Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thank God for Alabama ...

.. now Tennessee is not alone as the only state stupid enough to officially join the John Birch Society-Jesse Ventura tin foil hat brigade.  We have been joined by Alabama.

In Alabama, Senate Bill 477 was recently passed unanimously in both houses, barring the state from taking over private property without due process, thereby preventing Agenda 21 from infiltrating their state lines. It reads, “[t]he State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to ‘Agenda 21,’”. It seems that Agenda 21 does actually bring people together in communities- just not in the way the U.N. had hoped for. (read more)
Look at this. Does anyone think that Alabama could take property without due process prior to this bill. Also, note language, "as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to 'Agenda 21.'"  Agenda 21 cannot "require" anything.  It has no force in law. It is not a treaty. See how the Anti-Agneda 21 build a straw man to knock him down? What can I say?

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Tonight! STOP the Nashville Property Tax Hike Rally

When: Thursday May 31 5-7PM, Doors open 4PM 
Where: Limelight Nashville, 201 Woodland Street Admission: 
FREE!! 
Speakers include WTN Nashville's Morning News Host Ralph Bristol and Councilman Robert Duvall. Inline image 1
Please JOIN us THIS Thurs and PLEASE Email friends and family to let them know about the Rally. There will have lots of music and free snacks and speakers but most of all we must Stand Together to Stop this tax hike.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smart Growth for Conservatives

Finally, I do not feel like the Lone Ranger. There is another conservative has not joined the John Birch Society and Jesse Ventura tin foil hat brigade. The below essay is from a blog called Bacon Rebellion.

Preface to “Smart Growth for Conservatives”

by James Bacon

Smart Growth, which I define as efficient human settlement patterns, is neither an inherently liberal nor an inherently conservative idea. Efficiency is efficiency. Cost effectiveness is cost effectiveness.

The problem is that liberals (progressives, whatever you want to call them) were primarily the first to recognize the obvious truth that the settlement patterns we commonly refer to as “suburban sprawl” are very inefficient indeed. Unfortunately, liberals being liberals, they sought top-down, government-directed solutions. Then, conservatives, being allergic to government-led social engineering, reacted by dismissing Smart Growth as the spawn of the devil.

The logical, if somewhat extreme, outcome of the conservative dismissal of Smart Growth is the anti-Agenda 21 movement, which connects non-existing dots between the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainability agenda, President Obama’s green policies and efforts in Virginia’s cities and counties to implement Smart Growth. Thus, in this conspiratorial mindset, anything resembling Smart Growth is seen as part of a larger movement to undermine American freedoms and liberties. Frighteningly, this movement has gained momentum in a number of Virginia counties and created a distraction from the real issues. (read more)

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Lou Ann Zelenik still opposes the First Admendment and Freedom of Religion

Mt. Juliet, TN—-Sixth District Congressional Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik praised the court ruling today that denied the approval of  “Islamic Center of Murfreesboro”, stating that adequate notice was not given to the public by the Planning Commission of the intentions of the  Islamic group.

“This is a victory for the citizens of  all Middle Tennessee who have been the victims of  ‘taqqiya’ (Islamic lying for the sake of advancing Islam) during this entire process,” said Zelenik,  a leading critic of the construction of the Islamic Center.  Zelenik, as a 6th district congressional candidate in 2010, openly challenged the project resulting in numerous death threats.  Since then, she has devoted countless hours as Executive Director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition speaking out against radical Islam and its encroachment into American culture.

She is once again in the race for the Republican nomination for District 6.  “For over 2 years my opponent has been and still is on the sidelines of this issue.  This is not a partisan issue, but an American issue and her silence is deafening”, said Zelenik.

“This was not an issue of freedom of religion.  Islam does not claim to be a religion, but a social and political system that intends to dominate every facet of our lives and seeks to dominate it’s host culture by any means including force and violence.  This case was for equal treatment under the law.  No Christian church or Jewish synagogue would have received this type of treatment from the Planning Commission.”

“I was criticized for being opposed to freedom of religion,” Zelenik stated, “but the reality is that I was speaking for the citizens of Tennessee  who felt they had no voice.  As a political figure, I was proud to stand with other brave citizens who were outraged by the denial of their due process rights.  Those citizens and the attorneys deserve all the credit in the world.”

