Monday, June 30, 2014

What's on the Council Agneda fo July1? Pink Flamingos and Honky Tonk protection.

Council meetings are still boring but a bit less boring if you know what the Council is voting on. To get your own copy of the Metro Council meeting agenda and the Council staff analysis follow these links: Agenda, Staff analysis.

There is one resolution and 19 bills on public hearing. Most bills on pubic hearing are zoning bill which only interest the nearby neighbors. There are a couple worth watching.

BILL NO. BL2014-772 on public hearing established new restrictions on a construction/demolition landfills and recycling facilities. While we need these facilities and they keep stuff out of the sanitary landfill that do not need to be in the landfill, they can create a nuisance and probably need these additional restrictions.

BILL NO. BL2014-807 on public hearing would expand the Sylvan Park Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District by about 40 acres and 700 homes. If you recall those pink flamingos in the yard of people in Sylvan Park from some years ago who opposed an overlay, well they are back. I guess the pink flamingos are a tongue-in-cheek representation of a red neck rejection of gentrification pretentiousness. A pink flamingo in a yard represents a homeowner opposed to the overlay. I myself live in a neighborhood with an overlay which among other things prevents someone from putting aluminum siding on their home and I am pleased that our neighborhood has it, but I can understand the opposition. With this proposed overlay, people would have to go to the Historical Commission for approval to make certain changes to their home. To read the Tennessean take on this issue, follow this link.

There are twelve resolutions on the agenda and I assume all of them will be on the consent agenda, meaning they are lumped together and pass with a single vote. None of them appear controversial.

BILL NO. BL2014-771 on Second reading creates a new code provision for a “contextual overlay district” which could be applied to a neighborhood to ensure that infill development is compatible with surrounding properties. It does such things as restrict the height to no more than 125% of nearby homes. Already the same thing can be accomplished with an Urban Design Overlay, but this would make it easier. I have mixed views of this, but tend to oppose it. There are some neighborhoods that have been transformed from neighborhoods with homes in the $75,000 to $100,000 range to neighborhood were the homes are worth up to $650,000. If this had been in place those transformation would not have occurred. These transformations do destroy “affordable” housing but they also respond to market demand which results in a higher tax base. Do we want upper middle class people to all move to Williamson County or do we want to let market forces make room for them to live in Davidson County? Also, why should existing property owners who want to sell and move, not be permitted to get the highest dollar for their home? If allowed to be torn down, the lots are more valuable than the home on the lot.

A tall skinny Nashville duplex
BILL NO. BL2014-770 on third reading is the bill that would change the definition of duplex so one
could have two units on a piece of property and they would not have to be artificially joined the way they are now, where two protruding utility rooms are the only thing joining the homes. It would also impose heights restrictions.

BILL NO. BL2014-776 on third reading would create the Music City Cultural Heritage Overlay District to protect our honky tonks. It would require all businesses on lower Broadway, 2nd Ave and printers alley to have live music or sale merchandise reflective of Nashville culture- think boots, cowboy hats, tee shirts, and tacky souvenirs. It would also ban chain establishments. This was spurred by the threat of Wallgreens to open a store on Lower Broad. The buildings are already protected this would apply to use. I love lower Broad and the honky tonks, but this is just too restrictive. People may want a nice meal without live music after visiting the honky tonks all day and night. If this was already in place we would not have the Hard Rock CafĂ©. If this was in place, we would not have the ice cream store on lower Broad. We would not have the Merchants Hotel restaurant.  We once had a Planet Hollywood on Lower Broad and while I did not particularly like it, it was better than an empty building. Do we want to stop House of Blues from opening in Nashville, if they wanted to do so? While I would not want to see it on Lower Broad, a sports memorabilia store, an art gallery, or a good antique store, or a candy store on Second Ave, may provide a better experience for tourist.  This is just too restrictive. This has been disapproved by the Planning Commission so will require 27 votes to pass. It should be withdrawn and the proponents should go back to the drawing board and come up with something less restrictive or maybe we don't need it at all.  

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Major victory for religous liberty and a blow to Obamacare. Hobby Lobby wins! Tennesseans Respond.

A major victory for religious liberty was struck this morning when the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case that  the government could not compel Hobby lobby to pay for insurance covering early abortion inducing drugs as mandated by Obamacare. Below are the commends of some prominent Tennesseans.

Lamar Alexander
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate health committee and one of 88 members of Congress who joined in filing an amicus brief on behalf of Hobby Lobby, released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling: 
The Supreme Court’s decision today makes clear that the government cannot force Americans to defy the basic tenets of their faith simply because they own a business. I am glad the Supreme Court has preserved our Constitution’s protections of religious freedom from another overreach by the Obama administration.
Senator Bob Corker:  This result is a huge victory for all who believe in separation of powers and the rule of law. 

Marsha Blackburn
Congressman Marsha Blackburn:

By attacking the religious convictions of the Green family, the Obama Administration has once again shown its distain for the free expression of faith. With this ruling, I am relieved that the Supreme Court has somewhat blunted the President's endless assault on our individual freedoms and liberties. Barack Obama and his administration need to remember that he was elected President, not king; and that people should be able to practice their faith without fear of big government trampling on the Judeo-Christian values upon which our great nation was founded.

Additionally, this is an important victory for the job creators in our economy. For the past six years, the Obama Administration has destroyed jobs with its insatiable desire to regulate and control. Successful business owners know how best to manage their affairs, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington. The more this Administration meddles in the economy, the fewer jobs that will be created and the more families that will suffer from the lack of a steady income.

The fact that this case needed to be heard at all should demonstrate to all of us that the struggle to preserve American liberty is never-ending.

George Flynn
Dr. George Flynn, candidate Republican nomination for U.S Senate, issued the following statement:   
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory to the American people in its ruling that employers can opt out of providing coverage for contraception if they have religious objections. While this is a huge success, the fight is not over.

