Thursday, February 28, 2013

School Schlorship program withstands legal challenge

Colorado Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court Ruling
Arlington, Va., Institute for Justice—In a tremendous victory for families in Douglas County, Colo., the Colorado Court of Appeals this morning upheld the Douglas County School District’s Choice Scholarship Program.  Reversing an August 2011 trial court decision that had struck down the program, the Court held that the program “does not violate any of the constitutional provisions on which” it was challenged.

“This is an enormous victory not just for Douglas County families, but for all Colorado families who simply want the right to choose the schools that are best for their kids,” said Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ), which represented three Douglas County families in defending the Choice Scholarship Program.

The Choice Scholarship Program is a local school choice program adopted by the Douglas County Board of Education on March 15, 2011, to “provide greater educational choice for students and parents to meet individualized student needs.”  The program operates in a simple and straightforward manner, providing 500 scholarships that parents can use to send their children to any private school that participates in the program and that has accepted the child.

On June 21, 2011, however, the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and several Colorado organizations and taxpayers sued the school board, school district, Colorado Department of Education, and Colorado Board of Education in Denver District Court to stop the program.  Despite clear case law rejecting their claims, they alleged that because some parents would choose religious schools for their children’s education, the program violates the state constitution’s prohibition on aid to religious schools.  They also alleged various violations of state constitutional and statutory provisions concerning public education.

On behalf of three Douglas County families that had received scholarships under the program—the Doyles, Andersons, and Oakleys—IJ intervened in the case and defended the program alongside the county and state.  But on August 12, 2011, after a three-day hearing, the Denver District Court enjoined the program, concluding that it violates the religion clauses in the Colorado Constitution, as well as Colorado’s Public School Finance Act and a provision concerning the Public School Fund.

IJ, as well as the county and state, appealed the District Court’s decision.  This morning, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision and upheld the scholarship program. In its opinion, the Court of Appeals explained that the scholarship program “is intended to benefit students and their parents, and any benefit to the participating schools is incidental”  Moreover, the Court stressed that the program “is neutral toward religion, and funds make their way to private schools with religious affiliation by means of personal choices of students’ parents.”

“Neutrality and private choice are the hallmarks of a constitutional school choice program,” according to Bindas, “and the Court of Appeals recognized that the Choice Scholarship Program satisfies both of those requirements.  The court’s decision paves the way for other Colorado school districts to follow the path that Douglas County has blazed and empower parents to choose the schools that are best for their children.” 

Upon hearing the news of the victory, Derrick Doyle, whose children Donovan and Alexandra received scholarships under the program, said, “It is great news to hear that the program will move forward.  We are grateful that the court vindicated our right to choose our children’s school.”

“From Arizona and Colorado, down to Louisiana, up to Indiana, New Hampshire and beyond, school choice programs are providing greater and greater parental control of education, just as it should be,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel for the Institute for Justice.  “No one knows better than parents which type of education will best-serve their children.  School choice programs give parents the means to secure a quality education for their children.”

My comment:  This is welcome news. While the opponents of school choice challenged "vouchers" in Colorado based on a provision of the Colorado constitution, had they won, opponents of school choice would have been emboldened to challenge scholarship programs elsewhere. A loss for advocates of school choice in Colorado would have slowed the movement elsewhere.

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Guns-in-trunks-in-parking-lots heads to the Governor | Nashville News, Weather 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The House has voted to send to the governor's desk a bill to allow the state's nearly 400,000 handgun carry permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked.
 Despite the hysteria about this bill, it is worth noting that it really doesn't do much. As explained in this Channel 5 report, "Supporters stress that the measure would not stop employers from banning weapons on their property but would simply remove their ability to call for criminal charges against violators."  Also, "Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby said his bill would also not apply to areas like airports, railroads or secure facilities governed by federal law."

The Governor should sign this bill and put this issue to rest. 

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School Vouchers topic of next First Tuesday

From Tim Skow, First Tuesday:

One of the OLDEST political adages is "Politics makes strange bedfellows"....

This will certainly be on display Tuesday, March 5th at our next 1ST TUESDAY lunch!

Today in the TN Legislature, one issue is mixing -  MILLIONS of your tax $$$$ -  VERY powerful special interest groups squaring off - Governor Haslam's top legislative initiative, Extremely mad School Boards across the State of TN....  and is driving the LIBs and our friends in the Press apoplectic !!!!

Some call them "Opportunity Scholarships"... or "Vouchers" .... or "robbing Public Schools"... The Legislation that passes is about to affect millions of Tennesseans .. and the future of our State.

NOT only will the Legislation that passes affect all Public Education as you've know it.. it is it also expect to have a HUGE IMPACT on future elections in TN..  -- yes --- there will be political consequences !! And you are going to want to know about them all !

On MARCH 5th, we will hear from several "experts" about all the facets of the MOST intense issue of the 2013 Legislative Session ... and the Legislative fight that will have a HUGE impact on the 2014 races in MANY districts.

