Friday, July 31, 2015

Community-wide info meeting about DADU's, Monday August 3rd


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National Federation of Republican Assemblies Conference & Presidential Preference Endorsing Convention 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015 at 1:00 PM - Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 11:30 

This is not the meeting of the Nashville Chapter of Republican Assemblies, this is the National Convention.  This is a big deal. If you have never heard of the Republican Assemblies, this is how they describe themselves:

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is a grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent America.

In short, we are the Republican Wing of the Republican Party.
Here are event details:

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is excited to hold our 2015 NFRA Conference & Presidential Preference Endorsing Convention in Nashville TN better know as Music City.  Our 3 day conference will be loaded with great national speakers, authors, and candidates but be sure to allow some time to take in some of the sights and sounds that Nashville has to offer.  With over 150 live music venues and loads of great eateries nearby there is something for everybody.
Be sure to take advantage of discounted tickets by purchasing early.  Ticket pricing will increase as the event draws near as follows:
   
Feb 22 thru Apr 15 $227.00
Apr 16  thru July 4 $247.00
July 5 thru Aug 18 $297.00
Aug 19 thru day of event $350.00

Your conference ticket includes admission to all NFRA events including Sunday Prayer Breakfast with Pastor Rafael Cruz..  A box lunch and full dinner will be provided on Saturday.
The full conference schedule and speakers list will be published soon and will be added to this event page and the NFRA website. For more information follow this link.


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Bill Freeman's spending surpasses $4.5M in Nashville mayor's race.

While Bill Freeman has spend the most money and spend more of his own money than any other candidate, other candidates have spend heavily also. For the Tennessean's analysis of campaign spending in the mayor's race follow this link.

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First Tuesday meets Monday August 3. Speaker is Representative Diane Black.

Diane Black
From Tim Skow, host of First Tuesday:

1ST TUESDAY members and friends

 Hear the HOWLING coming from Washington DC Liberals ????

For the first time in a memory...

Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is in serious jeopardy of being interrupted !!!! The lady who has introduced the legislation and will be driving the bill is our next 1ST TUESDAY Speaker, Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black !

Want to know the behind implications of Obama’s IRAN deal? How can Federal funding be cut from “Sanctuary Cities” like San Francisco?

What more is coming that may make Planned Parenthood the next ACORN?

MONDAY, August 3rd – Congresswoman Diane Black returns to 1ST TUESDAY. As a member of the House Budget Committee & Ways and Means Committee, she asked the following be shared with you. 
 In light of the undercover videos showing its employees discussing the harvesting of fetal organs, Congressman Black introduced The Defund Planned Parenthood Act – legislation placing an immediate moratorium on all federal funding of Planned Parenthood for one year while Congress conducts a full investigation.
The Monday, August 3rd version of 1ST TUESDAY will be a powerful lunch you simply DO NOT WANT to miss!

 As usual, we will meet at Waller Law - 511 Union 27th floor. Doors open at 11AM. Many Metro candidates who are “friends of 1ST TUESDAY" will be there. Lunch starts at 11:30 and is $20 for Members & $25 for Guests.

Secure seating for you and your guests at www.1sttuesdaynashville.com . Expect Diane and candidates to arrive before lunch begins. Look forward to seeing you Monday, August 3rd – if not before!

Tim Skow
Host of 1ST TUESDAY

PS -- Election Day is Thursday August 6th. Please early vote

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Amendment #3 and Discrimination in Davidson County

Braden H. Boucek
by BRADEN H. BOUCEK, reposted from The Beacon Center -  On the ballot right now in Nashville is a charter amendment that, in a nutshell, would provide an employment preference for Davidson County workers on major public works projects. By mandating that Davidson County residents perform at least 40% of the work on publicly funded construction, the amendment would place workers who reside outside of Davidson County at a significant disadvantage under the law.

If the local hire amendment becomes law, it will almost certainly see the inside of a courtroom because it has a number of constitutional problems, as thoroughly outlined here. One such constitutional problem is the unequal treatment of people under the law, also known as discrimination. The expected response of the courts is an illustrative example of both how courts have misapplied Tennessee’s Constitution, and the importance of addressing that problem going forward.

Both the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions address unequal treatment under the law. Despite the obvious differences in wording, Tennessee courts generally think that the Tennessee and U.S. equal protection guarantees are identical, meaning that if discriminating against out-of-towners is OK under the U.S. Constitution, then it is OK under the Tennessee Constitution. This is a shame. State constitutions were expected to afford citizens greater rights than those under the federal constitution. One that did nothing more than the U.S. Constitution would be frivolous.

The U.S. Constitution and Tennessee Constitution were prompted by a very different set of circumstances. The U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was part of the Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War to protect newly freed slaves. Tennessee’s prohibition against “private laws,” that is, laws that benefit some people but not others, was added in 1835, long before the U.S. got around to guaranteeing equal treatment. It was aimed at curbing the General Assembly’s habitual practice of passing preferential laws for certain individuals. Frustrated by the unfairness of preferential laws and, frankly, how time consuming it was to pass laws that just benefitted one party, the Tennessee Constitutional Convention tried to end the practice with this constitutional provision. The preferential laws mentioned at the Convention were all aimed at bestowing some financial benefit to someone, like giving them valuable liquor licenses, fish traps, and mill dams. After the 1835 convention, if liquor was going to be legally sold, then the legislature had to make it legal for everyone. No more would the legislature be able to single out certain groups for favorable treatment.

This takes us back to the local hire amendment. If the amendment passes, Davidson County workers would be given preference under the law. If you live in a surrounding county, you could be denied work simply based on where you live. The amendment’s discriminatory character isn’t hidden; discrimination is the essence of it. This would be an obvious case of unequal treatment under the law. It creates an enormous financial benefit for Davidson County workers who are friendlier with the unions that are, not coincidentally, behind the amendment in the first place. We have not come far from 1835, only instead of fish traps and liquor licenses, here the politically connected seek to benefit from preferences in public works projects.

Local hire may be acceptable under the U.S. Constitution, but courts should be far more skeptical of it under the Tennessee Constitution. A court would not scrutinize the amendment’s naked discrimination against out-of-town residents under the U.S. Constitution (the Fourteenth Amendment) with the same rigor that it would with racially discriminatory legislation—an unfortunate reality, but hardly surprising given the Fourteenth Amendment’s historical origin. But if a court was no more rigorous in considering local hire under the Tennessee Constitution, then it is outright disappointing. After all, it was economic discrimination, not racial discrimination, which prompted the Private Bill provision in the first place. Courts should be extremely wary.

Nevertheless, Tennessee courts typically rule that there is no difference between the state and U.S. constitutions. This is bad history that can unfortunately lead obnoxious laws that really hurt working class people and do a disgrace to the basic right to be treated equally under the law. Tennessee’s Constitution is not merely redundant. It was crafted to put an end to laws that favor some at the expense of others. Time will tell if the Tennessee Constitution will regain its historical purpose and strength. If the local hire amendment passes, it may provide the fodder.

 Braden H. Boucek serves as General Counsel of the Beacon Center of Tennessee. He manages in-house legal matters and litigation for the Beacon Center, working to advance Beacon’s larger goal of promoting freedom and opportunity in Tennessee

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What happened at the Council meeting of July 28th: Boring zoning changes. Nothing of general interest.