We must continue to fight to return the Doctor/patient relationship to healthcare, which has been stripped through Obamacare. I have seen this first hand as a doctor and this is why I have worked to develop a the Patient Centered Health Plan, one which includes principles such as portability, free markets, and the right of conscious. We must continue to fight and not give up until we are completely free of Obamacare and its harsh regulations.

David Fowler
David Fowler, President of The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), issued the following statement:
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a great day for religious liberty in our country. The Court rightly recognized that in our country the law should not require individuals to violate the tenets of their religious beliefs in order to operate their private businesses. They have upheld the promise made by our Founding Fathers that this would be a nation in which religious liberty would forever be freely exercised without oppression by civil government.
The abortifacients mandate in Obamacare put individuals in the position of having to choose between obeying the law or the dictates of their conscience. All freedom-loving people in America owe a debt of gratitude to the owners of these two companies for being the latest in a long line of courageous Americans who have stood for freedom against government tyranny and religious oppression.
Hopefully, today’s decision will serve as a strong rebuke to those who have expansive views on the reach of civil government and a disdain for individuals whose religious viewpoints form the basis for their decisions and actions. It is good to know that individual business owners can still carry their religious beliefs into the marketplace when they leave home.  
For statements by other prominent Tennesseans follow these link: Joe Carr, Congressman Scott DesJarlaisCongressman Fleischmann
Check back for more updates and commentary. 

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Newt Gingrich and Art Laffer endrose Lamar Alexander.

In case you missed it, last week Senator Lamar Alexander picked up the official endorsements of Newt Gingrich and former Ronald Reagan economist Art Laffer. link.

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Sens. Rand Paul and Lamar Alexander visiting Nashville on Monday to talk Obamacare

Senator Rand Paul and Senator Lamar Alexander will be in Nashville tomorrow to host a roundtable discussion about the Affordable Care Act with state health care professionals. The roundtable is set for the Nashville City Center on Monday morning. Both lawmakers will hold a news conference after the event at 11 a.m.  Tor read the Tennessean story follow this link.

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MTRW luncheon Tuesday, July 8th

From MTRW:

Middle Tennessee Republican Women
Check out our upcoming events and mark your calendar!
  MTRW luncheon Tuesday, July 8th
11:30-1:00 pm
Frost, Brown, Todd Law offices,  The Pinnacle Bldg, 19th FL, 150 Third Ave South
Lunch is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Credit and debit cards are accepted at the door, but please let us know your payment method in your RSVP. RSVP to

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Show Hobby Lobby some love. Today. 3PM

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Are the working poor any better off under Obamacare? Will they pay their premium?

How many people  have actually gotten health care coverage under Obamacare?  It is hard to say.  The Administration said 8 million enrolled but we don't know how many of those paid their premium. Also the Administration has not released numbers in over two months, so they must be embarrassing or they would be crowing. This article makes an informed calculation that the number is less than 4 million: Obamacare Exchanges Are ‘Disappointing’ With Fewer Than 4 Million Newly Insured. The Government Hoped for 26 Million.

No doubt some people who needed health insurance are now covered under Obamacare. Those probably most benefiting are the middle-class people  with pre-existing conditions. There have no doubt been winners and losers under the program.

One thing I have not seen discussed anywhere is that those who previously did not have health insurance did not, not have health care. Among the working poor, having insurance may not make them any better off.  I have worked with low-income people in one way or the other most of my adult life.  In my experience, few low income people go without health care. If they earn too much for Teencare, there is a safety net. They often are served at a United Community Health Service facility for their primary care such as the Vanderbilt Clinic at Vine Hill. These programs have a sliding fee program making care affordable. Here is what the Vine Hill clinic says about their program:

Vine Hill Clinic offers a full range of primary care services, including chronic disease management, pediatrics, social work services, and preventative services such as annual physicals, well child exams and immunizations. Our clinic also offers basic dental services to our patients such as cleanings, fillings and extractions. Our Medical Staff who specialize in pediatric and adult care are here to serve you. Patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment. "Walk-in" and Open Access appointments are available each day. Open Access appointments are similar to “walk-in” appointments, except Open Access appointments are available for scheduling starting at 8:00 am for that day. This way you can come in at your appointment time and it will prevent you from having to wait very long to be seen. Medicare, Medicaid (TennCare) and most private insurance is accepted. Discounts are available for those without health/dental insurance who meet income guidelines. Patients can also obtain low cost or free prescriptions and most lab tests provided on site are discounted or free.
There is also a program called "Bridges to Care" that is much better than Obamacare. I have encountered several people using this program. I know someone who has had heart problems and various other health issues and has had all of her health care cost paid for under this program.

Also, the emergency room is a source of care for people with no insurance. Part of the logic of Obamacare is that reliance on the emergency room by the uninsured is driving up health care cost.  No doubt that is true.  But I predict that we will see little decline in emergency room use unless some disincentives are put in place to discourage emergency room use. Those who now rely on the emergency room for non-emergency care could use a health clinic now, instead of the emergency room. I was around when TennCare was an expansive health care program, not just Medicaid like it is now.  Under the old TennCare, the working poor still relied on the emergency room.  Part of the reason is that the working poor often work jobs where it is difficult to take off work for a doctors appointment and the emergency room is open 24 hours a day. Part of it may simply be habit.

There are no doubt many admirable hard working responsible working poor people.  But there is also a way of thinking that accompanies poverty in our welfare state. Middle class people or the working poor with middle class values would be mortified if they could not make their car payment and a car was repossessed. It is not uncommon to hear something like this from a poor person: "I bought that car, and I hadn't had it six months until the transmission started slipping, so I just stopped making the payments and said, 'you can come get it.'" They say this with pride.  They do not view a repossession of a car as a failure.

Not all, and I don't know the percentage, but I know it is a common attitude among the poor that they do not think about debt the same way middle class people do.  They do not worry about $50,000 of medical bills. They have no assets and get by day by day.  They are not going to go without cable TV to pay a hospital bill.