Our Special Guest Speaker(s) for the day will include:

Lee Barfield - [long time confidant of former US Senator Bill Frist], from SCORE - discussing how "Opportunity Scholars", Charter Schools and related topics will affect educating TN's children

Chip Saltsman - former TN Republican State Party Chairman, Campaign consultant multiple races including the Mike Huckabee for President and TN-3 Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. Seats in the Legislature will turn on this issue... expect Chip to offer some critical insights into what to expect.

Dr. Patricia Mathes PhD- Director of The Institute for Evidence-Based Education at SMU, where Texas Instruments has endowed her Chair. Dr. Mathes was nominated by President Bush '43 for 1 of the most critical positions in the US Government regarding Education, but the "Massachusetts Gob of Goo"...also known as US Senator Ted Kennedy refused to let nomination come up for a vote. Dr. Mathes received her PhD from Vanderbilt and remains keenly interested in Nashville's' Public Schools

A number of State Legislators,  Metro Council members, and others will also join us.
In short, this will be 1 of the most powerful Q & A Sessions ever at 1ST TUESDAY!

Plan to join us on March 5th !    Visit the 1ST TUESDAY website at  to sign up for lunch. This HOT topic will draw a huge crowd... Selling out is likely.. so plan join us and come see many others you know for our Coffee and Social Time... doors will open at 11AM.  [the Q&A will be  classic!! ]

As always, we will meet at The Offices of Waller Law - 511 Union Street -27th floor.
Lunch starts at 11:30AM and is $20 for 1ST TUESDAY Members and $25 for Guests...
[$30 at the door for those without an RSVP]. Program starts promptly at NOON and Q&A sessions concludes promptly at 1:00PM.

Hope to see you at 1ST TUESDAY ... on Tuesday, March 5th

Tim Skow

ps -- Remember for April 2nd ..our Guest Speaker will be Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.. if you want .. buy lunch for BOTH events.. just put that info in at the bottom in "Special Instructions" when you sign up ! NO DOUBT, April 2nd will quickly become a SOLD-OUT as well !

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Duane Dominy talks about the fair gournds and racetrack with Joe Williams

Joe Williams, an auto racing sports journalist and announcer for over 30 years, recently interviewed Councilman Duane Dominy about the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and what exactly is happening with the property, master plans being presented, and how racing may or may not fit into the future. This interview can be found at this link: A Long Term Investment.

Click here: A Long Term Investment.
Would a racetrack be too loud? What can you do to protect the history? Why the great push either way to make a change to a piece of Nashville or, on the flipside, to save the fairgrounds? Listen in and find out!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March 5th, 2013 Metro Council agenda is now available.

The March 5th, 2013 Metro Council agenda is now available. If you will wait, I will read it for you and tell you if there is anything important on the agenda, but if you can't wait, you can go to this link and read it: March 5, 2013 Agenda.

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Beavers' Nullification Bill fails - sanity prevails

A bill seeking to make it a crime to enforce federal firearms laws in Tennessee has failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet received a 4-4 vote in the judiciary committee today. Bills must earn a majority to advance.

Here is how they voted:   
               Senators voting aye were: Campfield, Bell, Gardenhire, Green -- 4.
               Senators voting no were: Kelsey, Overbey, Finney L, Stevens -- 4.

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Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party

The Davidson County Republican Party

Caucus and Convention

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ed Jones Auditorium

Ellington Agricultural Center

440 Hogan Road

 Registration:  8:15 AM, Meeting: Promptly 9:00 AM
Please bring your voter’s registration card to speed up the process.
At the Caucus, you will have an opportunity to be elected as a delegate
from your Metro Council District.
You must be a delegate to vote on March 23rd
To find your council district

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Sen. Bob Corker addresses nuclear strategy in WSJ op-ed

Sen. Bob Corker addresses nuclear strategy in WSJ op-ed 

Sen. Bob Corker co-authored an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal, criticizing President Barack Obama's approach to addressing the proliferation of nuclear weapons across the globe.

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Governor’s Voucher Program Moves Ahead with Bipartisan Support

Governor’s Voucher Program Moves Ahead with Bipartisan Support

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How they voted on Hagle. Rand Paul votes for confirmation.

Senator Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense yesterday. All Democrats voted to support him and only four Republicans broke party lines to vote in Hagel's favor. The four Republicans who voted in favor of Hagel were Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

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Fairground Phase 2 presentation to the Council

This is the phase two report to the council on fairgrounds.  It shows options for getting rid of the fairgrounds and turning the site into a mixed use development with fountains and outdoor restaurants and smiling children and glamorous people.  I have not yet watched this meeting but have previously seen the presentation.   

The skids are being greased to destroy the fairgrounds. Many people think that because they voted in a referendum to save the fairgrounds and that the referendum passed, that the issue is settled and the future of the fair grounds is secure. It is not.

I was disappointed that their was so little Council participation last week at the presentation of the Phase one portion of the study.  I fear many council members do not really care about making an informed decision and are simply going to defer to the wishes of the mayor and use the consultant's report as cover.  I hope there was more participation at this meeting than at the meeting last week.

