Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Mayor's State of Metro "City of Opportunity" speech

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Mayor Presents Vision of "City of Opportunity"


Final State of Metro Address Says Education, Safety, Jobs Will Always Be Nashville's Top Priorities

Press Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean today described his vision of Nashville as a "city on a hill" and a "city of opportunity" in his eighth and final State of Metro address, saying Nashville should be "a city where every child can get a high-quality education; feel safe, morning, noon and night; find a good job, and live a successful life, no matter where he came from or what she looks like."

Mayor Dean gave the speech in Nashville Public Library's Grand Reading Room, the same location as his first State of Metro address in 2008, to emphasize that "education and learning must always come first."

"Education is what our city has to focus on first and foremost if we want to keep growing and getting better," Mayor Dean said. "Education is the key that will open the door of opportunity for our children, and it's the key for Nashville."

Throughout his eight years in office and his two campaigns, Mayor Dean has made the case that education, public safety and economic development are the "three pitches" the city has to hit consistently. In today's speech, he said that will always be true.

"These three priorities are really one priority, woven tightly together in a fabric of civic fortune, and it never changes, no matter who the mayor is," he said.

Mayor Dean, who thanked the Metro Council, Gov. Bill Haslam and former Mayor and former Gov. Phil Bredesen for working with him on key initiatives, also laid out the principles he's governed by since 2007. Those principles include making strategic investments, based on the city's priorities, to inspire private investment; spending capital dollars "broadly but wisely" in neighborhoods throughout Nashville; boldly embracing new ideas and tackling tough issues; and leaving the city in better shape financially than when he took office.

Speaking almost five years to the day after the devastating 2010 flood, he said public-private partnerships, collaborations and what he called "the spirit of Nashville: neighbors helping neighbors - and helping strangers" have been critical to the city's success.

"I appreciate the citizens of Nashville for giving me this opportunity to serve and lead. The state of our city is very good, and we've accomplished a lot together over these past eight years. But we can't afford to take our eye off the ball and stop hitting those three pitches. This is Nashville's time, and we have to lean into it and give it everything we have so we can live the future we see: a city on a hill, a city of opportunity," he said.

During the address, Mayor Dean announced his proposed operating budget would include the following:
  • Operating funds for Metro Schools to make all the improvements the district's leadership has identified.
  • Funds for employee compensation so that all Metro employees would receive a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise, while the city also would provide increment pay for eligible employees; appropriate increases for those not eligible for increment pay; and funds for public safety employees who face salary compression issues.
The capital spending plan would include significant investments in education, public safety and public infrastructure. Among the proposed expenditures are:
  • $131 million for Metro Schools, including funds to renovate Overton High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School; build a new elementary school in Cane Ridge; planning funds to begin the process of moving Hillwood High School to Bellevue, and planning funds for the future of Hillsboro High School and Nashville School of the Arts.
  • $149 million to relocate the Criminal Justice Center, plus additional funds to build a new Family Justice Center, which would provide critical services to crime victims and their families in times of need.
  • $25 million for sidewalks. Approval of the plan would bring Mayor Dean's capital spending on sidewalks over the past eight years to $82 million, more than any other administration has spent on sidewalk construction in Metro history.
  • $2 million to help Nashville State Community College build two new satellite campuses in Donelson and Madison.
Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling will give a full budget presentation to Metro Council members following the State of Metro presentation in the David Scobey Council Chamber in the Historic Metro Courthouse.

An annual State of Metro address by Nashville's mayor has been mandated by the city's charter since Metro Government was established in 1963.

Twelve-time Grammy-nominated artist Dierks Bentley was the special musical guest at the hour-long event. Bentley's critically acclaimed and No. 1 selling album, Riser, has already produced three No. 1 hits: "I Hold On," "Drunk on a Plane" and "Say You Do." His six previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies and notched 13 chart-topping singles. Bentley will be kicking off his headlining summer tour on June 5. For more information visit www.dierks.com.

Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, Nashville's first Youth Poet Laureate, read her poem "The City That Never Stops Giving," which celebrates the bustling Nashville that converges at 6th Avenue and Broadway, capturing the unique elements that make us feel both alive and at home in our city. Mukhopadhyay is a junior at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School. Born in India and raised in Nashville, the young poet, singer, and songwriter is heavily influenced by her vibrant roots and her Western upbringing. She has won competitions in writing, visual art, and film. She plays guitar, fiddle, piano, ukulele and mandolin.

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Which candidates for Metro Council have the $ and Who is contributing to the Council District races (District 13-23)

I have reviewed the campaign financial disclosure reports of candidates for Metro Council for districts one through 23. I previously reported on what I found of interest in districts 1-12 and you can find that report at this link.

One thing I found that is very interesting is that there are a lot of progressives running for Metro Council.  Nashville has always been a Democrat town.  Years ago, when I served on the Council, I had to keep my Republican identity a secret. So, on the one hand, things are better than then; a few Republicans can get elected.  On the other hand, some of the Democrat's of that day were conservative Democrats. Most people may have been Democrats but they were not very ideological. The Council is a non-partisan body and  although almost all members of the Council may have identified themselves as Democrats, they were not very partisan. Now, I see lots of people running for office who are being supported, not by friends and neighbors, but by individuals and organizations with a very progressive agenda.  Several of the candidates are supported by the GLBT (gay) movement.  Several of the candidates are having lots of money funneled into their campaign by state-wide Democrat PAC's.  Apparently the State Democrat establishment is determined to keep their stronghold of Nashville. 

Another interesting thing is that their are lots of real estate agents, developers, lobbyist and attorney's contributing to candidates.  I don't know that that is new, but it is very obvious.  What are the contributors expecting to get for their money?

Another thing I find interesting is that Republican PAC's and Republican activist are not funding hardly anyone. Republicans are not taking this Council race seriously. I feel that Nashville is destined to become the "San Francisco of the South" unless Republicans get in the the game.  We can expect more and more public policy that is politically correct and more and more reckless spending unless conservatives and moderates engage. We are on the verge of having the most progressive, ideologically liberal council in our city's history. It is not too late for people to still get in the race. In fact, the race has hardly begun. There are lots of State Republican senators and State Representatives with their own PAC's. Republican activist and the Party needs to quickly recruit some good candidates and those with money, need to fund those candidates.

What I found that is of interest to me in districts 13- 23 is reported below. Please know that I do not know everyone who is significant and do not know all of the political connections. I encourage you to review the reports for yourself if you are interested. You can find the reports at this link. If you find a connection that you think is noteworthy, please leave a comment.

Also, some people share the same name. If I listed a John Doe as contributing to a candidate and assumed it was a particular John Doe but got it wrong, please correct me.

The "initial" report is for the period prior to January 16 and that report was to be filed by February 10.  If a candidate had raised any money prior to January 16th they were supposed to file an initial report. No candidate was permitted to raise money prior to the appointment of a campaign treasurer. The "First quarter" is the period January 16th through March 31st and that report was to be filed by April 10th.

Please check back. I will be reporting on the rest of the district campaigns shortly.

