Friday, January 29, 2016

Loniel Greene resigns from Metro Council

Loniel Greene resigns from Metro Council

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bill would give scholarships to low-income students in failing schools to attend private schools. Teachers union and other libs dig in to stop it.

There is bill pending in the State legislature that would authorize a very modest scholarship program for the most disadvantaged students and for those in the very worst schools. It would allow those low income students in failing schools to take the money that is being spend on their education and attend a private school. The private school would have to accept the scholarship amount as payment in full for the cost of tuition and fees that school year. Initially only 5,000 of these scholarships would be authorized.

Liberals are going ballistic. The Democrat party establishment, their teacher union bosses and liberal pundits are digging in to oppose this experiment. They want to maintain the current monopoly structure of  public education.  Apparently their is a liberal mindset that it is better for all poor people to be struck in perpetual poverty rather than only some have the opportunity to escape. If I were cynical I would think liberals want to keep Blacks, Latinos and poor people in general on the liberal plantation of government dependency so they will always look to their master for subsistence. I would think they are more interested in subsidizing poverty and keeping their voting block intact rather than seeing people escape poverty.

Below is a statement in support of the bill from Latinos for Tennessee and The Tennessee Black Alliance for Educational Options and a summary of the bill.

Latinos for Tennessee Applauds Legislature for HB 1049

Nashville, Tennessee - The dream of expanding educational freedom to all Tennessee students is beginning to take shape thanks to the determination and courage of a number of Tennessee State Legislators. Latinos for Tennessee, an organization dedicated to taking the message of faith, family and fiscal responsibility to Latinos all across the state applauds the work being undertaken by the Tennessee Legislature on House Bill 1049.

If approved, House Bill 1049 would provide education scholarships for private school tuition for students that meet certain requirements, including those that are zoned for the bottom five percent of schools in the state.

With news that the House Bill 1049 was approved by the House Budget Committee and the House Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee, Raul Lopez, Executive Director, for Latinos for Tennessee issued the following statement:

"Education is a top priority for Latinos all across our country, including here in Tennessee. Unfortunately, millions of Latino students are stuck in struggling schools desperately seeking a lifeline of opportunity. School choice is a great way to empower families and students seeking to live out the American Dream. We urge the Legislature to continue the important work of advancing school choice so that every single child in Tennessee can receive a quality education."

For more information about Latinos for Tennessee, please visit: and find us on Facebook under: Latinos for Tennessee.

Tennessee Black Alliance for Educational Options supports HB1049

Dear Supporter,
I will make this brief…
Yesterday, Tennessee BAEO, along with parents, pastors, and advocates traveled to Nashville to attend the House Finance Sub-committee hearings to encouraged lawmakers to support the Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act (HB1049). I’m happy to report the bill passed a key hurdle in the State House. 

If the legislation becomes law, the scholarships will assist eligible low-income and working-class Black families with sending their children to participating private schools.  In a nutshell, our state has not done a good job educating our children. Currently there are over 80,000 children trapped in low-performing schools in Memphis. 

Please share this email with family, friends and colleagues in your networks and invite them to join the movement. If we don’t act now, another year will pass and the talented children of Tennessee will fall further behind and be forced to attend failing schools.

This is only the beginning. Our work is not done and in order to be successful, we need everyone to JOIN US! Add your voice and stay connected to the movement by texting Believe to 52886.
CLICK HERE to view a clip from the January 20th Finance Committee hearing
It’s time we #BelieveInOpportunity! We look forward to partnering with you to bring forth needed change for our children in Tennessee.

For the children,
Mendell Grinter
State Director
Tennessee Black Alliance for Educational Options

Below is the summary of the bill as posted on the Tennessee General Assembly website (link). 
This bill establishes a scholarship program for eligible students to attend participating private K-12 schools. An "eligible student" is a student who:

(1) Resides in Tennessee and is zoned to attend or enrolled in a public school that, at the time of the student's initial application for a scholarship, is identified as being in the bottom five percent of schools in overall achievement;
(2) Meets the minimum age requirements to attend kindergarten with eligibility extending until the student graduates from high school, except that the student must be less than 22 years of age by August 15 of each year;
(3) Is a member of a household whose annual income during the year prior to initial receipt of a scholarship met the requirements for free or reduced price lunch; and
(4) Was previously enrolled in a Tennessee public school during the two semesters immediately preceding the semester in which the student receives a scholarship under this bill; is enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time; or received a scholarship pursuant to this bill in the previous school year.

In order to participate in the scholarship program, the private school must:

(1) Be identified as a category I, II, or III school and comply with all health and safety laws or codes that are applicable to such schools;
(2) Annually administer to scholarship students state assessments or nationally recognized tests approved by the state board of education that measure educational progress and provide the parents of scholarship students with the results of the assessments;
(3) Provide the department of education with graduation rates of scholarship students as well as other student information as required by the department;
(4) Comply with federal nondiscrimination policies and not discriminate against students with special education needs who meet the requirements for admission to the school. However, as a private school, the school is required to offer only those services it already provides to assist students with special needs. If a scholarship student would have been entitled to receive special education services in the public school the student would otherwise be attending, then the parent must acknowledge in writing, as part of the enrollment process, that the parent agrees to accept only services that have been identified as available to the student in the nonpublic school. A participating school may partner with an LEA to provide special education services;
(5) Accept the scholarship amount as payment in full for the cost of tuition and fees that would otherwise be charged by the school and allow scholarship students to remain enrolled in the school for the duration of the school year at no additional cost if the school withdraws from the program during the school year;
(6) Submit to the department a financial audit of the school conducted by a certified public accountant;
(7) Demonstrate financial viability to repay any funds that may be owed to the state by filing with the department financial information verifying the school has the ability to pay an amount equal to the amount of the scholarships expected to be paid during the school year. The school may comply with this requirement by filing a surety bond payable to the state;
(8) Require any person applying for a position as a teacher, or any other position requiring close proximity to children, to submit to a criminal background check;
(9) Provide lunch to scholarship students at no cost or at a reduced cost pursuant to the same income qualifications established under the National School Lunch Program; and
(10) Comply with rules prohibiting the employment of individuals who advocate to overthrow the American government or who are members of a political party subscribing to a political faith that advocates doing so.

After initial approval by the department as a participating school, a school may continue to participate in the program as long as the school demonstrates achievement growth for scholarship students at a minimum level of "at expectations." If a participating school demonstrates achievement growth for scholarship students at a level of "significantly below expectations" for two consecutive years or the department determines the school has failed to comply with this bill, then the commissioner of education may suspend or terminate a school's participation in the program. If a participating school is suspended or terminated from the program, or if the school otherwise withdraws from the program, scholarship students enrolled at the school may transfer to another participating school without loss of eligibility and such students would be given preference for enrollment.