If presented with only the phase one choice and the phase two choice, the phase two choice seem much more attractive.  It looks to me like the consultants knew the outcome they wanted first and backed into the study.  I think consultants often do that.  Some of their numbers are very suspicious. I was at a function last night with Councilman Duane Dominy and talked to him about the issue and he told me the cost estimates for demolishing the racetrack in order to facilitate development of the site was grossly inadequate among other criticisms of the study.   He thinks there research is skewed to support the outcome that favors redevelopment of the fairgrounds.

The fair board needs to review Request for Information from parties interested in keeping the fair grounds but improving it and the council needs to have another hearing on the fairgrounds to see what a private developer will propose.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ABC/BBC feature on the NRA, Sandy Hook, Debra Magart

From Debra Maggart

Dear Friends: Below is the link to the ABC/BBC feature on the NRA's tactics, and the  Sandy Hook shooting.  This aired today and will be seen around the world.

Many thanks to my friend, Ted Lyon, who allowed this film crew to spend the entire day at his home shooting this news story and to all of my friends and family who "starred" in the segment on our gun culture and what the NRA did in my race and to my reputation.  

I thought the piece was very well done and I am sure it will enrage some acolytes of the gun lobby.   The mother of the little boy named Noah who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary is of course,  heartbreaking.  

~ Debra
Debra  Young Maggart

Below is an excerpt: 
And so suddenly it’s mum against monolith.

The National Rifle Association is arguably the most muscular lobby group in the US, turning politicians into shivering jelly and running an elaborate, well financed PR machine that has managed to translate a 200 year old constitutional utterance into an inexorable, inalienable right to arm yourself to the teeth with weapons the founding fathers could never have imagined.

Cross the NRA at your peril. Even gun friendly Republicans can become a target.

Debra Maggart is a life time member of the NRA and always supported its agenda, even voting for a bill that allowed guns in bars. But in 2012 she refused to support a bill that would have allowed Tennesseans to keep guns inside their locked cars, because she thought it was dangerous. She says that as a result, the NRA turned on her, making sure she was defeated in the 2012 primaries.

“They used bully tactics to get their way. They know that everyone is afraid of them.” DEBRA MAGGART, REPUBLICAN
To see the 26 minute news segment, follow this link: Inside the NRA

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Wine Legislation Passes First Hurdle


Dear Red White and Food Members:

Today the Senate State and Local Government Committee voted to pass legislation that would allow local referendums on the sale of wine in Tennessee’s retail food stores.

Read a statement from Jarron Springer, Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association president, about the outcome of today’s vote:

“This is a great day for Tennessee consumers. The Senate State and Local Government Committee has passed the wine in retail food stores bill, which is the first step in giving Tennesseans the right to vote on where they buy wine in their communities.

“Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey showed great leadership today to move this bill forward and continue the conversation of giving consumers the right to vote on this issue.

“As Sen. Bill Ketron, the sponsor of the legislation, stated before the vote today, we are open to working with retail package stores to draw up a bill that is amenable to all parties.

“Communities already approve liquor-by-the-drink and retail package stores by referendum, so having the same process for wine in retail food stores just makes sense. The fact that the Senate committee – the first group of legislators to vote on the bill this year – sees the value of placing local control in the hands of the voters makes us optimistic for the path of this legislation.

“We feel strongly that, if individuals are given the opportunity to vote on this issue, we will see wine on the shelves of Tennessee’s retail food stores.”

We are thankful for the majority support from the senators who voted to give constituents, and other Tennesseans, the right to decide where they buy wine in their communities.

Below is the list of legislators in the Senate committee and how they voted on the legislation. Please take a minute to call or email the legislators in the Senate committee who voted “yes,” as well as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, and thank them for looking out for Tennessee consumers.

• Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, (615) 741-4524,
• Voted “yes”:
     o Sen. Janice Bowling, (615) 741-6694,
     o Sen. Mark Green, (615) 741-2374,
     o Sen. Jack Johnson, (615) 741-2495,
     o Sen. Bill Ketron, (615) 741-6853,
             *Sen. Ketron is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate.
     o Sen. Reginald Tate, (615) 741-2509,
• Voted “no”:
     o Sen. Thelma Harper
     o Sen. Mark Norris
     o Sen. John Stevens
     o Sen. Ken Yager

We look forward to the upcoming challenges of the House Local Government Subcommittee vote. We will provide additional details about that meeting when they become available.

Thank you for your support.

The Red White and Food Team

My comment: YES! Cheers!

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State Attorney General says Beavers' nullificatiion bill is unconstitutional

It didn't take long to get an Attorney General's opinion on Mae Beavers' bill which would nullify any new federal gun control law or firearms registration requirement and which would require local law enforcement to arrest federal agents enforcing such new laws.

The AG was asked, "Are Senate Bill 0100/House Bill 0042 (hereinafter “HB42”) and Senate Bill 0250/House Bill 0248 (hereinafter “SB250”) of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly constitutional?"

The answer was, " No. Both HB42 and SB250 if enacted as proposed would violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution."

I could have told you that.  Who wants to bet that proponents of the bill will simply say, "well, that's your opinion?"  It will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday. Last week, the motion to delay and get an Attorney Generals opinion, only passed by one vote. This vote could be close.