There was a special council meeting on Tuesday July 28th to deal with the extraordinary large number of pending items on public hearing. When the current Council term ends, any pending rezoning items will have to start all over so that has led to a large number of rezoning request. The only items on the July 28th agenda were items on public hearing. To view the agenda, follow this link. There was no staff analysis accompanying this agenda or if there was it was not publicly posted. There were no zoning text changes or items of general interest so I have not even bothered to watch this council meeting. This is probably more boring than watching paint dry unless one of the proposed rezonings is next door to you. Anyway, here is the video of the meeting:

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Vote NO on Amendment 3

A coalition of 20 major business and professional organizations are actively opposing Amendment 3 to the Metro Nashville Charter during the Metro Elections, which end August the 6th.

The principle reasons for the Coalition’s opposition are:
  • Increased taxes 
  • Increased cost of Metro Nashville’s public construction projects 
  • Harm local employment 
  • Delay completion of construction projects creating additional traffic congestion and safety concerns
  • Harm Nashville’s current reputation as “the place to be” 
  • Harm Nashville’s continued economic growth and development 
 The coalition members are:
  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce 
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Tennessee 
  • Associated General Contractors of Tennessee 
  • Associated General Contractors of Middle Tennessee 
  • Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers 
  • American Institute of Architects – Tennessee Chapter 
  • American Institute of Architects – Middle Tennessee Chapter 
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee 
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee – Nashville Chapter 
  • Homebuilders Association of Middle Tennessee 
  • Tennessee Road Builders Association 
  • Nashville Business Coalition 
  • NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association 
  • Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry 
  • Tennessee Association of Landscape Architects  
  • International Facility Management Association – Nashville Chapter 
  • Building Owners and Managers Association – Nashville Chapter 
  • National Association of Women in Construction – Nashville Chapter 
  • Tennessee Hospitality Association 
  • Tennessee Business Roundtable 
 For more information on The Coalition for Fair Employment in Middle Tennessee and Amendment 3, CLICK HERE

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Rep. Bill Beck's drunk driving charge thrown out.

The Tennessean today reports that yesterday a judge threw out the drunken driving charge against freshman state Rep. Bill Beck on the basis that the police officer did not have probable cause to pull him over in the first place. Beck was arrested  arrested April 17 after the arresting officer said he spotted Beck's pickup truck traveling with two wheels in the turn lane. After the stop, the officer said Beck had bloodshot eyes, a disheveled appearance and slurred speech. Am I the only one who thinks that if that had been me, that the case would not have been thrown out. Police arrest people all of time for drunk driving claiming the car was swerving or driving over the line. The arresting officer said Beck was ""absolutely hammered."

Does anyone think maybe there was some special favoritism involved?

As a public service I am reposting tips from the Rod Williams school of drunk driving with an added tip, "Be a state representative or know some real important people."

Tips from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

(1) Don't Drive drunk. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else. Don’t do it. If you are lucky and don't kill someone or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children, or maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you, if at a friends house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night. 
Use the peer-to-peer livery services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient. You page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until your drunk to try to download the app.

If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people then have a designated driver. Pick the designated driver before you start drinking. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.

Having said all of the above however, I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk.

I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are driving impaired I am providing these tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(2) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not however, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(3) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” Some people will go out with the intention of getting drunk; others will accidentally get drunk.  If  you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner drink, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.
On occasion I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight beers in a four hour period, but it has happened.

A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(4)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. When I go to the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway to party, I never park on Broadway. I live on the south side of town, so I park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. This means I do not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(5) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are "drunk." You may have had enough to register drunk, so use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Being aware will cause you to compensate.
 
(6) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate

to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(7) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(8) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(9) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(10) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

(11) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk strait and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop. (link)

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(12) If you are seeing double, close one eye.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Report from Caffeinated Conservatives: What the at-large candidates had to say.

From Stephen Clement, host of Caffeinated Conservatives:

Hi everybody,

Our coffee talk with 6 candidates went well yesterday, and I wanted to report back what our candidates had to say for themselves. They were given 5 minutes to introduce themselves, and then we went to questions. These summaries are written to the best of my note-taking ability and memory. Please contact the candidates if you have any questions or comments for them.

Also, as I give points to those who choose to take the time to talk to us, I would like to point out that: 
- Don Majors was invited and did not respond 
- Sharon Hurt said she would be out of town on business
- Erin Coleman sent a representative, as driving on Saturday would violate the Sabbath for her. She reportedly contemplated walking from West Nashville, but her representative convinced her to let him just drive over.

What makes them awesome, as they said it:
Ken Jakes - wants to bring small business principles to the way the Council runs the city. Ken has been a government watchdog for years and will use his position to help root out corruption and waste.
John Lasiter - wants to focus on getting the basics right: better roads, sidewalks, transit, drainage, and fiscal management. No shiny new projects on his watch. He stated that he is a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, but that last part essentially has no impact on what the Council does. He loves everybody.
Bob Mendes - originally from Chicago, he built his own law practice, served on the Nashville Electric Service Board, and has drafted legislation for the Council in the past. While on the NES board, he helped outsource their internal auditing process, which found more cost savings opportunities for rate payers.
Phillip Hostettler - started his political career early by winning a string of student offices, once served as a Opryland horse-mounted police officer, and is conservative.
Jason Holleman - has served on the Council in his district since 2007, where he voted against the AMP, against the Convention Center, and sponsored legislation to save the Fairgrounds. He is a lawyer, and he believes that his experience on the Council (particularly in the mainstay of Council work, being zoning and land use) will be invaluable to the incoming class of Council people.
Erin Coleman (her representative Paul Nye) - she is a fiscal conservative, believes in focusing the Council's efforts on things that actually work for everybody instead of nice-to-haves that aren't a real benefit. She served in the US Army as an engineer officer and has deployed to Iraq.

What do they think about the future of transit:
Ken Jakes - we should sync traffic lights to ease congestion, and work with CSX to build our light rail capacity to move people to/from outlying communities likes the Music City Star does.
John Lasiter - thinks the AMP presented the wrong kind of idea and would rather focus on making what we have work better.
Bob Mendes - spoke about a multi-modal approach, including light rail, more bus service, giving everyone a bus pass to get them to try it, and not being afraid to try out ideas so we can see what works. Thinks we need to really push park & ride programs.
Phillip Hostettler - interested in copying the efficient practices of private companies like Uber, Lyft, and Blue Bus (who can take you to Atlanta for $4).
Jason Holleman - wants buses to be equipped with credit card swipers so everyone can use it, like the Music City STAR, and instead of using the $200 million the Mayor wanted for the AMP on building a deluxe line for a small part of town, he'd rather spend that $200 million to upgrade service for the entire county.
Erin Coleman - no statement given.

Are you for reducing the Council size and extending term limits, as in the proposed Charter Amendments?
Ken Jakes - yes on reducing, no on term limits.
John Lasiter - is torn on the issue and doesn't like the way the amendments are written. For instance, reducing the Council size will make each Council person responsible for more people, but the Council does not pay enough to be a full time job.
Bob Mendes - yes on both.
Phillip Hostettler - no on both.
Jason Holleman - yes on both.
Erin Coleman - no statement given.
What do you think about innovative businesses like Uber and Lyft? (this is a litmus test to see how free market a politician is, as the taxi companies and unions tried to get the Council to hamstring any competitors to their monopoly of the professional driver industry)
Ken Jakes - loves it.
John Lasiter - loves it.
Bob Mendes - loves it.
Phillip Hostettler - loves it.
Jason Holleman - likes it, and thinks this opens the issue for discussion on overall regulation of the professional driver industry.
Erin Coleman - loves it.

