Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What happened at the Council meeting of 2/4/2013: Borrowing money to buy laptops.

At 2 1/2 hours this is a long meeting. I am not going to give a play by play description. I am only hitting a few highlights. To follow the meeting in the agenda and the analysis follow this link. To see how the Budget and Finance voted on the most important issues, follow this link.

The public hearing portion of the bills takes up the first one hour and 48 minutes of the meeting.

The bill that would put new restrictions on outdoor music events is differed until the first meeting in March.

The two resolutions that are not one the consent agenda are below. Discussion of the two resolutions not on consent start at time stamp 1:55:24.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-948 appropriates $13,100,000 from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund to the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund Operational Account for the purpose of funding the purchase laptop computers, teacher technology training and a universal screener assessment for the implementation of Common Core testing, and an incentive program for teacher retirement. This is the bill by Bo Mitchell. It is deferred one meeting, which, I believe makes the second time it has been deferred. The bill was deferred "by rule" because Mitchell did not show up at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting or communicate what he wanted the committee to do with the bill. This bill will eventually be withdrawn or defeated.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-963 authorizes the issuance of $21 million in general obligation bonds! This is for the purchase of heavy equipment for various departments and $6 million for laptop computers to implement common core testing. The Metro charter calls for sitting aside 4% of the metro budget for the purchase of equipment and make repairs. This would be the first time the city, instead of using the that fund to purchase equipment or make repairs or other such things, will instead borrow the money to do so.  Discussion starts at 1:56:30

Josh Stites
For a better understanding of this bill see the B&F Committee meeting and read the staff analysis. In my view, this is a risky way to do business. The city should buy equipment as we go. The city has borrow a lot of money under Dean's administration and now we are borrowing for to finance living expenses. It is one thing to borrow to purchase a home, it is something else entirely to borrow to buy groceries and that is the equivalent of what the city is doing.

 Charlie Tygerd speaks against it but does not vote against it. Councilman Josh Stites take to the floor speaks with passion and clarity against the bill. Stites says, "This is a symptom of a much Larger problem...We are leveraging entirely too much. ....Someday the music will stop." (see 1:59:45). Congratulation Josh Stites!
Only Councilman Stites and Councilman Standley end up voting against the bill. I am disappointed in several of the Councilmen who call themselves conservative and who did not vote against this bill. This was an opportunity to take a stand against irresponsible spending. I expected a few others to oppose this bill.

The memorializing resolution which calls for adding five additional early voting sites for the May election passes.

Here is the Tennessean's report on the Council Meeting: Council approves plan to borrow $6M for equipment for Common Core testing.

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  1. Ok, I took old-fashioned math....not Common Core correct me if I'm wrong. There are roughly 81,000 total students in the Nashville school system (Wiki numbers, not mine). You can buy from Best Buy.....the cheapest reasonable laptop they have at $249 (Samsung Chromebook), and if you sat down and said you'd buy bulk....they'd reduce the price to likely $220. But, let's assume $249 is the price for a decent laptop. With could buy 24,000 Chromebooks. It seems like a fairly high ratio, and there's odd factor that you ought to consider. You can figure on least five percent of the laptops will be destroyed in the first year (accidents or otherwise). By the fourth year, they will need to be replaced. So this $6 million loan....basically gets you through four years at best, then you repeat this whole exercise. And the necessity to test via laptops? Who said this was necessary? I mean....for decades.....pen, pencil and paper were fairly sufficient. Now?

    So, my challenge. When they put out the contract to buy these....which they won't dare talk in public about who they bought them ought to dig. This guy or company....has a connection back to those who voted on the $6 million. A relative or friend....but there's likely some gimmick at work here.