District 13

  • Futesha Carter: She filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $1,124 which includes a loan from the candidate to her campaign of $1,000 and an ending balance on hand of $854. There are no itemized contributions reported.
District 14
  • Keven Rhoten: The initial report shows $5,900 receipts and the 1st quarter shows receipts of $3,145 for an ending balance on hand of $5,650. Contributors include Geraldine Rhoten, $1,000; Kenneth Rhoten; $1,000; Bethany Rhoten, $200; and Kevin Rhoten contributed $700 to his own campaign. Garland Knott of Hermitage contributed $1,500; Floyd Shecter whose occupation is real estate, $1,000; Elizabeth Millspaps, a lobbyist with Southern Strategy Group, $200; Waller Lansden PAC, $150; Robert Mathews, President of The Mathews Company, $250; CORPAC (Corporate PAC) located at 511 Union St, Ste 1400, whose chairman is Brackney Reed, who is also the COO of Gresham, Smith and Partner, $250. He got an in-kind contribution from John Hobbs for $250 for beverages for the campaign kick-off. Hobbs is active in Democrat politics and is former owner of The Nashville Palace and owner of John A’s on Music Valley Dr. He got an in-kind contribution of $335 from Joslin Sign Company and an in-kind of $1,392 from Jeff Halfacre for campaign kickoff catering.

District 15
  • Jeff Syracuse: Initial report shows a beginning balance on hand of $10,795 and receipts of $6,714 (plus in-kind contributions of $6,280). The first quarter report shows receipts of $685 for an ending balance on hand of $14,149. Thomas and Adele Syracues contributed $1,000.  Don Jordon, owner of Jordan Properties contributed $700; Waller Lansden PAC, $250; CORPAC, (Corporate PAC) located at 511 Union St, Ste 1400, whose chairman is Brackney Reed, who is also the COO of Gresham, Smith and Partner, $250.
District 16
  • Michael Freeman: He filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows unitemized receipts of $200 and no expenditures.
District 17
  • Chris Cotton: He filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $21,304 and a balance on hand of $14,906. He shows in-kind contributions of $4,610, Expenditures show $2,065 for staff. Contributors include Sean Overbeeke whose occupation is TV Producer who contributed $1500. Ronald Castro, a retired investor contributed $1500 and Linda Castro, retired, of the same address as Ronald Castro, contributed $1,500. Matt Moran, a corporate trainer from Milwaukee WI contributed $1500. Other contributors are several people in the entertainment industry such as TV producers and directors and people employed in video production and a bunch of attorneys. Joni Priest, $400; George Gruhn, owner of Gruhn Guitars, $100; Mary Frances Rudy of the Rudy Sausage family, associated with some Music Valley enterprises and supporter of Democrats, $100.
  • Paula Foster: Her initial report shows she raised $10,481. In the 1st quarter she raised $7,036, ending with a balance on hand of $13,086. Anne Carr a lobbyist with Smith and Carr donated $200; Ms Foster donated $501 to her own campaign; George Gruhn, CEO of Gruhn Guitars, $1,000; Jessica Hoke, a social worker with Nashville Cares donated $1,000; and Rusty Lawrence, Executive Director of Urban Housing Solutions donated $250. Jenny Ford, a lobbyist whose firm is J. Ford Government Strategies whose clients include Tennessee Equality Project which advocates for GLBT causes. donated $150. Tony Carlew of Nashville Cares donated $250; Women for TN Future, $300; Lanny West, a self-employed Health Coach donated $1,500. Several people who work at Vanderbilt Medical Center made donations.
  • Colby Sledge: In the initial report he shows receipts of $20,330! In the 1st quarter he raised $10,095 leaving a balance on hand of $27,302. He donated $820 to his own campaign. Sean Braisted, the Communication Director of Megan Barry for Mayor donated $50; Jeff Teague of Planned Parenthood, $50; Councilman Peter Westerholm, $50; Council member of candidate for Mayor Megan Barry, $50; Matt Anderson, Press Secretary, Senate Democratic Caucus at the Tennessee General Assembly donated $100; Metro Councilman Sean McGuire donated $100; Matthew Carney, owner of Smokin Thighs on Wedgewood donated $100; Kathleen Coffen, a media consultant for Democrat candidates donated $100; School Board member Will Pinkston donated $250; Mike Stephens, Chief of Staff Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus donated $250; Michael Pigott of McNeely Pigott & Fox, $500; State Senator Jeff Yarbro, $500; Zak Kelly. Policy and Research Analyst for House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, $525; Mark Deutschmann owner of Village Real Estate Service, $1000; Britnie Faith Turner of Aerial Development Groups, $1500. Will Cheek, $250; Katy Varney with McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations donated $1000; David Shepard, Democrat Tennessee State Representative representing District 69 donated $1000. Three Star PAC donated $1,000. Three Star is a PAC founded by State Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga that supports Democrats and mayoral candidate Charles Robert Bone is treasurer.
  • Tony Watson: He did not file an initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $540 and a balance on hand of $315. Former Metro Councilman and developer Roy Dale contributed $250.
District 18
  • Burkley Allen: The initial report shows a “balance on hand last report of $1,551 and $12,300 raised. The 1st quarter report shows she raised $9,165 for a balance on hand of $21,268. Jeff Eskind contributed $1000 and Donna Eskind of the same address, $1,000. Lobbyist Anne Carr, who you will note also contributed to Paula Foster's campaign in District 17, contributed $250.  Ms Allen donated $1,000 to her own campaign.  Gayle Ray contributed $100; Jan Bushing, $250; former Councilman, lobbyist for environmental causes and member of the Planning Commission Stewart Clifton, $100; and Peter Heidenreich, former Director of public works and lobbyist with Hall Strategies, $100. Judge Claudia Bonnyman contributed $100.  Mark Deutshman, owner of Village Real Estate, who has contributed to multiple campaigns contributed $500.  HG Realty PAC contributed $500.
District 19
  • Freddie O’Connell: In the initial report period he raised $22,335! In his 1st quarter report he raised $13,370, ending the reporting period with $28.467. His expenditures include $3,000 to Emily Ogden for campaign management. He contributed $1500 to his own campaign; Beatrice O’Connell contributed $200; Tim O’Connell, $150; and Patrick O’Connell, $300. Marian T. Ott, member of the MTA Board contributed $250; Mark Deutschmann owner of Village Real Estate Services contributed $250 and Sherry Deutschmann of the same address contributed $250; former candidate for Councilman-at-large Renard Francois, $250, Abby Trotter of Hall Strategies, $250; Democrat State Representative Jason Powell, $250; Waller Lansden PAC, $150; Robert Mathews of The Mathews Company, $250; Thomas Negri, the Director of Metro Human Relations Commission, $250; Democrat State Senator Jeff Yarbro, $500; Jonathan Wing an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office, $250; Britnie Turner, CEO of Aerial Development Group, $125; Michael Schatzlein, CEO of St. Thomas Hospital, $1500, and Elizabeth Schatzlein of the same address, $1500. Joni Priest, $200; Elbert Ventura of Washington D. C., managing editor of the progressive journal Democracy, $300.  
  • Bill Shick: His Initial report shows $100 raised and the 1st quarter report shows $8,274 raised with a balance on hand of $5,334. He loaned his campaign $5,150. Rusty Lawrence, Executive Director of Urban Housing Solutions contributed $250 and Laura Ward, a CPA with Urban Housing Solutions contributed $200. Several attorneys whose names I do not recognize made contribution.
District 20
  • Marisa Frank: She had no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $15,150 with a balance on hand of $14,350. A loan is shown or $5,000 and the entity shown making the loan is MNPS of Bransford Ave. This cannot be correct! The Metro Nashville Public Schools cannot loan a candidate money. This has to be an error. Also shown is a loan of $5,000 from the candidate. A total $4,000 is shown coming three different people with the last name “Frank.” Candidates are only required to list by name people who contributed amounts in excess of $100. Several people gave $100 and are not identified by name.
  • Mary Carolyn Roberts: She filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $27,875, $15,000 of which is a loan from the candidate to her campaign. Michael Hodges, President of Advance Financial gave $1,500 and Tina Hodges, CEO of Advance Financial, of the same address as Michael Hodges contributed $1,500. Rick Williams who owns Nashville Limousine Service and also the government relations company Rick Williams and Associates contributed $500; Joseph Hall, owner of lobbying firm Hall Strategies, contributed $250.
  • Frank Stabile: He filed no initial report. The 1st quarter shows receipts of $5,205, $2,000 of which is a loan from the candidate to his campaign, showing an ending balance of hand of $4,983. Jeff Estepp, a self employed builder contributed $1,000; Mark Deutschmann, owner of Village Real Estate, who has contributed to multiple campaigns contributed $250.  
District 21
  • Leah Dupree: No initial report. The 1st quarter shows receipts of $2,600 and a balance on hand of $2,137. The candidate contributed $200 to her own campaign, Treachery Price, Vice President of College Crib contributed $1000.
  • Edward Kindell: No initial report. The 1st quarter shows receipts of $1,660 and a balance on hand of $1.210. Council member Edith Langster donated $250.
District 22
  • Sheri Weiner: Initial report shows a “Balance on Hand Last Report” of $929 and receipts of $14,250. The expenditures include $13,000 as “Bank Transfer Errors” of $13,000. I do not know what that means. The initial report ending balance on hand is $1,386. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $6,100, with an ending balance on hand of $6,448. Contributors include Loren Black, who’s occupation is “entertainment,” employed by Larry’s County Diner, $1,000; Waller Lansden PAC, $300; James R Mitchell of “Friends of Bo Mitichell,” $250; former Metro Councilman Erick Crafton, $1,000; Mary Wester, a real estate investor, $100; former Metro Councilman and recent candidate for judge Adam Dread, $25: Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard, $100; Rod Willliams (that’s me), $100; Tootie Haskins, $100.
District 23
  • Thom Druffel: He had no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $10,715. Father Joseph Breen retired priest of St. Edwards contributed $100; Frank Ghertner formerly of Ghertner Properties, $250; Ron Franks, Chairman of Hart, Freeland, Roberts, Inc, $100; Senator Douglas Henry, $100; George Armistead, $300; The Greater Nashville Hospitality Association, $1,000; Joan Raskin of Raskin Holdings, $750; Edwin Raskin of Raskin Holdings $750; Jack Corbin, retired, of North Conway, N.H, $1,000; Jennifer Murphy, a lobbyist with Murphy and Associates, $100.  
  • Mina Johnson: Her initial report shows no receipts or expenditures. Her 1st quarter report shows receipts of $14,950, which includes a loan from the candidate to her campaign of $10,000. Gavin Johnson contributed $1,500 and Shizuka Suzuki of the same address also contributed $1,500.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Great Opportunity for a young conservative!