An eligible student will be entitled to one scholarship per school year. If a student voluntarily leaves a participating school for reasons other than the suspension or termination of the school's participation in the program and enrolls in another participating school, neither the student nor the successor participating school will receive any funds under this bill for the remainder of the school year. If the student enrolls in the LEA in which the student resides and is zoned to attend, the LEA will receive the funds that otherwise would have been remitted to the participating school on behalf of the student.

Except as mentioned above regarding LEAs that adopt different guidelines, the annual amount of the scholarship will be the lesser of the following:

(1) The cost of tuition and fees that would otherwise be charged by the school; or
(2) The amount representing the per-pupil state and local funds generated and required through the BEP for the LEA in which the student resides and is zoned to attend.

The scholarship funds will be subtracted from the state funds otherwise payable to the LEA and will be paid directly to the participating school. If the participating school's cost of tuition and fees is less than the scholarship amount, the remaining funds will be retained by the department and the LEA in which the scholarship recipient resides.

The amount of scholarship awarded to a student will not be treated as income or assets for the purposes of any tax or qualification for any other federal or state grant program.

The total number of scholarships awarded statewide under this bill will be limited as follows:

(1) For the 2015-2016 school year, the department may not award more than 5,000 scholarships;
(2) For the 2016-2017 school year, the department may not award more than 7,500 scholarships;
(3) For the 2017-2018 school year, the department may not award more than 10,000 scholarships; and
(4) For the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter, the department may not award more than 20,000 scholarships.

This bill requires the department to develop procedures to allocate scholarships among participating schools if the number of available seats exceeds the above limitations. If the number of eligible students applying for scholarships at a particular school in a particular grade exceeds the number of scholarships awarded, the department must inform parents of eligible students of all available scholarship options and provide an opportunity for parents to apply to other participating schools. If, after all possible matches of eligible students with participating schools have been made, there are scholarships still available, the remaining scholarships will be awarded to eligible students who reside in an LEA that contains at least one school in the bottom five percent of schools in overall achievement as determined by the performance standards and other criteria set by the state board.

This bill requires the department to develop procedures necessary for administering the program, and specifies in detail requirements for the department in administering the program.

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Will Pinkston continues his fight against school choice

By Amanda Haggard, Nashville Scene, on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 - Just a five months after a contentious Metro Nashville school board vote to reject adding two new KIPP charter schools to the district's roster, the board voted easily to renew the charter network's first school for another 10 years Tuesday night. Board members Amy Frogge ... voted against the KIPP renewal. .... had also voted against approving two new KIPP schools in August, which was followed by KIPP winning an appeal with the Tennessee State Board of Education to open the schools in Davidson County anyway, but under the umbrella of the state board.  Board Member Will Pinkston — who, too voted against opening two additional KIPP schools in August, saying at the time the district was giving KIPP carte blanche — abstained from Tuesday's vote based on what he called "a lack of confidence" in Alan Coverstone,...(link)

My Comment: This is an example of how Will Pinkston, Amy Frogge and usually Jill Speering have attempted at every turn to derail education reform and stop quality public charter schools from opening in Nashville. In the August 4th election I will be voting for Jackson Miller to replace Will Pinkston on the School Board.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BAEO Releases New Report on the State of Education in Black America During National School Choice Week

BAEO - This week marks National School Choice Week (NSCW) when a diverse coalition of education reform organizations join forces to shine a spotlight on high-quality education options for children across the country. As a compliment to the occasion, we are happy to announce the release of our national report on The State of Education in Black America 2015. 

The report discusses effective parent choice and education reform policies and makes clear that gaps in the academic achievement of children from low-income and working-class Black families still persist, and more work needs to be done to ensure all children can achieve the American dream.

Highlights show that among the 1.6 million students in the class of 2014 who took the SATs, 43 percent of them earned a 1550 benchmark for college and career readiness, but only 15 percent of Black students did so. And while the 39 percent share of the 1.8 million students in the class of 2014 who took the ACTs and met three or more benchmarks for college and career readiness is nothing to write home about, even more disturbing was the fact that a scant 11 percent of Black students did so.
You can download a full copy of the report here.  We encouraged you to share widely and to follow our social media postings all week on other highlights from the report.

See how our state teams are celebrating National School Choice Week here!

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Look who are the "Friends of Pinkson."

Make no mistake, this is not an endorsement of Will Pinkston for School Board. I am supporting Jackson Miller. I am posting this simply because some may find it interesting, especially they may find interesting those who are "Friends of Pinkson."  I support school reform and school choice and Will Pinkston has stood in the way of reform. He is among those who want to continue doing things the way we have always done them and opposes public charter schools at every opportunity.

Among the Friends of Pinkston, I am not surprised to see many of the Democrat Party establishment and court house crowd. I am not surprised by Amy Frogge who is his close ally on the School Board nor by some of Nashville's most liberal politicians such as Bill Freeman or Councilman Fabian Bedne or Vice Mayor David Briley.  I am disappointed to see Republicans such as Davette Blalock and Robert Duvall supporting Will Pinkston. I have highlighted a few of the names that jumped out at me.

Pinkston * School Board * District 7
You're Invited
The Campaign Kickoff to Re-Elect
to the Nashville School Board
at Casa Azafrán
Home of the Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center
2195 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211