I don't doubt that many of the people now covered by Obamacare will make sure they maintain their insurance premiums and will be grateful to have health insurance.  When it come to the working poor, I am not so sure. Even it they made that first insurance premium payment, if they must choose between a new Titans starter jacket and making that second insurance payment, many of them will choose the new Titans jacket.

The income tax penalty is not going to make a lot of difference either. They just do not think that far ahead. They have never learned delayed gratification. Also, many of them either legitimately don't pay taxes or have learned how to cheat on their taxes so they don't pay taxes.  As the penalty increases, no doubt the working poor with middle class values and the middle class will be motivated to comply and avoid the penalty, but not the working poor with lower class values.

Instead of just comparing the number of people who now have insurance who before did not have insurance, I think a better measure of the success of Obamacare is how many people now have health care or much better health care than they did before Obamacare. I bet it is not many.  A less comprehensive approach to changing the health care delivery system, could have helped those few.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Where Do You Fit in the Political Typology? Take the Pew Research Center Quiz.

Are you a Steadfast Conservative? A Solid Liberal? Or somewhere in between? Take this quiz to find out which one of Pew's Political Typology groups is your best match compared with a national survey of over 10,000 U.S. adults conducted by the Pew Research Center. To see how Pew's analysis groups the electorate into eight categories rather than just a conservative-liberal divide, follow this link

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oink! 2014 Tennessee pork report documents $609M in taxpayer waste

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog, NASHVILLE — Tennessee officials wasted $609 million in taxpayer money last year, according to the 2014 Tennessee Pork Report, which a free market think tank released Wednesday. The Beacon Center of Tennessee releases the annual report every summer.

Beacon President Justin Owen said this year’s report reveals the highest amount of taxpayer waste in the publication’s nine-year history, which places blame on a large variety of state and local government entities.

PORK: Tennessee Tax Revolt President Ben Cunningham,<br />;Beacon Center Policy DIrector Lindsay Boyd, <br /><br />/>and Beacon President Justin Owen introduce the 2014 Pork Report at a press conference Wednesday in Nashville.
PORK: Tennessee Tax Revolt President Ben Cunningham,
Beacon Center Policy DIrector Lindsay Boyd, and Beacon
President Justin Owen introduce the 2014 Pork
Report at a press conference Wednesday in Nashville.

So how do government officials traditionally behave when they make this infamous list? Do they show embarrassment or remorse or do they get mad and defensive?

“It’s a mix,” Owen told Tennessee Watchdog at a press conference Wednesday. “I would say some realize they’re making mistakes and have started to clean up their act, but others think it’s OK to do what they’re doing, particularly on the waste side when you’re talking about spending money on stupid projects or things that aren’t wise for taxpayers.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the recipient of this year’s “Pork of the Year,” after Owen said it handed out $200 million in wrongfully paid unemployment benefits. Felons, dead people and gainfully employed state workers were among the recipients, Owen said.

This year’s Pork Report also cites 16 Tennessee Watchdog stories written over the past year, including:
STUCK WITH THE STICKS?: An artists' rendering of <br /><br />the sticks that will be placed in downtown <br />Nashville, at taxpayer expense, at a cost of $750,000.
STUCK WITH THE STICKS?: An artists’ rendering of the 
sticks that will be placed in downtown Nashville, at
taxpayer expense, at a cost of $750,000.
The report also details how local governments and public utilities in Tennessee wasted $7.5 million more than they had last year and frequently bypassed competitive bidding requirements.

In the report, Beacon staff members recommend their own solutions to taxpayer waste, including establishing independent commissions that would analyze the state budget line by line.
“At the local level, officials can create audit committees to analyze their budgets, maintain sufficient rainy day funds, impose debt disclosure requirements for taxpayers and overhaul financial management systems altogether,” Owen said.

Thanks to Tennessee Watchdog for permission to reprint this article. 

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

School Board meeting of 6/24/2014: The another-battle-over-charter-schools meeting.

The school board produces great agendas that contains all of the reports and handouts that are given to the school board members. To get your own copy of this 248-page agenda, follow this link.

In case you missed it, Nashville has now joined a program where all children will get free breakfast and free lunch. Of course we know there is "no such thing as a free lunch" but it will be free to the consumers of the lunch. Will Pinkston commends the administration for joining this program. One of the reasons for this change is to remove the stigma of those who accept free lunch.  In my view this is a mistake.  The stigma of accepting free lunch provides an incentive for people to earn enough money so they are no longer eligible for free lunch. It may encourage children to do better than their parents so their children do not feel the stigma of a free lunch. Stigma is not a bad thing. When we removed the stigma of having children out of wedlock, out of wedlock births soared.  If free lunch is a right rather than charity given to the disadvantaged, then people feel entitled to it.  Free lunch, free healthcare, free phones, make people feel entitled to the wealth of others and makes them ungrateful for the assistance they get. This is one more step along the path that is turning America into a European style welfare state where everyone is a ward of the State.

Charter School Motion discussion starts at time stamp 10:14.  Dr.Alan Coverstone , Executive Officer of the Office of Innovation, recommends two brand new charter schools for approval and one conversation charter and two high schools which are "pathways" from existing charter schools, meaning the new high schools are a continuation of a  K-8 charter for the students of the existing charter who enter grade 9. Three applicants are recommended to be denied. The recommendations are followed but the vote is close on some of them.

One of the criteria for approving new charter schools is that they relieve overcrowding. Another criteria is a conversion charter where a charter takes over a failing school. Mr. Coverstone makes the case that it is less costly to approve a new charter rather than build a new school in a high growth area. To see agenda information on the schools denied and approved go to page109 of the agenda.

Amy Frogge attacks the renewal of Rocketship's charter and her attack is refuted by Michael W. Hayes (see time stamp 50.05). Their charter is renewed with Frogge voting "no." I think Ms Frogge votes against all charter applications. There is "no" vote on almost all of the charter applications and I assume that "no" vote is from Frogge but it is not a recorded roll call vote and the video does not clearly show who the "no" vote came from but I am almost sure it was Frogge. 

