborhood that has been a problem already in ours.


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Support the Beacon Center

If you are not familiar with the Beacon Center, you need to get to know this organization. They expose corruption and waste in state government, educate law makers on free market legislative proposals  and advocate for less government. They are very influential and effective. To learn more, follow this link: The Beacon Center.

I have just sent The Beacon Center a tax deductible contribution. I urge you to make a contribution to this worthy organization. I am passing posting their appeal letter below. Rod

Dear Rod,
As we get ready to ring in a New Year, you can help us usher in meaningful free market policy reforms in 2012. Don't wait until it's too late to make your 2011 tax-deductible contribution to help advance freedom and prosperity in our state. Click on the link below to donate today!

In 2012, we will work tirelessly to roll back the job-killing state death tax, educate our fellow Tennesseans about the benefits of school choice, and help put healthcare decisions back in the hands of patients and their doctors, not bureaucrats in Washington.
In order to help us advance these goals and more, please take just a few moments to make your tax-deductible gift before the end of the year. You can visit www.beacontn.org/support, or you can send a check to the address below. Your generous support will ensure that we will once again serve as the state's leading advocate for free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.
I wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!
In Liberty,
Justin Owen
President & CEO
P.S. As long as you go online and make your donation before midnight on December 31, you can use your contribution as a tax deduction for your 2011 charitable giving. Visit our secure website at www.beacontn.org/support, or you can mail a check to the address below. Thank you for your support!
Beacon Center of Tennessee
P.O. Box 198646
Nashville, TN 37219

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ben Cunningham forms new Nashville Tea Party

Ben Cunningham
Local anti-tax crusader Ben Cunningham has formed a new group called  Nashville Tea Party which  will focus on local government issues. Ben is best known for leading the 2001 effort to stop a state income tax and he has been a leader in the local Tea Party movement. Ben has said one issue the new group will focus on is opposing a potential property tax increase in Davidson County.
 
Ben is not a Davidson County resident but lives in Summer County.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas Girl Brawl at Occupy Nashville




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Monday, December 26, 2011

What happend at the Metro Council Dec 20: Happy Kwanza, subsidizing Lifepoint, deferring limo price-fixing fix, remodeling a church kitchen.

updated 12-27-2011
A boring Meeting: Happy Kwanza, subsidizing Lifepoint, deferring limo price-fixing fix, remodeling a church kitchen.


"The Metro Council, on a unanimous second of three votes, gave preliminary approval of millions in financial incentives to Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals as a way to lure the company’s headquarters and its 400 employees to Nashville." (link) This bill was substituted and re-referred to Budget and Finance. There was no discussion and I don't know what was in the substitute bill.

BL 2011-49, the bill that would undo the limousine price fixing bill the council passed in June, 2010 was deferred by the sponsor on second reading. The Transportation Committee voted 5-0 to defer until the second meeting in January, Public Safety voted 6-0 to defer two meetings, the Convention and Tourism committee voted 5-0 to defer indefinitely and suggested that a meeting be held to bring together all the stakeholders, and Budget and Finance voted "at the request of the sponsor" to defer 14-0.

More highlights.

In Communications from the Mayor, (see 5:30) he wished everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a Happy Kwanza. Kwanza of course is the made up holiday created in 1966 by Marxist Black power radical and convicted felon Maulana Karenga. It is a Black-only holiday created to offer Blacks an alternative to Christmas since, according to the founder, Christianity is a White man's religion. I have never wished anyone a happy Kwanza and will not do so. I wish the Mayor had not.

Contrary to my predictions, resolutions RS2011-111, RS2011-112, RS2011-113, which would give a beer permit to three locations that already had a liquor by the drink license, did not have anyone speak in opposition. Good!

RESOLUTION NO. RS2011-59 which awarded $24,275 in federal stimulus pass-through funds to remodel a church kitchen and do some other stuff was not on the consent agenda but passed by voice vote with no discussion. No "no" votes were heard and no one asked to be recorded as voting "no"  and no one felt it necessary to explain their vote for this resolution. I find it hard to believe that not a single council member thought this was an inappropriate expenditure. To me, it appears to violate the spirit of the establishment of religion clause of the first amendment. I would have liked to have heard some discussion.

This was boring, boring meeting and lasted less than 39 minutes. I am all for efficiency and I realize that much of the work of the Council gets done in committee and I do not want Council members just grandstanding to get TV face time. However, is everything so non controversial that nothing is worthy of an explanation? Do all forty members think exactly alike? I am disappointed in our new Council. I expect someone to question, to explain, to object and to vote "no" at least occasionally.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Campfield wants the unemployed tested for "hardcore illegal drugs," like marijuana

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has said he plans to push three bills calling for drug testing in the 2012 legislative session.  One bill would address people on welfare, another for those drawing unemployment compensation, and another for those receiving workers' compensation benefits.

While Governor Haslum and House Speaker Beth Harwell are having reservations about the bill, Lt. Governor Ramsey has endorsed this effort saying, "I'm in favor of drug testing for people who are on any kind of benefits, whether it's unemployment compensation or worker's compensation, whatever it is, because I don't think we need to be supporting that lifestyle with government money," Ramsey said.(link)

I understand the concern. There are too many people for whom government handouts become a way of life and it becomes easier to lay around in a drug and alcohol induced stupor all day rather than get their act together.

Nevertheless, I am not on board.  If you start with welfare, unemployment benefits and workman's comp, what is next?  Food Stamps? TnCare? Hope Scholarships? Government guaranteed student loans? Small Business loans?  Crop price support payments? People who take the mortgage interest deduction on their income tax?