The FOPs (Friends of Pinkston)
Kim Adkins
Maura-Lee Albert
David Baggott
Chelle Baldwin
Ashley Ball
Honorable Brady Banks
Krissa Barclay
Marc Barclay
Representative Bill Beck
Councilman Fabian Bedne
Councilwoman Davette Blalock
Art Bodenhamer
David Bone
Vice Mayor David Briley
Ellen Britton
Mark Brown
Adora Bruce
Stuart Brunson
Gene Bryant
Judith Byrd
Kenny Byrd
Mary Campbell
Jennifer Chalos
Mark Chalos
Kathy Chambers
Representative John Ray Clemmons
Barb Clinton
Dana Coleman
Erin Coleman
Councilman Sam Coleman
Doug Collier
Dave Cooley
Melanie Cooley
Honorable Bob Cooper
Councilman At-Large John Cooper
Bob Corney
Shannon Corney
Chris Cotton
Dick Darr
Councilman Anthony Davis
Reverend Vernon (Sonnye) Dixon
Ken Duncan
Maggi Duncan
Honorable Robert Duvall
Kathy Edson
Councilman Jeremy Elrod
Karen Estevez-Gill
Anne-Marie Farmer
Jonathan Farmer
Glenn Farner
Paula Foster
Stephen Fotopulos
Tricia Frantz
Beecher Frasier
Bill Freeman
Councilman Mike Freeman
School Board Member Amy Frogge
Brenda Gadd
Honorable Tim Garrett
Steven Gill
Robert Gowan
Andy Gullahorn
Jill Phillips Gullahorn
Niketa Hailey-Hill
Honorable Lorinda Hale
Sheriff Daron Hall
John Harkey
Honorable Kathleen Harkey
Honorable Chris Harmon
Melissa Harmon
Rick Harris
Mohamed-Shukri  Hassan
Caleb Hemmer
Lori Hemmer
Mollie Henry
Stephen Henry
Jerry Hertenstein Jr.
Jerry Hertenstein Sr.
Adam Hill
Honorable Jamie Hollin
Bette Horton
Pete Horton
Lyn Hoyt
Honorable Walter Hunt
Erick Huth
Andrew Jackson
Kayla Jackson
Lady Jackson
Councilwoman Karen Johnson
Representative Sherry Jones
Bobby Joslin
Jocelyn Kasper
Jonathan Kasper
Irene Kelley
Laura Kelley
William (Tinker) Kelly
Councilman Ed Kindall
Drost Kokoye
Kalee Kreider
Chris Lance
Linda Lance
John Lasiter
Alix Laurain
Ethan Link
Representative Harold Love Jr.
Jean Marquis
Sarah Martin
Bill Mason
Cindy Mason
Honorable Jerry Maynard
Gaylon Mays
Sherry McCall
Benton McDonough
Rob McGuire
Pat Miller
Representative Bo Mitchell
Lee Moneta-Koehler
Liane Moneta-Koehler
Honorable Sandra Moore
John Morgan
Chris Moth
Nicole Motzny
Tom Motzny
Honorable Betty Nixon
Susan Norwood
Ari Obrohta
Bob Obrohta
Lance Obrohta
Tony Obrohta
Emily Ogden
April Orange
Honorable Anna Page
Emily Passini
Eric Patton
Martin Penny
Freda Player
Honorable Gracie Porter
Councilman Jason Potts
Heather Powell
Representative Jason Powell
Lex Price
Tamara Price
Christine Hatchett Pulle
Matt Pulle
Councilman Russ Pulley
Terry Quillen
Gregg Ramos
Councilman Kevin Rhoten
Andie Roberts
Marilyn Robinson
Tony Rose Jr.
Tony Rose Sr.
Councilman Dave Rosenberg
Alma Sanford
Gray Sasser
Becky Sharpe
School Board Member Anna Shepherd
Councilman Colby Sledge
Sherry Sloan
Juvenile Court Clerk David Smith
Jennifer Croslin Smith
Melissa Smith
Honorable Janis Sontany
Andy Spears
School Board Member Jill Speering
Lora Stevenson-Obrohta
Representative Mike Stewart
Gerard Stranch
Patty Daniel Stranch
Shirzad Tayyar
Saralee Terry Woods
Bobby Thomas
Abby Trotter
Doug Trotter
Bob Tuke
Honorable Mike Turner
Meg Underwood
Ryan Underwood
Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher
Terrie Wagner
Henry Walker
TC Weber
Kay West
Chick Westover
Al Wilkins
Phyllis Williams
Rick Williams
Ken Winter
Jerry Winters
Larry  Woods
Linda Wyatt
County Clerk Brenda Wynn
Debbie Young

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Coservative Groups meets Thursday 28th. Glen Casada guest speaker.

From Tony Roberts: 

Rep. Glen Casada
Our meeting this month will be held at Logan's Steak on Elliston Place near Vanderbilt University. The meeting will be held on Thursday January 28, 2016 starting at 5:30 for networking and the meeting from 6:00 to 7:00. The agenda for the meeting is a wake-up call for the state of Tennessee and the Nation. We will concentrate on training for candidates and supporting the most important elections of our lifetime. We ask all interested in running for office to attend this event.Our keynote speaker is State House Representative Glen Casada from Williamson County.Glen Casada is a Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, in which he has served as Assistant Floor Leader and Chairman for the Republican caucus. He represents District 63.Please RSVP to Tony Roberts at or Dan Davis at

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Senator Mark Green proposes market-driven alternative to Obamacare expansion

I detest Obamacare as much as the next conservative, but one thing we must admit is that the pre-Obamacare healthcare system was also seriously flawed.  Cost were rapidly increasing and too many people were uninsured. There really was not a "market" for health care.  When a third party pays the bill, no one cares what the cost of an item is.  It does not matter if the third party is an insurance company or the government, the effect is the same. The only exception is that you may care if the third party is your parents or your local church congregation. If you would be judged negatively for overindulging you may still care what something really cost, but when the party paying the bill is a distant impersonal entity, who cares? 

Assume we could join a food co-op and and assume that now we all spend about $400 a month on groceries, so we all put in $400 a month and go to the grocery store and buy what ever we want. I would eat more steak and shrimp and lobster. I really don't care if I buy Coke or Pepsi and I can switch between the two depending which is on sale. If someone else was paying the bill I would not even look at the price. Soon the cost of groceries would climb form $400 per month to $600 to $800 per month. Also, the merchant, who previously had an incentive to keep his groceries affordable, will realize he can constantly raise prices since no one really cares what something cost. That is much like were we are with health care.

Obamacare not only did nothing to address the problems with health care cost, but made the problems worst.  When Governor Haslam introduced his Insure Tennessee plan, I was opposed, but not adamantly opposed. I thought Insure Tennessee was better than the standard expansion of medicaid under Obamacare. I opposed it primarily because I think Obamacare is a terrible policy and I thought we should hold off on any expansion of Obamacare and focus on trying to defeat it, not acquiescence for something only slightly less offensive than the standard Obamacare expansion. I am glad  Insure Tennessee was defeated.

There is normally not much a State legislator can do to counter a nation policy other than refuse to acquiesce and to reject federal dollars. While I realize that Federal dollars come from the same pocket of the taxpayer as local or state dollars, there is still a compelling reason to get our share of federal money. If we don't, we still pay for it and someone else gets the money.

While it is difficult for a State legislature to do more than say "no" to a federal policy, State Senator Mark Green has proposed a couple of bills that do more.  He has proposed two bills that would incorporate changes to health care that incorporate market principles. Below is the report from his news letter explaining what he is proposing: 
Senator Mark Green
In the area of health care, there are two issues I'm working to address.
Unanimously passing Tennessee's Senate Commerce Committee last week, my bill to reform our state's Medicaid program - a federally-mandated program for which our state has a waiver - or TennCare.  

The Tennessean summed this legislation up in that it would "radically alter how health insurance is delivered to Tennessee's Medicaid (TennCare) recipients" and addresses the working poor that would have been covered by the expansion through the Affordable Care Act.