There is an attempt on the part of Pinkston to amend the terms of the approval of a new charter school.  Valor Collegiate applies for a K-8 charter to start with grade 5 and then add lower grades. Next year they would add K and grade 1. Pinkston says this is a "Trojan horse" for a middle school. He wants them to start with grade K. This application is approved but just barely with four "no" votes. The "no's" are Speering, Pinkston, Frogge, and I could not determine the other person who voted "no."

The school calendar is approved. For parents wanted to view the calendar see page 7 of the agenda.

Below is more information from the school board. It seems that if a charter school cannot be defeated by a vote to deny them a charter, that some members of the school board want to bog them down with so much bureaucracy and regulations so they are no more efficient than a regular public schools. 

School board member: Charters must be more transparent
by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, June 24, 2014 - Nashville charter schools would be required to document and publish their finances, funding sources and conflicts of interest more thoroughly under a policy overhaul floated by a Metro school board member. 
But the measure is already getting pushback from critics questioning the purpose behind the effort, arguing that it would establish a double standard apart from the district’s traditional public schools. (link)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Metro Council Agenda for July 1, 2014 is now available

The Metro Council Agenda for July 1, 2014 is now available at this link. Check back and I will tell you what is on the agenda.

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Joe Carr not invited to big tea party rally

There is a big  tea party rally taking place in Sevierville soon with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the headliner. Joe Carr is not invited and was told he could attend if he bought a ticket. Tea Party Rally Won't Include Alexander's Tea Party Challenger.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Join a conversation about gentrification on June 30th.

Many advocates of affordable housing, neighborhood activist and advocates of the poor have a knee-jerk reaction opposed to what is called "gentrification."  Gentrification is a shift in the population of an urban area and an increase in property values. Upper middle class and wealthy people move into the urban core and poor people move out. Certainly gentrification does lead to fewer "affordable" homes. Small home such as many of those modest homes that remain in neighborhoods like Woodbine and Madison get torn down and replaced by much bigger homes. A $75,000 home may go off the market and be replaced by a $375,000 home. The older better quality homes get purchased and restored to their former glory and triple in value.  In the neighborhood in which I live, many homes have been gutted to the wall studs and completely rebuilt except for the shell.  In some cases beneath a shell of aluminum siding is original quality wood siding and Victorian features.

What happens to the working poor and the welfare class who were living in these homes?  They move to Antioch or other suburban areas in many cases. In the car-dependent suburbs it is more difficult to serve the poor than in a dense urban environment.  The concern of displacing low income people is a legitimate concern and the shrinking of housing stock that is affordable is a legitimate concern. A city needs housing in a variety of price points so that the working poor as well as younger middle class and people like firemen, and policemen, and teachers can live in the community where they work.

In addition to policy concerns about affordable housing and concern for the poor, there is often a resentment of homeowners who live in a modest neighborhood who sees homes in the neighborhood torn down and replaced with much larger new homes that are out of character of the neighborhood. While that is understandable, in some cases so many of the old homes have been torn down and replaced that now the out of character homes are the remaining two-bedroom, nine hundred square foot houses with aluminum siding or the modest 1200 square foot brick ranch style homes.  I do not think that neighborhoods should be allowed to stop transition of a neighborhood to a neighborhood of larger and better homes.

Gentrification  has its positive points.  From purely aesthetics and historic preservation, gentrification restores and protects the housing stock and makes for a prettier community. Also many of the homes being replaced which were hurriedly thrown up in the decade after World War II never were quality homes and they are being replaced with better housings. Gentrification also slows urban sprawl.  If people who want to buy a $500,000 home can't get it in Nashville, then they likely will move into adjacent counties. and commute to Nashville. Also having more people with more disposable income means more business opportunity and more coffee shops, and restaurants, and neighborhood pubs, and all kinds of businesses and a more vibrant community. This creates new jobs and opportunities for people to escape poverty. Probably the most important positive aspect of gentrification is the impact on the tax base.  A larger city almost always has higher cost of government than a smaller city and there is always more demand for public services as a city grows. To meet the needs of the city and demands of the citizens for services requires more revenue.  If the tax base grows revenue comes from growth, if not then it comes from tax increases. A $375,000 home can bring in five times the property tax revenue of a $75,000 home, and also all of the new business they sprout up to serve a population with disposable income, pay taxes that was not paid before.

While I support good zoning and land use planning, I think we should be cautious when we let planning replace markets in guiding development. If planning is used to prohibit what the market would determine is most advantageous, then development may not occur at all and decline may occur. While we plan, we should always be mindful of protecting the property rights of others. Also, it is wise to be mindful that what is though of as good planning today, may be realized to have been a terrible mistake in the future. Much of our strict separation of uses, urban sprawl and commercial corridors with vacant buildings and inadequate development was the result of planning that had unintended consequences. Gentrification and the related issue of maintaining an economically diverse community and a stock of affordable housing can be a complex issue with both positive and negative aspects. If you are concerned about the future of Nashville, I urge you to join the conversation June 30th.

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CONGRESSMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN guest at 1st Tuesday, July 1.

From 1st Tuesday:

If you have been watching, MAJOR stories affecting politics in Washington DC have been coming at blistering pace !!! 
Marsha Blackburn
On Tuesday, July 1st - 1ST TUESDAY welcomes back CONGRESSMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN,  our lady playing a leading role in the eye of the storm !! 

1]PAUL RYAN publicly questions the integrity the IRS Commissioner -- so, what's next ?
2] CANTOR loss shocks -- Republican House Leadership sees major changes -- so, what's next? 
3] BOEHNER is preparing to sue Obama -- so, what's next?
4] SUPREME COURT rulings rattle Obama and other DC power players -- so, what's next?
5] THAD win shocks -- DC based Conservative groups poured in $11MM - and lost --so, what's next?   
6] OBAMA swaps GITMO prisoners without telling Congress - so, what' next ?
7] ISIS crisis - Obama now wants $500MM for rebels -- so, what's next?
8] NOVEMBER elections could result in a Republican Senate - so, then what?