Rod,

Do you know someone who is interested in saving America's universities?

You or someone you know can become one of the nation’s best-trained, most effective, conservative leaders through the Leadership Institute’s 2015 Fall Field Representative Program.

Each year LI’s National Field Program sends out across the country a team of motivated, highly trained field representatives.  LI field reps help students promote and defend their conservative principles on campus.

Currently, LI’s Campus Leadership Program includes 1,604 active campus groups.

Now, you or some other dedicated conservative you know can join LI as a full-time fall field representative.

The pay is generous.  The experience is priceless.

Opportunities for full-time, paid jobs fighting for your beliefs do not come along very often.

Your employment with LI as a field rep is résumé gold.  Field reps use the experience and connections gained from LI’s National Field Representative Program to launch rewarding careers in:
  • Grassroots activism
  • Political campaigns
  • Public policy
  • Congressional offices
  • Lobbying
  • Conservative non-profit organizations
To take advantage of this unique opportunity, apply online at www.ConservativeJobs.com/FieldRep.

As a field rep, you will travel to the campuses in your assigned region to identify, recruit, organize, and train conservative students to win battles against the radical left on their campuses.

LI will fly you to the Institute’s Arlington, VA, headquarters for a week of intensive training in August and provide you with the tools and techniques necessary for success.

If you know of others who might like to join LI as a field rep, please pass this email along.

Be aware that these positions fill up fast, so time is of the essence.

Cordially,

Morton Blackwell
President

P.S. Become one of the best-trained young conservative leaders in the nation through LI’s field representative program.  As an LI field rep, you can start your political career in the conservative movement.  Apply online at http://leadershipinstitute.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ef1cb315431d75736e721df7c&id=06f62483e4&e=02072568a1!

My Comment: If I was a young person and had my life to live over, I would jump at this opportunity. Rod

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Mayoral Candidates Forum tonight Wednesday, April 29th, 7PM


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Final public meetings for NashvilleNext to be held Monday

Final public meetings for NashvilleNext to be held Monday #Nashville

(WKRN) – Monday night will be the final night of public meetings for Nashvillians to learn about NashvilleNext, a plan for the city's next 25 years....Both meetings will run from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. One will be held at the Bellevue Library, and the other at the Madison Police Precinct.

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Which candidates for Metro Council have the $ and Who is contributing to the Council District races (District 1-12)

I have reviewed the campaign financial disclosure reports of candidates for Metro Council for districts one through 12 and what I found that is of interest to me is reported below. Please know that I do not know everyone who is significant and do not know all of the political connections. I encourage you to review the reports for yourself if you are interested. You can find the reports at this link. If you find a connection that you think is noteworthy, please leave a comment.

Also, some people share the same name. If I listed a John Doe as contributing to a candidate and assumed it was a particular John Doe but got it wrong, please correct me.

The "initial" report is for the period prior to January 16 and that report was to be filed by February 10.  If a candidate had raised any money prior to January 16th they were supposed to file an initial report. No candidate was permitted to raise money prior to the appointment of a campaign treasurer. The "First quarter" is the period January 16th through March 31st and that report was to be filed by April 10th.

Please check back. I will be reporting on the rest of the district campaigns shortly.