What do you think about an inclusionary zoning mandate, as currently pushed by the Council?
Ken Jakes - against it, doesn't want the government taking away property rights.
John Lasiter - was shocked to find himself in 100% agreement with Ken Jakes on something. He is fine with incentives, but not mandates.
Bob Mendes - for it, as he helped draft the bill the Council is using, and pointed out that the government puts restrictions on all of our property rights all the time. Pointed out that he wants incentives, not mandates.
Phillip Hostettler - against it.
Jason Holleman - he's for it.
Erin Coleman - torn on the issue.

Are you for or against the proposed local hire Charter Amendment?
Ken Jakes - for it.
John Lasiter - torn on the issue.
Bob Mendes - torn on the issue, as he would like jobs to go to local workers first and not out of towners, but given the restrictions on the Charter Amendment, he thinks its overkill to amend our Charter for an issue that impacts maybe 900 workers.
Phillip Hostettler - for it.
Jason Holleman - torn on the issue.
Erin Coleman - torn on the issue.

Are you for two-term Metro Council members being able to keep Metro health care insurance for life? (this is heavily subsidized by the taxpayers, to the tune of $1 million per year)
Ken Jakes - against it.
John Lasiter - for it.
Bob Mendes - against it.
Phillip Hostettler - against it.
Jason Holleman - against it.
Erin Coleman - against it.

I hope you have found this helpful in picking which At-Large candidates you would like to vote for this election.

Stephen Clements & Terry Torre
Caffeinated Conservatives

Stephen Clements is himself a candidate for Councilman in District 7. 

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Kathleen Starnes: Why I am supporting David Fox for Mayor of Nashville

Kathleen Starnes
Dear Friends;

 I would like to take a minute to tell you why I am supporting David Fox for Mayor of Nashville.

 If you’ve been following the news in the this week, you know The Tennessean ranked him as a Top 3 candidate and polls show David can win! Here’s why I am asking you to help make that happen.

After years of tremendous and exciting growth, Nashville is at a critical point, where rapid expansion threatens to consume what is special about the city we love. If we don’t act quickly to shore up infrastructure—including transit, water pipes and sewers—our special quality of life will erode. And we must make these improvements at a time when we have a record amount of debt on the books. David Fox is the only fiscally conservative candidate committed to protecting our city from excessive debt, $3 billion+ of unfunded liabilities, and the risk of higher property taxes. David brings a unique set of skills to the financial challenges facing our city. Furthermore, his service as chairman of the Metro Nashville Public School board gives him a head start when it comes to improving public education. He became school board chairman just as the state was on the verge of taking over our nearly non-functioning school system, which is 40% of Metro's entire budget. He is also a business man in the Financial field.

I hope you will consider David Fox as our next Mayor for Nashville. He is the only fiscally conservative of the 3.

GO VOTE!! (All Politics is local)

Kathleen Starnes

Kathleen Starnes is the former chair of the Davidson County Republican Party.  

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David Fox to address Conservative Groups, Thursday July 30, 2015 from 5:30 - 7:15

From Tony Roberts:
David Fox
Our meeting has moved back to Logan’s steak house on Elliston place. The meeting will be held Thursday July 30, 2015 from 5:30 - 7:15. Thursday, July 30 we will hear from Straw poll winning candidate for the Mayoral Race, David Fox, and Senator Mae Beavers. 
David Fox will discuss his platform in the role of the Mayor of Nashville featuring his ideas for the future growth of Nashville, and identifying how to achieve these goals while keeping taxes low. His platform encompasses education, safe neighborhoods, and improving the infrastructure of the city.  Here is one thing you need to know about David Fox: Of the six candidates running for mayor, he may be the only one who doesn't think the recent boom years have Nashville pointed in the right direction. He is concerned, to put it lightly, about the billions of dollars in debt and unfunded liabilities the city is carrying into the future. He thinks the 30-year experiment with an elected school board, of which he was once the chairman, has been a failure, and he's calling for a discussion about a wide expansion of charter schools. He envisions a "complete redo" on public transportation.

Senator Mae Beavers will discuss the truth in the legislature of Tennessee and the proposal of protecting our servicemen on the grounds in the United States and Tennessee.

Beavers is "solidly" pro-life, a pro-Second Amendment activist, a supporter of lower government spending and the abolition of state income taxation, and a proponent of tougher laws and measures against illegal immigrants.  Beavers as well as current congressmen and former state legislators Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black were known as the "Angry B's" during the Tennessee income tax debate, and were credited with helping stop the passage of a state income tax. Beavers also strongly opposed the 2010 health care reform legislation proposals, sponsoring instead the Tennessee Health Freedom Act in order to protect "a citizen’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare
We will follow with candidates running for Metro office. Some leaders of groups who will be supporting council races will be in attendance. The City Council helps to set the pace of monetary expenditures for Davidson County. We are in a spending path similar to Washington, D.C. and if we do not pay attention to our council, we like many cities in California will go down the path of bankruptcy. Come and listen to our council candidates and help to vet the future of Davidson County.
Please RSVP to Tonyr549@hotmail.com .

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Bellevue Republican Breakfast Club meets this Saturday

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Ignore the recommendations of Nashville United for All

Rick Williams
The Tennessean today reports that the Rick Williams, treasurer of the group Nashville United for All  incorrectly filed the groups financial disclosure with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance when it should have filed it's financial disclosure with the Davidson County Election Commission (link).

Rick Williams is well know among those politically active in Nashville and beyond. For years Rick was active as a Democrat but in the last couple or so years switched his allegiance to the Republican Party. He was also active in the effort to end price fixing for livery service, opposed the AMP, and was active in efforts to save the fair grounds. For those efforts, I commend him. Williams is a registered lobbyist. 

Nashville United for All  apparently is not the same organization as Nashville for All of Us which was the organization that led the effort to stop the English-only effort of 2011, dispite similar sounding names. Nashville United for All has endorsed a mixed slate of candidates, most of whom however are the more liberal candidate in a contested race.Without explanation, in some districts they made endorsements and in most did not. Of their endorsements,

The group recently produced a flier urging people to vote for a slate of candidates. The group did not endorse a candidate for mayor but endorsed the following list of council candidates: Vice mayoral candidate Tim Garrett; At-large council candidates Lonnell Matthews, John Cooper, Jim Shulman, Erica Gilmore and Don Majors; District 5 candidate Scott Davis; District 8 candidate Chris Swann; District 15 candidate Jim Garrett; District 17 candidate Chris Cotton; District 19 candidate Keith Caldwell; District 29 candidate Karen Johnson; District 32 candidate Jacobia Dowell; District 33 candidate Sam Coleman; District 13 candidate Furtesha Carter; District 21 candidate Ed Kindall.

Several of the candidates they endorsed do not have opposition. Of the candidates in contested races where they endorsed, I am supporting only Tim Garrett, Scott Davis, and Sam Coleman. Despite Rick Williams association with this group, I would urge voters to disregard this list of recommendations. They did not endorse solid conservatives like Ken Jakes or Robert Duvall but instead endorse liberals like John Cooper, brother of Jim Cooper, Erica Gilmore and Lonnell Matthews. In the 17th they endorsed Chris Cotton, Regional Vice Chair of the Davidson County Democratic Party, over conservative Tony Watson.