WHO knows what will be the HOT TOPICS will be tomorrow?? Next week ????  
But we will be hearing from the Congressman who does know what is going on behind the scene and what to look for next !  

Talk about  MAJOR LEAGUE politics and power ! This is BIG TIME STUFF with near term decisions having long term consequences.   All I can say is ---BE at 1ST TUESDAY on Tuesday !!!!!!!

No doubt, there will be plenty of other topics to discuss when Marsha comes. Seating is becoming limited. 
As with June's event when Gov. Haslam returned, this event will also sell out ! 

Visit our website at and click on the Shopping Cart. 
Seats are $20 for Members and $25 for Guests. 
As usual, we will meet at WALLER Law - 511 Union Street 27th floor - 
Doors open at 11AM for Coffee and Social time. Lunch at 11:30AM. Marsha will hit the podium at NOON.
Strap in and get ready .... it will be a day full !!!! 

For those who want to spend some special time prior to our event with Marsha and several other special guests, there will a prior event to attend hosted by LEADERS OF TENNESSEE  -- the PAC that most believed changed the balance of power in the TN Legislature.

Monty Lankford, Founder of LEADER of TENNESSEE PAC .....  says the $$$ raised will be target 2014 Nashville candidates for the TN Legislature !! 

Doors open at 10:30AM for this special gathering !   
Contributions of $100 are requested.   $200 or more will get you lunch for you and a guest !! 
If you haven't secured your seat already.... Please make plans to join us on Tuesday, July 1st

MAKE PLANS to join us EARLY for an hour with Marsha !  Bring a friend ! 
Let me if you plan to come for the early $$-raiser with MARSHA and special guests ! 

See you on Tuesday,  July 1st !!  

Tim Skow

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George-Sorus-funded MoveOn to host "Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition" movie Party in Madison

I just received an invitation from "Carmen M" of Madison to attend a "Movie Party in Madison: America has a Koch problem."

"We're getting together to watch Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition," said the invitation. "This acclaimed new release pulls back the curtain on Charles and David Koch, yanking them out of the shadows and exposing them for what they are: a self-interested, ultraconservative demolition crew hell-bent on crushing the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and so much more. Will you join us?"

The thought came to me, "I wonder if George Sorus funds MoveOn?" I did a goggle search and low and behold, he does.  Wikipedia reports George Soros gave $1.46 million to the organization. Um, do MoveOn members not see the irony in blasting the Koch Brothers for supporting conservative causes when they have their own benefactor supporting them? I guess not. Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle "black?"

My view of the Koch brothers is, God Bless them. These two men made it rich in America and they are giving back to society and trying to preserve the same America that made their wealth possible.  No rich person has a moral obligation to share their wealth but I think it is admirable when they do. I can think of no cause more worth supporting than keeping America a free constitutional republic and advancing free enterprise. They could support hunger in Africa or fight to find a cure for a disease, but freedom and free enterprise have ended more hunger and cured more diseases than all of the philanthropy in the world. If I was filthy rich, I would do just like the Koch brothers.  They should be applauded and honored for their contribution to the cause of freedom.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

VU Study sides with Charters; no evidence charter exodus is higher.

Over a year ago the anti school choice members of the School Board alleged that the reason most charter school so outperform regular schools is because the poor preforming students exit the charter and return to a regular school midyear. Thus when it comes to year-end testing, the poor performing students are gone. They must have really believed it to be so because they hired a team of Vanderbilt researches to research the issue. 

Well, the results are in: "We found no evidence of any pattern of push-out or forced exit of potentially poor-performing students from charters," said Claire Smrekar, associate professor of the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt. Smrekar helped oversee the project. (link)

The 75 page report analyzed the data and says poverty is the result of student school mobility and that the number of exits midyear from a charter is about the same as other school with students of the same socio-economic demographic.

Not happy with the results of a study, School Board member Amy Frogge questioned the integrity of the researchers. To read the Tennessean story follow this link.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014


NASHVILLE, TN, June 16, 2014 – Following the revelations that operatives of Barack Obama are

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade, seated,
and, standing from left to right, Justices Janice Holder,
Sharon Lee, William Koch Jr. and Cornelia Clark.
Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark, and Sharon Lee face
retention "elections" in August.
working for the re-election of Tennessee’s Supreme Court Justices, and that liberal financier George Soros and trial lawyers are directing resources toward the same campaign, Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability (TNJA) strongly questioned the judges’ nonexistent nonpartisanship.

“Our justices are already favorites of trial lawyers – have they now added Barack Obama and billionaire George Soros to their fan club?” asked TNJA president Grant Everett Starrett. “What’s it going to take to pierce the smokescreen the Democrats have put up for 40 years to maintain their control over the judiciary? If the judges quack like Democrats, waddle like Democrats, and rule like Democrats, they’re Democrats.”

J. Ammon Smartt, co-founder of TNJA, observed, “The judges may claim a fig leaf of Republican support, but even the Soviet Union found well-compensated unelected local lackeys throughout the captive nations of Eastern Europe to toe the line of Moscow. But where are the Republicans who support the judges who do not have a stake in the outcome? Is something ‘bipartisan’ merely because you can exploit a handful of people of the opposite party to support you?”