If this bill passes, I assume Governor Haslam will veto it, and while a veto can be easily overridden in Tennessee I would not expect it to be.  If this bill does become law, however, and Congress passes a new legislation that, let us say, bans the 20-round clip, and ATF agents began arresting arms dealers selling 20-round clips and following state law, local deputies start arresting ATF agents, some people could get killed.

This is insanity! If Tennessee thinks an act of Congress or executive order is unconstitutional, the proper course of action is to challenge it in court; not resort to armed rebellion. 

In the five page opinion, case law and history of nullification are addressed.  Anyone who want to know more about the issue, should read the opinion.  Unfortunately, I know that proponents of the bill will argue that they do not care about case law, only their own reading of the Constitution.

Here is the link to the Attorney Generals Opinion: link.

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Ashley Judd’s history of bizarre comments

Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd keeps being mentioned as a candidate for Senate, either here in Tennessee or in neighboring Kentucky.  It looks more and more like she will run in Kentucky in an attempt to unseat Mitch McConnell. I may be surprised, but I just do not see her being elected. She is way outside the mainstream. The article below exposes some of her weird positions. The picture to the left exposes her biggest career assets but I am not sure that contributes to her political resume. Rod

Ashley Judd’s biggest problem: Her history of bizarre comments

She has spoken out against having kids, saying it is “unconscionable to breed” while there are so many starving children in the world.

She has criticized the tradition of fathers “giving away” their daughters at weddings, calling that practice “a common vestige of male dominion over a woman’s reproductive status.”

She has even compared mountaintop removal mining to the Rwandan genocide, and has criticized Christianity as a religion that “legitimizes and seals male power. (keep reading)

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Pat Carl seeks 2nd Vice Chair of Nashville GOP

Pat Carl
Pat Carl is seeking the office of 2nd Vice Char of the Davidson County Republican Party. Below are Pat Carl's responses to a query from Stan Scott. I am posting with Pat's permission. Rod

Why do you want the position [of 2nd Vice-Chair]?

Frankly, I believe too much emphasis is placed on "the position". I believe all DCRP elected officers must work as a Team under the guidance of the Chairman, with one common goal of supporting and growing the Republican Party. In the 2 years I have served as Southeast Regional Vice-Chair, that has not been the case....often, it has been obvious that some have approached their elected position as "what can the DCRP do for me" rather than "what can I do for the DCRP".

As you know my Region is one of the most heavily Democrat in the entire county. Additionally, I am angry at the people who say "The Republican Party is in trouble...or needs to change their message". We are neither, we just need to do more, better, in getting our message out! I have been perfectly happy as Regional Vice-Chair and planned to run for this position again in March. Bob Duvall asked me to consider running for 2nd Vice-Chair when he made the decision to run for Chairman. He, too, had observed some of the "title holders" who had made empty promises, done nothing, to further the DCRP, often criticizing rather than supporting DCRP. Bob always tries to surround himself with The Best....and I consider it an honor that he includes me in this group.

How will you address what you see as the top three steps to improve the Party?

Fundraising, both for the DCRP and assisting our candidates with their fundraising efforts. Membership Growth/Inclusion and Countywide Communication Identifying, vetting, and supporting candidates (both local and state seats) I did not address each of the above individually, because you really cannot separate one from the other. We need more fundraisers, both the large and small ones and there are many, many Republicans in Davidson County who do not feel they have been included and don't know how to go about being included in the DCRP. I will take the Party to the people, as I have successfully done in Southeast Region. My Region now has some of the most dedicated Republican volunteers and so many times I have been told "I always wanted to get involved but didn't know how". Our vision on DCRP fundraising has been so set....let's have a big fancy fundraiser at The Standard and invite the same select group of people. Take the events and the message directly into the communities. I'll take 1,000 people, each donating $50 any time over fancy event where you might collect, if you are lucky, $4,000. There is also a lot of hidden talent (future candidates) in Davidson County....but we seem to set back and wait for them to come to us first...again, take it to the communities and look for good candidates.

What compelling reasons are there for someone to vote for you?

 I have attached a list of my achievements, both personal and DCRP. These will reinforce the following: (1) When I take on a task/responsibility, I give it 200%, (2) I think outside the box. Stan, sorry this is so lengthy....once I get on my soap box....but hope this gives you a better idea of who Pat Carl is and what she stands for. Please feel free to share my responses with others if you wish.

Pat Carl

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Look what they are saying about Senator Brian Kelsey

Those who are just itching to re-fight the civil war do not take kindly to Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Brian Kelsey for saying that it is not a good idea to pass a bill that would declare perceived federal violations of the 2nd Amendment to be illegal within the state of Tennessee.

SB0250 sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers, who herself was former Senate Judiciary Chairman, also provides for criminal penalties for federal agents who attempt to carry out such laws that Tennessee deems violate the 2nd Amendment.

 Last week, the bill was up for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee but Senator Kelsey convinced his colleagues to defer it. It will be back before the committee on Wednesday of this week.

To learn more about this issue from the viewpoint of the advocates of the bill go to Tenth Amendment Center. To view last week's hearings on the bill, see below.