The Tennessean reports that Council at-large candidates John Cooper and Jim Shulman, have confirmed they paid the group around $1,000 and $2,500 respectively to help distribute the flyer. Despite Rick Williams being a friend of mine, I would urge everyone not to be swayed by the recommendations from this group.  Who are they? What do they stand for? They give no reason why one should support their slate of candidates. There seems to be no logic or consistency to their endorsements and in my view, in most cases, they endorsed the wrong candidates. 

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Is a dirty cop the kind of person who should serve in the Metro Council.

Randy Reed, "bad cop"
In Council district 7 in a three man-race pitting incumbent Anthony Davis against challenger Stephen Clement and Randy Reed, one of the three is a "dirty cop."  Here is  information that people living District 7 should know about Randy Reed:
On December 5, 2005 James Denham had picked up a prostitute, smoked crack, and then attempted two robberies before leading Metro Nashville officers on a car chase that ended at the Demonbreun Street Bridge. Metro Police Sergeant William Randy Reed straddled Denham and crouched over him to apply handcuffs. Just then, the officer's gun shot and discharged accidentally. A single bullet shot off Denham's thumb and then entered his back. Denham died of his injuries and his 12-year-old daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. Nashville Metro has agreed to pay $100,000 to Denham's daughter. (link)
After putting Reed on a desk job for a while, he was fired.

This may be reason enough to conclude that Randy Reed should not serve on the Metro Council, but one could conclude it was an accidental shooting, not murder. He was not charged with a crime. And, if one was callous, one might say, "another piece of trash off the streets."  Still, it was a wrongful shooting and the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit.  If that was all there was, that would be bad enough but that is not all there is. It is worst.  

This is from The Tennessean archives:

On Feb. 1, 1973, Reed answered a call on Crenshaw Street in Nashville, a short, dark alley near Lafayette Street, moments after Cedric Overton, 21, was shot four times by a rookie Metro officer. The rookie officer said Overton had moved suddenly with a metal object in his hand.  But when officers searched the man, they found that Overton was unarmed, police said at the time.
Reed, after searching the area, claimed to have found the knife near Overton's body, possibly under pressure from a sergeant, according to published reports.
An internal review by Metro police officials determined that the knife was planted. Reed was suspended for 30 days under a provision of department policy that includes dishonesty, immoral conduct and insubordination, department records indicate. The officer who shot Overton was fired, and a sergeant retired within days of the incident.
This should never be acceptable!  It is amazing that a police officer can plant a knife on the scene, framing a dead man, have the department conclude he did it and still only get a 30-day suspension! I hope that would not be the outcome if such was to happen today.  Planting evidence should be "one strike and your out."  There should be no second chance.  A 30-day suspension should be for padding your time sheet or unlawfully using a police vehicle for personal errands or missing roll call too many times.  Officers found guilty of planting evidence at the scene of a crime should not only lose their job, they should go to prison!  This should be a deadly serious matter. With "justice" like this, one can understand the distrust of the police by many in the Black community and the militancy of many Blacks.  One can understand the "Black lives matter" mantra.

Randy Read list has his qualification for serving in the Council as "my 30-plus years on the police department." The truth is he was a bad cop.  He got away with planting evidence and that should be a crime, and he killed someone in a killing that was a "wrongful death."  That is in the past and nothing can be done about it now, but he does not deserve to become a leader of our city and serve on the Metro Council.

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Nashville Mayor race three-way tie for top spot: Barry, Fox, Freeman.

From the Tennessean, July 26:

But a new poll — one funded by an outside special interest group, not a mayoral campaign — says it's now a three-way statistical tie for first. And Freeman, the poll says, is no shoo-in to make a run-off.

A poll obtained by The Tennessean that was funded by the Tennessee Laborers PAC, which hasn't endorsed in the mayor's race but leans to the left, has Megan Barry in first with 20 percent of support from likely voters, followed by David Fox at 19 percent and Freeman at 18 percent. That puts the three in a statistical dead heat for the top spot. (link)
David Fox has ran a masterful campaign and followed his plan. Early on when Fox was at about 6% in the polls, near the bottom of the pack, he held back.  His plan all along was to wait until the public started paying attention and then launch his ad campaign. It worked. He held back until June then started his ad campaign and has steady climbed in the polls. That took discipline.

I am supporting David Fox.  He is the only candidate expressing concern about Nashville's growing debt and the $3 billion unfunded pension and health benefits obligations facing the city.  He also seems like the candidate least likely to raise taxes and he is the only candidate who has said he would not use eminent domain for redevelopment. While the last item may not concern too many people, I want to elect a mayor who respects basic property rights. Fox also is favorably inclined to seek out-sourcing and public-private partnerships to save money and solve public problems. I have set down and had a private conversation with David Fox that lasted almost an hour and half.  We talked about education, transportation, crime, development and more.  While Fox may not be as socially conservative as I would like, he is a real fiscal conservative.  Beyond that, he is smart and thoughtful. He would solve Nashville's problems, such as our crumbling infrastructure,  that is often being ignored in this campaign.  He has experience in improving public education and has a passion for it. You can learn more about Fox's position on the issues by following this link.

Several people I know have told me they are supporting either Linda Eskind Rebrovick or Jeremy Kane in this race. The most recent poll shows Rebrovick at 7% and Kane at 3%.  Face it; they are not going to make the run off. Polls do not get it that wrong.  Rebrovick would most likely be my second choice if Fox was not in the race. I like her business success and her tech approach to addressing Nashville's problems.  Kane would also be a good second choice simply due to his success with charter schools and the importance of education.  Kane would make a good chairman of the school board or director of schools, but I do not think he is the person for mayor. In any event, Rebrovick nor Kane are going to make the runoff. If you are the least bit conservative or even moderate, you do not want to see the run-off be between Barry and Freeman.  At this point I am undecided which I would least prefer be mayor. Both are extremely liberal. Both, I fear, would continue Nashville's growing debt liability. Both would likely seek major tax increases.  If you do not want to be given a choice between Megan Barry and Bill Freeman in the run-off, then please vote for David Fox.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Francis Guess, Republican civil servant, business leader, civil rights advocate, deed at 69. RIP

Published July 24, 2015 by NashvillePost.c... - Francis Guess — a revered titan among Nashville’s civic leaders — has died at his home. He was 69.

Known largely as a civil rights advocate and humanitarian, Guess served on the National Civil Rights Commission and as the first African-American commissioner for the Tennessee departments of Labor and General Services under then-Gov. Lamar Alexander.

Guess, a Nashville native, worked in military intelligence with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict. He would later earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. Eventually, he completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University.

In the public sector, Guess, a Republican, served 30 years....(link)

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Support Melissa Smithson in District 28


Good afternoon!

I am honored to announce we received two more endorsements in the last few weeks with Women in Numbers and Greater Nashville Association of Realtors.  And again, thank you Fraternal Order of Police and Nashville Fire Union Local 140 for the endorsements and support as well!

Our platform is simple:  I want to be a servant to the citizens of District 28, to be their voice at council and bring back much needed services to the area: road maintenance, sidewalks, businesses, safety, and establish parks and places where families and neighbors can come together.
We are only 13 days away from the election on August 6th and only 8 days of early voting left, which ends on August 1st!  We have met so many of the great neighbors of the District, but we continue to need your help in order to continue the momentum!  
We are once again running a ‘$28 for District 28’ Marathon.  If you could help by contributing just $28 by midnight Monday to help us achieve our next goal, it will make a huge difference in our voter contact program in the next week!  If you can help out with $50, $100, it is deeply appreciated!
P.S. If you've already given to the campaign, THANK YOU! Please consider another small donation of $28 to help us have a strong showing for our online event!