District 1

  • Ruby Baker: Her initial disclosure shows $1,200 raised, and $2122 raised in the 1st quarter, ending with a balance on hand of $1,007. Her contributors are not names I recognize. Her largest contributor is Leslie Susan Chiles who contributed $1000.
  • Loniel Green: He raised $3.752 in the initial disclosure period and $3,200 in the 1st quarter. He loaned his campaign $3,000 and got a contributors from Tricia Simmons of Fayetteville NC who gave $1000.
  • Nick Leonardo: He did not file an initial report. He raised $2,950 in the 1st quarter. He received $1000 from Brendan Hawthorn of Lorain, OH and $1,000 from Odell Binkley Jr. Balance on hand is $2416.
  • Jonathan Richardson: No initial report, only raise $350, and balance on hand is $335.
District 2
  • Melvin Black: He has withdrawn. He filed an initial report but raised no money and did not file a 1st quarter report.
  • Danavan Hylton: No initial report. 1st quarter raised $550, balance on hand $303.
  • Carrie Searcy: $1,512 raised in the initial report period, $8,998 in the 1st quarter, Balance on hand of $6,069. She loaned herself of $3891. Leslie Susan Chiles donated $1000. Notice that Leslie Susan Chiles also donated $1,000 to Ruby Baker.  Duayne Bells, Sr donated $1000; John Canthon owner of Jacks Barbeque $250; Judge Rachel Bell, $750.
  • Robert Stockard: He began with a balance on hand of $460. Received $925 in the initial period and $1710 in the 1st quarter, ending with a Balance on hand of $331. UAW TN PAC (United Auto Workers) contributed $250; Senator Thelma Harper gave an in-kind contribution $100. He loaned his campaign $880.
District 3
  • Timothy Coleman: No initial report. No money raised or spend.
District 4
  • Robert Swope: No initial filing, In the 1st quarter he raised $3,985, with a Balance on hand of $1,275. Endre Zongor of Franklin gave $1000; Dr. Ming Wang, $1000, Rod Williams (that’s me) $100.
  • Peter Tugle: No initial filing. In the 1st quarter the candidate loaned himself $15,0000 and he has a balance on hand of $14,822.
District 5
  • Scott David (The incumbent): He has filed a really screwed up financial disclosure report. It shows a balance on hand at the start of the 1st quarter of $4,142 and shows 1st quarter report receipts of $15,200, disbursements of $5,256 and a balance on hand of $19,045. Something does not add up. It is my understanding that if you start the report with a balance on hand there had to be previous report, but there is no “initial” report. Also I cannot tell if the Balance on hand is $10,045 or $19,045 due to sloppy writing. However, either way if one takes the “balance on hand last report” adds $15,300 and subtracts $5,226. It does not add up to ether $10,045 or $19,045. Also on line 12 b, “total receipts this period” the number is $15,300 and yet in the “Receipts” section, lines 15 - 18, nothing is shown. Under the “itemized receipts” section however, the report does show receipts. The report shows $1,500 from a dentist named Larry Davis, $1,500 from a M.D with the last name of Davis, and $1,500 from an Annie Davis. It shows $1500 from Mike Hodge of 1311 Church St, Nashville TN, 37219. There is no building at 1311 Church St according to Google maps and the zip code at that location is really 37203 not 37219 as shown on the report. Mike Hodge’s profession is listed as “business owner.” There is a “Mike Hodge” who is the community organizer currently with NOAH, formerly with The Neighborhood Resource Center, but I do not know if this is that Mike Hodge or not. He shows contributions of $1,500 from the CFO of Grand Avenue, which is the luxury limousine company. Another dentist gives $1500, the Waller PAC gave $250, lobbyist Dave Cooley gave $250, and two other people with the last name Davis gave $1500 each. Several of the contributions show a name only and no address. If this is the best the candidate or the candidate’s treasurer can do in completing a campaign disclosure then maybe the candidate does not have adequate skills to serve in the Metro Council. I am not going to pursue inquiring what is the procedure for challenging the validity of a finance report that obviously does not add up and is full of errors; I will leave that to someone else, I am just reporting.
  • Sarah Martin: She did not file an initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $10,420, which includes a loan from herself of $5,000, and a balance of hand of $9,6662. Daniel Horwitz who is an attorney and an occasional contributor to this blog and an opponent of price fixing and regulations designed to inhibit competition, but who is also a Democrat and serves as an attorney for the Davidson County Democrat Party contributed $101. Renard Francois, who himself sought an at-large Council seat in 2011 and who is an attorney contributed $1,500. Bob Tuke, an attorney who was the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senotor in 2008 challenging Lamar Alexander contributed $250. Nashville attorney Patrick Frogge, who frequently represents indigent federal defendants gave $250.
District 6
  • Peter Westerholm (incumbent): In the initial period he raised $9,525 and in the 1st period raised $4,794 ending the period with $13,966. He loaned his campaign $500. Candidates are not required to itemize contributions of $100 or less, and while many do anyway, he did not. Contributors include former Nashville Mayor William P Purcell III (Bill Purcell) who donated $150; Hank Helton of Pathway lending, $250; Mark Deutschmann of Village Real Estate, $500. He only received two of what I would call large contribution and that was $1500 from Britnie Turner who is founder of Aerial Development Group and $1,000 from Johnny Westerholm.
 District 7
  • Stephen Clements: In the initial reporting period he had recipients of $1,260 which included a $1000 loan from himself, and in the 1st quarter period he had receipts of $3550. Contributor include Dawn Clements who gave $1000; Paul Kuhn of Woodmont Investment Counsel and a long-time advocate for Mariujunna reform and a board member of NORML, $600; Rod Williams (that’s me), $500; Ed Smith, $1000.
  • Anthony Davis (incumbent): He did not file an initial report. He shows receipts of $8632 and a balance on hand of $7,595. Contributors include Representative Bill Beck who contributed $500; School Board Member Will Pinkson, $250; Tennessee Laborer’s PAC, $500; Dan Heller a real estate developer, owner of Flatiron Holdings, $1000; Anthony Viglietti, Senior Energy Services specialist with Nashville Electric Services; $1000; and several attorneys who I do not know who gave $250 each.
District 8
  • Ramona Gholston: She filed no initial reports. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $63 and a balance on hand of $63. However this report is not filed out correctly because she shows total receipts (line 18) of $150.
  • Robert Sawyers, Sr: He filed an initial report but it shows no receipts or expenditures. The 1st quarter report also shows no receipts or expenditures.
  • Chris Swann: He filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows receipts of $1,200 and a balance on hand of $428. Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill of Blountville, TN contributed $500. James C. Swann loaned the campign $700.
  • Nancy VanReece: She filed an intial report that shows receipts of $3998 and a 1st quarter report that shows receipts of $3702 for an ending balance on hand of $7,104. Metro Council member and mayoral candidate Megan Barry contributed $100; David Taylor, owner of Tribe, Play Dance Bar and other gay businesses contributed $250; Waller Lansden PAC, $250; Women for TN’s Future, $300; She got a considerable amount of in-kind contributions including photography by Chad McClarnon valued at $750, and hair care and make up for a photo shoot by Lauren Turner valued at $200 and she valued her own consulting services for website design and ads at $1038.
District 9
  • Bill Pridemore (incumbent): He filed no initial report and the 1st quarter report shows no receipts and no expenditures.
District 10 has no candidates filing a campaign finance disclosure.

District 11
  • Larry Hagar (incumbent): He filed no initial. The 1st quarter report shows a starting balance on hand of $5353, no receipts and an ending balance on hand of $5014.
District 12
  • Steve Glover (incumbent): He filed no initial report. The 1st quarter report shows no receipts and no expenditures and no balance on hand.

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Bill Freeman advocates use of eminent domain to take PSC Metals

Bill Freeman just lost another point with me today with a Facebook post in which he says he would use eminent domain to take PSC Metals property for redevelopment.

Eminent domain is the government taking of ones property for a public use.  Traditionally "public use" meant taking a property to build a road or a school or some such use. Starting in the 50's with urban development government began taking property to clear blight. Now "public use" means we don't like what you are doing with your property and we will take it away form you and give it to someone else who will do something better with it.