Anyone interested in her campaign can go by the headquarters at 1253 N. Mt. Juliet Road, Mt. Juliet  TN, or call (615) 483-3955. For more information on Lou Ann Zelenik please check out www.VoteLouAnn.com

Comment: Whether or not adequate notice was given in this matter is a technical legal issue that probably needed clarification. I do not fault the court for this very narrow ruling in this case. So, I may actually agree with Lou Ann Zelenik on this ruling. However, I am supporting Diane Black in the 6th District Congressional Republican primary because she is not Lou Ann Zelenik. Should Zelenik win the primary, I would have to carefully consider the candidacy of her Democrat opponent.  Anyone who thinks the world's second largest religion is not a religion is a nut. If you respect the constitution, you cannot ignore the First Amendment.

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Brad Staats enters race against Jim Cooper

Nashville, Tennessee - Nashville businessman Brad Staats will formally kick off his campaign for Congress in Tennessee's Fifth District on Saturday, June 2nd at Ellendales in Donelson from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The event will be attended by numerous friends and supporters of Staats.

"I am firmly committed to defeating Jim Cooper in November and serving the people of the Fifth District, giving the voters a true voice in the affairs of Washington. RIght now we have someone in office who complacently goes along with the anti-freedom, anti-business agenda of President Barack Obama. This is a challenge that I embrace, so that my children and the good people of Davidson, Cheatham and Dickson counties will have a voice that is committed to the core traditional American principles of freedom, equality of opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness."

Brad Staats is a married father of four who owns a commerical security business located in Hermitage. For additional information, please call John Shorter at 615-750-5975.

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Metro school board rejects new charter schools; rejects excellence in education

In a Tennessean article, Metro school board approves 2 new charter schools, by Matt Anderson, it is reported that the school board approved only two of 10 application for new charter schools.

The two approvals were for Intrepid Preparatory Charter School in Antioch and Nashville Classical Charter School in East Nashville.

The Board turned down a second KIPP Academy School and also denied an application for Great Hearts Academy. There had been some concern expressed by some parents and others that this school would target only white affluent families in West Nashville.

As reported in the Tennessean, "Great Hearts had proposed opening five schools to meet transportation requirements, but school officials said they were unwilling to commit to opening that many schools from one operator." The article does not name the other schools denied a charter.

Thanks to B. J. Zeagler, who regularly does email blast of opinion and news items of interest, for alerting me to this story. This was B. J.'s comment: "This is completely ridiculous. We need a new school board. I hear all the time that The School Board isn’t political, but it sounds to me like we have a bunch of liberals hanging out there. Elections are coming up, are you going to vote for a conservative thinker? If you vote the same ole way you will get the same ole results."

I could not agree more! Unfortunately, it seems most people who run for the school board are liberals with ties to education either as former teachers or some other tie to the establishment. It is a shame we cannot get good conservatives to run for the school board. If there are conservatives running, I don't know who they are.

The below comment by Tim Lee was so good that I am going to risk getting my hand slapped for violating fair use and post it in full. Often comments and news items only stay on the Tennessean website a short while, and I don't want this one lost so soon. (I don't know if that makes a difference, but I am quoting if from B. J.'s email not directly from the Tennessean.) Tim is a former member of the Davidson County Republican Party Executive Committee and a former Republican candidate for a State House seat.
Timothy Lee
The school board we elected has once again let our city and children down. 

They claim to push for education excellence; but, when a school such as Great Hearts comes to town that clearly demonstrates excellence and a history of success, they turn them away because they don’t fit into the current mold of our system. A mold which is clearly and definitively broken! 

Coverstone even admitted to the success of Great Hearts and then produced a recommendation of denial! 

The diversity argument is ridiculous, unless diversity only comes from low income neighborhoods. The media and critics of Great Hearts continually label West Nashville as an affluent white upper class neighborhood. Does this mean we should not be afforded the same opportunity to a quality publicly-funded education? 

To set the record straight everyone that lives in this area does not make enough money to send their children to private school. We actually pay more taxes in our area which are used to fund these public options and we should be afforded the same opportunity to take advantage of them as in any other part of town or income bracket. 

The diversity argument is ridiculous and seems to be a cover story for some political agenda. Great Hearts intended to open schools all over town giving every family the opportunity to lottery in. A lottery system does not give an advantage to one race or socio-economic status over another. 

