Monday, July 31, 2017

Condolences to Mayor Barry and Bruce Barry on the loss of their son.

Heartfelt condolences to Mayor Barry and her husband Bruce Barry on the sudden death of their 22 year old son who died of an apparent drug overdose. For more on this tragic story see this link and this.


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Saturday, August 5th: Tennessee Republican Assembly Hosts FreedomWorks Breakfast "Axes2Taxes" Tour with Stephen Moore

8:30am - Noon: All-you-can-eat breakfast buffet 8:30-10am, 
Meeting begins at 10am. 

Location: Dairy King, 306 East Thompson Lane, Nashville 

Stephen Moore, Trump's Economic Advisor and FOX News Contributor, will provide an update on the upcoming battle for Tax Reform in Washington and give insight on how to simplify the tax code.

Andy Puzder, former chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants (parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr.), and President Trump's initial nominee for Labor Secretary, before withdrawing, will also be making remarks.

For more information follow this link.

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Saturday, August 5th at 8am: Bellevue Republican Breakfast Club

Sheriff Daron Hall
River Art Studio, 8329 Sawyer Brown Road (two doors down from Plantation Pub, on the corner of Sawyer Brown & Todd Pries).

Guest speaker will be Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall. Sheriff Hall was instrumental in stopping Nashville from becoming a sanctuary city. No doubt this will be an issue addressed by the sheriff. Following his presentation will be a period of Q and A.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update" What's on the Council agenda for August 1st? Banning decorative rope lighting,

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. This will again be a meeting that is more boring than usual. There is nothing on the agenda likely to generate passion or debate. To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

Bills on Public hearing:
This is the Council meeting at which the Council hears from the public on rezoning bills. Rezoning hearings bore me and I don't even try to form an opinion on the merits every rezoning bill before the Council.  People who don't care one way or the other do not show up and with rare exceptions the only people who speak in favor of rezoning bills are those who will benefit from the rezoning such as the property owner or the developer.  Opponents always make the same argument which boils down to one of these: 1) the change will result in stressing the infrastructure such as too much traffic on the roadway or overcrowd the schools, 2) will cause flooding, and 3) will change for the worse the character of the community.

I don't see any of the rezoning bills that I expect to be particularly controversial.  There are three that will that impose some sort of overlay on a neighborhood and sometimes these can be controversial but usually the council member has tweaked the overlay boundaries or overlay restriction to have placated opponents before it gets to public hearing.  An overlay keeps the basic zoning in place but adds an additional layer of restrictions that address what development in the neighborhood should look like. This is an attempt to keep new development from being out of character with what is already in the neighborhood. Below are the only bills on public hearing of interest.

BILL NO. BL2017-704 would ban rope lighting on a property that adjoins an arterial and collector street everywhere in Davidson County except in the core of downtown Nashville.  Why?  I am not buying the argument that this lighting is a hazard to motorist. I guess this means unless you live on a side street you can't use this popular form of lighting for Christmas decorations.  Is Opryland going to have end their Christmas light extravaganza? 
BILL NO. BL2017-798 is a rezoning bill in Councilman Syracuse's district. It changes the zoning on a piece of property from RS20 to SP zoning to  to permit an accessory hair salon. It is disapproved by the Planning Commission and that is the only reason I am pointing out this bill. It can pass Second reading by a simply majority but will require 27 votes to be approved on Third Reading. This is similar to a disapproved bill in Councilman Scott Davis's district last meeting that rezoned a property from R6 to SP to permit a recording studio. In my view, low impact commercial such as recording studios and hair salons and a few other uses should be permitted in residential neighborhoods. Since there are not permitted, the only way to allow these uses is to rezone the parcel with that accessory use as a permitted activity.
Resolutions: None of them appear controversial or of much interest. Most are accepting grants or authorizing the application for grants. 

Bills on Second Reading:
BILL NO. BL2017-687 establishes a process and procedure for naming public buildings, structures and spaces of the Metropolitan Government.  I like this.  I think usually you should have to be dead before you get something named after you. This was deferred from May 2nd and again deferred July 6th at the request of the sponsor to this meeting.
BILL NO. BL2017-829  would require the Department of Public Works to replace, at no cost to the homeowner, government-supplied waste containers that are stolen, lost, or damaged beyond repair. Currently if someone steels or runs over your waste container at the back of your house on the alley, or if someone steels it, the homeowner has to pay to replace it. I do not think that is fair. I support this bill.

Bills on Third Reading: All of them are zoning bills. The only one of interest is BILL NO. BL2017-719  which is only important because it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It changes from R6 to SP zoning on property located at 2407 Brasher Avenue to allow a recording studio. It will take 27 votes to pass. 