Senator Kelsey is polite and reasonable and makes a persuasive argument in explaining why fidelity to the constitution includes respect for the supremacy clause.  I am convinced that the view of Senator Kelsey is the correct view.  His explanation of the Tenth amendment is that the supremacy clause overrides the Tenth amendment. He simply asks for a deferral to hear the opinion of the Attorney General. Sen. Overby makes a good argument that Senator Beaver's bill is vague. She says her bill applies to bills in the past as well as bills in the future. The bill does not point to any specific federal action. Overby questions if Beaver's bill is unconstitutionally vague. The bill is differed one week to order get an Attorney General's opinion by a vote of 5 to 4. This bill needs to be defeated. Should it pass, Governor Haslam needs to veto it.

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The State and Metro should end guaranteed pension plans

Guaranteed State Pensions Could Become Thing of the Past
Monday, February 25th, 2013, by Blake Farmer, WPLN-  The Tennessee Secretary of the Treasury has a plan to change the state pension system. The traditional state pension would begin to be phased out under a plan to be presented to state lawmakers Monday. The state treasurer is trying to move away from guaranteed retirement benefits. In recent decades, the rap on state jobs is that the pay may be less than the private sector, but the benefits are good – especially the retirement plan.
This is a welcome move. Almost no one in the private sector gets a pension anymore. Pensions are nearly bankrupting cities and states across the nation. The State should end guaranteed pensions and so should Metro. The guaranteed pension should be replaced by a system of matched 401K contributions or a similar program.

Unfortunately, even if the employer match is a one-to-one match, there will be some people who will foolishly leave the money on the table. If they do, that is their choice and they should live with the consequences.

Serving in my capacity as a counselor to people in crisis, I see people who choose to not join a 401K program with a generous employer match.  They never have learned delayed gratification. They don't think beyond the present moment. I also see people who do stupid things like getting thirty-year mortgages five years before they retire, knowing their mortgage will be almost as much as their retirement income.  Some people are just irresponsible and do stupid things. We can only go so far in looking out for stupid people. People should plan for their own retirement. There is a difference between experiencing a crisis that is beyond your control and just being irresponsible. Social Security is safety net enough. Beyond that, we should encourage people to be responsible for their own retirement. An employee match is a nice benefit; a guaranteed retirement is too generous a benefit that we can no longer afford.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Save our Fairgrounds: Call to Action

From Save our Fairgrounds:

The Board of Fair Commissioners will be meeting at the Fairgrounds Administration Office Board room Tuesday morning, February 26, 8:00 AM.

The decision of who will operate the Fair at the Historic Fairgrounds will be decided at this meeting. Two groups have been bidding to operate the September Fair since last October.

According to the Fairgrounds accountant, the hard cost of the fair being held on the Fairgrounds is $200,000.00+.

The TSFA, the same group who designed and lobbied the legislation removing the right and ability of our Metro Fair Board to produce the State Fair as they have for the past 106 years, is offering a guarantee of $50,000.00 with ticket sales incentives to make up the shortage in cost. TSFA would retain all parking income and would not pay an additional fee for table and drape rental. This deal leaves the Fairgrounds and the citizens of Davidson County exposed to potential loss. No other vendor wanting to rent the facility is able to work the same type of financial arrangement.

Universal Fairs is the other company bidding to operate a 2013 Fair. Universal Fairs had an opening bid of $250,000.00, plus parking revenue and additional rental fees would also go to the Fairgrounds. This week, Universal Fairs secured an additional Fair sponsor and have upped their guaranteed bid to $500,000.00 VS the TSFA $50,000.00 guarantee.

Fairgrounds staff is preparing to ask Metro for a first ever taxpayer subsidy to operate the Fairgrounds. The ½ Million Dollar offer to the Fairgrounds by Universal Fairs would all but eliminate the need for Fairgrounds staff to ask for a taxpayer subsidy.

As you can see, The Universal Fairs offer is the best financial deal for the Fairgrounds and the people of Davidson County.
The attached link is a letter to the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners asking the Board to Make the best financial decision and contract with Universal Fairs to operate the 2013 Fair.
Please take a moment, go to the link, and send this email to the Fair Board.
Your input is vital to the effort to Save Our Fairgrounds

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Why a $9 Minimum Wage is a Bad Idea

This is a cute presentation of the argument that the minimum wage is a bad idea.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Davidson County Republican Party Caucus and Convention

The Davidson County Republican Party
Caucus and Convention

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Ed Jones Auditorium
Ellington Agricultural Center
440 Hogan Road

 Registration:  8:15 AM, Meeting: Promptly 9:00 AM
Please bring your voter’s registration card to speed up the process.
At the Caucus, you will have an opportunity to be elected as a delegate
from your Metro Council District.
You must be a delegate to vote on March 23rd

To find your council district

Saturday, March 23, 2013
Ed Jones Auditorium
Ellington Agricultural Center
440 Hogan Road

Registration: 8:15 AM, Meeting Promptly 9:00 AM
You must be a delegate to attend this Convention
At the Convention you will vote for the Executive Officers.