I don't want a government big enough to make me pee in a cup unless government has a warrant issued for probable cause. There is something about people being "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" that kind of resonates with me. I don't think you give up your forth amendment protections when you receive unemployment insurance.

My other concern is that it is simply not going to be cost effective and will catch very few drug users. Drug users know how to get clean for a drug test. To be effective at all, drug test have to be a surprise and random. The Florida experiment has caught very few users and has been expensive for the state. Campfield has said under his plan, the applicant would be required to cover the cost without state reimbursement. He estimated the costs could be kept to "only $4 or $5" by limiting the tests to "hardcore illegal drugs," such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

In recognition of Campfield's declaration that marijuana is a hardcore illegal drug, here is a little "Reefer Madness."


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Volunteer Cab "wins" approval, but may lose by delays. Update 2

Yesterday the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission approved an application from a group of taxi drivers wishing to start there own cab company called Volunteer Cab. However, the approval is contingent on a budget increase to fund more taxi cab inspectors. (link)

What? Would we prohibit new restaurants from opening because we do not have enough restaurant inspectors?  Would we prohibit new home construction because we do not have enough building inspectors. Would we prohibit the licensing of more vehicles because we do not have enough traffic cops? Would we prohibit the opening of new florist shops because we don't have enough florist shop inspectors? I think not.

Karen Johnson
Council Member Karen Johnson who has been a strong advocate for Volunteer Cab arguing for their right to start a new cab company said, "We are working on some things to address this.  Our preference is that they don't have to wait until this time.  We are working with Jerry Maynard to see what other options we have." 

I hope there are other options.  The next Metro Budget is not until June 1. According to the expanded version of this story in the print version of the Tennessean, the cab drivers are currently working for other cab companies and they fear retribution from their current employers due to this effort to start their own cab company. A delay could mean they are all out of work and financially ruined by the time they get final approval to go in business for this new driver-owned cab company. In Nashville most cab drivers own their own cab and pay all of their own expenses but pay a "lick" of between between $150 to $200 a week to the company they are associated with. If a cabbie is fired, his payments on his vehicle and some other expenses continue.

This delay is an injustice. There needs to be major reform of the way taxi cabs and limousines are licensed and regulated. It should not be the mission of the regulatory agencies to protect established businesses from competition.


Update: The City Paper does a much better job of reporting this story than the Tennessean, read here.
Update 2: For a more in-depth report from the Tennessean, see here.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Davette Blalock: " I am sticking to my guns."

Davette Blalock
Davette Blalock, the sponsor of the legislation in the Metro Council which would undo Metro's limousine price fixing bill designed to protect the established luxury limousine companies, has agreed to defer the bill thirty days. 

"I was asked to defer this because several people wanted to make other limo changes and the council wanted it all on one bill," said Davette.  "The Budget and Finance Committee was going to defer it if I didn't.  So, I am sticking to my guns but I will give them another 30 days to figure out what else is wrong with the current legislation."

 While I am disappointed to see the bill deferred, this is not necessarily bad news. At least the bill has not been killed. In speaking with Davette, she told me that none of those calling for a deferral said they were against the bill, they just wanted more study and input. While I have been a cheerleader for this bill because it would essentially undo the limousine price-fixing imposed in a June 2010 bill passed by the Council, I myself do not think BL 2011-49 is a perfect bill.  I would prefer a bill that went further in deregulating taxi and limousine service.  There are several aspects of the bill I do not like, but have been supporting it because it much, much better than what we have.  One council member I spoke to said she was opposed to the bill because it did not go far enough. Maybe, even a better bill will emerge.

I think Davette had no choice but to defer the bill.  To go against a Committee's recommendation to defer and push for approval would have most likely led to the council following the recommendation of the Committees and deferring anyway. With a forty member council, the council has to have a strong committee system and individual Council Members have to respect that system. 

Davette said that some time in early January, there would be a public meeting to gather input from other interested parties. Please do not let down your guard. Please push your council member to support this bill or a modified version of this bill that is even better. It is simply wrong for Metro government to act in the interest of the luxury limousine providers and protect them from competition.

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Limo Bill deffered 30 days. No need to attend tonights Council meeting

BL 2011-49, the bill which would undo Metro's limo price fixing, was scheduled to be on second reading tonight but has been deferred. Previously I had urged supporters of this bill to show up at tonight council meeting. That is not necessary. More to follow.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Please join me at the Council Meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 at 6:30PM.

Please join me at the Council Meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 at 6:30PM.

BL 2011-49 will be on second reading. This bill will undo the limo price fixing bill that was passed by the Council in June 2010. The full effect of the June 2010 bill does not go into effect until 2012, so the competitors to the big limo companies are still operating for now. Unless BL2011-49 passes however, the competitors will have lost and have to cease operation. There is a lot information on this bill on this blog, just scroll down and read.

I believe there are enough good Council members who will do the right thing that SB 2011-49 can be passed. However, too many Council members have to be encouraged to do the right thing. Please call your councilman today and ask them to support this bill. You may also email them.

For your councilman's email address and phone number, follow this link: http://www.nashville.gov/council.Then click on "Council Member Roster."  If you do not know who your council member is, then when on the page of the above link, look to the right and see "Quick Links"and under that, see "Where do I vote."  When you get to that page, enter your address and on the page listing your voting place it will list your Council district number. Then, go back to the council roster and find your councilman.

Council members also are more inclined to do the right thing if they have an audience who cares about the issue.  That is why we need butts in the seats.  You will be given a distinctive badge to identify that you are there for this particular issue.

