Saturday, January 31, 2015
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker voted with all other Republican in the Senate to pass the bill authorizing the Keystone pipeline today. The pipeline which would carry Canadian tar sands oil to the refineries of the gulf was proposed more than six years ago, but the Obama administration has been dragging its feet in granting approval.
Environmentalist have opposed the pipeline because they want the oil to stay in the ground due to concern about global warming. Proponents of the pipeline argue that if the pipeline it not constructed, the oil will still be refined but the transport to refineries will be by a much more environmentally hazardous route. If not transported to the refineries of the gulf coast by pipeline ,the oil will be transported by rail and truck, or a pipeline will be constructed across Canada to the coast and transported by ocean tanker as raw crude to China for refining. Proponents also argue that building the pipeline will make the U.S. less dependent on Mid-east oil and will create jobs.
Republicans had previously, in the last Congress, tried to pass this bill and were unsuccessful. The vote to pass it was 62 to 36 with nine Democrats joining 53 Republicans to pass it. The Senate version of the bill will now have to be reconciled with the House version of the bill. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.
Below is a press release issued by Senator Bob Corker on the topic.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after voting for S.1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, which passed the Senate by a vote of 62 to 36. First proposed more than six years ago, the pipeline would have the capacity to transport more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. Several Obama administration reports have found that construction of the pipeline will have no significant environmental impact along the proposed route.
“There is no logical reason not to build the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Corker. “I’m pleased the Senate passed this legislation that will create jobs, generate economic growth and advance our nation’s energy security. I hope the president will reconsider his decision to veto this bipartisan bill and demonstrate to the American people that Washington can work together to move our country forward.”
Corker, a cosponsor of the bill, also commended Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his efforts to restore regular order in the Senate by allowing debate and votes on amendments from both Republicans and Democrats on the first bill considered in the new Congress.
“Under Senator McConnell’s leadership, the new Republican Senate has shown that it will allow all voices to be heard so members can represent the people of their states and take the votes we were sent here to take.”
The Senate held more than 40 roll call votes on amendments during consideration of S.1, offered by both Republicans and Democrats. Only 15 roll call votes on amendments were recorded in all of 2014.
The Tennessean, by Joey Garrison - Howard Gentry has decided to enter the Nashville mayor's race in a sudden move that shakes up the contest considerably nine months before a new leader is elected.
Gentry, Nashville's former vice mayor and current Davidson County Criminal Court clerk, confirmed ... he had appointed a treasurer...It marks a return to the mayoral campaign circuit after coming up just 405 votes shy of making the runoff in the 2007 election, which Karl Dean ultimately won.
....the lone African-American candidate (link)
Howard Gentry, former Vice Mayor, is running for mayor it was announced this afternoon.
From Caffinated Conservatives:
Join us as regular caffeinator, political know-it-all, and long-time activist Rick Williams gives us a preview of what laws are going to be big as the Tennessee legislature comes into session! Learn about laws you may like or may hate, but bring your appetite for good coffee, great bagels, and fun company! All are welcome!
Where: Bagelface Bakery (700 Main Street, East Nashville)
When: Noon - 2 PM, January 31st
Why: Because we like you
Stephen Clements and Terry Torre
This is a bold proposal! I could not agree more. Metro government should no more determine how many taxicabs we have and who gets to operate a taxicab than it should determine how many coffee shops we can have. We should no more limit the number cabs NashVegas can have than we limit the number of Starbucks coffee shops.
Councilman Bedne is not known as a conservative member of the Council and probably does not consider himself a conservative, but that is probably the most free market position taken by a councilman since I was in the Council.
In the video below at time stamp 40:00 is Councilman Fabian Bedne statement.
In other action, at time stamp 37:19 Council member Davette Blalock urges the MTLC to not increase the amount of insurance taxi cabs must carry. She says this would be a hardship on cab drivers who are already struggling and the current amount is adequate. At 43:07 Councilman Scott Davis addresses the commission and also ask that new higher insurance requirements not be imposed.