If so, in the spirit of bipartisanship, TNJA is happy to direct attention to the statements of two-time Democrat gubernatorial nominee John Jay Hooker, who has received over a million votes from Tennesseans, and has gone on the record saying: “Hopefully, in the two months between now and election day in August, THE PEOPLE will be made aware of their opportunity to defeat ALL Retention-Election Judges.” [John Jay Hooker, 5/29/14]

TNJA listed seven deadly Democrat sins of the judicial candidates:
• Their spokesman appears to be an Obama operative joining a cabal of Democrat personnel on their campaign. The Tennessee Watchdog is reporting that Victoria McCullough, identified as a spokesperson for the three justices up for re-election in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, may have previously served as development chief of staff for Obama’s political organization and worked for the Obama White House. The Tennessee Watchdog also calls out other partisan Democrat members of the judges’ campaign staff. (Tennessee Watchdog, 6/11/14)
• The judges’ handpicked Attorney General refused to join 26 states in challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. (Tennessee Report, 3/2/12)
• The D.C.-based political media firm that designed the Keep Tennessee Courts Fair website specializes in “progressive causes” and works exclusively for Democrats, including Barack Obama, the Democrat National Committee, the national trial lawyers group, the national teachers union, and the SEIU. (MVAR Media Clients)
• George Soros’ Justice at Stake organization is getting involved on the behalf of the three incumbent judges. (Tennessee Watchdog, 6/12/14)
• All three judges were appointed by a Democrat, and screened by a Democrat-dominated committee stacked with trial lawyers.
• Trial lawyers recently lauded Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade as the “2014 Appellate Judge of the Year.” (TN Courts, 5/6/14)
• “[Wade is] a Democrat, a proud Democrat, in the reddest county in Tennessee.” – The Mountain Press, in 2005, also reporting that Wade had raised money for Democrat Ned McWherter. (The Mountain Press, 8/08/05)

“These points constitute demonstrative evidence that the judicial candidates up for reelection are partisan Democrat politicians,” said Starrett. “And yet this is just the tip of the iceberg for why Tennesseans should vote to replace them in August.”

About Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability: TNJA was formed in 2013 to formalize the efforts of conservative attorneys who for years have fought to ensure that our courts actually follow the Constitutions of Tennessee and the United States. A primary goal of TNJA is to promote needed improvements in the judicial system to achieve the fair and impartial administration of justice within an independent judiciary. To that end, we supported the presence of Amendment 2 on the ballot this November and continue to set the record straight with respect to the judiciary. TNJA is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. Our President is Grant Everett Starrett, an alumnus of Stanford and Vanderbilt Law School. Our Chairman of the Board is J. Ammon Smartt, a corporate attorney and an alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Memphis Law School.

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I am running for this office because of my long-standing commitment to assisting individuals with mental health diagnoses.

by Marian Cheadle Fordcye

Marian Cheadle Fordcye
My name is Marian Cheadle Fordyce and I am running for General Sessions Judge for Division II. While General Sessions Court mostly deals with criminal cases and civil cases up to $25,000, Division II is the mental health court. That means the judge who presides in this courtroom also is charged with the responsibility of supervising 20+ individuals with mental illness in addition to the regular general sessions dockets. I am running for this office because of my long-standing commitment to assisting individuals with mental health diagnoses. This oft forgotten and often neglected portion of our population includes the mentally ill and/or the dual diagnosed having addiction issues in addition to mental health issues.

At present we often use our jail cells as mental health facilities. Not only is this expensive, it does not produce the results that individuals or society need or deserve. Judge Eisenstein has made great leaps in this field, but there is much more to do.

I have developed a plan to incorporate what is working with the present mental health court which serves 200 individuals and expands with Nashville’sever growing population. My vision combinesthe rules of the justice system (which I believe is following the constitution and statute law in an unbiased manner) with proven rehabilitation methods incorporated into the probation conditions placed on these individuals.

In my experience, and I have over 30 years in the mental health field, you not only have to work with proven methods but be actively involved with members of the mental health community to keep abreast of emerging technologies and treatments. This does not entail enabling the mentally ill to escape responsibility for their actions or pouring money into unproven strategies. It requires proper resource allocation and a system that emphasizes personal accountability and a willingness to focus on evidence-based programs.

All this has to be done while making financial sense and with the goal of having persons regain control of their lives, rejoin the workforce and lead productive lives.

The reason I want this position is to build on the strides made by Judge Einstein and to continue the decriminalization of mental health. I believe with my background and experience I can do just that. I helped promote the need for the Mental Health Court and did extensive work in other aspects of this area.

Campaigning has been a whole adventure I did not anticipate and I feel at times the message and the purpose of the court are drowned in politics. I understand the process; it just is a hard and challenging time and often has me question what exactly would be the best way to get the most qualified judges to serve Nashville.

My family helped found Nashville and I desire to contribute in making it continue to grow and thrive.

I did not choose mental health as a plan, but it has been the path along which I have been led, and I am grateful for those individuals I have gotten to work with over the years; so, win or lose I will continue to serve those who suffer from mental health or substance abuse problems.

A couple of weeks ago I was a bit overcome with the politics of the election and went and sat in the chapel at St. George’s by myself for quite some time turning this election over to my higher power God, and realized whatever will happen is part of His Plan. My part is doing my best each and every day, turning over the result to Him.

I am very proud (wish my father was here to see) to run as a Republican and grateful to expose my passion and the plight of so many to the Nashville community.

To learn more about Ms Fordyce and her campaign for Judge or to make a contribution go to Forydce For Judge.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

What happend at the Council Meeting of 6/17/2014: The Gay Nashville meeting.

To get your own copy of the agenda, the Council staff analysis and to read my commentary about the agenda, follow this link. Council meeting are not as boring if you know what is going on.
BILL NO. BL2014-774 775, and  779 are taken out of order and considered first.

BILL NO. BL2014-774  is the mayor's operating budget for $1,891,647,000. This budget is $79 million greater than the current operating budget. This bill is substituted with the Council version of the budget that makes minor tweaks to the mayor's budget. Council member Stein takes a few minutes to explain the budget changes and as expected the budget passes. No one votes in opposition. A "no" vote would have been a vote against the Council version of the budget, which in effect would have been a vote for the Mayor's version of the budget.  If the Council does not pass their own budget, the Mayor's budget is the budget by default.