Simply, Senate Joint Resolution 88 allows patients in our state's health care program for the indigent and poor to participate in flexible savings accounts that reward healthy behavior and choices while incentivizing selective consumer choices and price-shopping.  In essence, the proposal makes the system patient-centric and not "3rd-party payer-centric."  This will create competition and reduce prices in an open-market environment.

In the TN Senate Commerce Committee, I requested that Commissioner of Insurance and Commerce, Julie McPeak, appear to provide an explanation for the double-digit increases in premiums by individual health-insurance plan holders.

From Commissioner McPeak's presentation it was clear that the consequences of Obamacare continue to cost hard-working Tennesseans. As healthy individuals left the healthcare exchange, prices covering the sicker patients have skyrocketed.  The point was obvious, prior to Obamacare, Tennessee had a competitive market that drove the price of insurance down.  In the wake of Obamacare, competition is gone and Tennesseans are paying the price.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Alan Coverstone resigns positiion with Metro Schools

Alan Coverstone
By Andrea Zelinski, Nashville Scene - stepping down from his position next Friday....will remain here in Nashville. ...was turned down as a candidate to succeed Register as director of schools last summer,... Coverstone’s work running the district’s charter school arm has landed him in the crosshairs of Will Pinkston, a school board member who once sat on the board for a charter school but has since made it a primary position to stop “unabated” charter school growth in Nashville. (link)

My Comment: I have been impressed with Alan Coverstone and hate to see the school system lose him. I  have watched school board meetings and seen him make recommendation to the board on accepting or rejecting charter school application and seen him explain the criteria for making the recommendations.  I have always felt like he was methodical and fair in reaching his recommendations.

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Ted Cruz Debate Watch Party

Cruzville Presidential Debate Watch Party, Thursday, January 28 at 7 PM Carrabba's Italian Grill- Nashville/Green Hills in Nashville, Tennessee.   Cheer on Ted Cruz with fellow supporters at the Cruzville GOP Presidential Debate Watch Party. Everyone Welcome! For more information, email: Aaron R. Snodderly at or  Karen Moore at .
 Facebook link

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The Fair/Codes/Farmers Market Council Committee will be hosting a meeting on January 26th in Wilson Hall at The Fairgrounds starting at 6:00 p.m. to hear from the public concerning the future of the Fairgrounds.  There will be an open discussion and the meeting will end at promptly 8:15 p.m.  It is VERY IMPORTANT we have our RED ARMY there to show support and speak about what your ideas are for The Fairgrounds.

Please email us at to let us know if you will be attending. Please wear RED to show support.

Thank you for your continued support - you have never failed the property or us - and with your help, we will be able to help move The Fairgrounds forward and continue to be place WHERE NASHVILLE COMES TOGETHER!

Thank you!

Friends of the

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Durham resigns as Whip after Tennessean investigation

Durham resigns as Whip after Tennessean investigation

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Boring Religious Discourse. The Unsafe Space meetup,

Saturday, January 30, 2016 2:00 PM
Are you religious? Where does religion leave off and culture begin? Is this relevant to politics or government? Where does separation of church and state come from? Is religion antilogical, and antithetical to government? How does religion affect for...Learn more

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

What happened at the Council meeting of 1-19-16: new regs for vacation rentals and pedal tabs, Waverly-Belmont Conservation Overlay approved.

Above is the Council meeting video from this past Tuesday January 19th.  I normally try to post it the next day following the meeting but other things took priority this week so I am just now getting to it.  Normally the announcement section of the meeting and the actual meeting are two separate videos but this time they are combined in this one. The actual meeting starts at timestamp 22:12.

For a link to the Council agenda, staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

There are no surprises in this meeting and no drama. There is not much point in actually watching  the meeting.  Here are the highlights. 

  • The mayoral appointment of Bill Freedman to the Airport Authority is confirmed. 
  • The resolution asking the Fair Board to reinstate gun shows at the Fairgrounds is deferred until the second meeting in March.  
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-86  which is another one of these PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) deals is deferred one meeting.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-81 is  a bill which was disapproved by the Planning Commission and rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. I thought this would be an important bill because it would test the strength of "councilmanic courtesy" in the new council.  However, wisely I think, the sponsor moved to amend the bill from the proposed multifamily rezoning to a SP rezoing and refer it back to the Planning Committee of the Council. He did not refer it back to the planning commission, which I think he should have done. SP zoning approves a specific plan for the site so people know where exits and entrances will be and setbacks and other things. "Councilmanic courtesy" is the practice of voting the way a fellow council member wants you to vote on his rezoning bills regardless of the recommendation of the Planning Commission.  The reasoning for this is that their is an assumption that the district council member knows what his constituents want and what is best for his district.  Some members follows a councilmanic courtesy policy most or all of the time and others follow the recommendation of the planning commission most or all of the time. A bill disapproved by the Planning Commission takes 27 votes to pass the council. The fact that the sponsor has substituted the bill to a SP zoning instead of the original proposed rezoning will not change the recommendation of the Planing Commission since the Planing Commission is not being asked to reconsider the bill. This will still be an interesting bill to watch. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-99 which would end term limits for member of the Human Relations Commission was deferred one meeting.  I am pleased it was deferred; it to be defeated!  The Human Relations Commission needs to be abolished; it does not need to be strengthened. It serves no purpose except to promote and enforce politically correct attitudes.
  • The bill giving the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission authority to regulate hours of pedal taverns and other pedicabs and pedal carriages passes.
  • The council gave unanimous approval for a new conservation overlay for the Waverly-Belmont neighborhood.
  • The bill amending the rules governing short-term vacation rentals is amended, discussed and approved. Among other things it does is prohibit the owner of the unit from advertising that the unit can sleep more people than for which the unit is approved.
Here is The Tennessean report on this meeting: Metro Council takes step toward restricting pedal tavern hours

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The Folly of HB1632/SB1636

Josh Stites
by Josh Stites - In my four years on the Council I was considered a reliable conservative vote. But, it always bothered me when people assumed they knew how I would vote simply because an issue was declared “right” or “left”. In our culture of sound bites and snap judgments, consideration of every possible alternative is considered by many a weakness. But, I think the poverty-laced inclusionary zoning discussion is just one of these issues that doesn’t fit nicely into any box. For those who want background on the issue in Nashville you can go here, here, or here.

This week legislation was introduced on the state level to prohibit any local government from enacting legislation requiring inclusionary zoning. I’m not opposed to the state stepping into local affairs when it’s necessary to maintain a cohesive statewide business environment or protect citizens from harmful actions of a local government, but I think HB1632 passes neither of these tests. HB1632 is simply a Williamson County representative’s response to a small number of his financial supporters who themselves have a business interest in the zoning laws in Nashville. I get that and it’s nothing new. It happens across the aisle and at all levels of government. But, that doesn’t make it right or a good idea.