In other parts of this video, the request for NashVegas to have more permits is discussed as well as other companies that want more permits. Several in the taxi business argue against any new permits being issued..
Press Release, TN NFIB - State members of the National Federation of Independent Business are wary of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal according to a statewide member survey, said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, the state’s leading small business association. Sixty-five percent oppose the current proposal, 22 percent favor and 13 percent are undecided.
“Many small business owners have reservations about the proposal, as currently structured,” Brown said. “They’re concerned with more federal borrowing, how the plan will operate, likely loopholes and a lack of benchmarks. Members appreciate core principles in the governor’s plan, but most aren’t convinced yet it would operate effectively enough and believe taxpayers would be pressured to foot any cost overruns.”
Specifically, members expressed the following concerns in the survey:
- 87 percent say not establishing measurable outcomes and tying them to any continuance of the plan is troublesome; members are suspicious of relying on continuance of federal and/or state funding.
- 80 percent believe the General Assembly should have more authority to terminate any unsound plan.
- 71 percent believe our existing Medicaid plan should be reformed before considering expansion.
Also, some members have concerns that co-pays would be at the discretion of the provider and not required, so some or many enrollees wouldn’t necessarily have “skin in the game,” while enrollees with unpaid premiums and removed from the plan would be eligible to reenroll immediately.
“NFIB members believe the governor deserves credit for taking on an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans,” said Brown, noting NFIB’s past support for programs like Cover TN that expanded insurance to the working poor.
“Medicaid spending is straining Tennessee’s budget and is nearly back to 2005 levels, which impacts other important initiatives and programs," he said.
“We will continue to encourage federal and state leaders to fix the broken Medicaid model and keep an open mind to any developments, including negotiations between the administration and the legislature.”
The February 3 Metro Council agenda is now available at this link. The staff analysis is not yet available.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Press Release, Nashville, TN January 28, 2015 - The Metro Transportation Licensing Commission awarded
115 permits to NashVegas Cab Corporation and expanded Nashville’s
transportation options. The Commission action boosts NashVegas’s total number
of drivers, who are also shareholders, to 150.
The Commission action also recognizes the tech savvy business model of
NashVegas Cab that promotes customer safety, meets public necessity by serving
all of Nashville, and convenience by use of an app, tablets, security cameras,
credit card readers, and planned kiosks.
Why politics cost so much: Is funding a political organization that spends most of it's money on asking other people for money something you want to do?
I got an email solicitation today asking me to give money to "Draft Ted Cruz for President." After telling me of the courageous principled conservative stands he had taken, I was told he had what it takes to win. Then the letter said: "Rod, can I count on you?
If so, follow this link right now to immediately contribute
$25 or more to support Ted Cruz"!
I did not contribute. I am not ready to jump on any candidates bandwagon just yet. However, even if I was an early enthusiast for Ted Cruz, why would I be inclined to contribute? Where does the money go? This "Draft Ted Cruz for President" organization is not authorized by the candidate. There is little doubt he is running. I don't think he needs any encouragement. What would an organization calling itself "Draft Ted Curz" do?
I went to Open Secrets and followed the link to the reports for the organization "Draft Ted Cruz for President". I read all of the quarterly and year-end reports. For the year 2014, the PAC had $485,469 in contributions and $443,162 in expenditures. There is no scandal here. No one is getting rich off of this effort. No one is drawing a big salary. Only a modest amount is spend on administration. The largest expenditure was for postage to pay for direct mailing to raise money. I researched some of the companies who were receiving some of the money for various services. From what I could tell this is not any kind of front for taking advantage of people. No consulting firm is raking in big bucks. This all appears legitimate.
I guess if you are an enthusiast for Cruz, or for any other candidate for that matter, sending money to an organization that spends most of it's money on asking other people for money to urge the candidate to run is something you might want to do. I guess the advantage of this type operation is that the solicitation itself promotes the candidate among likely voters and makes people feel a part of that candidates campaign and helps build momentum. Still however, it seems like a lot of unnecessary money is spend on politics.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
When: Thursday, January 29, 2015 5:30 p.m.