BILL NO. BL2014- is the tax levy and it passes. 

BILL NO. BL2014-  is the bill to extend metro benefits to same-sex couples. (For the discussion time stamp 15:35-32.24). Sponsor Westerholm makes a four minute speech in favor of the bill casting it as a continuation of expansion of civil rights. Claiborne speaks in opposition focusing on the economic impact which is estimated between a low of $400,000 a year to over $2 million a year. He moves to defer the vote until an actuarial study can be done to determine the true cost. That move is tabled by a vote of  26 to 10. Three members were absent and from what I can gather they legitimately were absent due a vacation in the case of Karen Bennett, who voted to abstain when the bill was on second reading, and family emergencies in the case of Weiner and Stites. Stites was a leading opponent when the bill was on second reading and Weiner was also absent last meeting but assured me she opposed the bill. Three members voted against the motion to table the motion to defer who did not vote against the final bill. Those three additional votes were Blalock, Standly, and Charlie Tygard. While, I don't give them a lot of credit, at lease they did vote to not pass the bill this meeting.

Back on the original bill there is more discussion. Pridemore  speaks against it based on moral values. This bill passes with the following vote:  “Ayes” Barry, Steine, Garrett, Tygard, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Evans, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Todd, Mitchell (27) “Noes” Pridemore, Pardue, Glover, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Dominy, Duvall (7); “Abstaining” Blalock, Dowell (2).

This is a very disappointing outcome. I am very disappointed in Republicans Charlie Tygard and Carter Todd who voted for this bill and in Davette Blalock who abstained. I am also disappointed in the Bible-believing Christian pastors in this community who did not take a stand against it and the other social conservatives. If those who support traditional values had worked as hard against this bill as the homosexual community did in favor of it, it could have been defeated. The social conservatives simply did not join the fight. I commend all of those brave council members who voted "no."

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1126 which is the first step toward the sale of up to $275 million in GSD General Obligation bonds to fund various projects in the 2014-2015 Capital Improvements Budget passes as expected.

 SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-715  on third reading waives the fees for application and advertising of rezoning of property when the request is made by a councilmen under certain circumstances. Basically this would apply when a whole area is being rezoned, such as when a neighborhood is being zoned from residential which allows duplexes to single unit only residential, or when a conservation overlay is being proposed for a neighborhood. The fees associated with this type rezoning can come to several thousand dollars. This bill is strongly favored by organized neighborhood groups who often cannot raise that kind of money and who feel they should not have to do so to get a zoning change for their neighborhood. The planning commission voted against this. The Director of Finance has refused to certify it as to the availability of funds saying it could cost the city up to $150,000 a year.  This bill required 27 votes to pass the Council since it was disapproved by the Planning Commission and it got 33 votes. Only Council member Sandra Moore abstained and no one voted "no." I am pleased to see the Council hang together and beat the Mayor on something.

BILL NO. BL2014-769 on third reading allows a second dwelling to build on residential lots of over 15,000 square feet or lots with alley access. One of the units would have to be owner occupied.  The smaller unit could not be over 700 square feet in living area. Some neighborhood groups oppose this bill. I support it.

Nashville is expected to have significant growth over the next few years.  If we are going to avoid Atlanta-type urban sprawl we must have greater density. If we want successful mass transit we need greater density. Also we are seeing a lot of "affordable" housing units destroyed and replaced with much larger homes.  This replacing of small homes with larger homes is good for the tax base but it means people of modest income are being forced out of the city.  Many of the housing units that would be build under this bill would be affordable. Another reason I support this bill is that there is often a need for one's aging parents or underemployed children to have this type of housing.

A Nashville tall skinny duplex

BILL NO. BL2014-770 on third reading to allow two detached units on a single lot instead of the requirement that they share a common wall is deferred and rereferred to the Planning and Zoning Committee. The bill would also restrict how tall and skinny a building could be. I generally am in support of this, but hope that the Board of Zoning appeal would have lee way regarding the height restrictions.

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Councilman Robert Duvall, Chair of the Davidson County Republican Party, call for Moreland to resign.

Statement From Davidson County Republican Party Chairman Robert Duvall -

Robert Duvall
 "Over the past forty -­‐ eight hours, the Davidson County Republican Party has watched the controversy surrounding Judge Casey Moreland with growing concern. We decided to withhold judgment until Judge Moreland came forward and availed himself of the opportunity to explain his questionable decision to waive the required twelve hour "cooling off" period in a domestic violence case. His decision resulted in a second assault by the perpetrator on the same victim. 

Now that Judge Moreland has broken his public silence on the issue, the Davidson County Republican Party is compelled to add our voice to those calling for him to step down from the General Sessions bench. 

With his statements to television media, Judge Moreland has proven he does not fully grasp the grave repercussions of his attitude toward this domestic violence case; choosing rather to engage Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson in a public spat. 

Where we hoped and expected to see honest contrition for an exceptionally poor decision, we instead witnessed an embarrassing public display of personal animosity that diminishes respect for the bench and damages public faith in our system. 

Domestic abuse degrades its victims, cheapens respect for women and shames our society. Until leaders we expect to set the s tandard understand that fact and join a sincere effort to end violence, we as a community will suffer. We commend Chief Anderson for his leadership in calling attention to this issue and appreciate his willingness to jolt the courthouse into action. 

The Davidson County Republican Party calls upon Judge Moreland to resign and allow for a replacement to his seat who will protect victims of domestic violence, perform their duties with honor and restore trust in Nashville's courts

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Report from the Republican Party Picnic. Joe Carr speaks. Staw Poll results not tallied.