But my frustration is that Casada uses free market reasoning for his bill. I’m a big free market guy. And I agree that the free market could fix our affordable housing problem. Quickly. But, to those who have ever tried developing land or building anything in any big city, they know that land development does not happen in a free market. On the contrary it is a tightly controlled market by unelected but often well-meaning bureaucrats at the local planning departmentand the political and sometimes not well-meaning appointees of the Planning Commission. State law doesn’t just permit such meddling into the free market of local real estate - it requires it in Title 13, Chapter 4 of the state code. Each planning department, by state law, is required to create a general plan every ten years or so. This general plan serves as the tool by which planning departments dictate where a developer can build housing and what type of housing can be built. If Casada really wants to champion free markets, sponsor a bill prohibiting zoning. It’s worked well for Houston.

In Nashville the current plan (Nashville Next) generally calls for affordable and workforce housing to be concentrated in pockets along the major corridors of Nashville. Think: Murfreesboro Road, Lebanon Pike, Charlotte Ave, Dickerson Pike, Franklin Road, West End Avenue, Hillsboro Road. I’m not a class warfare conspiracist, but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that the number of affordable units built along Hillsboro Pike and West End in the next decade won’t be enough to house the workers required for one downtown hotel. This “free” market that Casada hides behind in defense of his bill is anything but. It’s law already that the local government has the authority to dictate where affordable housing units are to be built, why all of a sudden does he care how many?

And the head scratcher for me is this; when affordable housing is torn down to make way for newer more expensive homes or other uses, where do those people needing affordable housing go? They move to where the affordable houses are - that is gradually further and further from the urban core and ultimately out past the county line. Developers who don’t want to contend with the burdensome regulations and requirements of the Metro Planning Commission are going to go to where land is cheap. So all the suburb representatives and senators, including Senator Haile of Sumner who is sponsor of SB1636, should be delighted that Metro wants to keep the poverty associated with affordable housing in Davidson County.

Advocates of IZ make a convincing case that the worst thing for someone growing up in poverty is to be around more people in poverty. Therefore, concentrating all of the poverty in certain areas by way of mandating the small areas where affordable housing exists is truly an institutionalized disservice to the least among us. The poor we will always have with us, but how we treat them and the opportunities we give them to advance says a lot about our character. And if you want to read more about that you can go here, here or here.

While I have a different view and am pleased to see legislation introduced that would ban mandatory inclusionary zoning, I am pleased to present an alternative point view from my friend, former Councilman Josh Stites. Rod 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State legislation would ban housing price-fixing, mandatory inclusionary zoning.

Measure’s aim: Block city requirements that builders set aside low-income housing 

by JOEY GARRISON The Tennessean, Jan. 20, 2016 -  Some Nashville poverty advocates continue to push for the creation of a new Metro policy that would mandate affordably priced homes be included in new residential projects.

But newly filed state legislation would prevent cities from adopting such a plan, known as mandatory inclusionary zoning.

 As he promised in the fall, Tennessee Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, has introduced a bill that would prohibit local governments from requiring that a certain percentage of existing or newly constructed private residential units be reserved for affordable or workforce housing. Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, has signed on as the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.

Tennessee already has a law that says local municipalities can’t control the cost of rent. Whether that restricts local governments from adopting a zoning policy that mandates affordable housing units among rental properties has been debated. (link)

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Public hearing on the future of the Fairgrounds.

The Fair/Codes/Farmers Market Committee of the Metro Council will be hosting a meeting to hear from the public concerning the future of the Fairgrounds. This meeting will be held in at the Fairgrounds in Wilson Hall on Tuesday, January 26th from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. "There will be an open discussion and the meeting will end at promptly 8:15," according to an announcement.

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Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, January 21, 2016

Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5:30 PM/ Mafiaoza's 2400 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204. For more info, follow this link.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Update. What's on the Council Agenda for 1-19-16: Gun Shows at the Fairgrounds, a stronger Human Relations Commission, and a disapproved zoning change.

The Council agenda for 1-19-2016 is available at this link. The staff analysis is not yet available so I am providing my analysis without benefit of the staff analysis, so you may want to check back for an update or seek out the staff analysis for yourself at this link. The staff analysis is now available but I have not read it.

Appointments to Boards and Commissions. There are ten mayoral appointments on the agenda for Council confirmation. As is usual, I expect all to be confirmed without debate. The most notable of these appointments is that of former mayoral candidate, Democrat Party fund raiser, and local business tycoon Bill Freeman to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. I think this is a good appointment. The Metropolitan Airport Authority is undergoing its first major management restructuring in 28 years and it recently received a scathing evaluation from a consultant hired to evaluate the organization. The  $119 million-per-year organization that oversees Nashville International Airport was criticized for being "paternalistic, dictatorial and centralized.” To read the Tennessean's report on the issues surrounding the Airport Authority follow this link. Someone of the high profile and business credentials of Bill Freeman on the board of the Airport Authority can restore confidence that needed changes will take place at the Airport.

Resolutions: There are 15 resolutions on the agenda. At this time they are all on "consent," meaning they are deemed non-controversial and will be all lumped together and pass by a single vote instead of being considered separately. A resolution will be moved off of consent and considered separately unless it receives a unanimous positive vote from the committee to which it was assigned. Any member from the floor may ask for an item to be taken off of consent or any member may request his dissenting vote or abstention be recorded. Below are the resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-76   is "A resolution requesting the Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners to reinstate and continue to allow gun shows on Fairgrounds property and to otherwise comply with Section 11.602 of the Metropolitan Charter."

On Tuesday December 1, 2015 the Fair Board voted to discontinue gun shows at the fair grounds after the pending gun show of the December 4th and 5th weekend. The Fair Board was supposedly going to develop new guidelines to improve safety at the Fairgrounds and then would reconsider allowing gun shows if exhibitors would agree to the new rules.  No one really believed the Fair Board would ever allow gun shows to return to the fairgrounds. Metro legal weighted in and legal told the Fair board to allow the gun shows scheduled for January. This resolution was on the Council agenda for December 15th, but since Metro legal had ruled the gun shows scheduled for January could still take place this was deferred, I would assume to see it this could be resolved without Council action. It has not been resolved so this is back on the agenda.