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Greer Stadium redevelopment faces mounting pushback in Metro Council

by Nate Rau, The Tennessean - Before the plan to redevelop the Greer Stadium property even materializes as actual legislation, the proposal is receiving pushback from the at-large members of the Metro Council. The five at-large members — John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Bob Mendes, Jim Shulman and Sharon Hurt — sent a letter to Mayor Megan Barry on July 19 expressing concerns about the Cloud Hill development. Cooper has already been outspoken against the proposal.

At this point, the at-large members say they prefer for the property that previously was home to a minor league baseball stadium to be converted to parkland. (link)

My Comment: I agree.  The baseball site should revert to park land.  The site destroys the view of the hill and development of the baseball park  will make the fort look crowded. With the baseball field gone, the view looking up at the fort and the view from the fort will both be more impressive. As Nashville continues to grow we need more reserved open spaces, not less.

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Vice President Mike Pence to be keynote speaker at TNGOP Statesmen's Dinner.

Vice President Mike Spence
Press release, Nashville, TN., July 15, 2017 - Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott
Golden released the following statement on the 2017 Statesmen's Dinner:
I am very excited to announce that the Tennessee Republican Party's Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Statesmen's Dinner will be Vice President Mike Pence. This is an exciting time for the Tennessee Republican Party as we continue to grow and gear up for 2018's critical elections. With Vice President Mike Pence as our Keynote Speaker and Governor Bill Haslam as our Dinner Chair, we expect this will be one of the largest and most successful Statesmen's Dinners to date. It will certainly be an event no Republican in Tennessee will want to miss. 
The 2017 Statesmen's Dinner will be held on August 3rd at the Music City Center in Nashville with receptions beginning at 5:30pm and the dinner starting at 6:30pm. Past Statesmen’s speakers include former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (2016), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (2015), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (2014), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (2013), former Vice President Dick Cheney (2002), and former Vice President Dan Quayle (1989).

For ticket information, follow this link.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nashville City Wide Community Meeting

From the Metro Council:

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Why Trump's 'Buy American, Hire American' is un-American



President Donald Trump has spent a week encouraging us all to buy products "Made in America."  There is nothing patriotic, virtuous, are wise about buying made in America products.  Buying only made in America products may put Americans out of work. The last thing we are the world needs is a trade war.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

1ST TUESDAY Lunch with Speaker Beth Harwell


Beth Harwell
Tuesday, August 1st at Waller Law, 511 Union Street.
Doors open at 11:00; Lunch at 11:30. Program at Noon. Q&A ending at 1pm.
Event is $20 for 1ST TUESDAY Members and $25 for Guests. To attend purchase your ticket at www.1sttuesdaynashville.com and click on ''Join Us''.

Speaker Harwell has joined the gubernatorial race and will
share her visions and plans for TN. Topics will include:
1) Nashville ''Sanctuary City'' fight
2) Funding TN Transportation needs - Gas taxes vs Sales taxes
3) Addressing prison costs and reforms
4) Looming topics given TN rapid growth ... and much more!

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sen. Corker supports 'repeal and delay' of Obamacare


Sen. Bob Corker changes mind and says he will support 'repeal and delay' of Obamacare

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Progressives are frustrated with Mayor Barry

In the July 13th edition of the Nashville Scene in an article titled Progressive Frustrations Boil Over On Mayor Barry And Immigration, author Steve Hale says progressives are frustrated with Mayor Barry over her opposition to the recently withdrawn sanctuary city bill. He says progressive feel betrayed.

I can understand their frustration because Mayor Barry has surprised me by not being the flaming liberal I thought she would be. I don't doubt that she is liberal in her values, but she certainly has a pragmatic streak.  I would still support David Fox over Megan Barry in a heartbeat.  I will not be contributing to her reelection campaign any time soon, but I have been pleasantly surprised by some of her actions that I am sure are some of the same things that frustrate progressives.

Her coming out against the sanctuary city bills is the most obvious. Progressives (I don't know the difference between a liberals and a progressive, but I think a progressive is a liberal without pragmatism) wanted her to support the bill and the city to pass it even though it was not enforceable and would have been nullified by the State legislature in a special session. They wanted to make a symbolic stand on principle.

One of the first actions that disappointed progressives and was mentioned in the article, was Mayor Barry clearing of the homeless camp on the Fort Negley site. She worked with homeless advocate and social service agencies to find solutions for those illegally camping at Fort Negley and gave the homeless ample time to leave. I support the humane way she went about it.  In the end however, she cleared the site. She did the right thing.

Other actions that I am sure disappointed progressives was her handling of the so-called "local hire" charter amendment. Progressives got it on the ballot and it passed. The "local hire' amendment was pretty specific that on all Metro funded projects that 40% of the workforce was to be made up of Davidson County residents. Mayor Barry treated it more like a suggestion rather than a legally binding mandate. (See Megan Barry sees the light and flip flops on "Local Hire.")  I am pleased she did but I am sure some progressives were disappointed. (For much more on local hire follow this link.)