Please visit our website - www.smithsonforcouncil.com to donate, volunteer, or if you need a sign!  As always, asking for your TRUST and VOTE in representing District 28.
Thank you!
Melissa

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Join me in Columbus, Ohio for the Defending the American Dream Summit, August 20- 22.

 

Last year I missed the trip to Dallas for the Defending the American Dream Summit. Given unforeseen circumstances related to my wife's health, I intend to go to this one! I have already been awarded a scholarship.  With a scholarship, for only $29 one can attend the conference including the event, lodging, travel and most meals. We will be traveling on a chartered bus which will be a great opportunity to network and enjoy the company of local like-minded people. At the conference, one will hear speeches from most of the Republican presidential candidates. In addition there are several break-out sessions on how to be a better activist and various other topics. Schlorships are still available. To sign up, follow this link: http://bit.ly/1esZkyA.

For more information see Americans for Prosperity - Tennessee.  

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What happened at the July 21 Council meeting? Housing price and rent control advances.




At 4 hours and 40 minutes long this is a long meeting. Most of it is hearings on zoning matters and I have just skimmed those quickly.  To watch the meeting at a faster speed but if not offered that option, follow this link  and click HTML5. That should then give you that option. I can usually watch it at double speed and not lose much content. One thing that makes this a long meeting is that the voting machine is not working and all roll call votes have to be taken by a show of hands.

To find a link to the agenda, the council staff analysis and my analysis and commentary follow this link.

Here are the items on public hearing of interest:

BILL NO. BL2015-1153 on amends the metro zoning code to provide for more alternative zoning districts. The purpose of this is so that neighborhoods can be rezoned to allow a more pedestrian friendly environment and a more urban feel without requiring a SP zoning overlay. Some of the new zoning districts address things such as smaller lots, alley access, and setbacks.It passes. No one speaks on it.

BILL NO. BL2015-1209  on public hearing which would rezone 525 acres from in North Nashville from  AR2a and R10 to SP zoning to SP to permit a mixed use development is withdrawn at the request of the sponsor because the area has not undergone a Master Plan process for the Bordeaux Redevelopment District.

BILL NO. BL2015-1210  on public hearing amends the Metro zoning code to create “natural gas compressor station” as a new use to be permitted in the industrial zoning districts. That would mean they would be permitted only in industrial zoned districts. The impetus for this is to stop a proposed gas compression station planned in Joelton. There are a whole lot of people in support and a few in opposition. Those in opposition are people associated with the gas line project. State Rep Brenda Gilmore speaks in support and their are about 40 people wearing yellow tee shirts with the slogan "no pipeline compressor" in the audience and several speak in support. Without this bill the pipeline companies could build gas compression stations wherever they thought they were needed, subject to getting a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  However, the staff analysis says that Federal law prohibits local governments from regulating natural gas facilities through zoning so even if passed the courts would likely rule it not enforceable.  See the public hearing see time stamp at time stamp 1:36:07 where Ken Jakes, citizen activist and candidate for Councilman at-large, speaks in favor. It passes second reading on a voice vote. For the full discussion see time stamp 52:21- 1:59:34.

BILL NO. BL2015-1273 creates the Bordeaux Redevelopment Plan which would cover an area of 525 acres and would allow Tax Increment financing to be available in the area covered by this plan. Under TIF the increased property tax revenue generated by a development is used to pay the debt service on loans for the construction of improvements related to the project. Redevelopment plans must be approved by the council under state law for the purpose of redeveloping blighted areas. It passes.

BILL NO. BL2015-1274   approves the Cayce Place Redevelopment Plan. Casey Homes is one of the cities oldest and worst public housing projects, just off of Shelby Avenue. This plan would demolish that housing and replace it with a mixed income housing development. As explained above, this would make TIF available for this development. It passes.
  
BILL NO. BL2015-1167  by Councilman Scott Davis changes from SP to RS5 zoning on about 238 acres. “Specific Plan District,” generally known as “SP,” zoning refers to a type of base zoning district which is not subject to traditional zoning districts’ development standards. Under an SP zoning, design standards are established for that specific development and are written into the zone change ordinance. RS5 is a medium density residential zone requiring a minimum 5,000 square foot lot and intended for single-family dwellings, prohibiting duplexes. This is deferred to the August 4th meeting.

BILL NO. BL2015-1168 on public hearing also by Councilman Scott Davis effects about 636 acres and would change the current zoning by making applicable the provisions of the DADU overlay. DADU allows for accessory dwelling units, such as garage apartments, on a property and provides a way to create affordable housing options while also maintaining the character of the existing street-facing homes. It is also deferred to the August 4th meeting.

Resolutions on the consent agenda pass. Included are these:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1573 appropriates $2,150,000 from four percent account of the General Fund to fund 30 different non-profit organizations. To receive funding a non-profit had to apply and their application was scored. Most to the funds go to fund after school programs that serve disadvantaged children but also lots of other causes get funding such as Second Harvest, Fifty Forward, and ARC. There is no funding for the liberal political advocacy "charities" such as the Neighborhood Resource Center or any organization of that kind and there is no funding for Planned Parenthood. I assume the process of selecting which charities get the money is a fair process and see no reason to oppose this appropriations. It passes.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1575 is a tax giveaway to benefit HCA. See the staff analysis for the mechanics on how this works. It passes.
These are resolutions of interest not on consent:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1572 appropriates $1.86 million from the undesignated fund balance to fund some items not included in the recently passed annual operating budget. This is unusual. Somebody screwed up and left this money out of the budget.  The bulk of it is to fund pay plan improvements, but $375K is an additional subsidy for the show Nashville. It passes on a voice vote.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1574  gives $875,000 to subsidize season 4 of the TV show Nashville. This is in addition to $340,000 from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation and $335,000 from the Events and Marketing Fund and the $375,000 included in Resolution RS2015-1572 above. It overwhelming passes by a show of hands.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by Charlie Tygard request the  Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council upon Council and committee meeting attendance.
     
    Recently, Channel 5 did an investigative piece and revealed that some Council members almost never attend committee meetings. As Tygard said, "It's not fair for certain council members to do all of the homework and others to get the same rate of pay and do nothing of the work.”

    With a large council, the council must have a strong committee system.  It is in committee where the real work of the Council is done. It is in committee where the council can ask hard questions and get answers.  There is no way a council member can know all there is to know about the  bills on the agenda. Some of the Councilmen said they had regular jobs and could  not take off work to attend committee meetings. In my view, if a council member does not have flexibility in his job to attend to his council duties, he should not run for council.  If he cannot attend Council committee meetings he should resign from the council. The worst offenders were Emily Evans, who missed 83 committee meetings since 2013, Robert Duvall, who's missed 93 committee meetings in that time period, and Sean McGuire, who's missed 132 committee meetings since 2013! Among the top twelve members with the worst attendance records was Council member-at-large and Mayoral candidate Megan Barry. This resolution was on the agenda for two meetings and was deferred both times and is now back on the agenda. To see the discussion see time stamp 2:55:30. It failed by a vote of 6 against defeat of the bill-25 for defeat with 2 abstentions on a roll call. When available, I will post how members voted.  
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1515 as amended by Charlie Tygard requests the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to require full-time Davidson County elected officials to submit an annual report to the Metro Clerk detailing the dates they worked. A recent report in The Tennessean revealed that many elected officials often do not work. This was discovered by an examination of when they used there swipe card to gain access to their office. It passes on a roll call vote.
All bills on First Reading pass as is customary.