If you cannot attend the Caucus March 2nd but are available to attend the convention March 23, you may scan or fax a copy of your voter’s registration card to be elected as a delegate

Send questions and scan to:
Fax: to 615-883-3444


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Marsha Blackburn named 3rd most conservative

The National Journal has released its ratings of “most conservative” and “most liberal” members of the House of Representatives and Marsha Blackburn is rated as the third most conservative member of the House. To see the full report follow this link then on the right see click "raw data."

Diane Black is in a three-way tie ranked at 26.  Jim Cooper is ranked 258, making him the 20th most conservative Democrat congressman.

Other Tennessee Representative hold these ranks:
         Steve Cohen       370
         Scott DesJarlais 59
         Stephen Fincher 63
         Chuck Fleisman 86
         Phil Roe             115
         John Duncan      219

In the Senate, Bob Corker is ranked the 35th most conservative senator and Alexander is ranked 39th. By way of comparison, The National Journal ranks Lindsey Gram as more conservative with a ranking of 33 and John McCain more conservative with a ranking of 28.

One interesting observation from looking at the data is that the most liberal Republican is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat in both the House and the Senate. That was not always the case.

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Germany and Spain Move to Curb Green-Energy Supports

Advocates of green energy often site Germany and Spain as examples of what America should be doing.  Many environmentalist oppose clean nuclear energy and clean natural gas, because they are convinced that we can get all the energy we need from solar panels and wind mills despite the fact that the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. The fact is that energy from wind and solar is just not dependable and is very, very expensive.  In Germany, rising energy prices are causing companies to flee and move to countries with more affordable energy. Spain and Germany are reversing course on green energy.
By William Boston and James Angelos in Berlin and Ilan Brat in Madrid

More than a decade ago, Germany and Spain created similar laws to aggressively promote the adoption of renewable energy. The two countries were again marching in step on Thursday—this time to fix a web of subsidies and compensations they created for green energy that had the unintended effect of driving up household electricity bills.

With Spain in the grips of recession, the government wants to lower consumers' light bills. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel faces an election in September and hopes to win points with voters by putting a stop to rising electricity bills. The independent steps have been welcomed by German consumer groups, but have been slammed by businesses as German and Spanish politicians move to finance cuts for consumers by passing on the costs to companies. Get full story here from the Wall Street Journal.

Consumers Bear Brunt of German Switch to Renewable Energies ...

Rising Energy Prices: Germans Grow Wary of Switch to Renewables. Germany's switch to renewable energies is driving up electricity bills ...

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second bidder has made an offer to run the fair this year

There was an  interesting story in this morning's Tennessean. As was rumored was going to occur, a second bidder has made an offer to run the fair this year.  With a different operator, the fair could not be called the "state fair" but since our state fair is just a mediocre fair anyway, does it really matter if it is called the "state fair?"  The new bidder was going to give the Fair Board a much better deal than the Tennessee State Fair Association.  The deal the Tennessee State Fair Association finally agreed to would probably not be as good as it is, if not for an alternative fair operator waiting in the wings. Below is the link to the Tennessean article.

... financial offer to operate what it calls a "Middle Tennessee State Fair" at Nashville's fairgrounds, but the proposal might have arrived too late to beat out the state's ...

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The Council hears from the Consultants on the Fairground options, Part 1

Below is a video of a joint meeting of the Metro Council's Budget & Finance and Codes, Fair & Farmers' Market Committees on February 22, 2013.  This is the presentation to the Council of the consultants phase 1 study of the fairgrounds. The phase 1 study is the study of the site if it is kept as a fairground and exhibition space.  Next Tuesday, the committees will get the presentation of the Phase 2 study, which looks at what the fairgrounds site could be if redeveloped as a mixed use development.

This presentation looks at market demand and what the community could support and how that relates to the existing fairground site and looks at the option of developing a fairgrounds site at a new location. One thing the study makes clear is that our fairgrounds needs an equestrian feature. We are missing the opportunity to host rodeos and horse shows.  If the site is maintained as a fairgrounds, the study looks at options for redesigning the site. Options of keeping a race track and an option of redesigning the site without a race track are presented.

I feel that this study undervalues the race track.  The race track should be considered an underused asset. I myself am not a big racing fan, however the Nashville Speedway is a historical treasure. If a developer with a long-term lease would build a race track museum and show off the memorabilia and maybe the race cars of some the famous race car drivers who got their start at the Nashville raceway, I believe the raceway could be a tourist attraction.  If one is not  familiar with the history of the racetrack, you should look into it.  If we tear it down, it will be gone forever. 

Left out of this discussion is that there is an option of giving a private entity  a long term lease to operate the site and continue current uses. There is a entity that wants to do that.  With a long-term lease they would be willing to make improvements to the site.  By leasing the site to a private concern to continue operating it as a fairgrounds and exhibition space, the city could actually make money rather than the fairgrounds costing the city money. 

I fear that if the council only hears the two options presented by the consultant, the option of redeveloping the fairground site as mixed use will be more appealing than the option of keeping the fairgrounds at the current location. I fear the deck is being stacked to redevelop the fairgrounds as  mixed use. To consider all of the options, the Council needs to hear from the group that would like a long-term lease.  