With a much more "progressive" council than ever n the past, it will be worth watching how this turns out. I suspect the major motivation for this is simply a dislike for gun culture and support for anything to curtail the proliferation of gun ownership. I also suspect however that there is certain elite liberal snobbishness at play which looks down its nose at gun shows. Until country music became the most listened to format and a major source of income for Nashville, the elites were embarrassed by country music also. I tend to think the opposition to gun shows may be motivated more by a sociopolitical class prejudice rather than a gun control motivation.  I believe there is a certain desire for Nashville to appear progressive and enlightened and progressives want the "redneck" element to be deprived of outlets to express themselves. They would prefer that part of Nashville's identity not be tied to stock car racing, flea markets, and gun shows. Also, the Gun and Knife shows bring in a quarter of million dollars a year to the struggling fair grounds. Part of the effort to end the gun shows may be an effort to deprive the fair grounds of revenue in hopes that it will eventually be operating so deep in the red that there will be greater reason to close the fairgrounds and sell off the property.They would much prefer that property be a trendy mixed-use development or a corporate campus.

Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife show has been operating at the Fairgrounds for 35 years and there is no evidence that illegal gun sales have ever occurred there or even that a gun or knife purchased there has ever been used in a criminal act. There are some felons who have stated that the gun shows at the Fair grounds is where they obtained their gun, but one may surmise they did not want to admit to an additional crime of stealing a firearm so those admission from felons should be taken with a grain of salt.

Only licensed dealers are permitted to sell firearms at the fairground gun show. Under current law if you as an individual sell a gun to another individual, you do not have to be a licensed firearm dealer and you do not have to perform a background check on the person to whom you are selling. That is what is known as the "gun show loophole."  However, at the Nashville Gun and Knife Show only licensed dealers were allowed to exhibit and sell guns.

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-86  is another one of these PILOT deals (payment in lieu of taxes). I don't know if this is a good deal or not, but I hope it is carefully scrutinized.

Bills on First Reading. There are five of them and they will be passed by a single vote of the council. Bills on First Reading or normally not debated or evaluated.

Second Reading: There are seven bills on second reading. These are the ones of interest:
BILL NO. BL2015-81 is a bill which is disapproved by the Planning Commission and rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. Here is a link to a Tennessean story about the The planning Commission's unanimous vote to disapprove the bill. At the last council meeting a lot of people spoke both for and against the bill. To win council approval, since it was disapproved by the Planning Commission, will require 27 votes. This will be the first test of the new council to see if "councilmanic courtesy" is really dead.

BILL NO. BL2016-99 would end term limits for member of the Human Relations Commission.  This needs to be defeated! If anything the Human Relations Commission needs to be abolished; it does not need to be strengthened. It serves no purpose except to promote and enforce politically correct attitudes. Anything they do that really needs doing could be done by other agencies. There is a Fair Housing Office to take fair housing complaints and the Attorney Generals office can take complaints of illegal discrimination.  One of the most objectionable things this agency does is sponsor the twink booth at the Gay Pride festival. They call it the "youth pavilion." 
Third Reading: There are 25 bills on Third Reading and most of them are zoning bills. These are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2015-84  establishes the Waverly Belmont Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District.  This would restrict the tearing down of existing housing and building a very large home or two large homes on the lot.  On some streets in this part of town, there are more big new houses than original smaller houses.  I understand the desire to preserve the character of the neighborhood but a consequence of not allowing the character of a neighborhood to change and more expensive homes to be build is that our tax base does not keep pace with the demand for more spending.  Also by restricting this type of tear-down and replacement with larger homes in one area puts more pressure for this to occur on those areas adjacent to the area with the overlay.  It shifts the problem and intensifies it for neighboring neighborhoods. For more information see the Tennessean reporting on the issue.

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Planning Commission hearing on Inclusionary Zoning.

This is an eight-hour meeting. I don't think anyone wants to watch the full meeting. The discussion of the inclusionary zoning starts at time-stamp 36:40 and ends at 3:45:20. To summarize the comments, developers don't like it because it goes too far and advocates of affordable housing don't like because it does not go far enough. No one speaks in favor of the proposal. For access to the Planning Commission agenda and staff reports, follow this link. To see the Planning Commission staff report on the proposed inculusionary zoning text see page 5 through page 41.

At time stamp 42:50 the staff begins the explanation of the incusionary zoning  proposal and completes this explanation at 1:02:30. One thing interesting in this proposal is that the set aside affordable units must be similar in size and number of bedrooms to the non set-aside units. So if the units in a condo sale for $500,000 dollars and the bedrooms are very spacious, the units set aside as "affordable" must also be at least 80% as spacious. I have a question: If the non-set-aside units include concierge service, a gym, a spa, a pool, dog-walking service and fresh cut flowers every day, do the set-aside units also get these services and amenities?  If there is a hefty condo fee for the non-set aside units, do the set-aside units have to pay the same fee? Is that monthly condo fee included in calculating affordability?  I don't know.

Following the staff explanation, the chairman ask for those who wish to speak in favor of the proposal to come forward. No one does. No one supports the proposal. Opponents are then permitted to speak. Proponents of affordable housing express displeasure saying they want a mandatory program. I am surprised that more people did not speak. NOAH and VOICE representatives spoke but no mainstream housing advocates spoke. No one speaks in opposition from a pro-free-market position. The only developer who speaks is former Metro Councilman Roy Dale.

Following the pubic hearing, the members of the Commission discuss the proposal. There is some interesting discussion. One thing is very clear; without a large Metro subsidy this proposal will simply not work. Those unit build to be affordable for someone at 100% of area median income (AMI) would require more subsidy than those built to be affordable for someone at 80% AMI and so on. Also, this proposal would not address the very low income or the needs of the homeless. This proposal does not and cannot impose rent control, due to state legislation that prevents a city from imposing rent control. This proposal would not incentivize affordable housing in areas that already have adequate affordable housing. To get developers to seek the density or height bonuses proposed in this plan, it takes away established bonuses. This proposal is a "voluntary" inclusionary program but designed to force a developer to seek the bonuses (see time stamp 3:02:00). This is a very complex proposal and while I have a general understanding of what is proposed, I do not fully understand all of the details of the setback, parking, and height bonuses of the proposal. It would take some study to digest all of what is proposed. The proposal does nothing to preserve existing affordable housing stock nor to encourage greater housing density throughout the county. The commission votes unanimously to recommend that the Metro Council disapprove the proposed voluntary inclusionary zoning policy.

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Planning Commission rejects "Inclusionary zoning" affordable housing plan. No one likes it.

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Jan. 15, 2016 - A proposed system of financial incentives designed to spur affordable housing in Nashville was dealt a blow Thursday by the Metro Planning Commission, which voted to reject the plan as they called for more community input on the issue.
After nearly four hours of debate — one that saw both affordable housing advocates and developers vent concerns with the plan — the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Metro Council disapprove the proposed voluntary inclusionary zoning policy.