There are 26 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones I find interesting:
  • BILL NO. BL2013-569 amends the zoning text as it relates to car sales lots, car washes, auto repair centers and maybe some others. It does a lot of things including dictating the type of fence or wall that is permitted in front of the establishment, to requiring at least 1,000 feet between car lots. This bill was disproved by the planning commission. It was first introduced in October 2013 and was deferred several times and then deferred indefinitely on March 4th 2014. It was placed back on the agenda on July 7th and then deferred to this meeting. While a lot of people think that when a bill is deferred indefinitely that means it is defeated, that is not the case. Months later when the interested parties have stopped paying attention a deferred bill can be resurrected and placed back on the agenda. It is deferred one meeting.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1212  would prohibit the sale of single cans or bottles of beer by off-sale permit holders located within 100 feet of a facility that provides food to homeless persons. I oppose this type of bureaucratic micro-management. This is deferred one meeting.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1277 as substituted says that if someone donates art work to Nashville, valued at over $5,000 or will have an installation cost or maintenance cost of over $5000, then it must be approved by the Council after having been approved by the Arts Commission. It passes on a voice vote.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1278 would allow the Council to grant a waiver from the distance requirements that apply to beer retailers. Currently places selling beer must be a certain distance from churches, schools, day care centers, parks and homes. The only time the Council can grant a waiver from these requirements is if the establishment already has a State liquor license. This would allow an applicant to appeal for a waiver just as those establishments with  liquor license are now permitted to do.  It passes.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1279  by Council member Blalock, says that if a place has a beer permit and a school moves within the 100 feet of the establishment with the beer license then the establishment does not lose its beer license. It is deferred.
These are the bills of interest on Third and final reading:

  • SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2015-1120  would expand where one may build secondary dwelling units. This would amend the zoning code to create a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU) Overlay District. I think this is a positive development and it is one way to increase density and increase the stock of affordable housing. While I oppose price fixing to increase affordable housing, I do think increasing the stock of affordable housing is a worthwhile goal. Also, if Nashville is to grow and avoid massive urban sprawl and if Nashville is going to ever have adequate mass transit, and if we are to afford the services we want and need, without massive tax increases, we need greater population density. Some, however, raise the issue of parking, road capacity, sewer capacity and maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods as reasons to oppose greater density. It is deferred.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1121 would permit "Artisan manufacturing" in a whole bunch of zoning districts that now permit manufacturing. It would allow people to live and work in these districts and sets standards such as parking requirements and screening requirement for loading docks when such would adjoin residential areas. I think this is a good bill. It is approved.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1129  would establish a Codes Offender School, much like we have a traffic violations school or a "John's School" for those arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. I don't feel strongly one way or the other. I am not sure codes violators would benefit from a codes school the same way a traffic violator or solicitors of prostitution benefits from school. Apparently the fee paid by the "student" would cover the cost of the program. It is approved.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1139 is the bill that advances housing price control known as "inclusionary zoning." This directs the Planning Department to create rules and regulation that implement "inclusionary zoning" and directs that such rules establish that 14% of the units in any new development or renovation of existing developments or conversion of existing rental developments to for-purchase units, be set aside as "affordable."  It define "affordable," as affordable to someone making between 60% and 120% of the area median area income. The effect of this is that the cost all new developments would increase and development of new residential property would be slowed and prices of all new development would increase. Housing prices would increase for everyone else not eligible for a set-aside priced house to cover the subsidy to the set-aside homes. Obviously some people who can now afford new housing will not be able to do so. You cannot lower the price of some housing without raising the price of other housing. The final rules established by the Planning Commission would have to go back to the Council for approval. It is my understanding that State law would have to be changed before Metro could do this, however that is not certain. This is one of the worst bills ever considered by the Council! On second reading it passed by a vote of 27 to 11. 
Councilman Tygard moves to amend the bill to establish a committee of stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commence and lenders and developers to work with the consultants over the next 180 days to help craft the proposal that will come back to the Council. Anthony Davis and Ronnie Stein speak against the amendment. The amendment fails on a roll call vote! Back on original bill Emily Evans urges caution on this bill and says it could have unintended consequences. Claiborne moves to defer one meeting. That motion fails on a roll call, then Councilman Clairborne attempts to suspend the rules to move to amend out the 14% set aside mandate in the bill. The effort to suspend the rules fails. The bill is then passed on a roll call vote.

Council members Phil Claiborne, Robert Duvall, Tony Tenpenny and Charlie Tygard were the lone "no" votes. I am disgusted that those council member who claim to be conservatives voted for this bill. To see the discussion see time stamp 3:49:32- 4:18:25
Here is The Tennessean's report on the meeting: Metro Council approves affordable housing bill.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Is Bill Freeman flying Black ministers to D.C to meet President Obama?

I honestly don't know. I have resisted the urge to run with a story on this blog unless I could substantiate it. After about eight years of blogging, only once I have I reported something as factual and then had to retract it. In this post I am simply reporting a rumor. This is a "word on the street" report and I do not know if it is true or not. I have heard this rumor from three different sources and the sources told me where they heard it. It sounds believable. The rumor is that Bill Freeman has flown several local Black ministers to Washington for a meet and greet with President Obama.

As one of the nation's leading raiser of funds for President Obama, I do not doubt that Freeman could call in such a favor. As a person who has shown he will spend whatever it takes and do whatever it takes to get elected, I do not think it beyond something Bill Freeman would do.  On the other hand, I think if it was true some of the Black ministers could not have resisted posting a selfie or bragging about their meeting with Obama on Facebook, so I don't know if it is true or not. 

If I had the time and a staff, I would try to track down this rumor and determine if it is true. I don't so I am simply reporting what is being rumored. If anyone can refute or confirm this rumor please post a reply or contact me at Rodwilliams47@yahoo.com. I urge The Tennessean or some other news organization with resource to investigate this. 

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Why affordable housing mandates don’t work

by Wood Caldwell, For The Tennessean, July 20, 2015 - Metro Council may pass an ordinance Tuesday evening that will make Nashville’s current affordable housing situation worse.

The ordinance — # BL2015-1139 — would mandate that 14 percent of the units in all new or renovated residential real estate in Nashville/Davidson County be set aside as “Affordable Housing” or “Workforce Housing,” which means they must be rented or sold at below-market rates.