Realistically, a west Nashville neighborhood association is responsible for recruiting Great Hearts in the first place. In all fairness, West Nashville should receive the first installation of this new education system. The entire reason this recruitment initiative was started in the first place is because our current options are so extremely limited.

I have twins starting school in the Fall of 2013 and I am currently faced with sending them to a sub-standard public school, moving to a different county (I have lived in this neighborhood my entire life and have no interest in moving), or paying 20-38k in tuition alone for my children to attend a private school. 
Is it really in Davidson County’s best interest to drive families with higher incomes and higher tax brackets to other counties? I think not. The root of the problem is the lack of performance in our public school system and the failure of the school board in implement the right kind of solutions to address and fix the problems
I agree! This is disgusting. The Mayor has asked for a 13% tax hike, 42% of which would go to education and at the same time the School Board shows their contempt for excellence in education. They are more concerned with some concept of equality, even if the equality is mediocrity, than with excellence. They are afraid of experimentation, competition and innovation. If I had children in Nashville public schools I would be facing the same dilemma as Tim Lee. The city seems determined to drive white people middle class people out of Davidson County.


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Update: Construction of Murfreesboro mosque must stop

Update:
Below are excerpts from a website called WND Faith, that provides a lot more information on the courts ruling and related activity:

“The court assumed there was no ill intention or willful deception on the part of the county,” the ruling continued.

“We do not attribute any sinister motives to the county, though we note the undercurrent of the argument presented by the plaintiffs. We simply find that the county failed to publish the meeting…”

The opinion noted that under the county regulations there is not an entitlement to a public hearing, but there is a requirement that the public be properly notified.

It further said that the denial of permission for a building to be used “as a religious meeting place” must be done in a non-discriminatory manner. (read more)

Original post:
According to a report from WSM news a judge has ruled that construction of a controversial Murfreesboro mosque must cease immediately. Judge Robert Corlew III ruled that construction must cease because not enough notice was given about a public meeting. What is adequate public notice is not defined in law, so this will most likely result in changes in the law that will define "public notice." 

It is highly unlikely that this will stop the Mosque from being constructed. The Planning Commission will have to give proper notice and meet again to consider the issue and again vote to authorize the construction. The fact that a vocal group of citizens do not think Muslims should have first amendment rights and who think that the second largest religion in the world is not really a religion can have no bearing on whether or not a permit should be issued.

Should for some reason, the Mosque be denied a permit, the city would most likely be sued and have to pay huge damages to the mosque enriching the congregation and the mosque would be built elsewhere in the County.  The city can not deny Muslims the right to build a Mosque no more than they can deny Catholics, Jehovah Witness or Mormons the right to build a house of worship. This win for the Mosque opponents does not stop the mosque, it only delays it for a short while. I would hold off on dancing in the streets and thanking God for this victory.

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United Way funded NRC to host meeting on community organizing

The below is a communications from the United Way funded Neighborhood Resource Center announcing a follow-up meeting, to a meeting back in February in which John McKnight was a guest speaker. John McKnight was a disciple of the late Marxist agitator Saul Alinksy and is one of the leading community organizers in the country and was referenced and praised, although not identified by name, in President Obama's biography.

I have watched a video of John McKnight on the topic of focusing on community assets rather than only on community problems and actually find that I agree with the premise. That is not a radical concept.  Maybe McKnight has mellowed in is old age, and maybe even some good could come out of a meeting discussing the concept of focusing on community strengths.

I would attend this meeting if I was not going to be attending the anti-tax rally on the same night.  I would like to know what is said at this meeting. If anyone attends, please drop me an email and let me know what you thought about the meeting.

I really am not bothered too much that a famous leftist community organizer was brought to town to speak and that there is to be a follow-up meeting. This would seem very appropriate if sponsored by Occupy Nashville or a union or any number of other liberal organizations. I just question if this is the best use of United Way money.  I would rather my charitable dollars fund charities rather than liberal political activity. I really think United Way does a lot of good in our community but I do not think United Way should be funding political activity.


Dear Friend,

Back in February, the Neighborhoods Resource Center sponsored a meeting with John McKnight, a national expert on community organizing.   

Over 65 people crammed into our building to hear McKnight talk about seeing the ASSETS in our neighborhoods – and not just the PROBLEMS.    Some neighborhoods seem defined by their NEEDS – crime problems, unemployment, run-down houses, and on and on.   But seeing ONLY the needs condemns us to failure.   People from all over the city were here -- from very different neighborhoods -- wanting to focus on the STRENGTHS of our neighborhoods!