If you attend, please follow proper decorum. No applauding or verbal outburst and no signs in the Council Chamber.  Since this is so late and we have little time to rally a crowd, please help by spreading the word.  

On Council meeting night, there is free parking.

This is one of those relatively rare issues that pit advocates of free markets and limited government against those who advocate more government control and see governments roll as protecting the special interest against competition. Please help get this bill passed!

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Nashville to Limit Number of Florist & Set Prices

Legislation had been introduced in the Metro Council to restrict the number of florist and to set prices for flowers. In explaining why he is sponsoring the legislation, Councilman Ben Bought told me, “The Professional Florist Association brought this bill to me and said it was good for their profession and was needed to protect the industry.  I signed it.” 

A florist associated with the PFA, Rosy Stems, explained the need for the bill. “We have seen all of these new florist “shops” spring up in places like Krogers and in little kiosk in shopping malls.  Many of these people aren’t even professional florist; they are just clerks selling flowers.  They operate with low overhead.  How is a professional florist with their free-standing shops and employees and delivery vans going to compete with these people?  It is unfair competition. They are going to drive the professional florist out of business. Many of these people don’t know an orchid from a daisy. It is a disgrace to our profession.”

$34.95
Daisy Flowers, owners of Daisy’s Sophisticated Floral Design Studio for Rich People in Green Hills said, “Last Valentine’s day, Whole Foods was selling two dozen roses for just $19.99. That is an outrage! A dozen good-quality roses can go for as high as $84.95! A dozen of my most popular roses sell for $34.95. You buy these cheap roses, many of them imported from China, and you don’t know what you are getting.  They may die before you get them home.”

The bill pending in the council would require all new florists to appear before the Florist Regulatory Board and show a need for a new florist shop before being allowed to open a new shop.  Also, all new florist shops would have to be in a dedicated space of at least 850 square feet. The new minimum price for a dozen roses would be $34.95.

“I believe is supporting our businesses,” said Councilman Protect Friends, another supporter of the bill. “This bill has the support of the Chamber and the established floral industry and I am going to support it.”
 
The above is not real, but it is no different than how the city fixes prices to benefit luxury limousine service and how they squash competition in taxis service.

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Nashville GOP Supports Ending Price Fixing for Limousine Services


Davette Blalock
Nashville, TN --- Metro Councilwoman Davette Blalock has introduced an ordinance (BL20ll-49) to undo the price fixing of limousine and sedan services in Nashville. The ordinance is set for a second reading this Tuesday evening.
In June 2010 the Nashville Metropolitan City Council passed legislation raising the minimum fee for limo and sedan rentals from $25 to $45. Drivers are prohibited by law from charging less. Further, new regulations forbid limousine firms from using leased vehicles, require the dispatch of cars from the place of business only, compel companies to wait 15 minutes before client pick-up, and ban parking in front of hotels and bars to wait for clients. More laws set to take effect in January 2012 will require companies to replace all sedans and SUVs over seven-years-old, and all limos 10-years-old and older. Vehicles older than five years may not enter into service.

Passed as an act of consumer protection, the resulting laws allow a significant advantage to larger, existing companies over smaller firms. Additionally, it may become prohibitive for new companies to enter the market.
Kathleen Starnes
Davidson County Republican Party Chairwoman, Kathleen Starnes, has released a statement in support of BL20ll-49. "We must let the city and members of the council know that, in accordance with our Core Values, the Davidson County Republican Party 'supports the free enterprise system as the primary way to grow the economy, provide jobs and encourage the creative power of the individual.' We proudly support limited government with less intrusion into the private affairs of individuals and business."

A Resolution in Support of BL2011-49
Whereas, in June 2010 the Nashville Metropolitan City Council passed legislation setting a minimum fee of $45 for limousine service, and;

Whereas, a publicly stated “Core Value” of the Davidson County Republican Party is, “We support the free enterprise system as the primary way to grow the economy, provide jobs and encourage the creative power of the individual,” and;

Whereas, another Core Value states, “We support limited government with less intrusion into the private affairs of individuals and business.” and;

Whereas, price fixing is contrary to the above stated Core Values, and;

Whereas, there is pending in the Metro Council a bill (BL2011-49) which would amend the Metro Code to remove the price fixing aspect of the regulation of limousine service,

We the Davidson County Republican Party urge the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County to pass BL20ll-49 and furthermore, we urge the Council to in the future avoid legislation, the effect of which is to restrict or curtail competition.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT http://davidsoncountygop.org/

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

What to Watch for in the December 20th Council Meeting, updated

 Undoing Limo Price-fixing, Beer Permits, subsidizing LifePoints move
The Metro Council meeting agenda and analysis is now available. You can find the agenda and analysis here:  Metro Council Agenda, Council Analysis.   The council meetings are more interesting if you have both. However, I watch the council meetings so you don't have to so look for my highlights of the meeting, following the Council meeting. Below is what I see as issue worth watching.

This biggest issue of the night will be  ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-49 by Council Member Blalock, which is on second reading.  This ordinance amends the Metro Code to remove the price fixing that was imposed in June 2010 when the Council passed Ordinance No. BL2010-685.  That bill imposed a minimum $45 fee for livery services, a prohibition on the use of leased vehicles, and age and mileage restrictions on vehicles. The effect of that ordinance was to protect the luxury limousine companies from competition from those providing economy limousine  service. Blalock's bill will remove the more odious elements of the June 2010 price fixing bill.