On inclusionary zoning which is a form of housing price-fixing, Metro, under Barry's leadership, passed a bill that was part carrot and part stick.  I oppose what passed and hope it is overturned, but I am sure progressives think it did not go far enough. Never mind, that it was probably pushing the limit of what the State would allow, I am sure progressives wanted a much more aggressive bill.

One area in which I am sure Megan Barry disappointing her more progressive supporters was in her welcoming and celebrating of Marine Week, an event in September 2016 that featured 80 events including display of Marine aircraft and weapons, and Marine led physical work-outs, and programs in schools, and seminars, and art and musical performances.  The Marines would not have had this event in Nashville, had the mayor not been welcoming.  She not only welcomed the event but was a gracious host.  Among many progressives there is a sneer at patriotism and a disdain for the military.

One thing Barry did that pleased me and I am sure displeased some progressives is that she did not raise taxes this year.  At a time of a general property reappraisal, a tax increase can be slipped in almost unnoticed since many people do not understand how the process works and will blame higher taxes on the reappraisal instead of a tax increase.  From a liberal point of view, there is always a need for more public spending.  Barry could have slipped in an unnoticed tax increase and spend more for mass transit, schools, sidewalks, affordable housing and everything else.  It was her most opportune time to raise taxes.

On other issues, Barry has certainly pleased progressives.  She is totally supportive of "gay rights."  Her support however does not challenge any existing laws.  She says all the right things for progressives about supporting the homosexual agenda and a  lot of other things but does not go out on a limb for progressive causes.  I wonder if Barry can continue to be a pragmatic liberal without losing her more progressive supporters. 

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What happened at the Metro Council on July 18th:$26M spend from 4% fund, bills dissaproved by the Plannng Commision pass the Council.




To access the council agenda, the council staff analysis of the meeting and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.  This is a uneventful meeting with no controversy or drama. There is not much reason to watch the meeting. I watched it for you. As expected, the Council deferred action on the bill that would ban some forms of home-sharing (See The Tennessean's "Council delays short-term rental bill.)

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-785,  which appropriates $26 million to various department from the 4% fund, including a million dollars to General Hospital, is approved with very little discussion by a voice vote with no recorded or audible "no" votes.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-786  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-787 both of which appropriates money to subsidize the development of what is called "workforce housing" are withdrawn at the recommendation of the Budget and Finance committee. Why, I do not know. By the time it gets to a resolution appropriating money, a developer and project has been selected.  If one were to watch the Budget and Finance Committee meeting, which I have not done, one could probably learn why this is withdrawn. I wish the reason for the withdrawal would be explained from the floor. The curious may want to watch the B & F committee meeting to learn why.

BILL NO. BL2017-800 on second reading, which would make a modest change to the juvenile curfew law is deferred two meetings. This bill would make the curfew more restrictive than it is now. 

BILL NO. BL2017-801  and BILL NO. BL2017-802,  on Second Reading, both of which deal with obstruction or closure of public right of ways are deferred to the second meeting in September.

Bills on Third Reading

BILL NO. BL2017-701  by Karen Johnson is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It would apply an Urban Design Overlay District on 11.25 acres on Moss Springs Rd and Bluewater Trace. An Urban Design Overlay is a tool to insure that future development or redevelopment is in character with what already exist in the neighborhood and addresses such things as height  of buildings and construction material and orientation of the front door and location of the garage. The Planning Commission says this would impose standards that are more stringent than what constitutes the current character of the neighborhood. It can take some effort to get a dissaproved bill passed. A bill disapproved by the Planning Commission requires 27 affirmative votes to pass. The bill won approval from the Planning Committee of the Council. The roll call vote was 32 in favor, 0 against, 1 abstentions and 6 not voting. I really do not care about the merits of the bill, but am surprised that no one voted against it.  In previous councils, there have always been some members who would simply not vote for disapproved bills. This passage speaks to the legislative skill of Councilman Johnson.  A cynic would say Councilmanic courtesy is alive and well.

BILL NO. BL2017-719 by Scott Davis  is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. This rezoning proposal is to SP zoning and would permit an accessory detached recording studio on the property. Councilman Davis makes the point that lots of people have recording studios in their home or teach piano or other music lessons in their home and are not properly zoned to do so.  He is attempting to properly zone a piece of property so his constituent can legally do what many in Nashville do illegally. He says this issue is something the Council needs to address.  This has been tackled by the Council before but an agreed upon bill was never passed.  I think if I served in the Council, I would be inclined to support this bill.  Disapproved, it would require 27 votes to pass.  The Planing Committee of the Council had voted 4 in favor, 7 against and one not voting. It is deferred one meeting.