Their hope is that the council, which is set to consider the legislation next month and has ultimate say, will send the bill back to the commission, which would then initiate a public engagement process on how to solve affordable housing......
"Half of the folks are thinking we should have gone a lot further, and others think we're crazy for going down this path at all," planning commissioner Stewart Clifton said. "So, there's a certain amount of inevitability that the general public is not going to be for this." (read more)
Nashville Affordable Housing Policy Criticized, Disapproved, Likely Delayed 
, Nashville Public RadioJan 15, 2016- Nashville’s new affordable housing proposal was dealt a blow Thursday night after three hours of criticisms from poverty advocates, developers and planning commissioners. 
In the end, the commission refused to endorse the affordability blueprint offered by planning staff. During a public hearing, no one spoke in favor of the plan.(read more)

I am among those who think we are crazy for going down this path at all. I am pleased to see the Planning commission reject this proposal.While Nashville's proposed version of inclusionary zoning is a voluntary incentive-based plan and is not a bad as mandatory plans it is still a bad plan which would most likely slow the development of new housing. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nashville planners seek delay on affordable housing proposal

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Jan.12, 2016 - Metro Nashville planners have finalized a proposal for a new system of financial incentives that would seek to encourage developers to build more affordable housing in Davidson County. But they don’t want the Metro Council to vote on the measures just yet.  ....the planning department has asked the planning commission to approve... officials have recommended that the council delay consideration until Nashvillians have more time to weigh in. .... proposal hinges on perhaps as much as $10 million in recurring funds that would need to be carved out in Metro’s upcoming budget. .....Planners want more discussion on one of the key elements of the proposal: the elimination of bonuses that are offered to developers who provide public parking, pursue eco-friendly building standards and promote mixed-use development. This bonus system would be replaced by one focused on incentives for affordable housing. (read more)
For more on this topic also see,  Metro planners recommend affordable housing incentives.

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Bill filed to nullify the Metro Nashville local hire amendment

From Senator Jack Johnson: Preview of the 2016 Legislative Session 

Local Hiring– A bill has been filed to stop local governments from enacting any charter provision, ordinance, resolution, referendum or regulation which requires a company bidding on a public construction project to employ individuals that reside within their jurisdiction. The legislation comes after the adoption of a charter amendment pushed by labor unions in Nashville that requires at least 40 percent of work hours of local companies bidding on contracts come from Davidson County workers on Metro construction projects that cost $100,000 or more. The amendment does not affect companies outside of Tennessee, which can hire as many out-of-county or out-of-state workers as they choose. The practical effect of the bill would be to nullify the Metro Nashville amendment and prevent other local governments from taking similar action in the future.

My comment: Thank God for a common sense State legislature that is stopping Nashville form becoming the San Francisco of the South. I expect this bill to pass and hopefully if Nashville should pass a proposed inclusionary zoning ordinance that the State legislature will also nullify it. 

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Commission to review proposed inclusionary zoning policy

By Linda Bryant, Nashville Post, January 13, 2016 - Nashville’s legislation on affordable and workforce housing faces a key hurdle Thursday when the Metropolitan Planning Commission meets to consider approval of long-awaited inclusionary zoning legislation.

But even as the Metro Planning Department’s IZ proposal moves forward via a commission review, it is paradoxically in the process of slowing down.

Crosscurrents are being created by a few factors including the absence of a funding structure for as much as $10 million in recurring funds needed from Metro’s budget and misgivings about skittish developers seeking eleventh hour changes to the proposal.

Meanwhile, affordable housing advocates are signaling displeasure with the proposal and say they will let their concerns be known at tomorrow's 4 p.m. Metro Planning Commission meeting.....Bill Hostettler, principal broker with Nashville-based HND Realty LLC,  said that the UZO covers building uses beyond residential, such as retail and office. As such, he is concerned that even an incentives-based IZ policy could dissuade mixed-use development that includes residential (if the incentives for the preferred options are not as strong as those for a less-preferred option).....(read more)
This should be deferred by the Planning Commission. No one is happy with it and the Supreme Court may very well rule that this type of "taking" is unconstitutional and there is no source of funding to fund the "incentives." Also, it is doubtful it will result in very many units of affordable housing being built and it will most likely lead to an increase in the price of housing and a decrease in the availability of affordable housing; not an increase.

Advocates of a free market and private property rights should attend the Thursday 4PM  meeting of the Planning Commission and object to this proposal. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Howard Office Building, 700 Second Avenue South.

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1ST TUESDAY is FRIDAY Jan 15th: ''GUNS & POLITICS" features NRA National Board Member Tim Knight and St. Sen Mark Green & Kerry Robert

From Tim Skow:

1ST TUESDAY Members &Friends ...

 IF .... you also forced yourself to watch OBAMA last night... it looked like he was dodging the ''GUNS & POLITICS'' storm he started last week. HOWEVER... Hillary is running TV ads telling everyone she is coming for gun manufactures and gun owners !! Make NO mistake, a MAJOR political fight is coming in 2016 at every level on the ballot !!

THIS FRIDAY [the 15th ] ... our ''GUNS & POLITICS" lunch event features a powerful line up that YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS !!

From the National Rifle Association : NRA National Board Member Tim Knight ! [ Tim started the successful fight in Colorado that recalled multiple State Senators, beat Obama & NYC Mayor Bloomberg's $$$ and helped flip the political balance in Colorado ]

From the TN State Senate :

  • Kerry Roberts with a Legislative Update 
  • Green about his open carry legislation 
From the Federal front : Grant Starrett, Republican primary candidate for TN-4

When it comes to talk and action about ''GUNS & POLITICS ''... we got it covered!

We will host a complimentary "Meet & Greet" with Tim Knight starting at 10:45. Plan to come early and speak with Tim. You will love hearing about beating Obama, CO Gov Hickenlooper, Michael Bloomberg and more in Colorado. And the fight just won to control the VA State Senate.

As usual, we will meet at WALLER Law - 511 Union Street 27th floor. Lunch is $20 for those who have taken care of their 2016 annual dues and $25 for those who have yet to do so. Secure your seats [and dues if need be ] at our website and click on JOIN US. Time is short, so please make your plans today...and PASS this invite to those you know!