We are having 
A Follow-up Conversation 
THIS THURSDAY NIGHT -- May 31st
at 6:00 PM
here at the Neighborhoods Resource Center, 1312 – 3rd Ave North.   
Come at 5:30 PM for refreshments and mingling.

Space is limited!!  PLEASE R.S.V.P. to Melissa Gordon at mgordon@tnrc.net or 615-782-8212 NOW!!!



You are invited!!   We have already contacted those who came in February, but we wanted to open it up to others who were not able to attend.  

There will be a very brief summary of some of McKnight’s ideas.   But most of the evening will be spent wrestling with some questions, including:
  1. How would you apply McKnight's ideas about neighborhood assets to YOUR neighborhood?
  2. Which of his ideas do you agree with?   Which ones do you disagree with?   What can we learn from these?
  3. How do we help people to really WANT to get use their "assets" and strengths in the neighborhood?
  4. Are there specific ways that youth can come together around their own strengths and assets?  Can other groups do this as well?
Come listen, tell your own stories and experiences and make this a rich discussion.  This is only the beginning.   Together we will explore the possibilities for making real changes in our communities.   We hope you will join us and share your thoughts on building stronger neighborhoods and a stronger Nashville.

Hope to see you Thursday!   Thanks!!

Mike Hodge
Programs Manager
Neighborhoods Resource Center
1312 - 3rd Ave North
Nashville, TN   37208

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tax hike proponents attack Beacon Center alternative

Ralph Bristol
May 28, 2012


In her Sunday column, The Tennessean’s Gail Kerr all but declares the Metro property tax fight over, saying opponents “failed to do their homework” on General Hospital, the recipient of the largest subsidy targeted for extinction in a proposal drafted by the Beacon Center.


It’s true that opponents of Mayor Dean’s tax cuts have not had the time to do all the homework necessary to make an airtight case against all of the mayor’s spending plans – and it may well be a mistake to shut down General Hospital. Certainly, Kerr and her sources make a passionate case for the hospital providing the double benefit as a place to treat the poor, and a training ground for doctors.

I doubt the same defense can be mounted for most of the other items the Beacon Center recommended cutting, but I welcome efforts to try. But also let’s remember, since Dean wants to take even more of the people’s money, and there are real consequences to the people when he does, the burden of proof should be on spending, not on spending cuts. (read more)

Comment:

I agree! I agree in principle that "since Dean wants to take even more of the people’s money, and there are real consequences to the people when he does, the burden of proof should be on spending, not on spending cuts."  In practice however  that is not the way it works.  Maybe the burden of proof should be on spending but it is not. The Charter spells out how a budget is approved and passed.  

Things are not added to the budget to get to a budget that then requires a tax increase. To avoid a tax increase, things must be taken out of the budget. We do not start with last years budget and add or subtract things.  We do not have "zero-based budgeting."  The Mayor presents a budget to the Council. If the council does nothing or simply votes "no" the Mayor's budget and required tax rate to fund the budget become law. As a practical matter, the hard work must be done by the cutters not the spenders in developing a city budget.

Here is what the charter says: 


Sec. 6.04. - Review and revision of operating budget by mayor; submission to council; budget as public record; distribution of copies.


The mayor shall review the operating budget submitted to him by the director of finance, and may make any revisions in such budget as he may deem necessary or desirable, before it is submitted to the council for consideration.
.........
Sec. 6.05. - Hearings by council.


After the council shall have passed the budget ordinance on first reading, it shall hold hearings on the proposed operating budget, as well as on the capital improvements budget as provided in section 6.13 hereof, but the hearing on the capital improvements budget shall be heard prior to those on the proposed operating budget, and the hearings on either budget may be adjourned from time to time. Budget hearings shall be advertised in a daily newspaper of general circulation published in the area of the metropolitan government at least seven days prior to the date or dates set for the beginning of such public hearings.