One of the most egregious examples of abuse of eminent domain in Nashville is the city taking hundreds of acres west of Vanderbilt University sometime in the 60's and giving it to Vanderbilt. Hundreds of people were forced out of their homes and much of the land still sits vacant or used for surface parking. A heroine of the decade-long fight against that condemnation was Fannie Mae Dees who the city named a park after. Many people call that park "the dragon park," but the name of the park is "Fannie Mae Dees."

Another high profile fight over condemnation, in which the city lost, was downtown on Church St. It was sometime in the 80's and I was serving in the council at the time. 
The city wanted to take the property across from the downtown Presbyterian Church for Third National Bank to build a large bank office building. One of the owner's of a piece of property did not want to sell.  This lingered for months in the council and the council was almost evenly split as I recall. The developer redrew their plans as to be able to build their building without taking that particular piece of property and also they offered a much higher price than was originally offered for the property and the owner voluntarily sold. I think that is one of the nicest large building downtown and it was one of the first tall buildings build downtown. The architecture pics up some Egyptian design elements inspired by the historic church across the street and the gabled top of the building reflects the Ryman auditorium design. I would prefer however that the building never be build than to abuse eminent domain to build it.

Another high profile local eminent domain case occurred across from Farmers Market when MDHA took Eaton Auto Village property to build some low-income housing. These low-income units are now selling for around $250,000 each. Eaton lost that battle as I recall, but he fought long and hard against MHDA instead of just rolling over. He ended up getting considerably more for his property than what the city offered him by holding condemnation over his head.  Kenneth Eaton is a candidate for Mayor.

Another local case, this one getting national attention, was the case of Joy Ford. Ms Ford was a long time music business entrepreneur. The city wanted to take part of her property and transfer it to a big developer to build on. She would not sell. The city retaliated by closing an alley which denied tour busses access to her parking lot. The Institute for Justice came to her aid and fought on her behalf and Gail Kerr, now deceased Tennessean newspaper columnist, exposed the injustice and took up her cause. Eventually MDHA and Ms Ford worked out an arrangement where she swapped a part of a parking lot on one side of her building for a parking lot on the other side of her building and she was allowed to stay. (For more about Joy Ford)

Stories like that of Fannie Mae Dees or Joy Ford may hit a responsive cord with the public because they have a David vs Goliath feature of the little person standing up to powerful abusive government, but to take someone's land against their wishes in order to transfer it to a developer to build upon it just as wrong if we are talking about Joy Ford or PSC metals.

PSC Metals is that ugly pile of scape metal on the east side of downtown, inside the I-24/I-65 loop just on the south side of Korean Veterans Blvd, south of the Titan's stadium. It sits on 55 acres of prime real estate. I admit it is an eyesore. It provides a valuable function however in recycling middle Tennessee's junk cars and appliances and is one of PSC's most profitable sites. To relocate, PSC would have to have a comparable site with rail, interstate and barge access.  That might not be easy to find. Other mayors have tried to get PSC to relocate for decades but without success and without resorting to eminent domain.

The advocacy of using eminent domain to take a piece of property to turn it over to developers has made Bill Freeman, almost out of the running for someone I could support for mayor. The reason I say "almost" is because it seems like when one candidate takes a position all the others line up and say "me too." From continuing to subsidize General Hospital, to advocating home price-fixing called "inclusionary zoning," to eagerly wanted to be the first mayor to perform a gay wedding in the court house, all the major candidates have the same position.  Megan Barry and Howard Gentry are already out of the running as far as getting my vote.  Megan Barry because of her progressive voting record in the Metro Council and Howard Gentry because he thinks the Music City Star is a model of how we ought to pursue developing mass transit.

If the other candidates step forward and say they also would use eminent domain to take PSC metals, then they will have follow to the level of Bill Freeman and Freeman will again be in the running to get my vote.  I am waiting and I am hoping a candidate will disagree with Freeman and say it is wrong to take a person's property just because it is ugly and someone else can develop it to a higher use and a use that will generate more tax revenue. If a candidate said that, that would likely be the candidate I would support for mayor.



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David Fox: "I detest eminent domain. I have very, very, very little appetite for it."

David Fox
Yesterday I reported that Bill Freeman said he would use eminent domain to acquire PSC Metals. Now we know where all of the candidates stand and I am pleased to see there is a difference. At a forum hosted by  the Cumberland River Compact all of the candidates where asked if they would use eminent domain to acquire PSC Metals. (link)

David Fox gave the strongest answer against eminent domain of any of the major candidates saying, "I detest eminent domain. I have very, very, very little appetite for it."

Linda Rebrovick said she would not use eminent domain. Megan Barry implied she would use eminent domain but was vague. Jerry Kane said he had reservations about eminent domain because "we’ll be tied up for years in court." Charles Robert Bone said it is complicated but indicates he does have a principled objection to using eminent domain. Kenneth Eaton is opposed to use of eminent domain and Howard Gentry says, "I’m not afraid of eminent domain."

While I am still keeping an open mind and still waiting to learn more about the candidates, again I find myself agreeing with David Fox more than any of the other major candidates.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

"Pushing young children to read is not good for them," says School Board Member

From TN-Edu Independent - "Pushing young children to read is not good for them." This comment was made recently by a school board member in Nashville. This comment reflects a policy view that would be detrimental to students across the MNPS system.

If anything, we have the exact opposite problem. We don't have the right policies and the appropriate execution of practices that foster the early literacy skills that so many Nashville students need.

Way too many young students in Nashville don't have adequate early literacy skills, and this deficit continues to hurt them in a big way throughout their K-12 learning years (if you can't read, it is hard to learn in other subjects or from other texts).

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for reading out loud to children (and is pushing their pediatric members to communicate that to parents).

It's somewhat shocking to me for a school board member to advocate for not pushing young children to read. While advocating for developmentally appropriate policies for children, which has merit and makes sense, this statement is irresponsible. If this was about making a political statement, related to the video below, and tied into the very skewed Diane Ravitch education policies (that is more about test opt-outs, everything should be play for children, etc), it's still irresponsible, and shows how allegiance to adult politics can trump rational and sensible policies for educating children.

A couple of thoughts stand out.

  1. If pushing young children to read is not good for them, then we shouldn't fund the Reading Recovery appropriation in the most recent MNPS budget nor anything else related to early literacy instruction.
  2. I'm basically a terrible parent for reading Dr. Seuss books with my 16 month old.
  3. Dolly (and many others) have gotten it way wrong all these years by sending books to homes through the Imagination Library program.
  4. The early literacy skills gap is a very serious issue that underpins a lot of our issues in K-12 education. This gap is particularly problematic for low-income and minority students. Note the reading gap (diamonds) among different income levels:
  5. The above video showcased Mission Hill school in Boston (along with Matt Damon's mom - Nancy Carlsson-Paige).
The video is more about testing opt out issues, and an advocacy for an approach to education that is all about play based learning. To make the statement that we shouldn't push young children to read and learn early literacy skills is going way too far.

And when it comes to student proficiency levels in reading (English Language Arts), the approach advocated for in the video in the school that is highlighted isn't working very well. Only 1/3 of Mission Hill school students are proficient or advanced in English Language Arts school-wide. For some grades, it's extremely low (4th grade - only 8%), and they have a very high percentage of students in the "warning/failing" classification for English Language Arts.

Yes, Mission Hill is a Title 1 school, but so are many others in Boston that have much higher reading proficiency rates.

Pushing young children to read and develop early literacy skills IS GOOD for them!!
 