While our local press has given this issue little attention this case has been reported on nationally in an in depth piece in the Huffington Post.  A nationally acclaimed libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm has sued the city claiming constitutional violations of the rights of the economy limousine service providers. The way I see this bill, this is a fight between those who believe in free enterprise and those who advocate crony capitalism and protecting your friends from competition. I will be especially disappointed if the members of the Council who call themselves Republicans, many of whom I endorsed,  contributed money to, and worked the phone banks and the polls for, don't support this bill.

I have blogged extensively on this issue. To see YouTube clips, the Huffington Post piece and more, follow this link and then scroll down to see all post on this topic. 

Other issues:


RESOLUTION NOS. RS2011-111, RS2011-112 & RS2011-113  These three resolutions exempt specific restaurants from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. The Metro code prevents a beer permit from being issued to an establishment located within 100 feet of a church, school, park, daycare, or one or two family residence. However, the code was amended in September 2010 to exempt restaurants that already have a state on-premises liquor consumption license from Metro’s minimum distance requirements to obtain a beer permit upon the adoption of a resolution by the council. A public hearing must be held by the council prior to voting on these resolution. As nutty as it sounds, there are restaurants that can sell wine and hard alcohol but cannot sell beer. That is because Metro draws up the regulations for beer and the regulations governing the sale of liquor (which includes wine) is a state regulation. These hearing on this issue seem like a waste of time but they are required. I don't know what argument one would make that an establishment that can sell Jack Daniels should not be allowed to sale Bud Lite, but I bet someone will speak out against issuing beer permits to these establishments.

On the consent agenda is RESOLUTION NO. RS2011-59 which approves a contract between the Metropolitan board of health and Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church to upgrade the church’s kitchen facilities. The church is to receive $24,275 in federal stimulus pass-through funds under this contract. This use of public funds for improvements to a church's kitchen sounds like a misuse of funds to me, sort of like supporting the establishment of religion. By being on the consent agenda, someone has to ask for it to be removed and voted on separately or it gets lumped in with all the other non-controversial resolutions. Apparently there is no opposition to this bill, but if I was in the Council, I would have to vote against it. It will be interesting to see if there is not a single councilman who has a problem with this bill.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-58 on second reading exempts LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. from paying property taxes for moving from Brentwood to Nashville.  It is a lot more complicated than that however. See the analysis to know more. I certainly don't know enough about this to know if it is a good deal or not. Frankly, I wish cities were not able to offer these incentives. I hate it that we get in bidding wars to attract business, but we have to compete in the environment in which we are in. I hope the Budget and Finance Committee has a through exploration of this issue and it is given some serious debate. 

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-60 on second reading is a routine ordinance that readopts the Metropolitan Code prepared by Municipal Code Corporation to include all ordinances enacted on or before August 16, 2011. This will be routine, but unfortunately this routine readopting of the code can be used to bury ordinances legally adopted by the Council and signed by the Mayor that someone wishes had never passed.  Ordinances can simply be left out of the code. I know this from experience. When I served in the Council, I got passed through the Council, after a long hard fight, a requirement that Metro Schools be periodically tested for radon and if radon in hazardous levels was discovered, for there to be radon abatement. Radon is a naturally occurring odorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is most damaging to developing children. Due to the nature of limestone shale in this part of the country in which we live, radon is prevalent.  When the code was readopted, this requirement for Metro School radon testing and abatement was left out of the code and the law was ignored for about the next 20 years.  There is not a mechanism to insure that everything adopted into law gets in the code. There needs to be a procedure to insure that all laws make it into the code. I wish some councilman would take on this project.  To read more about how the Radon testing program was sabotaged by, read here.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Power turned off to Occupy Nashville

As reported by Channel 5 news, last night the Fire Marshall turned off the power to Occupy Nashville. It is about damn time! Ever since October when Occupy first started camping out on Legislative Plaza they have been using free electricity provided by the state.  Why?

OK, I know a court ruled that the imposition of a curfew violated Occupy's right to protest and rather than the State aggressively fighting that, the State rolled over and played dead. So, we could blame the long occupy on the Courts. I can even understand the initial court ruling. However, it is ridiculous that Occupy can take over the Plaza permanently and camp out on public property.

The most ridiculous of the ridiculous however, is why the state gave them free electricity. There is no constitutional right to have the State provide protesters with free electrical hook-ups.

According to the Channel five report, "protesters were using a single outlet on Legislative Plaza to power their camp and state officials said it was a major safety hazard. Officials said the outlet was overload and melted. Fire officials were concerned about safety so they turned the outlet off."  They also padlocked the outlet. Good! (See the story,)

I think Governor Haslam has looked like a real wimp in the way he has handled this.  If he restores power to the protesters, I will have lost all respect for him. 

In celebration of this recent news, I am dedicating this song to Occupy Nashville.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Former Councilman Jamie Hollin Lobbies Council to Keep Limo Price-fixing.

Jamie R. Hollin
Who is the person lobbying the Metro Council to persuade them to maintain limousine price fixing?  Former Councilman Jamie Hollin. He has paid his $50 annual fee and is now a registered lobbyist for the Tennessee Livery Association registering November 11, 2011. You may remember Jamin Hollin for a profanity-laced rant in the parking garage after a Tuesday night’s council meeting a few months ago when a resolution he had sponsored  was killed by two of his peers using standard parliamentary procedures.