This meeting is an hour and thirty-nine minutes long, with the presentation consuming the first hour and nine minutes.  Only three councilmen ask questions. Robert Duvall ask some good questions, but I am surprised that there is not more participation from other members of the Council.


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Council meeting of 2/19/13 with commentary and notations

This council meeting is only 42 minutes long. It is boring and there is no controversy and no need to watch it.  A couple presentations take up the first thirteen minutes of the meeting. There are no bills on public hearing.

There are ten resolutions, all of which are on the consent agenda. None are controversial and none are pulled off of the consent agenda.

There are nine bills on first reading and they all pass. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading.

There are thirteen bills on Second Reading. It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. All of the bills pass without discussion or recorded votes.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-359 was an important bill that modifies an agreement the city has with the Renaissance Hotel. Since Metro has built the new Music City Center it is necessary to modify the terms of an arrangement the city has with the Renaissance. To read how the Tennessean explains this bill see follow this link.

There are eight bills on Third Reading and they all pass except for BILL NO. BL2013-353 which is a bill that was disapproved by the Planning Commission. The sponsor, Councilman Tenpenny moves to defer the bill indefinitely. This was for the rezoning of a piece of property on Tanksley Ave. to benefit Tire Recappers. There was considerable community opposition to the bill. An indefinite deferral is not the same as withdrawing a bill. A deferred bill may be put back on the agenda at a future meeting.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Robert Duvall works to overturn Metro's limo price-fixing bill

Robert Duvall
The Tennessean reports today that Councilman Robert Duvall is working as a lobbyist for Metro Livery Service seeking to get legislation passed that would invalidate Metro's limo price-fixing practice. (link) Rather than explaining what Duvall is trying to accomplish,  the article focuses on whether or not it is appropriate for a member of Metro Council to lobby the State legislature.

If what Robert Duvall is doing is a conflict of interest then there have been many other instances of such conflict.  Other council members have served as lobbyist. When I served in the Council, I served with a council member whose full-time employment was actually serving as the  executive director of a trade group and his primary job was to lobby the legislature on behalf of the organization he served. We have had several council members who served as both a member of the State legislature and the Metro Council at the same time. While both positions are serving the public, the interest of the State and Metro may often be at odds.

The Tennessean piece includes explanations that what Duvall is doing is certainly legal and as long as he abstains from voting, should this same issue come before the Council, there is no legal conflict. The article does however question the appropriateness of his serving as a lobbyist. The article does not question the appropriateness of Metro government telling a company what minimum fee they may charge or the appropriateness of the well-connected getting laws passed to protect themselves from competition.

Metro Nashville is one of only seven cities in the United State that sets a minimum fare for a limo or taxi ride. Many have a maximum allowable fares however.  I can understand that a maximum fare is a protection for the consumer, but why have a minimum fare?  The logical reason is that it is to protect providers of transportation services from competition. A minimum fare keeps companies from seeking innovate ways to lower prices or offer alternative products. A minimum fare harms the consumer.

Metro did not have a minimum fee until ...(To be continued. To learn more about this issue follow this link.)

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Guns-in-trunks, all bark, no bite.

His biggest complaint is that the latest version of guns-in-trunks does not include a provision letting workers bring wrongful termination lawsuits if they are fired for bringing a gun to work. Another complaint is that it limits the right to bring a gun to work only to people with carry permits — potentially leaving out many hunters and other gun owners. (link)
Basically, it does almost nothing. I am not complaining. I was not in favor of the original proposal thinking it went way too far in restricting the right of property owners to control their property primarily, but also concerned that it went too far in bestowing rights on employees and expanding the roll of  government as a party in employer-employee relations. I have no concern with the bill as it exists now. Hopefully this will pass quickly and we can put guns on the back burner for a while.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is this what guns-in-trunks means? If so, it is much to do about nothing.

I have carefully followed the Safe Commute Act, generally refereed to as the "guns in trunks bill," and I thought I understood it to force an employer to allow an employee with a hand gun carry permit to leave a gun locked in his car at his place of employment. I have editorialized on the bill based on that assumption. (See Thoughts about guns-in-trunks and property rights)

I was surprised to read the following in today's Tennessean

...a staff attorney told committee members that, just as employers can bar drinking-age workers from consuming alcohol on the job, they will be able to fire workers who flout no-gun policies.
The bill, however, would change state law so that those workers could no longer be arrested. (link)
If that is all it does, then it is really no big deal. This bill is a very minor change. If this is all it does it does not infringe on the property rights of employers at all. It this is all it does it is pretty much meaningless. The controversy over this bill is much to do about nothing.

Read it. It looks like the way the Tennessean reported it is correct. The bill says the gun permit holder may store his gun in his vehicle at his place of employment. It does not say the employer can not prohibit the employee from doing so.  