Where: Nashville City Club, Corner of 4th and Church Street
Guest: Lee Barfield Jr. of Bass, Berry, and Sims law firm
Father Ed Steiner of the Cathedral of Incarnation.
A special reduced menu is planned – please RSVP (TonyR549@hotmail.com)
Tony Roberts, Dan Davis – Hosts
|Sen. Lamar Alexander|
“Many businesses can’t afford Obamacare’s mandate and must reduce their number of full-time employees,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said. “The result of all this is that thousands of workers are getting a pay cut. Their work schedules are being reduced to 29 hours a week and below. This is not enough money for these workers to earn a living.”
The senator made the comments during a statement to fellow lawmakers on Wednesday. He gave numerous examples of large and small businesses that are reducing hours for workers in order to circumvent the mandate on providing health care coverage for their employees.
“In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University has started limiting hours for part-time workers,” Alexander explained. “This means students can no longer accept multiple on-campus work assignments. And graduate assistants might have to wait tables instead of picking up extra on-campus grant-funded research projects that would better further their careers.”
Obamacare requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to those employees or pay a penalty at tax time, from $2,000 to $3,000 per uncovered employee.
“(Knoxville-based) Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest movie theatre chain, announced last year that it was cutting employee hours from 40 to below 30 in order to comply with Obamacare,” Alexander continued.
The law, which was not supported by Republicans, defined full time as an employee who works more than 30 hours a week, instead of the traditional 40 hours.
“Many businesses can’t afford Obamacare’s mandate and must reduce their number of full-time employees,” Alexander explained.
Alexander went on to cover the details of bipartisan legislation being proposed that would repeal this provision. The bill has unanimous support of HELP Committee Republicans, as well as some Democrats.
“Republicans have talked a lot about wanting to repair the damage of Obamacare,” he concluded. “We have also talked about wanting to get results. This bipartisan bill should be an important step to doing both.”
Buy them a bus ticket to Memphis.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Join us Wednesday, February 4th, 5:30-7:00 pm at the newly renovated Renasant Bank on West End Avenue for a fun evening as we celebrate our new members. Come learn more about us, and you can become a member that evening. Refreshments will be provided. Renasant Bank, 1820 West End Avenue, Nashville, 37203. Please RSVP to Stachia Graham at email@example.com.
Metro has a long-term unfunded retirement liability shortfall of $2.4 billion. It is time to change Metro employee benefits to Defined Contribution.
Frank Daniels writing in The Tennessean today points out that Metro's employee's retirement benefits which are paid out of Metro's current budget has grown from 13% of the property tax revenue in 2002 to 25% today. Employee benefits now account for 9% of the total budget. Research done by the Pew Charitable Trust shows that the unfunded retirement liability has a long-term shortfall of $2.4 billion.
The next Mayor and Council must deal with this issue. Unfortunately, with term limits we are losing some talented Council members. Two of the more informed council members on this topic, Emily Evans and Charlie Tygard, are termed-out, meaning they have served two terms and are not eligible to serve again. It is important that that in August we elect capable people to the council who will address this issue and a mayor who will take our unfunded pension liability seriously. Constantly increasing retirement obligations are not sustainable.
I think Metro should transition from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. A defined benefit plan may say something like: After serving x number of years working for metro you can retire and earn X% of the salary you were earning when you retired, for the rest of your life.
A defined contribution plan says something like this: Metro will put into a retirement plan an amount equal to x% of your monthly salary, each month. Within limits, you may choose the amount of risk you wish to accept and choose between retirement plan investment options. Often such plans may match an employee's voluntary contribution, up to a certain limit, beyond what Metro contributes automatically. Plans such as this relieve Metro from a commitment to an outcome. It eliminates future retirement obligations. Some employees will do much better under a defined benefit plan, but some will not do as well. Most private sector employers have gone to a defined contribution system, rather than a defined benefit system. It is time for metro to do the same.