Now out of the Council, he is busy lobbying the Council. The luxury limousine people have hired Hollin to lobby to defeat BL2011-49, a bill sponsored by Council Member Davette Blalock. BL2011-49 which will be on Second reading on Tuesday December 20th would undo the price fixing bill passed by the Council in June 2010. The effect of the June 2010 bill was to require a $45 minimum fee to hire a Limo and to impose other restrictions designed to limit competition. To learn more, follow this link.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How Pet Smart Almost Killed my Cat

To tell the truth, I never really wanted a cat. Growing up I had a dog which was my best friend and loyal companion, but as an adult having a pet just seemed like too much of a hassle.

A few months ago a cat started hanging out at our house and we sort of adopted her. She was well mannered and well cared for and we named her “Frisky.” Frisky was fickle however and our home must have been only one of her homes. She would show up for a day or two or three and then be gone for a day or two or three. Then one day, she did not return.

My sweet and lovely wife Louella really took a liking to Frisky and when Frisky would be gone Louella would mope around the house. Louella has Alzheimer’s and sometimes can’t find the words she wants to say but Louella is very expressive and I have become good at knowing what she is thinking. Louella would walk around the house looking for the cat with a disgusted look on her face and a look of sadness. I would ask her what was wrong and she would just sigh and shake her head and say, “the cat.” When Frisky did not return after her last disappearance we thought Louella would forget about her, but Louella would continue to be sad and look for the cat.

Sue Deuss is Louella’s care giver. We are so fortunate to have found Sue. She has now been caring for Louella for about ten months now. She is a Certified Nurse Technician who has lots of experience in both an institutional setting and in one-on-one caring for ill elderly people including those with Alzheimer’s. Sue does much more than just sit with Louella. They go shopping and go have lunch and Sue pampers Louella. Sue had become an indispensable part of our household and is like family. Sue is so sweet and affectionate to Louella and Louella is just crazy about her.

After Frisky disappeared, Sue asked me if I wanted her to find another cat for Louella and I agreed. Sue who is frugal and smart and innovative found a web site that matches people who can no longer keep their pet with people seeking a pet. The pets are not sold but given away. Sue found a couple in Hendersonville who were seeking a home for their cat. Sue made the arrangements and she and Louella went and got her.

The cat’s name is Sabrina. I don’t know the breed but she is calico. She came with a carrying case, a fancy litter box with a lid and swinging door, a self-dispensing food bowl and self-dispensing water bowl, a brush, shampoo, food, and toys. She was already neutered and declawed and had all her shots. To have an indoor cat, the declawed feature was a must as we have richly upholstered furniture that I did not want ripped to shreds.

Sabrina has become a wonderful pet and I think she is good for Louella. I don’t know that anything one does slows the progression of Alzheimer’s but I do think things you do keep the person happy, more alert and more engaged than they otherwise would be. The cat and I get along. The cat tolerates me; the cat loves Louella. On occasion the cat may get in my lap or a chair beside me for a short while; she will let Louella sit and stoke her for hours. If Louella is lying in bed or on the couch, the cat will get on top of her and spraddle out, as if her legs are embracing Louella and she will sleep like that.

If Louella and I go out, whether for the evening or just a ten minute walk, when we return Louella is so happy to see Sabrina. She excitedly hurries to her to pet and love on her. Louella just brightens when she sees the cat and Louella sort of purrs or hums with satisfaction as she stokes the cat. Sabrina is definitely Louella’s cat.

Unfortunately, shortly after getting Sabrina, we also got fleas. When first discovered, I went and got a flea collar and I bathed the cat. (Wow! What a job! I am glad she doesn’t have claws and I hope I never have to do that again.) I thought that would solve the problem. Wrong! The fleas got worse and worse. I discussed it with Sue and she said she would deal with it.

Sue went to Pet Smart at 100 Oaks and asked how to rid the house and the cat of fleas. They gave her a set of flea “bombs” to set off in the house and a product to apply to the cat called “Bio spot.” We did not apply the product immediately. We wanted to bomb the house first and then treat the cat. Several days past, waiting until the weekend when we would be out of the house a while and could coordinate the cat treatment and house treatment.

Before that day arrived, Sue thought she would just apply a little of the product to the cat and see if it worked and she did. I was not there to witness it, but Sue said she sprayed just a little of the product on the cat and the cat walked a few steps and almost immediately fell over, almost passed out gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth and twitching. Sue immediately gathered up Sabrina and headed toward the Pet Smart to take the cat to the Pet Smart vet. (Despite her panic, she took the time to download a free $20 off vet bill coupon.) When she got to Pet Smart she rushed the cat in and was directed to the vet. The manager at Pet Smart however seemed totally unconcerned that our cat had had a bad reaction to the product that he had sold Sue and asked for the return of the product and said he would refund her money. Sue was offended at his cavalier attitude.

The vet, who apparently is not a Pet Smart employee but just rents space from Pet Smart, said that that product can be deadly and is very dangerous. He said if it had been applied as directed it would have killed the cat. He treated Sabrina, giving her a shot and sending Sue home with the cat with instructions to bath her in a flea soap and give her an antibiotic liquid twice a day until the antibiotic was all gone, then when the cat recovered to treat her with a different product to keep the fleas away.

Sabrina had to be nursed back to health. When giving her the bath after returning her from the vet, Sabrina did not put up a fight at all. She was limp and lifeless. For days she could hardly raise her head. We had to bring the food and water to her. She did not eat anything for the first couple days and we had to give her water out of a syringe. For the first few days she did not move out of the chair we put her in and then when she did get well enough to get out of the chair, she would go to her litter box or feed and water bowl and get back in the same chair. It was a full three weeks before she fully recovered. We were afraid she would die. Louella would sit and gently stroke the cat with tears in her eyes.