While it may sound like an attractive idea to simply mandate that Nashville’s affordable housing issues disappear by councilmatic decree, the reality is anything but attractive.(link)
Since The Tenneseean's content is now hidden behind a paywall and you may not be able to access this article I will summarize it. Here are the main points:
  • This is  basically a tax on the development of residential real estate and the more you tax any activity, the less of it you get.
  • Affordable housing has to be subsidized by someone. Artificially reducing rent for 14 percent of the residents in a development means the other 86 percent have to make up the difference by paying above-market rates.
  • There is still affordable housing in the Nashville, but maybe not where one wants to live. If you want affordable housing you may have to live in Madison or Antoch rather than Greenhills or Downtown.
Unfortunately, the ordinance passed Tuesday night with only Council members Phil Claiborne, Robert Duvall, Tony Tenpenny and Charlie Tygard voting against it. The money we are going to spend on consultants to develop this price control ordinance and the effort expended in advancing this proposal for rent and housing price control  may have been wasted. At an event for Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to speak to several state legislators. State law may already prohibit this type price control and if it does not, such legislation may be introduced to prohibit it. City government and our Metro Council would have been wise to ensure what they were proposing was legal before advancing this price control proposal. This is not over. Now may be the time to direct attention to the State legislature to stop this move before it further advances. The Council and Metro legal would have been wise to seek a determination of the legality of this objective before advancing it. If this is passes it is likely to result in less affordable housing, not more.
 

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VICTORY: School Choice Wins at North Carolina Supreme Court

Ruling Empowers Thousands of Low-Income Families to Choose the Best Education for their Children

Institute for Justice press release- Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program is constitutional. The program, which was enacted in 2013, helps low-income parents to afford private school for their children whose needs aren’t being met by public schools. Today’s decision reverses a ruling by the Wake County Superior Court, and settles any doubts about the constitutionality of the program going forward.

“When it enacted this scholarship program, the North Carolina legislature joined nearly 20 other states that have seen the wisdom of giving parents additional educational opportunities for their children,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dick Komer, who is lead counsel for two families who intervened in the case. “The great thing about school choice programs like North Carolina’s is that school districts can no longer take low-income students’ continued attendance for granted. Today’s decision means that families using scholarships not only get access to schools better able to meet their children’s unique needs, but the districts now have an incentive to better serve their students. School choice benefits all students.”

The Opportunity Scholarship Program provides scholarships of up to $4,200 to low-income families to send their children to a private school of their choice. A cloud has hung over the program since February 2014, when Judge Robert Hobgood put the program on hold and then ruled the program unconstitutional in August 2014. The families represented by the Institute for Justice brought their appeal of Judge Hobgood’s decision to the Court of Appeals, which allowed the program to continue while the court considered the cases. In a surprise move, the Supreme Court took the cases before they were heard before the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court held that the North Carolina constitution “specifically envisions that children in our state may be educated by means outside of the public school system.” Indeed, the Court recognized that not only do the North Carolina families receiving these scholarships benefit from them, but that the “ultimate beneficiary” is the citizens of North Carolina.

Now, eligible families will be able to send their children to private schools that serve their needs, and the entire state will benefit from this new program.

“The battle to save the Opportunity Scholarship Program was hard-fought for over a year,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty. “This fledgling program can now serve North Carolina citizens for years to come by ensuring that parents have the freedom to choose educational options that meet their needs.”
IJ client Cynthia Perry will be sending her daughter, Faith, to a private school with an Opportunity Scholarship.

“This program has made it possible for Faith to leave the public schools and to attend a school that is right for her, and we could not be happier that the Court recognized parents’ right to choose the best school for their child,” said Perry. “Faith’s future is now brighter because of the Court’s decision.”

More information on the case is available at:  http://www.ij.org/ncchoice.  Institute for Justice is one of those organization that I support with my advocacy dollars. IJ has been active in Nashville, defending  Metro Livery against price-fixing  by our Metro Council that attempted to protect existing limo companies from competition and defending Joy Ford from the abuse of MDHA's use of eminent domain. There are members of our school board and other forces in Nashville and in Tennessee that are adamantly opposed to school choice. When the political process fails to support free enterprise, property rights, and parental choice it is good to know that there is an organization like IJ that can take the fight to the courts to protect basic freedoms. A victory in North Carolina may mean we do not have to refight the same battle in Tennessee. Rod

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Monday, July 20, 2015

What is on the July 21th Council agenda? Home price fixing know as "inclusionary zoning," lots more spendiing, DADU, TIF financing, and more.

The most important item on the agenda is the bill to advance rent control and home price control. Last Council meeting it passed on Second reading by a vote of 27 in favor and ll opposed. Disappointingly, several of the "yes" votes were people who I normally think of as conservative, people like Larry Hager and Josh Stites.  I hope those "good" councilmen, have seen the light and will vote against the bill this time. This is one of the worst bills, one of the most liberal bills, ever advanced in the Council.  I have had one member tell me he voted for it because it only authorized a study.  That is not correct. The bill tells the Planning Commission what should be in the bill they bring back to the Council.  Another council member said he was going to vote for it because it was simply "feel good" legislation and the State legislature would never permit such a bill to become law.  I don't know that that is true and in any event we should not pass a bad bill in hopes that the state legislature prohibits it from being enacted.

If you don't know what the Metro Council is voting on and you watch a council meeting, you will find it really, really boring. If you have your own copy of the Council agenda and staff analysis I am not saying the meeting will exactly be exciting but it will be less boring. To get your own copies, follow the highlighted links.

There are six appointees to Boards and Commissions on the agenda for Council confirmation. This a pro forma exercise as the council seldom takes it's confirmation duties seriously and rubber stamps whomever the Mayor appoints rather than using the confirmation of mayoral appointees as an opportunity to influence policy.

There is one resolution and 36 bills on public hearing.  Most bills on pubic hearing are zoning bill and would usually concern no one but nearby neighbors.  I make no attempt to learn the pros and cons of every rezoning proposal.  However, occasionally there is a bill on public hearing that is so controversial as to merit attention, has wider impact than just the effected property, or changes the text to the code so that I do pay attention. These are the bills on public hearing that I find interesting:


  • BILL NO. BL2015-1153 amends the metro zoning code to provide for more alternative zoning districts. The purpose of this is so that neighborhoods can be rezoned to allow a more pedestrian friendly environment and a more urban feel without requiring a SP zoning overlay. Some of the new zoning districts address things such as smaller lots, alley access, and setbacks.

  • BILL NO. BL2015-1167  by Councilman Scott Davis changes from SP to RS5 zoning on about 238 acres. I am not even going to try to understand this and explain it or form an opinion on it. I am simply pointing it out because it involves so many properties. “Specific Plan District,” generally known as “SP,” zoning refers to a type of base zoning district which is not subject to traditional zoning districts’ development standards. Under an SP zoning, design standards are established for that specific development and are written into the zone change ordinance. RS5 is a medium density residential zone requiring a minimum 5,000 square foot lot and intended for single-family dwellings, prohibiting duplexes. I generally think it is a bad idea to change zoning to a zone that permits less density, but not knowing the details of the current SP, I do not know if this does that or not.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1168 also by Councilman Scott Davis effects about 636 acres and would change the current zoning by making applicable the provisions of the DADU overlay. DADU allows for accessory dwelling units, such as garage apartments, on a property and provides a way to create affordable housing options while also maintaining the character of the existing street-facing homes.  In general, I think this is good zoning and is a way to increase the stock of affordable housing without mandating developers build affordable units or engaging in price-fixing or rent control.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1273 creates the Bordeaux Redevelopment Plan which would cover an area of 525 acres and would allow Tax Increment financing to be available in the area covered by this plan. Under TIF the increased property tax revenue generated by a development is used to pay the debt service on loans for the construction of improvements related to the project. Redevelopment plans must be approved by the council under state law for the purpose of redeveloping blighted areas.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1274  approves the Cayce Place Redevelopment Plan. Casey Homes is one of the cities oldest and worst public housing projects, just off of Shelby Avenue. This plan would demolish that housing and replace it with a mixed income housing development. As explained above this would make TIF available for this development.
There are 12 resolution on the agenda all lumped together and put on the "consent agenda."  If a resolution does not pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously then it is not left on consent but is considered separately. Any council member may, from the floor, ask for a resolution to be pulled off of consent and then the resolution will be considered separately.  Here are the ones of interest.