Metro Unions such as the MNEA and SEIU and FOP will fight any change to the current Metro retirement plan. Any change would most likely not affect current employees unless they chose to transition to the new system, yet public sector unions have usually opposed any change to a defined benefit system. We can expect these unions to support candidates who will oppose any change to the current retirement plan. These unions may have other criteria for endorsing candidates rather than this one issue, but any mayoral candidate or council candidate who gets the endorsement of the metro unions should be regarded with suspicion.
Changing to a defined contribution system from the current defined benefit system, would stop the bleeding; it would not relieve Metro of current employee benefit contribution obligations or the current unfunded defined benefit obligation, but it would stop the unfunded defined benefit obligation from growing.
I do not want another property tax increase, but the next mayor is going to be under considerable pressure to raise taxes. We need improvement in mass transit, the schools are going to make the case for more funding, many want an aggressive sidewalk expansion program, and our underground infrastructure is crumbling. We are a dynamic, growing city, yet it is time to pay attention to basics. I know replacing sewer lines and fixing our metro employee benefit system is not as appealing to voters as promising new shiny things, but we cannot continue to ignore the basics. Before being swayed by a mayor or council candidate who promises new sidewalks, and lots of other shiny new things, ask them it they are going to find the money to fund our pension obligations and fix our old water mains.
I give a little money from time to time to causes and candidates I believe in and I am often "liking" causes on Facebook, so my name must have ended up on every right-wing fund raising list there is. Daily, I get numerous email appeals for money. Some of them I have been tempted to contribute to, put as I have learned more about the different groups raising money, I have restricted my giving to the candidates campaign organization or a few nationally recognized organizations.
I once had an appeal to contribute to a cause to support a popular conservative candidate who was not even on the ballot that election. I had an appeal to help reelect Senator Tim Scott but when I researched it, I found that Tim Scott had only token primary opposition and an unknown Democrat opponent with no chance of winning. Tim Scott did not need anyone spending money on his behalf. I have researched some of the groups sending me request and some of them pay their executive directors super big salaries, they pay a lot for fundraising, they pay consultants, and almost nothing is spend on behave of or opposing candidates.
Many of these groups with tea party sounding names are simply fleecing the faithful. They are the political equivalent of the televangelist who have numerous mansions around the world and private jets and get on TV and beg the little old ladies to send them part of their social security check.
Before giving money to any group, please check them out. One good source is Opens Secrets. This site will tell you how much money a group raised and how it spend it.
I am glad to see the word being spread about the scams on the right. Here is an article from Politico:
The rise of 'scam PACs'
Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada decries "dishonest scare tactics" by Americans for Prosperity.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – State House Republican Caucus Chairman
Glen Casada, a staunch opponent of Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to
extend health coverage to 200,000 low-income Tennesseans, on Friday
decried what he called "dishonest scare tactics" by a conservative group
running radio ads targeting GOP lawmakers.
The Tennessee chapter of the Americans for Prosperity, the organization backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, this week began running a 60-second radio ad accusing Republican state Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland of "betraying" a promise to oppose President Barack Obama's health care law.
Casada said the groups should spend their time opposing liberal lawmakers and "not dedicated individuals like Rep. Kevin Brooks and the other conservative members of our Republican Caucus who have chosen to seek additional input before making a decision on behalf of their constituents." ...."The attack ads in districts across the state paid for by AFP are inaccurate, ineffective, and only hurts their reputation within the Tennessee General Assembly,"(link)
Sunday, January 25, 2015
When "black cars" first made their appearance in Nashville, the Metro Council's response was to impose a minimum fare and other onerous regulation to drive them out of business in order to protect the established limousine companies and taxi services from competition. As time has passed we have seen peer-to-peer livery service such as Lyft and Uber make their appearance in our city and the Council removed the minimum fare requirements that would have kept them from operating. New reasonable regulation have been written to provide protection to the public but that does not protect providers of livery service from competition.