Sec. 6.06. - Action by council on operating budget.
After the conclusion of the public hearings, the council may amend the operating budget proposed by the mayor; except, that the budget as finally amended and adopted must provide for all expenditures required by law or by other provisions of this Charter and for all debt service requirements for the ensuing fiscal year as certified by the director of finance. Neither shall the council alter the estimates of receipts or other fund availability included in the budget document except to correct errors and omissions, in which event a full explanation shall be spread on the minutes of the council. In no event shall the total appropriations from any fund exceed the estimated fund balance, reserves and revenues, constituting the fund availability of such fund.


The council shall finally adopt an operating budget for the ensuing fiscal year not later than the thirtieth day of June, and it shall be effective for the fiscal year beginning on the following July 1st. Such adoption shall take the form of an ordinance setting out the estimated revenues in detail by source and making appropriations according to fund and by organizational unit, purpose or activity as set out in the budget document. If the council shall fail to adopt a budget prior to the beginning of any fiscal year, it shall be conclusively presumed to have adopted the budget as submitted by the mayor.


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Monday, May 28, 2012

Council Hearings: Police Department



05/23/12 Police

Following behind Schools, which would get 42% of the mayor's 13% tax increase, police and fire and a 4% raise for metro employees are the next largest pieces of the tax increase pie. 

Let me be clear that I oppose a tax increase, however, if a council member just votes "no" on the Mayor's budget, that is really  a vote for the Mayor's budget.  Confused? Unless the Council passes an alternative budget, the Mayor's budget becomes law without any action by the council. The job of the Council, if they wish to defeat the Mayor's budget is to come up with an alternative budget. It is easy to say "I oppose a tax increase." It is more difficult to develop an alternative budget. 

If the police department does not get an increase as proposed by the Mayor, policemen will have to be laid off or a large amount of money will have to be shifted from the rest of Metro government to police. Why? Because a lot of policemen on the force are currently being paid with funds from a one-time stimulus grant from the Obama administration.  Also, if those policemen are not retained, the city may have to repay the grant. Also, without a tax increase or finding the money elsewhere, the new Madison police precinct can not be funded and the newly build crime lab will not be staffed.


Chief Steve Anderson makes the presentation and it is 50 minutes long. 

Chief Anderson starts his presentation by comparing Memphis to Nashville. Memphis with a population of about 60,000 more people has 2513 officers compared to 1373 Nashville officers, says chief Anderson. I know it is not polite to say such things, but Nashville is less Black than Memphis and less poor, so we have less propensity for crime. Nashville is only 27.6% Black and Memphis is 61.41% Black. I am discounting the comparison as irrelevant. 

Chief Anderson makes the case that the TBI cannot provide the level of DNA testing we need. Currently DNA  is only provided for personal crimes and with our own lab we can do DNA testing for property crimes and catch more people who commit burglaries. 


Council Tygerd ask about take-home vehicles. No one who lives out of county has take-home vehicles.With no increase in the budget, the police department would lose about 200 officers says Chief Anderson in response to a question by Council Member Megan Berry (18:24). When we have "special events" such as a visiting dignitary coming to town (VP Biden and First Lady Obama are recent examples not mentioned by name)  we bear  the full cost of the extra protection says Chief  Anderson in response to a question by Councilman Claiborn (31:30). Also, extra police necessary to provide services for events such as a Titans game are borne by the city not the Titans.


Councilman Bedne ask if the Police could take over the police function of the troubled Transportation Licensing Commission (34:58). Chief Anderson says the Police Department could do it but it would not result in any savings. Council Dominy (37:08) says he does not think anyone wants to cut the police staff. In response to a question by Dominy, Chief Anderson explains why police stops are part of the important process of policing.  Only 22% of the traffic stops result in a ticket. 


While I would not advocate massive cuts from the Mayor's proposal for the Police Department, I do not think the police should be exempt from some cuts. Who is to say that the proposed level of funding is the optimum funding level compatible with what we can afford?  Based on the type of questioning from this committee hearing, I do not think the Council has the appetite to take away any of the extra funding the Mayor has given the police. The Council should have asked tougher questions. They should not have let the Chief get off with his Memphis comparison without some counter arguments. This hearing was more of a love fest than an examination of a budget from people seeking cost savings.  If the Council is unwilling to cut Schools, police and fire, they cannot balance the budget with current revenues by nickle and diming the minor departments.





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Memorial Day: Some gave all.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Agenda 21 is like Hitler's Final Solution

"Agenda 21 is patterned after Hitler’s Final Solution, but on a Global scale. Once all people and properties are accounted for, the murder will begin."