Kim Hudgins Brewer, Kathleen Starnes, Jim Gotto,  Carol Gotto,
Valerie Levay, Michelle Norris and Connie Butler Hunter
Campaign signs galore, and red, white and blue bunting, smiles, handshakes, and politician kissing babies and handing out campaign fans and brochures and trying to get you to wear their campaign stickers was the order of the day, as Davidson County Republicans gathered today for the well-attended annual Party picnic at the Ellington Agricultural Center. Before and after the official program, people mingled and visited the booths of candidates and those promoting causes. It was great to meet the candidates and catch up with old friends I had not seen in a while. Attendees ate hot dogs and hamburgers and drank sweet tea and listened as Party Chairman Robert Duvall gave a report on the status of the Party and Party achievements and listened to dignitaries and candidates speeches.

The key note address was by Governor Winfield Dunn, elder statesman of the Party and a man loved
Rod Williams (me) and Bob Swartz
and admired by all. He spoke of his pride in witnessing the growth of the Party in Tennessee and especially in Davidson County which most pundits have always considered a lost cause for Republicans.  Also addressing the gathering was Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Senator Steve Dickerson. Senator Dickerson also served as master of ceremonies and time keeper for the many speeches delivered by candidates.

I am hesitant to start naming candidates because, I will leave some out but there was a bunch of them. Each was given a couple minutes to speak. There are more Republican candidates for Judge in Davidson County than anytime since reconstruction. Candidates for Judge include Adam Dread running for General Sessions Judge,  Marian Fordyce for General Sessions,  Sabrina Orr candidate for Chancellor, and Jim Roberts also for Chancellor. The judges are
Adam Dread
all Republican candidates for their office in the upcoming General Election August 7th. Although they may be running for an office with the same title, they are running in different divisions, not against each other and one can vote for all of them against their
Senator Steve Dickerson
Democratic opponent. While all positions are important, the position of Chancellor can be extremely important especially here in Davidson County. Any suit involving the State Government would go before a Nashville Chancellor since this is the site of State governments and this court may deal with constitutional issues. If we can elect a person who shares our conservative philosophy to this court there is the potential of that person having a big impact.

Candidates running for the nomination for the District 21 House seat are  Mwafaq Aljabbary, Diana Cuellar, Quincy McKnight. Republicans may some times be criticized as the party of old white men, but in the District 21st race, Aljabbary is a Muslim originally from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Cuellar is a Hispanic female and McKnight is an African-American. The winner of that contest will most likely face Democrat Jeff Yarbro in a contest for an open seat.

Running for the nomination to challenge Jim Cooper in the 5th Congressional District is Chris Carter, Bob Ries, and "Big John" Smith. Jim Gotto is running to reclaim a seat he lost by less than a hundred votes out of about 24.000 votes cast in 2012.  He has a great chance to retake that seat. John Wang, a Chinese immigrant who came to America with nothing and has done very well for himself and is motivated to preserve the American Dream for others is the candidate for State House in District 53. In district 51 Brian L. Mason and 20-year old Joshua Rawlings are competing for the nomination. And, in Senate District 19 Sterlina Inez Brady is seeking the seat occupied by Democrat Thelma Harper. Other candidates include Toni Kenton running for County Court Clerk, and  Bob Swartz running for a seat on the Party Executive Committee and I may have missed some.
Stacy Ries sings the Bob Ries
campaign jingle to introduce her
dad, Bob Ries

Receiving the Winfield Dunn Statesman award this year, given to someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the Party was Betty Hood. Betty is the organizer of the extremely successful Bellevue Republican Breakfast Group and tirelessly volunteers for candidates and serves the Party anytime she is called upon. Previous recipients of this honor are Tootie Haskins, Pat Carl and myself.

For supporters of Joe Carr, the highlight of the event was his presence and speech near the close of the event. The victory of tea party challenger David Brat over Eric Cantor in Virginia has been a shot in the arm to the Carr campaign and has energized his supporters.

Unfortunately, this great event was marred by a conflict involving the straw poll. Every year attendees vote in a straw poll stating their position a select number of issues and choosing between competing Republicans for office.  The most anticipated straw poll result this year was the contest between Alexander and Joe Carr. I don't know the details of exactly what happened but understand someone alleged ballot box stuffing. The ballot counting was being led by Mark Rodgers and someone questioned his integrity and it was reported that there was a heated exchange. Rodgers had about four or five people helping him count ballots and one of them was wearing an Alexander tee shirt. Someone alleged that that was improper for an Alexander supporter to be helping count ballots. Where one would have find a vote counter without a preference at a Republican picnic, I don't know.  In any event, it is my understanding that the straw poll was not tallied and ballot counting was terminated. Chairman Duvall made an announcement that the result of the straw poll would be delayed and we would be notified of the results of the straw poll by email or on the party website. I suspect we will be hearing more about this and I will update when I know more.

I am anticipating some additional pictures made by a professional photographer.  Many of the pictures I took are of poor quality and are not posted. Please look for an update.

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Chief Anderson blast Judge Casey Moreland. Megan Barry calls on Moreland to resign.

In case you missed the story, a man named David A. Chase beat his girlfriend and was arrested and sent to jail. Instead of serving the required 12-hour cooling off period, he was released almost immediately by order of Davidson County general sessions judge Casey Mooreland. Chase went back to the house he shared with the girlfriend and beat her again.

Judge Moreland said he had made a mistake and apologized. "Other than the victim, nobody feels any worse than I do about what happened," said Moreland. Police Chief Steve Anderson wrote a memo critical of Judge Moreland saying, "There is a distinct difference in regret for doing something that is clearly wrong, and regret for getting caught doing something that is clearly wrong." Chief Anderson said there had been other similar incidents and nothing changes.

Moreland has been on the bench since 1995. In the recent Democrat primary, he ran unopposed and does not have a Republican opponent in the August 7th General Election. Too bad. While it is difficult to win a write-in campaign, in this case a good candidate running a write-in campaign might stand a chance of winning.

Today, Council member Megan Barry who is running for mayor issued a press release calling on Judge Moreland to resign. While I am not a fan of Megan Barry, in this case I think she is right. Moreland should resign.

For more on this story, follow this link. Below is a copy of Megan Barry's press release calling on Moreland to resign.

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