Below is the text of the bill: 
SENATE BILL 142 By Ramsey
HOUSE BILL 118 By Faison
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to handgun carry permits.
WHEREAS, in 1996, Tennesseans were first given the opportunity to apply for and, if
meeting the qualifications, be issued a permit to carry a handgun in public; and
WHEREAS, to apply for a permit a person must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age,
a resident of Tennessee and a U.S. citizen or permanent lawful resident; and
WHEREAS, the applicant must, under oath in the application, affirm that he or she has
not been convicted of a criminal offense or otherwise occupy a status that would make
possession of a firearm prohibited by federal law; and
WHEREAS, in addition to the application, the applicant must provide two (2) full sets of
the applicant’s fingerprints for the purpose of permitting both the Tennessee bureau of
investigation and federal bureau of investigation to conduct a criminal history record check on the applicant; and
WHEREAS, the applicant is also required to submit proof of the successful completion of a department approved handgun safety course, which is required to include both classroom hours and firing range hours, to ensure the applicant knows how to safely handle a firearm and basic Tennessee law with respect to where firearms can and cannot be carried; and
WHEREAS, upon completion of the application, the applicant is required to present
photo identification and a nonrefundable one hundred fifteen dollar ($115) application fee to the department; and
WHEREAS, an applicant meeting all the requirements stated above is entitled to be
issued a Tennessee handgun permit within ninety (90) days of the department receiving the application; and
WHEREAS, even though obtaining a handgun carry permit is neither quick nor easy in
Tennessee, over 40,600 law-abiding citizens successfully completed the requirements and received a permit during 1997, the first full year of operation; and
WHEREAS, the number of handgun carry permits issued to concerned citizens who
want to responsibly and legally protect themselves and their family, both at home and on their way to and from work, has risen each of the fifteen years the permit has been available in this state to the more than 371,800 Tennesseans who hold handgun carry permits in 2012; now, therefore,
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, is amended by
adding the following as a new section thereto:
(a) Notwithstanding §§ 39-17-1309, 39-17-1311, or § 39-17-1359, unless
expressly prohibited by federal law, the holder of a valid handgun carry permit
recognized in Tennessee may transport and store a firearm or firearm
ammunition in the permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle, as defined in §
55-1-103, while on or utilizing any public or private parking area if:
(1) The permit holder’s vehicle is parked in a location where it is
permitted to be; and
(2) The firearm or ammunition being transported or stored in the
(A) Is kept from ordinary observation if the permit holder is
in the motor vehicle; or
(B) Is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the
trunk, glove box, or interior of the person’s privately owned motor
vehicle or a container securely affixed to such vehicle if the permit
holder is not in the vehicle.
(b) No business entity, public or private employer, or the owner,
manager, or legal possessor of the property shall be held liable in any civil action
for damages, injuries or death resulting from or arising out of another’s actions
involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored in accordance with
subsection (a) unless the business entity, public or private employer, or the
owner, manager, or legal possessor of the property commits an offense involving
the use of the stored firearm or ammunition or intentionally solicits or procures
the conduct resulting in the damage, injury or death. Nor shall a business entity,
public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal possessor of the
property be responsible for the theft of a firearm or ammunition stored in
accordance with subsection (a).
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Parking area” means any property provided by a business
entity, public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal
possessor of the property for the purpose of permitting its invitees,
customers, clients or employees to park privately-owned motor vehicles;
(2) “Parking area” does not include the grounds or property of a
owner-occupied, single-family detached residence, or a tenant-occupied
single-family detached residence.
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-1359 is amended by deleting
from the first sentence of subsection (a) the language, “An individual, corporation” and
substituting instead the language “Except as provided in § 39-17-1313, an individual,
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013, the public welfare requiring it

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Bill Haslam: The GOP star you've never heard of

A Great profile from Politico:
 But while attracting scant national attention and eschewing the camera-friendly approach of most up-and-coming Republican governors, Bill Haslam has amassed one of the most extensive conservative governing records in the country.
 He is, in short, the most important Republican governor you’ve never heard of. And as the National Governors Association gathers in Washington this week for its winter meeting, the national GOP may have something to learn from Tennessee.

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Men and Marriage, by George Gilder

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Gene & Vicki Wisdom's home

From Amazon: Men and Marriage is a critical commentary that asks the burning question, How can society survive the pervasive disintegration of the family? A profound crisis faces modern social order as traditional family relationships become almost unrecognizable. George Gilder's Men and Marriage is a revised and expanded edition of his 1973 landmark work, Sexual Suicide . He examines the deterioration of the family, the well-defined sex roles it offered, and how this change has shifted the focus of our society. Poverty, for instance, stems from the destruction of the family when unmarried parents are abandoned by their lovers or older women are divorced because society approves of their husbands' younger girlfriends. Gilder claims that men will only fulfill their paternal obligations when women lead them to do so, and that this civilizing influence, balanced with proper economic support, is the most important part of maintaining a productive, healthy, loving society. He offers a concrete plan for rebuilding the family in America. His solutions challenge readers to return to these roles and reestablish the family values that were once so crucial in staving off the ills that plague our country. Gilder insists that it is time to reexamine what "liberation" has wrought and at what cost. Only a return to traditional family values, he contends, can stem the tide of disaster. George Gilder is the author of Wealth and Poverty , the best-selling critique of Reaganomics.

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