The above quote is just a comment posted on an obscure blog, however, this kind of stuff is being spread widely over the internet. Apparently many, many people really believe this. Other than Glen Beck, not a single conservative of any stature has had much to say about Agenda 21.  Some talk show host and politicians have pandered to the paranoid and said anti-agenda 21 things as kind of throw away lines, but they have not said any thing substantive or in-depth on it. Not a single serious conservative commentator has editorialized on it.
 
No respectable publication or mainstream web site is writing about Agenda 21. No mainstream conservative organization is warning about it. Only the John Birch Society and a few other John Birch Society front groups and clones are reporting on it. The Hermitage Foundation warned about the danger of anti growth policies at the local level, but essentially said don't worry too much about Agenda 21.

If you google "agenda 21" you get thousands and thousands of hits from people warning of the dangers of Agenda 21 and people claiming everything from mixed used zoning, to community gardens, to wide sidewalks to conservation easements are part of Agenda 21 policies. In community after community, county commissions and city council are passing anti-Agenda 21 resolutions. Phrases like "sustainable growth" and "transportation planning" have become suspect phrases. Use some phrases like that, and some people think you are part of the anti-Agenda 21 plot. The thing is, many of the opponents of  community gardens or wide sidewalks, do not just, not like them, but they think these things are part of a diabolical plot "patterned after Hitler's Final Solution."

Maybe I am obsessed with this issue, but I think the world has gone nuts!  And, few in the conservative movement will stand up to these people.  These people are bat-shit crazy! It can't get weirder than this! Taking this stuff seriously is right up there with wanting to build a UFO landing pad in Nashville, as we once had a Councilman introduce legislation to do. This Agenda 21 stuff is making me embarrassed to be a Republican, a conservative or part of the tea party.

I am starting to think that in a plot to totally destroy and discredit the conservative movement, that maybe some alien force allied with George Soros has beamed lasers into the minds of tea party members and captured their brains, and are making them say stupid things like Agenda 21 is patterned after Hitler's Final Solution. Maybe this big space ship is circling the earth .............

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Tennessee is our Eden

This poetic and  poignant speech was given by Kathleen Williams, Executive Director of Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation at the dedication of Cummins Falls State Park on Tuesday, May 22.


Tennessee is so green and lush.  Tennessee is our Eden. As we stand here together today by the banks of beautiful Blackburn Fork River, we are thankful.  Thankful to God.  Thankful for this community who came together to conserve this place of wonder and magic.  And thankful to you Governor Haslam.  You are here at a crucial time for Cummins Falls and for Tennessee and we are grateful. 

Tennessee’s garden is bountiful – we’re river rich.  We have seven of the top eight most biologically-diverse rivers in America.  (That means our rivers have a lot of critters in them.) Tennessee has more species of trees than throughout all of Europe.  Crossed with scenic back roads, blessed with abundant wildlife and dotted with more caves than any other state in North America.  Waterfalls and wildflowers, dragonflies and fireflies to give magic to the night. 

But we know that competing demands threaten our homeland.  So… we are thankful that you Governor Haslam know that what is good for the environment is also good for the economy.  We are thankful for your support of funds for a Forever Green Tennessee.

Conserving Tennessee provides raw materials for undiscovered medicines, for crops, timbers, fibers, soil-restoring vegetation, petroleum substitutes, and other products – and this gives our grandchildren the same economic opportunities that we’ve enjoyed. 

A healthy population needs outdoor recreation and the tonic that wilderness provides. 

People will visit and business will move to Tennessee of its quality of life … its parks, wildlife and greenways.

Tennessee’s economy depends on tourism.  Tourism is the second largest industry in Tennessee, employing 184,000 and generating $14 Billion in economic return. 

And Parks are our most visited attractions. For every $1 invested in state parks, Tennessee gets back $37!  That’s a great pay-off for doing something that is so beneficial in so many ways.  Brock Hill knows it and that is why he is working so hard and doing a great job to make our parks environmentally sensitive and attractive for visitors. 

And increased tourism will more than justify the additional rangers or wildlife officers that new destinations will need. 

Plus, our economy and environmental health both require sustainable, abundant natural resources for pollination, agriculture, cleaner drinking water, renewable resources and the very air we breathe.  Conserving corridors of forests along rivers and ridges is the best way to save the best Tennessee has to offer.