My Comment: If you were wondering which school board member said, "pushing young children to read is not good for them;" it was Amy Frogge. Go to her Facebook page and it is posted on April 19. Rod


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The planning commission is basing rezoning decisions on NashvilleNext and it is not yet adopted!

I generally favor developments that promote greater density because I believe we must have greater density to curtail urban sprawl, have good mass transit, and to grow the tax base so we can meet the city's unfunded obligations and future needs without massive tax increases. However, specific rezoning must be evaluated on some adopted criteria. The planning commission should not be allowed to base a rezoning decision on a plan that has not yet been adopted, but that appears what is happening. NasvhilleNext has not yet been adopted. It is arrogance, if not illegal to be using an unadopted plan to approve zoning request. 

I don't know Margo Chambers but she is a leader of the Richland Westend community organization and often post thoughtful comments and essays on neighborhood-type websites. The below essay from Ms Chambers is reposted from the Nashville District 17 Google Group.

I realize traffic is a problem on 12th Ave South, but I would not want to stifle the growth occurring along that corridor. My concern is less about the outcome of this specific rezoning request and more about the process. This is in formative:

From: Margo Chambers 

Regarding the two messages for the proposed Bristol 12 South development (Public Hearing today at 4pm – Metro The last sentence in Mr. Hammond’s document (titled “Tabernacle Post.docx”), directs the reader to the March 26, 2015 Metro Planning Staff Report for the Metro Planning Commission.  It states:

“This recommended approval from Planning hopefully speak to the level of impact this project will have on the community and how well it fits into the planned context of 12th South. 
The details of the Planning Staffs comments are provided in the link below.  http://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/Planning/docs/MPCMeetings/2015/032615%20with%20exhibit%20AUpdatedMarch23.pdf
Page 23 of that link states the Metro Planning Staff recommends approval of the Tabernacle Baptist Church/Bristol Development based upon something other than the current General Plan. 
STAFF RECOMMENDATION Staff recommends approval of the plan amendment, including retaining and amending the special policy, as it reflects the area’s recommended policy change as part of NashvilleNext .”
According to Section 17.040.060.B of the Zoning Code, the General Plan is defined as “…an official public document adopted by the metropolitan planning commission…”.
If the proposed SP is inconsistent with the currently adopted General Plan, it is thus by definition, contrary to the General Plan.
If a zone change is inconsistent with the General Plan, the Zoning Code does not permit the Metro Planning Commission to recommend approval of it.
As the county legislative body who enacts Zoning Code changes, the Metro Council has reserved for itself the right as a body to adopt, and to each of its individual members, the right to recommend approval, of a zone change that conflicts (i.e. is contrary) to the General Plan.
The Metro Council has not delegated that authority to the Planning Commission, or to the planning staff.
The Metro Planning Commission has publicly announced it will not consider any new amendments to the General Plan until after the Nashville Next work effort is completed, anticipated in June 2015.
Therefore, based on these facts, there is only one recommendation the Metro Planning Commission can make to the Metro Council: Recommend Disapproval of the SP zoning as Contrary to the General Plan.
Example 2 of the Metro Staff providing a recommendation to the Metro Planning Commission based on something other than the approved General Plan:
The Saint Thomas Preliminary SP application (found in the same March 26, 2015 Staff Report, pages 32-39 of http://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/Planning/docs/MPCMeetings/2015/032615%20with%20exhibit%20AUpdatedMarch23.pdf.)
This application had a Staff Recommendation of “not consistent” with the Conservation Policy (CO) up until the date this was presented on 3/26/2015.  Here’s what the public was given up until 3/26/2015: 
Consistent with Policy?
The request is not consistent with the existing CO policy; however, it is consistent with the draft preferred future policy. As proposed the SP would permit a variety of residential, office and commercial uses that are urban in form and in keeping with the existing Harding Town Center UDO. Since this site is already developed and already zoned for additional development, including the Harding Town Center UDO, rezoning this site to SP is not inconsistent with what is already planned for this area and provides a balance in terms floodplain/floodway protection and development.
Here is what Metro Planning Staff presented to MPC on 3/26/2015:
Consistent with Policy?
Yes. The request is consistent with the existing (Mixed Use) and draft preferred future policy (Regional Center). As proposed the SP would permit a variety of residential, office and commercial uses that are urban in form and in keeping with the existing Harding Town Center UDO.  While the SP would not necessarily be consistent with the Conservation policy, it does bring the site closer to conformance with the policy as it limits development in areas that could be developed today. Since the site has been previously disturbed then it is exempt from certain stormwater requirements. The proposed SP would provide a better balance in terms floodplain/floodway protection and development.
I’ve attached the public comments I made on 3/26/2015 (see “Letter to MPC March 26 2015 pdf”).  I reminded Metro Planning Commissioners that the Metro Planning Staff does NOT have the authority to recommend approval for anything other than the current adopted General Plan. 
My comments were ignored by the Metro Planning Commission and Metro Planning Department Executive Director.  The only Metro Council person serving on the MPC was late to the meeting (Walter Hunt arrived in the middle of this presentation), and the MPC Chair made a point to instruct the late arriving Commissioner that the MPC rules prevent the Commissioner from discussing or voting on the application because it had already been presented and discussion was underway.
I think the Metro Planning Commission needs to suspend all development approvals made since January 1, 2015 and until the General Plan is adopted. 
Currently, the city does not have a functioning Planning Department.  The Planning Staff is unable to review and advise approval of development applications based upon conformance to the current adopted zoning rules.
If anyone has a list of Mayoral candidate(s ) and/or Metro Council Member candidates who approve this type of unapproved activity by a Metro Commission, I’d appreciate it.  I could use it at the voting booth in a few months.
Bristol developers supplied articles supporting their viewpoint, so I’ve provided a few articles from other developers so that the public can have a more well rounded perspective of Multifamily developments:
1. Real estate trends in Miami track the new demand for larger units able to accommodate several generations of a family/lots of bedrooms (April 17, 2015):  http://www.globest.com/news/12_1091/miami/development/Will-This-New-Condo-Trend-Take-Off-357137-1.html?ET=globest:e46179:848421a:&st=email&s=&cmp=gst:Florida_AM_20150420:editorial
(Hint:  it’s based on future growth projections, not current growth).  Does the developer believe that buyers, sellers, and lenders are all ‘on the same page’?  It’s too soon to tell and he thinks it’s getting harder to make a profit (aggressively seeks out low property acquisitions).  The article ends with “...it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are moving in the right direction.”
3. Atlanta Developer says MultiFamily is not where the profit is anymore, but it can be found in their local Office space development.  However, he cautions that Office development is not for the faint of heart due to high rents required plus the necessity of a very robust job market (to support the high rent rates). April 23, 2015:  http://www.globest.com/news/12_1095/atlanta/multifamily/Atlanta-Office-Developers-Take-Caution-357255-1.html 
All of these recent comments are from outside Nashville and from large developers.  Housing bubbles are inevitable and occur in cycles.  How is Nashville bracing for the next down cycle in the housing market?
Note: whenever a Planning Department breaks their own zoning rules in order to encourage development, this creates an artificial housing ‘demand’.  When somebody artificially creates any market commodity, this makes recovery from the inevitable down cycle worse than necessary.
Primer: a short video from Khan Academy that nicely explains housing Supply and Demand:  https://www.khanacademy.org/economics-finance-domain/core-finance/current-economics/credit-crisis/v/the-housing-price-conundrum 
“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.” – Churchill 1935

Margo Chambers
Richland West End

NashvilleNext is going to be a done-deal before we know it. We need to put on the brakes and give people time to read and study the 1700 pages. We are being sold this plan without knowing what is in it and we will be told we had plenty of opportunity to know what was in it and that 17,000 Nashvillians "participated" in creating it. Just like no one knew what was in Obamacare until after it was passed, we are not going to know what is in NashvilleNext until development starts occurring that we do not like and then we we will be told, "but it is consistent with the general plan." NashvilleNext is a pig in a poke and will soon be the guide for future growth of the city. 