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1572 appropriates $1.86 million from the undesignated fund balance to fund some items not included in the recently passed annual operating budget. This is unusual. Somebody screwed up and left this money out of the budget.  The bulk of it is to fund pay plan improvements, but $375K is an additional subsidy for the show Nashville.

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1573 appropriates $2,150,000 from four accounts of the General Fund to fund 30 different non-profit organizations. To receive funding a non-profit had to apply and their application was scored. Most to the funds go to fund after school programs that serve disadvantaged children but also lots of other causes get funding such as Second Harvest, Fifty Forward, and ARC. There is no funding for the liberal political advocacy  "charities" such as the Neighborhood Resource Center or any organization of that kind and there is no funding for Planned Parenthood. I assume the process of selecting which charities get the money is a fair process and see no reason to appose this appropriations. 
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1574  gives $875,000 to subsidize season 4 of the TV show Nashville. This is in addition to $340,000 from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation and $335,000 from the Events and Marketing Fund and the $375,000 included in Resolution RS2015-1572 above.


There are seven bills on first reading, but I don't look at them until second reading and I doubt many of the members of the Council do either. First reading is a formality to get the bill on the agenda and all bills on first reading are passed at one time in one motion.

There are 26 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones I find interesting:

  • BILL NO. BL2013-569 amends the zoning text as it relates to car sales lots, car washes, auto repair centers and maybe some others. It does a lot of things including dictation the type of fence or wall that is permitted in front of the establishment to requiring at least 1,000 feet between car lots. This bill was disproved by the planning commission. It was first introduced in October 2013 and was deferred several times and then deferred indefinitely on March 4th 2014. It was placed back on the agenda on July 7th and then deferred to this meeting. While a lot of people think that when a bill is deferred indefinitely that means it is defeated, that is not the case. Months later when the interested parties have stopped paying attention a deferred bill can be resurrected and placed back on the agenda. I don't know if this is a good bill or not, but interested parties should know that is back on the agenda.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1212  would prohibit the sale of single cans or bottles of beer by off-sale permit holders located within 100 feet of a facility that provides food to homeless persons. I oppose this type of bureaucratic micro-management. This should be defeated.

  • BILL NO. BL2015-1277 says that if someone donates art work or a memorial to Nashville, valued at over $5,000 or will have an installation cost or maintenance cost of over $5000, then it must be approved by the Council after having been approved by the Arts Commission. I am not sure how bit of a problem this is, but I see that it could be a problem and this makes a lot of sense.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1278 would allow the Council to grant a waiver from the distance requirements that apply to beer retailers. Currently places selling beer must be a certain distance from churches, schools, day care centers, parks and homes. The only time the Council can grant a waiver from these requirements is if the establishment already has a State liquor license. This would allow an applicant to appeal for a waiver just as those establishments with  liquor license are now permitted to do.  This makes sense to me.

  • BILL NO. BL2015-1279  by Council member Blalock, says that if a place has a beer permit and a school moves within the 100 feet of the establishment with the beer license then the establishment does not lose its beer license. Makes sense.
There are 38 bills on Third Reading. Most of them are the zoning bills that were on pubic hearing last meeting. Here are the ones of interest.
  • SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2015-1120  would expand where one may build secondary dwelling units. This would amend the zoning code to create a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU) Overlay District. I think this is a positive development and it is one way to increase density and increase the stock of affordable housing. While I oppose price fixing to increase affordable housing, I do think increasing the stock of affordable housing is a worthwhile goal. Also, if Nashville is to grow and avoid massive urban sprawl and if Nashville is going to ever have adequate mass transit, and if we are to afford the services we want and need, without massive tax increases, we need greater population density. Some, however, raise the issue of parking, road capacity, sewer capacity and maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods as reasons to oppose greater density. 
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1121 would permit "Artisan manufacturing" in a whole bunch of zoning districts that now permit manufacturing. It would allow people to live and work in this districts and sets standards such as parking requirements and screening requirement for loading docks when such would adjoin residential areas. I think this is a good bill.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1129  would establish a Codes Offender School, much like we have a traffic violations school or a "John's School" for those arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. I don't feel strongly one way or the other. I am not sure codes violators would benefit from a codes school the same way a traffic violator or solicitor of prostitution benefits from school. Apparently the fee paid by the "student" would cover the cost of the program. 
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1139 is the bill that advances housing price control known as "inclusionary zoning." This directs the Planning Department to create rules and regulation that implement "inclusionary zoning" and directs that such rules establish that 14% of the units in any new development or renovation of existing developments or conversion of existing rental developments to for-purchase units, be set aside as "affordable."  It define "affordable" as affordable to someone making between 80% and 100% of the median area income. The effect of this is that the cost all new developments would increase and development of new residential property would be slowed and prices of all new development would increase. The final rules established by the Planning Commission would have to go back to the Council for approval. It is my understanding that State law would have to be changed before Metro could do this, however that is not certain. This bill needs to be defeated!   
 Here is how they voted when the bill was on 2nd reading: 

Those voting in favor were: Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, Tim Garrett, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Bill  Pridemore, Doug Pardue, Larry Hagar, Josh Stites, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Carter Todd (27)

Those who voted against were:  Charlie Tygard, Karen Bennett, Phil Claiborne, Tony Tenpenny, Baker, Sheri Weiner, Emily Evans, Davette Blalock, Duane Dominy, Robert Duvall, Bo Mitchell (11).

There are three memorializing resolutions and if they meet the same criteria for inclusion, they will be included in the consent agenda. Memorializing resolutions do not have the force of law and simply express the will of the council and are often used to honor a sports team on a victory or honor a long-time employee on his retirement. There are two significant memorializing resolutions on this agenda:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by Charlie Tygard request the  Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council upon Council and committee meeting attendance.

Recently, Channel 5 did an investigative piece and revealed that some Council members almost never attend committee meetings.  This is just not right! As Tygerd said, "It's not fair for certain council members to do all of the homework and others to get the same rate of pay and do nothing of the work.”

With a large council, the council must have a strong committee system.  It is in committee where the real work of the Council is done. It is in committee where the council can ask hard questions and get answers.  There is no way a councilmember can know all there is to know about the  bills on the agenda. Some of the Councilmen said they had regular jobs and could  not take off work to attend committee meetings. In my view, if a councilmember does not have flexibility in his job to attend to his council duties, he should not run for council.  If he cannot attend Council committee meetings he should resign from the council. The worst offenders were Emily Evans, who missed 83 committee meetings since 2013, Robert Duvall, who's missed 93 committee meetings in that time period, and Sean McGuire, who's missed 132 committee meetings since 2013! Among the top twelve members with the worst attendance records was Council member-at-large and Mayoral candidate Megan Barry. This resolution was on the agenda for two meetings and was deferred both times and is now back on the agenda.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1515 by Charlie Tygard requests the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to require full-time Davidson County elected officials to submit an annual report to the Comptroller detailing the dates they worked. A recent report in The Tennessean revealed that many elected officials often do not work. This was discovered by an examination of when they used there swipe card to gain access to their office.

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