Tennesseans understand this across party lines – when asked 76% of republicans and 82% of democrats support conservation. So Governor Haslam, please know that Tennesseans will support you in every good thing you do to conserve our homeland.   

We have all we need in Tennessee to live  --  wild species and conserved land for our food, water and air.    And we need the sustenance provided by the beauty of a waterfall – Cummins Falls is the 8th largest waterfall in Tennessee and arguably the most beautiful.  People will come and will be blessed by these good tidings.  They’ll swim, paint, be baptised, have an adventure with their kids, fish, exercise their body and spirit.  We thank you Governor Haslam for this gift to Tennessee today and for our grandchildren.  We thank you all for making this possible.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Council Budget hearings: The Judicial Branch (part 1)



05/21/12 Circuit Court Clerk






 
 
 



05/21/12 Justice Integration Services




 05/21/12 Criminal Court Clerk



  

 05/21/12 District Attorney








 05/21/12 General Sessions Court





Above are five Council budget hearings.  Expect these to be real boring. I will try to get around to watching them and will summarize what I learn and then update this post, but do not expect any revelations of waste or corruption nor any tough questioning. If you have insomnia or you just can't wait to see the result of the council hearing for these departments, then watch them. If you have an insight or suggestion please leave a comment.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

John Stossel on Nashville's limo price-fixing

Nashville's limo price-fixing scheme keeps being used by free market advocates as one of the best examples of intrusive government, anti-competitive practices, and crony capitalism. This is from an opinion piece by John Stossel:

In Nashville, Tenn., regulators ruled it illegal for a limo to charge less than $45 a ride. One entrepreneur had won customers by charging half that, but the new regulations mean the established car service businesses no longer have to worry about him.
Perhaps Nashville's and Vegas' regulators really believe "this is an area where the free market doesn't work," as the manager of the Nevada Transportation Services Authority put it. But it's fishy that charging big fees for licenses just happens to be a very effective shakedown operation. Vegas cab and limousine businesses give "substantial" donations to Vegas-area political candidates, according to the Las Vegas Sun. (read more

Do you think our Council is proud of being the best bad example? Some are, I am sure. The council should go on record and vote to repeal limo price fixing. Win or lose, it would be nice to know who the supporters of free markets are and who are the supporters of price-fixing and crony capitalism.

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Cummins Falls, Tennessee's new state park, is safer venue for nature lovers

Woman who lost son glad state took over 

by Elizabeth Bonner, The Tennessean, May. 23, 2012

While others touted the beauty of Cummins Falls during its dedication Tuesday, Carol Hudelston saw a greater purpose in the new state park.

 The Cookeville woman lost her 18-year-old son, Bryan, in an accident at the falls in September 2009. Tears flowing, she joined the crowd Tuesday to show her support for the state takeover of the site and its provisions for visitor protection.(read more)
This is another good report on the dedication of Cummins Falls State Park yesterday. I like this excerpt:
“I can’t tell you how many people have told me, ‘I was baptized there.’ ‘I got engaged there.’ ‘I got my first kiss there,’ ” said Kathleen Williams, president and CEO of Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation. “It’s a magical, wonderful place.”

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Cummins Falls State Park dedicated. Wonderful event!


Today a crowd of dignitaries, nature lovers, and local people gathered in a forest clearing overlooking Cummins Falls to dedicate the opening of a new state park and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of  the Tennessee State Park system. 

Cummins Falls State Park was officially dedicated, becoming the 54th official state park and the first state park opened in 14 years.

Kathleen Williams reads the sign
Cummins Falls State Park is a 211 acre park located nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River in the rolling hills where Putnam and Jackson Counties meet. The falls are dramatic and are the eighth largest waterfall in the state. The roaring stream gives way to a 75 foot drop into a pool at the bottom, which  Travel and Leisure magazine has listed as one of the top 10 best swimming holes in the United States. 

Last year I had the opportunity to hike down to the bottom of river gorge and swim in the cold waters at the foot of the falls. The hike was a challenge and only for the hearty. A new trail the state has built makes the trek less treacherous but still a strenuous hike.

About 500 people attend the dedication.
This beautiful natural treasure would have been lost without the vision and hard work of Kathleen Williams, President and Executive Director of the  Tennessee Parks and Greenway's foundation and supporters of that organization, various donors, and State agencies and elected officials.   