I am pleased that the black car services such as Metro Livery and the peer-to-peer services such as Lyft and Uber can now provide their services without Metro trying to drive them out of business. There is still injustice occurring in the transportation sector however.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
|Dr. Carol Swain|
Following the publication of my op-ed, I was inundated with criticisms labeling it as “hate speech,” “intolerance” and “bigotry,” and a particularly unflattering cartoon caricature, published in The Vanderbilt Hustler, that can only be described as a racial stereotype.
Perhaps I could have tempered my comments some, revisiting language that might have been perceived as an indictment of all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. I am, however, perplexed as to why there continues to be scant public outcry — certainly no campus rallies or protests of take-note significance — among Muslims when another Islamic jihadist attack hits somewhere in the world. Also, I don’t accept the position that these attacks are carried out by only a “few Islamic extremists.” Estimates say Islamic militant jihadists around the world number in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. That’s when you add up all the members of organizations such as Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL), al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Taliban, other affiliated splintered groups, etc. and who knows how many sleeper cells in semi-hibernation around the world. I’m not going to dance around the issue or those numbers. PC speech isn’t in my vocabulary. Nor will I tolerate it with my students in the classroom. A university should be a place that harbors the free exchange of ideas, on both sides of the aisle, across all spectrums of thought and culture. (This is very good. Please continue reading.)
|Mark Winslow, "Republican"|
In the last August election, Winslow worked to defeat a Republican candidate and elect a Democrat to the office of a judge in Davidson County. He first worked to help Melissa Blackburn win her Democrat nomination. When he came under criticism for working for a Democrat, he claimed that he was only working for her during the primary and would not be doing so in the General Election. He claimed he was doing so only because it was required by his employer, SmithWaterhouse Strategies. However, he continued working for Blackburn in the general election. He helped Blackburn beat our Republican candidate, Marian Cheadle Fordice for that office. Our candidate had much more experience in the field of mental health law and had a real heart for the job. After the election Winslow went to work for Judge Blackburn.
As a result of Winslow's campaigning to elect a Democrat and defeat a Republican, when he ran for reelection for a seat on the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee, his eligibility to run for that seat was challenged. Unfortunately, Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Party failed to rule Winslow as ineligible to run for that seat and he did run and was reelected.
Mark Winslow is still working to elect Democrats to public office. Earlier this week there was a fundraiser for Kathleen Murphy who is a candidate for Metro Council and Mark Winslow was listed as serving on the Host Committee of the event. Not always, but usually the host committee is made up of people who give a considerable amount of money to the the candidate.
While the Metro Council elections are non-partisan, it is nevertheless important that Republicans get elected to serve on the Council. The Council is often a stepping stone to one of the County courthouse offices or to serving in the State legislature. The Council is somewhat like a farm team. If we have a goal of making Tennessee "Red to the Roots," we need to be electing Republicans to the Metro Council. Also, we need to elect people to the Council who share our conservative values so we will be governed in a more conservative manner.
Kathleen Murphy is a Democrat. She is a political operative and government lobbyist and is the daughter of former state Rep. Mike Murphy, a Democrat. If you look at the names of those on the host committee you will see the name of many prominent Democrats. I have added comments to those who I know who they are. If you are politically active in Nashville you will may recognize more names than I do. What is a member of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee doing serving on a host committee with all of these prominent Democrats?
While I do not have an original copy of the invitation to the Kathleen Murphy fund raiser, I have a copy of the fundraiser notice which was included in an email which originated with Margo Chambers. The comments in light gray text in the fund raiser notice are those of Chambers, Secretary of the Richland, West End Neighborhood Association. My comments are in blue typeface and the yellow highlighting is mine.
Monday, January 12th 5:30-7:30
At the Home of
$50 Suggested Contribution
To join the host comittee or to RSVP contact, Kathleen@MurphyforMetro.com
Rep. Bill Beck Democrat
Gary Blackburn Husband of Democrat Judge Millisa Blackburn and member of the Davidson County Democrat Party Executive Committee. Mark Winslow picked up his qualifying petition when he ran for Ex. Comm. (link)
Hon. Robert Brandt Former Judge, a Democrat.