In the meantime, Sue was really angered and indignant that Pet Smart would sell a product that almost killed the cat and that the Pet Smart manger was so unconcerned. Sue declared she would force Pet Smart to pay the vet bill. I shared Sue’s anger at Pet Smart and Bio Spot but had a lot of other things going on in my life and did not have time or energy to fight the battle. I left it up to Sue. To make a long story short, Sue got the refund of the vet bill which included the medicines and came to $120 even with the $20 off coupon. Sue ended up talking to the manger of the 100 Oaks Pet Smart several times, talking to the corporate office of Pet Smart, and the company that makes Bio-spot. They tried to blow her off. Sue was persistent and demanding and it took about a month, but Sue got our expenses reimbursed.

I am proud of Sue for fighting this fight and getting the refund. If there was justice, we would have got a major reimbursement for our anguish. In accepting the $120 check from Pet Smart I agreed not to sue them but I did not agree not to bad-mouth them and tell my story.

Since all of this has happened I did some Internet research and found that lots of people have had similar experiences with Bio Spot. Below is what some other people report:

Bio Spot may KILL more than the flees

My vet tells me that she has had several cats to come in with seizures after the use of Bio Spot. She explains to me how the product works. When Bio Spot is applied to the cat it enters the cats blood stream. The flee control comes when a flee "BITES" your cat, draws blood and dies from the poison in your cats blood. "THROW IT AWAY," she said.

Jun 12 '03 This product killed one of my cats within hours and almost killed the other one. It causes foaming at the mouth, excessive drooling and grand mal seizures. Both of my treated cats were affected and it happened quickly. I watched my cat convulse uncontrollably until her death and the other one for an hour. How she survived I don't know. I would do further research before you use this product. Don't let this happen to you. I thought cheaper would be better but it isn't and I am heartbroken and feel guilty because I did it to them. Unfortunately I did my research after the fact and now have one less cat and one that I am terrified to treat for fleas ever again.

Bio Spot is DANGEROUS --DO NOT USE

Yesterday evening I treated my three cats with Bio Spot for Cats to control a flea problem. By early this morning I realized that something was very wrong. They were all shaking their hind legs and walking unevenly. Since it was Sunday, I called the emergency animal hospital and told them I'd used Bio Spot. The nurse said they'd had several problems with this drug and that I should bring the cats in immediately for treatment. Apparently, the drug is extremely dangerous and has caused neurological damage and death in some cats. Why it hasn't been removed from the market I can't say.

Bio Spot Acted as a Poison to my Cat
I applied the product and it acted as a poison to my cat. Contacted the vet and they stated this product SHOULD NOT be on the market. Animals have died from applications of BIOSPOT. My cat lost his balance and became very lethargic. The vet immediately washed my cat and gave him medicine.

Bio Spot Killed my Cat
After a few more days we noticed our 5 1/2 year old was withdrawn and losing weight. I scheduled an appointment at the vet. It was about 10 days since first application and you could still see the greasy spot, he recommended washing it off. After checking our cat over, he determined something was wrong with his kidneys. He put him on daily fluids and antibiotics. They made him feel better, but he kept losing weight. After about a month of treatment the poor little guy has withered away to just over 5 lbs. The vet said there wasn't anything else he could do for him an we had to put Rusty down on 3/14/11.

I WILL NEVER USE ANYTHING FROM BIO SPOT AGAIN AND WILL MAKE SURE NO ONE I KNOW DOES EITHER!!!
 
Recently I ran into a veterinarian at a social function and told her what had happened, and this vet said the same thing the vet at Pet Smart said.  She said the product was deadly and she had treated several cats that had almost died from using Bio Spot. She said it should be removed from the market.

OK, I know that not ever cat treated with the product has an adverse reaction but it seems enough do that the product should not be sold.

I don't know that there is much more that I can do, but please take my advice and if you have a cat please do not use Bio Spot to treat your cat. To know more about this product go to this website: Victims of Bio Spot.

I am not finished yet. I am going to tell my story on any Internet site that allows for consumer product review. I am also going to report this incident to the National Pesticide Information Center . I am going to make a contribution to Green Paws which is fighting to remove deadly pet products from the market.

Also, I will never shop at Pet Smart ever again not only because they almost killed my cat but because they didn't give a damn.

If you are also a victim of Bio Spot, this is what Victims of Bio Spot recommend you do: 

  • Seek reimbursement for veterinary expenses related to adverse incidents. (If enough people raise enough hell, and enough people get refunds, the pet stores will stop selling the product.) 


I am adding this one:
  • Spread the word, advise others not to purchase the product and post your story all over the Internet.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Davison County Republican Party Christmas Open House

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Big Car Services Use Legislation to Drive Over Competition

by J. L. Green, December 8, 2011, The Huffington Post

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- In June 2010 the Nashville Metropolitan City Council passed legislation raising the city's minimum fee for limo and sedan rentals, bumping it from $25 to $45. Drivers were prohibited by law from charging less. Other new regulations forbid limo companies from using leased vehicles, require cars to be dispatched only from the place of business, compel companies to wait 15 minutes before picking up a client, and ban parking in front of hotels and bars to wait for customers. More laws that take effect in January 2012 would also require companies to replace all sedans and SUVs over seven-years-old, and all limos 10-years-old and older. Vehicles older than five years cannot enter into service.