What is outrageous is that it is not even adopted yet and is being used to approve plans. It is difficult for the Council to stop a rezoning that is approved by the Planning Commission. The Council needs to ignore the recommendations of the Planning Commission if the Planning Commission is making recommendations based on something they assume is going to be adopted and the Council needs to slow down the process of the PC approving NashvilleNext until it is genuinely studied. 

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Senator Lamar Alexander targets effort to force nonunion workers to pay dues

Lamar AlexanderLamar Alexander
After a Monday report indicating that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has requested legal briefs to consider creating regulations that could force employees in right-to-work states to pay union dues, irrespective of their union status, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) spoke out harshly on Tuesday against the concept and the NLRB.
“I will fight any effort by the NLRB to force workers to support a union and undermine state right-to-work laws,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, said. “This latest action is an outrageous move that threatens to...

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109th General Assembly’s First Half Concludes with Major Conservative Accomplishments

TN GOP Press Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn.—With the final debate over, the 109th General Assembly has concluded its work for the first regular session. The closing comes with a number of legislative victories Republicans can be proud of. “We’ve just witnessed a session of success,” stated Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes. “Whether it is the conservative fiscal stewardship of our state, educational reforms that keep us on the path of achievement, or a number of bills to enhance the freedom Tennesseans expect—our state is moving ahead. Governor Haslam continues to show why he’s garnered the reputation of a dynamic reformer-in-chief and together, with Lieutenant Governor Ramsey and Speaker Harwell, the leadership of our state has never been stronger.”

  • The Republican-led General Assembly passed a fiscally responsible balanced budget that cut taxes, placed over $70 million into the Rainy Day fund, all while funding continued improvements for education and Tennessee’s business-friendly environment. 
  • Working with parents, teachers, and administrators, the GOP started the effort to put in place Tennessee-specific education standards. Tennessee Reconnect was created, a visionary program set forth by Gov. Haslam, to help adults enter higher education so they may gain new skills, advance in their careers, and complete a degree or credential. 
  • Additionally, while making targeted investments, Republican leaders were able to cut the Hall Income Tax for seniors 65 and older. 
Haynes concluded, “I am proud of the work our leaders and my colleagues put in on behalf of all Tennesseans. We’ve proven, once again, our state is a model for how to govern in a responsible, conservative fashion while answering the needs of our citizens.”
--30--

Senator Jack Johnson's Session Summary
 
From Senator Jack Johnson's Newsletter -The 2015 session of the 109th General Assembly has adjourned to become a part of Tennessee history with some of the most important bills of the year being approved during the final week of legislative action. This includes legislation repealing Common Core, a bill to implement an online verification program for uninsured motorists, a measure to give more senior citizens Hall Income Tax relief and an act dealing with Transportation Network Company (TNC) services.

Lawmakers Approve Transportation Network Company Services Act
Legislation which establishes requirements governing application-based Transportation Network Companies (TNC) was approved by the General Assembly on the closing day of the 2015 legislative session. Senate Bill 907 provides statewide rules for TNC ride-hauling services, like those offered by Uber and Lyft. The legislation establishes end-to-end insurance coverage for the transportation networks and their drivers with $1 million liability coverage while a pre-arranged ride is occurring. This is ten times what is required under the current taxi system. It also requires a zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs and alcohol and mandates comprehensive background checks on all drivers. The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.

Senate Approves Legislation Implementing an Online Verification Program for Uninsured Motorists
A major bill establishing an online verification program to help ensure compliance with Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law was approved by the Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 648 aims to reduce the state’s uninsured motorist rate, which is currently at 23-24 percent. There are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists. Tennessee law requires drivers to have a driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance; however, there is no verification system to track the insurance requirement. The bill requires that a notice procedure be provided to any driver found to be uninsured, allowing them 15 days to provide proof of insurance or exemption. If there is no response, the owner will be sent a second notice stating that they have 30 days to provide proof of insurance. Failure to comply will result in a $25 coverage failure fee on the first notification and a $100 fee on the second. The bill also increases the fine for failure to provide proof of insurance from $100 to $300, and if a driver fails to provide proof of insurance to an officer, the officer may tow the vehicle as long as the officer’s agency has adopted a policy for such procedure. Forty-six other states have similar auto liability verification systems.

More Senior Citizens Can Qualify for Hall Income Tax Relief
The Senate has approved legislation which raises the Hall Income Tax exemption level for citizens over the age of 55 to allow more senior citizens to qualify tax relief. The Hall Income Tax levies six percent on earnings from stocks and bonds, with 3/8 of the revenue going to cities and counties. The use of investment savings has grown tremendously as a primary source of retirement income since the Hall Tax was enacted in 1929. This bill raises the exemption level so more seniors can qualify for tax relief as the General Assembly continues to make progress in providing Hall Tax relief to Tennessee citizens. The legislature voted to raise the level which allows more senior citizens to be exempt in 2011 and 2013, with current income exemption levels at $33,000 per individual and $59,000 per couple. Under Senate Bill 32, the annual Hall Income Tax standard income exemption for taxpayers 65 years of age or older would be $37,000 for single filers and $68,000 for joint filer taxpayers beginning in January 2016. Of the individuals who pay the tax, almost half are age 65 and older. The increase in the income exemption will make the state more competitive in attracting retirees. The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.

Senate Approves and Sends to Governor Bill Haslam Legislation Repealing Common Core
The State Senate has passed legislation which sets up a process to replace the controversial Common Core education standards with a new set of standards crafted solely by Tennesseans. The bill embraces the work and the effort of Governor Bill Haslam’s review process, adding a new Recommendation Committee to provide another opportunity for stakeholders, educators and the general public to weigh in on the new Tennessee-specific standards. Under Senate Bill 1163, the Recommendation Committee would be comprised of ten members, with four appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, and three appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Standards Recommendation Committee would take the best practices obtained through a panel which has already been set up by Governor Haslam and pass it through a filter that is more representative of the people of the state. The Governor set up a process in October for education professionals to vet the standards and allow for public comments. The legislation calls for the final draft of the Standards Review and Standards Recommendation panels to be placed back on the internet for 60 days so stakeholders, parents, teachers, and administrators will have another opportunity to view and address the body of work being produced before it is set up for adoption. The legislation requires the State Board of Education to cancel the “Memorandum of Understanding” that had previously been agreed upon concerning Common Core State Standards.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Southeast Nashville Mayoral Candidates Forum

Lakeshore Christian Church, 5434 Bell Forge Lane, East Antioch, TN 37013.