The York Institute Color Guard prepares
for presentation of the Colors.
Once before the land that adjoins the falls had already been sold to a developer but the developer went bankrupt and the property went back on the market. 

Governor Haslam views the falls
Two years ago the property was being sold at public action and TPGP purchased the property outbidding a Kentucky developer.  The Chairman of the Board of TPGF, Dr. Chuck Womack and members of the board of TPGF and other contributors put up the million and half dollars to purchase the land and then raised the money to repay themselves and eventually sold the land to the state at a discounted price. 

That is the process often used to save critical habitats and beautiful vista's and natural treasures such as cave access sites and waterfalls.  

authentic acoustic mountain music 
The state is less nimble and cannot move quickly when needing to do so, or the State can not do the kind of negotiating that a non-profit organization can do.

Governor Bill Haslam dedicates the new park

Today's ceremonies opened with the presentation of the Colors by the World War 1 York Institute Junior ROTC and a moving solo violin performance of the national anthem. 

Kathleen Williams speaks about the
importance of saving our Tennessee
natural treasures.
Various speakers at today's event spoke about the economic return on investment in Tennessee's natural beauty, about the importance of protecting the bio-diversity of our streams and woods and the importance of preserving natures wonders for future generations. Various people were recognized for their contribution is making the park a reality.  Kathleen Williams was praised for her role in saving the land and making the park happen and Governor Haslam was honored for the role his administration played in the decision of the State to purchase the property and turn it into a State park.  
I enjoyed getting to chat with
the Governor after the event.
  
 Prior to and after the ceremony an acoustic band played traditional music and a barbeque meal was provided courtesy of Wildwood Manor Bed and Breakfast.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Metro Budget Hearings: Trustee's Office. Charlie Caldwell


05/17/12 Trustee 

Charlie Caldwell, the Metro Trustee and one of the nicest men in Metro Government and a long-time public servant makes the presentation. This hearing is 30 minutes long. He explains the program that provides tax relief program for the elderly on a fixed income and makes a plea for expanding the program. He explains the difference between the tax relief program and the tax freeze program.

Councilman Charlie Tygard ask about cell phone use in the office and vehicle use. Only Mr Caldwell in his office gets reimbursed for a cell phone. Only one car, which is used strictly for business purposes, is used by this office. Part time employees get no overtime pay. Tygard asks about possible saving from cross training of employees and the possibility of sharing a pool of workers. Congratulations to Tygard for thinking about possible savings.

Council Member Karen Bennett ask a few good questions.

Council Member Dominy (21:22) ask a good question about a program that pays a third party for collecting delinquent taxes. The explanation sounds like this is a sound program but may need to be reevaluated to see if there are any possible savings.

No real opportunities for savings are recognized.

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Metro Council Budget Hearings: The Arts Commission


 

  05/17/12 Arts Commission

More to follow.



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Metro Council budget hearings: John Arriola's budget


 

05/17/12 Davidson County Clerk

I have not watched this yet, but I hope they rake Arriola over the coals. Arriola has got to go. Actually, as I understand it,  the Council has little control over this budget. This is one of those offices that is called a "constitutional office" established by state law and operates off of it's own revenues.




While I watched almost every one of the Mayor’s budget hearings, I have not yet watched many of the Council budget hearings. Sometimes things like work and family and life get in the way of my effort to stay informed. I intend to watch them and provide commentary as time allows. I want to see where savings are possible and I want to see if any council members are distinguishing themselves by asking the hard questions and making the department heads squirm or it the budget hearings are a sham and a love fest.

I am posting video of the various council budget hearings and will provide an update and commentary later.

If you watch the video and have an insight or observation, please share and leave a comment.

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Council Budget Hearings: Legal Department and Internal Audit


05/17/12 Legal








05/17/12 Internal Audit








While I watched almost every one of the Mayor’s budget hearings, I have not yet watched many of the Council budget hearings. Sometimes things like work and family and life get in the way of my effort to stay informed. I intend to watch them and provide commentary as time allows. I want to see where savings are possible and I want to see if any council members are distinguishing themselves by asking the hard questions and making the department heads squirm or it the budget hearings are a sham and a love fest.

I am posting video of the various council budget hearings and will provide an update and commentary later.

I may not get to watch them all. If you watch the video and have an insight or observation, please share and leave a comment.

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