Passed under the guise of consumer protection, the net effect is to give large, existing car companies (also known as livery services) a huge advantage over smaller companies, and to effectively prevent any new companies from entering the market. Prior to the new laws, Tennesseans could purchase transportation from downtown Nashville to the airport in a limo or sedan for the same price as an average taxi ride. Nashville residents and visitors will now pay almost double for the same service. (link)

My Comments

This is an excellent article explaining how Nashville came to adopt price fixing for limousine services. Please read the whole article.

According to this story, the bill that fixed prices was actually written by Matthew Yorke, president of the Tennessee Livery Association and owner of Signature Transportation. In addition to Matthew Yorke, another player in the push to fix prices was Opryland Hotel which operates their own limousine service and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.


In this article, Green says of the move to fix prices that, "It's a case of regulations actually costing jobs and driving up costs, just as Republicans charge they always do. But this time, the regulations are being pushed by the GOP's so-called "job creators," the new name given to big business."  I think Green is right. Many in big business do not really believe in free enterprise. They are not above using government to get or maintain an economic advantage. Much of the regulation of business is simply an effort to suppress competition and has little to do with health and safety. I also would not be surprised if the folks at Signature Limousine and Opryland and the Chamber are not indeed Republicans. 

Too often, Republicans and Democrats are indistinguishable when it come to who is willing to use government power to get an economic advantage. Party labels are often nothing but names used to identify members of your team. Many seem to view politics as a chance to help your friends and Republicans help other Republicans and Democrats help other Democrats. Republicans are often just as guilty as Democrats of using regulation or eminent domain or awarding of contracts to benefit their business or institution or friends. 

When I first posted on this topic some moths ago, an anonymous person left a comment that said, "HAHA! A disgruntled Republican! Step into Mr. Bokhari's office and you will see a life size photo of President Obama."

Mr. Bokhari, who I have never met, is an owner of an economy limousine service and leader in the effort to overturn Nashville's limousine price fixing. I have no idea if it is true or not that he has a life size photo of President Obama in his office but it is irrelevant. I take position on issues because of my values not because the affected party is a Democrat or a Republican.

While the article tells how the price fixing bill was pushed through Council, the article credits Councilman Eric Crafton and Councilman Sean McGuire for last year trying unsuccessfully to repeal the price fixing bill. The story does not report that the issue is now back on the Metro Council agenda. Sponsored by Council member Blalock, Council bill BL2011-49 would repeal the limo price fixing bill and establish new limousine regulations devoid of the price fixing feature.

Last Tuesday the Council voted to defer BL2011-49. I don't know what is going on behind the scene with this bill. I don't know if the "fat cats" at Opryland and the Chamber who can make nice campaign contributions are twisting arms or not but it is not a good sign when a bill is deferred. If will be a shame if Council fails to undo their imposition of limousine price fixing. I was very disappointing that in June 2010 when Council imposed limousine price fixing that not a single member of the Council who identify themselves as conservative or Republican opposed it. I still wonder how it can happen that not a single member of the council looked at the bill and said, price fixing is contrary to my principles.

Perhaps many on the Council did not really know that the regulations they were adopting was price fixing. If an individual Council member was not on one of the committees that considered the bill, they may very well not have known the impact of the bill. Perhaps also they did not know their was any opposition to the bill. This time however, there are no excuses.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Highlights of the December 6th Metro Council Meeting, Another update.

 'Deals for Meals', Titans Stadium Improvements, Privatizing the Tow-in Lot

A video of the December 6th Council meeting is below.



The council voted 33-3 for a bond issue to improve the Titans stadium. Councilmen Phil Claiborne and Duane Dominy questioned the terms of the deal during a brief debate. They argued that the 20-25 year repayment schedule on the bonds extends beyond the useful life of the improvements and also the term of the Titans’ current lease, which expires in 2028. (see video starting at 22:50)  Not stating her reason, Council Member Evans, who is a municipal bond expert and no doubt has valuable insight asked to be recorded as abstaining. Councilman Dominy made the point that there are $1.1 billion dollars in outstanding bonds collateralized by this same source of non-tax revenue. He urged the bill be defeated and a new bond package be negotiated providing better terms to the city. The three council members voting against the bill were Clairborne, Dominy, and Tenpenny.

The bill to require quarterly storm water reports was deferred indefinitely by the sponsor saying he would continue to work on an improved reporting procedure, perhaps pursuing a requirement for semi-annual report. (see video at 34:50) I think Councilman Standley was correct in wanting quarterly reports but apparently he just did not have the votes. The Council must exercise a lot of oversight or the stormwater program will turn into a means for the Mayor to reward friends and punish enemies and we will also see a lot of waste in the program.

The bill to undo limo price-fixing was deferred one meeting.


The bill to allow recreational athletic fields to be constructed in the floodway with appropriate safeguards passed 31-6.

The council passed on third reading a bill that would return some sanity to the rules regarding someone buying a meal for a council member.  As passed, now an individual may spend up to $25 a year on meals for a council member before that council member has violated the law by accepting the meals. As it was, a council member could not consume cookies and coffee at a neighborhood meeting.The bill passed without discussion on a voice vote.

The bill which would privatize the tow-in lot  (see video at 52:34) was amended  and passed 35-2. The two "no" votes were by Stanley and Duvall. I am surprised by Duvall's "no" vote. I know Duvall to be one of the more conservative members of the council and this bill appeared to shrink government and save money. I wish he would have explained his opposition to the bill.  