Focusing on issues related to the re-growth of the Southeast Nashville community and the city of Nashville in education, housing, transportation and business.
This event is organized and sponsored by citizens living, working and voting in Southeast Davidson County, in Nashville, TN who seek to familiarize themselves with the candidates running for Mayor in order to make a more informed voting decision.
For more information follow this link

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Mayoral Forum on issues facing women, April 28th 6:30PM

YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee and Lipscomb University
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CDT)


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Alexander and Corker vote against confirming Lorretta Lynch. She is confirmed by a vote of 56-43

Yesterday the Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch for attorney general. Opposition to her appointment came from conservatives because she supported President Obama's executive action granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Ten Republican senators sided with Democrats to confirm Lynch's nomination.  Neither of Tennessee's senators were among the ten.  Those Republicans voting for her confirmation were: Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jeremy Kane "extreamly disappointed" State Failed to Grant In-State Tuition to "Dreamers"

Jeremy Kane
Kane Press Release - Nashville is responsible for educating one of the largest populations of undocumented children in the State of Tennessee. We undertake this responsibility because it is first and foremost the right thing to do, but we also know that our new immigrant neighbors are part of the reason Nashville is thriving today. We dedicate millions of dollars in resources making sure all of Nashville's children are college and career ready. I have seen first-hand the progress and success of these students and their families. I have sat in their living rooms, worked with them in the classroom, and graduated 100% of seniors at LEAD Academy. Many seniors hope to attend one of Tennessee’s great colleges or universities. Today, the Tennessee House of Representatives put another hurdle in their way.
 
I am extremely disappointed that the Tennessee House of Representatives failed to pass legislation that would make undocumented children eligible for in-state tuition and thus rendering null and void much of our daily education efforts. What is more painful is that this extraordinary legislative loss was delivered at the hands of several Davidson County representatives who know, or should know, the daily struggle of these kids and their hope to contribute to our community. I want to thank Rep. Harold Love, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Rep. Jason Powell, Rep. Sherry Jones, Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Rep. Bill Beck, and Rep. Mike Stewart for their presence and courageous vote this afternoon.
 
As Mayor I will ask for this legislation to be taken up again. At the time of the vote, I will do whatever I can to make sure our entire delegation is present. Our kids and our community deserve nothing less.

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Tennessee General Assembly passes legislation that legalizes Uber across the State

I just got this communications from Uber:

Thanks to your support, uberX is now a permanent option for riders and drivers across Tennessee.
This week, the Tennessee General Assembly passed smart legislation that truly embraces innovation, clearly signaling that The Volunteer State stands for added choice and greater opportunity for its residents and visitors. It affirms Uber’s commitment to safety, and ensures we can continue to provide safe, reliable rides at the touch of a button, and extend economic opportunity to thousands of local drivers.
What’s In The Bill:
  • Mandatory federal, state and local background checks and a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol for all drivers
  • $1 million primary insurance coverage for all rides
  • Reinforces consumer protection and safety features within ridesharing applications
Special thanks to our bill sponsors Senator Bo Watson and Representative Cameron Sexton, along with key supporters Senator Jack Johnson and Representative Kevin Brooks, who displayed tremendous leadership in pushing forward this bill.
We are proud that Uber’s safety standards have set the bar for ridesharing in Tennessee.
I am pleased to see this happen! Next session, I hope the Legislature  takes more action like this, ending unnecessary regulations, price-fixing and the ability of local governments to fix prices and protect their friends from competition. Congratulations to the State Legislature for passing a good piece of pro-market legislation.

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School Choice Bill That Benefits Special Needs Children Passes Senate and Key House Committees

Beacon Center Press Release - In an exciting development, the Education Savings Account bill that would benefit thousands of children with special needs passed both the House Finance Committee and the full Senate today. 

"This is a great development for all Tennesseans. It gives children with special needs across the state the tailored academic experience they deserve; one that meets their unique needs," said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. "Every child deserves a quality education, and today's votes in favor of Education Savings Accounts for children shows that our legislature realizes that."

The bill will be voted on by the full House on Thursday.

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Voucher bill dies in House sub (again)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal that would let parents move a child from a failing public school in Tennessee to a private school with funding from the state has failed this year — for the third consecutive Tennessee General Assembly session.

House sponsor Bill Dunn withdrew the school voucher proposal, or “opportunity scholarship,” from the House Finance subcommittee on Tuesday and said he will likely try again next year.

“The votes just aren’t there,” said Dunn, R-Knoxville. (link)

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What happened at the April 21st Council meeting; redevelopment of old convenstion center advances, Barnes funded with diverted Hotel-Motel tax



Here is the Tennessean's report of the April 21st Council meeting: Old Nashville Convention Center sale advances.

As soon as I watch it, I will tell you if there is anything worth watching in the video and if anything else important happened. Look for an update.

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John Cooper, brother of Representative Jim Cooper, is runnig for Councl at-large

John Cooper, brother of Representative Jim Cooper is joining the long list of people running for an at-large seat on the Metro Council. Here is a link to the Tennessean's report on the story.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Forty Years Ago: The Left Partied While Saigon Fell

Forty Years Ago: The Left Partied While Saigon Fell
Just two years prior, Henry Kissinger had negotiated the Paris Peace Accords which essentially solidified everything that the United States had been fighting for. North Vietnam agreed to accept South Vietnam’s existence while the United States promised to return if Hanoi did not honor the deal. It was an agreement both sides were destined to break.

While brave military men cried and those loyal to the Republic of Vietnam were killed or deported to “reeducation camps,” the mood here at home was starkly different. Among certain segments of the population it could only be described as elation.
On May 11th fifty thousand jubilant revelers staged a celebration in New York’s Central Park. One reporter described it as a “joyous all-day carnival of songs and speeches in the perfect sunshine.” One person in attendance told a reporter: “There’s a lot of lumps in a lot of throats. It’s unbelievable. Today is the first day I finally realize the war is over.”

“Over” was such a strange word. For Americans, the war had already been over for two years, when the last combat troops left Vietnam. But that was not enough for the most strident activists who would not rest until the country we had bled so much to protect was washed away like a sand castle on the beach. ....

But for the South Vietnamese the war wasn’t really over even on April 30th. Their war had just begun, as they were murdered, tortured, and sent to the regime’s 150 “reeducation camps” to be indoctrinated in the virtues of Marxism-Leninism. Some people didn’t emerge from those camps for seventeen years, and 165,000 never left at all. (link)

My comment: I served in Vietnam in 1968-1969 and still think the Vietnam war was a noble and just cause. I remember watching on TV while Saigon fell in 1975 and I cried. I still feel like America and the ally we were protecting were stabbed in the back by "peace" activist at home. The war was winnable and our betrayal of South Vietnam was shameful. Unfortunately, our leaders were never committed to winning the war. Every time we were gaining an advantage, we would stop and pursue a negotiated settlement and let the enemy recover.
 
While I have, for the most part, gotten over that phase of history and put that phase of my life as a young man behind me, I still feel anger at those who betrayed us. I still do not think those who fled to Canada should have ever been allowed to return home without paying a severe penalty. I would still have a good day if a deranged Vietnam vet assassinated Jane Fonda. I still do not think the peace sign is just a hip symbol of the cool 60's or a fashion accessory; it is the banner under which those who wanted a Communist victory marched. I still resent portrayals of that period which assume everyone was getting high and it was a fun time to engage in a little harmless revolution at home.
 
The war was not lost in the delta and jungle of Vietnam but was lost on college campuses and the streets of America. The betrayal of South Vietnam and the betrayal of those who served in Vietnam is a still a disgrace and a blot on our nation's honor.

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