Chairman Gary Bynum Chairman of the Davidson County Democrat Party
Kenny Byrd -- East Nashville. Democrat,
Anne Carr Prominent Democrat, lobbyist
Hon. Ty Cobb Former Democrat State Representative
Ed Cole --Former TDOT employee and former Transit Alliance Exec Director. Played a critical role in bringing the Amp to West End, and ‘educating’ the public on land development. Repeatedly informed the public of auto traffic impacts for the Amp that were radically different from what was filed with the FTA (by the MTA, using TDOT data). That official MTA report was only given to the public through filing a federal Freedom Of Information Act request. The public owned the report but the MTA would not release it (study cost $1.5M of public money). Meanwhile the Amp project has run through more than $10M of pubic funds just for “Planning”. Planning work which failed to produce copies of many important federally required reports (financial, project justification, social justice, environmental reports). They sought exemptions and each change they submitted to the FTA brought on more federal scrutiny. It is sitting in limbo at the federal level, awaiting a draft environmental review to conclude. The State will likely tie up $174M in TDOT money this month, for a Transit project that is not “construction ready”. That would be Road and Bridge money that could be used elsewhere, but our Metropolitan Planning ORGANIZATION (MPO) voted to tie it up in November 2014.
Stewart Clifton -- [Metro Planning Commissioner (MPC). The MPC Executive Director (Rick Bernhardt) advocates high density/Smart Growth Planning Theory. This creates more property tax id’s/expands property tax revenue. Per the Planning Dept: Smart Growth theory requires 12- 15 dwelling units per acre to support mass transit corridors. Our local Planning Dept changed the land use in 2012 for a Transit corridor (conflicting with the requirements of a Transportation corridor). MPC Ignored TDOT in that land use plan, too. Made land use density decisions based upon the federally unapproved Amp project. Downsides of that decision: MPC planned auto gridlock & increased air pollution, create unsettled neighborhoods & upset voters. Upside is all the Gulch and East Nashville construction. “Smart Growth Theory” is the bones of Nashville Next (which is the input into the soon-to-be-voted-upon “2040 General Plan”). Enacting Smart Growth land use theory enables HUD grants to roll in to the city easier (because it means dramatic changes to the land that most other communities do not tolerate - the loss of property rights). A highly volatile, unproven land use theory.] A Democrat.
Richard Exton I assume this is Richard Exton, member of the Davidson County Democrat party Executive Committee
Pat Synder Democrat
Dave Garrison --former TN Dem Chair recently recovering from a heart attack Dec 29 (needs confirmation as links were unavailable)
Dave Goetz Prominent Democrat State Finance Commissioner under Bredesen.
Katy Varney Prominent Democrat, wife of Goetz.
John Harkey -- Bike/Walk Nashville committee member (advocates for TDOT to spend more dollars on Transit –not roads & bridges -for projects that reduce auto lane widths)
Hon. Penny Harrington A Democrat, former judge.
Tamara Hart -- East Nashville Democrat, big contributor to Dem causes.
Mary Beth Ikard -- Former MPO Communications employee – helped create social media which built public Amp support in East Nashville.
Carole Kenner Democrat
Benjamin L. Kuttler
Mary Mancini -- East Nashville. Elected TN Democratic Party Chair Jan 10 2015. Ran for State Senate against Jeff Yarbro. Yarbro is a former MTA Board Chair & credited with getting the Amp study placed on West End.
Emily Ogden A Democrat, former official in the Bredesen admin.
Bart Pickett Member of the DCDP Ex. Committee.
Bernard Pickney Prominent Democrats
Matia Powell Democrat
Rep. Mike Stewart Democrat
Bob Tuke Big Democrat, former candidate for U.S. Senate
Irwin Venick Big contributor to Democrat causes
Mark Winslow Claims to be a Republican.
Vince Wyatt Democrat candidate for Judge
Our mailing address is:
Kathleen Murphy to run for Metro Council District 24