I previously reported that the Council adjourned without consideration of the memorializing resolution opposing school vouchers and I said I unsure why. In fact, the resolution did pass, lumped with other bills in a "consent agenda." I missed noticing that when the consent consent agenda was passed.  The consent agenda is a a new procedure in which all resolutions that received unanimous approval in committee are lumped together and passed together by a single vote of the Council.  Any Councilmember however may pull a bill off the consent agenda and have it voted on individually. This seems like wise procedure and saves time on resolutions that are going to be approved unanimously. Thanks to Councilman Duane Dominy for providing this explanation.

Regarding the School Voucher resolution, Council Dominy explains, "We discussed it in the committee for some time and there were several concerns, but since the notice of recognition would only be sent to the body (Metropolitan Board of Education) that had already acted and held no binding effect on future actions I chose to not oppose it at this time."

I understand the logic of that. However, the resolution was an endorsement of the school board actions stating, "WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council show its support for the Board of Education’s decision to oppose school vouchers..." The school voucher bill will be considered by the State Legislature this year and the Metro Council should not be on record as supporting the MBOE's opposition to vouchers.  Had I been in the Council, I would have had to register my opposition to the resolution even if I was the lone voice doing so.

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update: Goodbye Barney Frank comic book





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Sunday, December 4, 2011

update: What to Watch for in the Metro Council Tuesday Dec. 6th

Undoing Limo Price-fixing, Titans Stadium Funding, Privatizing the Tow-in Lot, and School Vouchers

by Rod Williams
update 12/4/2011


The Metro Council Agenda Analysis is now posted.

The Metro Council meeting agenda is now available. You can find the agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. The council meetings are more interesting if you have an agenda. However, I watch the council meetings so you don't have to so look for my highlights of the meeting, following the Council meeting. Below is what I see as issue worth watching. The council analysis is not yet posted so I will update this report as more information becomes available.


Resolutions RS2011-95 have to do with issuing bonds for the Titans stadium. There is some concern that the city is issuing 25 year bonds for improvements that will not last 25 years and that the bonds are for a longer period than the lease with the Titans. The bonds are funded by a ticket tax of $2.00. In the event the ticket tax revenues are insufficient to pay the debt service on these revenue bonds, Metro is pledging its non-tax revenues. These revenues include, but are not limited to, permit fees; franchise fees (cable, gas, and telephone); fines; court clerk fees; forfeitures and penalties; charges for services; and revenues from the sale of surplus property. (See the analysis for more.)


BILL NO. BL2011-4 on second reading sponsored by Councilman Stanley to require quarterly stormwater reports to be submitted to the Metropolitan Council. This may seem like a mundane issue but Stanley has argued that the getting of one big annual report does not give the council the ability to adequately monitor the program.  He makes a compelling argument. This bill needs to pass. Stormwater projects can be plums for favored councilmen and also the storm water fund is just too much money for bureaucrats to play with without effective council oversight.


ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-49 on second reading will repeals the $45 minimum fare fee for Limousine service and instead establishes that fares will be determined on a "time-usage basis,"  and that "livery services may also charge a flat rate for transportation between specific points." This seems like an undoing of the bill passed a couple years ago that essentially outlawed economy limo service and led to a law suit against the city. (See here and here.)  I was very disappointing that not a single councilman then in the council voted against the Limo price fixing bill at the time. This is a chance for members of the Council to redeem themselves. Watch this issue to see who is for and who is against price fixing. This issue is clear. If the Republican members and other "good" members of the council don't vote for this bill, I will be greatly disappointed.



BILL NO. BL2011-3. This bill on third reading sponsored by Councilman Tygard has been approved by Parks and Public Works Committees and has been amended. This bill would allow recreational athletic fields and associated structures to be constructed within the floodway. Last council session, Councilman Dominy argued in favor of the bill and Council member Evans argued against it. Evans argued that structures and fences associated with athletic fields could impede the flow of water.


Bill NO. BL2011-31 on third reading sponsored by Councilman Tygard amends an ordinance regarding the acceptance of food and beverages for Metropolitan Government employees, elected officials, and members of boards and commissions. The current law is so stringent that if a councilman attends a neighborhood meeting and partakes of coffee and cookies he could be in violation of the law. This bill restores some common sense and should pass with no problem.


BILL NO. BL2011-39 on third reading approves a contract for United Road Towing to administer the Metro Impound Lot. There was a lot of concern about this bill on the part of towing companies. One concern is that United Road Towing who would operate the tow-in lot also operates a towing company. City officials have explained that United Road Towing has a totally separate management structure for operating the tow-in lot and their towing service would not get any preferential treatment by the operators of the tow-in lot. This bill especially privatizes the tow-in lot and should save the city a lot of money. It deal is structured to benefit the city. United Road Towing operates tow-in lots in other cities and many cities are moving toward contracting for this service rather than operating the tow-in lot themselves. This is a good bill and needs to pass. (For more info see the analysis)


ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-40 (WESTERHOLM, TYGARD & MCGUIRE) This ordinance amends the Metro Code to increase the ticket tax on tickets sold for events at LP Field and to remove the maximum duration for the ticket tax. (To know more read the analysis. This is complicated.)

Memorializing RESOLUTION NO. RS2011-109 (Johnson, Matthews, Bedne) opposes vouchers for private private school tuition. If you believe in education reform and school choice this is a very bad bill and needs to be defeated. This is another issue to watch to see who the real conservatives are on the Council.


There is nothing on the agenda about the Predators arena contract. Why? The city is getting taken to the cleaners by the Predators. If the city does not act, the contract is automatically renewed. I expected a resolution regarding this issue. If someone can tell me why this was not worthy of a resolution asking the Mayor to renegotiate the Predators arena deal I would like to hear from you.


I believe it will be on the agenda in January.


Check back for more updates.

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