Tim Skow

Reminder.. Col. Allen West coming to 1ST TUESDAY on Monday, March 7th. Those who've taken care of 2016 annual dues ... secure your seating while seats remain. This event will SELL OUT !!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tennessee's Beacon Center part of of the Supreme Court challenge of Inclusionary zoning

Amicus Brief: California Building Industry Ass’n vs. City of San Jose BY BRADEN H. BOUCEK, Beacon Center, October 19, 2015 - We joined this brief in support of the California Building Industry Association’s request for the Supreme Court to accept review of the California Supreme Court’s decision. There, the California Supreme Court upheld the City of San Jose’s Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that required home builders to sell a certain percentage of their newly-built homes at below market value. Our shared position is that this is an unconstitutional exaction, prohibited under the Constitution’s Takings Clause.
We believe that this issue has great relevance in Nashville and throughout the state with the growing emphasis on “affordable housing,” a major issue in the Nashville mayoral race. Nashville is expected to add 1 million people over the next twenty years. The cost of housing has skyrocketed in many neighborhoods. The City Council voted to draft mandatory inclusion zoning proposal, currently in the works, that, like the San Jose law, would require a certain percentage of newly built homes be priced as affordable. Unconstitutional inclusionary zoning laws are sure to be an issue in the very near future for all Tennesseans, and the Beacon Center intends on insisting that any municipalities stay within constitutional parameters and respect the property rights of Tennesseans.

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Republican caucus keeps Jeremy Durham as leader

Republican caucus keeps Jeremy Durham as leader

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Bernie Sanders tour coming to TSU

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to bring his "Feel the Bern" tour of historically black colleges to Tennessee State University in Nashville. No date yet. READ MORE

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Monday, January 11, 2016

How Inclusionary Zoning Makes Housing More Expensive

by Gary M. Galles, The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 4, 2016 - This month the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a legal challenge to San Jose's controversial inclusionary housing ordinance. Enacted in 2010 and upheld by California's top court in June, this zoning law requires housing developers of 20 or more units to sell 15% of them at prices far below their market value or pay a six-figure fee instead.

More than 170 California communities impose similar mandates and set-asides, but the net effect isn't more affordable housing for all. Rather it is a reduction in the construction of new homes, which pushes prices upward. ....This is hardly a solution to a housing affordability crisis. It's also an unconstitutional government taking of private property without just compensation, and a violation of several precedents specifically, which is why the San Jose case deserves consideration by the Supreme Court.. ...

An analogy reveals the foolishness of inclusionary zoning.
Suppose there was a law that if you opened a new supermarket you had to sell 15% of your groceries to low-income people at far-below market prices to improve their access to good nutrition. This would clearly be an unfair burden. Those wanting to open new supermarkets did nothing to cause the problem; on the contrary, they intended to increase food accessibility. Read more
Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University, a research fellow with the Independent Institute in Oakland and author of "Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies." Before the Council passes our own version of inclusionary zoning, I hope they will think long and hard about the effect of such a policy. If it is passed, I hope the State will ban it or the Supreme Court will strike it down.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Stupid poor people line up to play the powerball lottery.

People who think they can get rich without working, other stupid people, and people who like a

long-shot and just enjoy participating in a game of chance with an incredibly large jackpot lined up last night to buy lottery tickets in Nashville and at convenience stores across America. If no one matches all the numbers on  tonight drawing, the next drawing is expected to soar to $1.3 billion.

The chance of winning in tonight's drawing were 1 in 292.2 million. You chance of being struck by lighting in any given year is 1 in 1,107,143. So your chance of being struck by lighting is 290 times greater than your chance of winning the lottery. The annual risk of being killed in a plane crash for the average American is about 1 in 11 million.

I have no moral opposition to gambling although I have never gambled much myself. I don't even know how to play poker.  While a young man in the service I played slot machines in the airman's club from time to time.  I went to Vegas once to a League of Cities convention and gambled a little but just did not enjoy it that much. I just don't see the attraction.  I have bet on horses or dogs maybe a total of 20 times and did enjoy that. I  have bought only two lottery tickets in my life. If I enjoyed gambling, I would do it and not feel guilty. As a leisure activity I do not see it any worse than any other leisure activity such as going out drinking and listening to music or going  to a sports event or to a movie or a concert.

What bothers me about the lottery is that most people who play the lottery are poor people who should be paying their utility bills on time rather than buying lottery tickets or should be buying food for their family. I am not for being overly protective of stupid people. People should be free to be stupid. I don't want to ban payday lenders, as an example. I think payday lenders are kind of slimy, but for people who have a crisis or never learned money management, the exorbitant interest rate charged by payday lenders is cheaper than having your electricity cut off. It is cheaper than bouncing a check. I still think that for the most part however, payday lenders are preying on weak and stupid people. I could not be in the payday loan business and feel like an honorable person.

When payday lenders prey on stupid people, it is not me doing it.  They are not doing it in my name. However, the lottery is the government preying on stupid people. While I am not for using the power of government to protect stupid people from being preyed upon necessarily, I don't want the government to be the one preying on stupid people. The State lottery is done in the name of "we the people." I think it is shameful and we should repeal the State lottery. I also think it should be illegal for anyone on food stamps or any other public assistance to purchase a lottery ticket. If you are so poor you need a handout, you should not be permitted to gamble with that money.

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How our members of Congress voted on the bill passed by Congress that would repeal Obamacare

For the first time, Congress sent a bill repealing key provisions of  Obamacare to the President for his signature earlier this week, which he will veto. Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare on numerous occasions before, but this is the first time a bill passed both houses and reached the President. The reason it passed this time, is that it passed through the budget reconciliation process so Senate Democrats could not filibuster the bill. The House passed it, sent it to the Senate, the Senate amended it and sent it back to the House, the House passed the Senate version.  This process meant the bill did not require 60 votes to clear the Senate but only a simple majority. The President, however, will veto the bill and there are not enough votes to override a veto.

The Bill did not actually repeal Obamacare but repealed major provisions. Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 would make these key changes to Obamacare:

  • Restrict the federal government from operating health care exchanges
  • Phase out funding for subsidies to help lower and middle-income individuals pay for insurance through the health care exchanges
  • Eliminate tax penalties for individuals who do not purchase health insurance and employers with 50 or more employees who do not provide insurance plans
  • Eliminate taxes on medical devices
  • Eliminate the “Cadillac tax” on the most expensive health care plans provided by employers to their employees.
  • Phase out an expansion of Medicaid over a two-year period
The House passed the bill by a vote of 240 to to 181 and the Senate had passed it last month.  In the House, 239 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and one Democrat,  and 178 Democrats and one three Republicans voted in opposition. There were no surprises in how our U.S congressional delegation voted:
Yea   R   Roe, Phil TN 1st
Yea   R   Duncan, John TN 2nd
Yea   R   Fleischmann, Chuck TN 3rd
Yea   R   DesJarlais, Scott TN 4th
Nay   D   Cooper, Jim TN 5th
Yea   R   Black, Diane TN 6th
Yea   R   Blackburn, Marsha TN 7th
Yea   R   Fincher, Stephen TN 8th
Nay   D   Cohen, Steve TN 9th

In the Senate, Senator Alexander and Senator Corker voted for the bill.

For more information on the House vote, follow this link and for more info on the Senate vote  see this link.

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