BILL NO. BL2017-741 would require that private parking lots or garages post a sign listing the amount of any fines or penalties that may be charged by the parking facility and to post such information not only at entrances but also at each automatic pre-payment station for those with that type arrangement. Parking facilities must already post their parking fees at the entrance of the facility. This seem reasonable and it passes.

BILL NO. BL2017-782 by Councilman Roberts is another rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It passes by a vote of 32 in favor, none opposed, one abstention and 6 not voting. 

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nashville Sounds stadium's rushed timeline blamed for busted budget, report says

 When the Metro Council approved building the Nashville Sounds stadium, it was to cost $60 million dollars.  It ended up $10 million over budget and costing an additional $21 million in ball park related expenses.  The $60 million project ended up costing $91 million. One of the reasons for the cost overrun is due to a rush to get it finished which resulted in paying a lot of overtime.  I suspect a lot of the ball park related cost were not included in the cost estimate in order to make the project more palatable to the public and the Council.  It was easier to sell a $60 million project than it was a $91 million project. To read The Tennessean story on this topic follow this link.


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Monday, July 17, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 7/18/2017: $26 million from the 4% fund.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. There is not much of interest on the agenda.  There is nothing that I would expect to generate debate or passion. There is a large spending bill but it probably will not generate controversy and it probably shouldn't.  It is routine except it is for a lot money but it is a lot of request from different departments, all rolled into one bill. There is an anti-home sharing bill on the agenda but it is most likely going to be deferred.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are six appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously. One of the appointees is to the Hospital Authority. If the Council would do so, the approval of an appointee to this money pit would be an occasion for the Council to influence policy but the Council does not take advantage of this opportunity and will simply rubber stamp the mayors appointee.

There are two bills on public hearing, one revises and sets the tax levy rates for the central business improvement districts in the Gulch area and the central business improvement district for downtown. Properties in these two district pay an addition tax levy to support additional services provided in those districts. Following the recent reappraisal of property within Davidson County, including the property within the DCBID and GCBID, the special assessment rate for each district must now be lowered. This is routine and should not generate controversy. There are no resolutions on public hearing. There are only 5 bills on First Reading, and they are all lumped together and pass by a single vote. First Reading is a formality that gets a bill on the agenda. Bill are not scrutinized or considered by committee until after First Reading.

Resolutions
There are 18 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda or have there "no" vote or abstention recorded. None on the resolutions on this agenda appear controversial.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-785  appropriates a whopping $26 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund, also called the 4% fund, for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of the government. I think this is one of the largest request ever made from this fund in a single bill. I hope the Council Budget and Finance Committee very carefully evaluates each of these request. The largest request are $1 million for General Hospital, $4 million for Police for mobile vehicle laptop computers and printers and a start on equipping police with body cameras, $1 million for Libraries and $1 million for Parks.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-786  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-787 appropriates money to subsidize the development of what is called "workforce housing." This is housing for those who make between 60% and 120% of the area median income.

Bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-801  and BILL NO. BL2017-802  both deal with obstruction or closure of public right of ways.  801 says that says that if a right of way is going to be obstructed for six months or more that the applicant must also get approval from the Director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement and the Director of Transportation and Sustainability. Currently, the applicant must simply get the approval of the Public Works Department.  802 would impose a fine for obstructing or closing a right of way without a permit or exceeding the scope of what is authorized by the permit.  While I hate to make it even more cumbersome  for companies to do business, construction closing or blocking of a street can be an inconvenience to the public. I do not know how serious of a problem this is however, but these requirements seem reasonable.
Bills of Third Reading of interest. 
BILL NO. BL2017-608 would restrict all home sharing (Short Term Rental Property, AirBnB), in which the owner does not live on the property to areas zoned for multi-family.  This is likely to be deferred. An  ad hoc committee is still working on other proposals to take away property rights of those sharing their home and this will be considered by that committee to come up with a more comprehensive set of ordinances or one big ordinance that address the issue of home sharing.

BILL NO. BL2017-701  by Karen Johnson is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It would apply an Urban Design Overlay District on 11.25 acres on Moss Springs Rd and Bluewater Trace. An Urban Design Overlay is a tool to insure that future development or redevelopment is in character with what already exist in the neighborhood and addresses such things as height  of buildings and construction material and orientation of the front door and location of the garage. The Planning Commission says this would impose standards that are more stringent than what constitutes the current character of the neighborhood. A disapproved bill requires 27 affirmative votes to pass.

BILL NO. BL2017-719 by Scott Davis  is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It will require 27 votes to pass.  I am only pointing out this bill because it is disapproved. Some council members will not vote contrary to a Planning Commission recommendation and doing so is often frowned upon as "councilmanic courtesy." I do not think the Planning Commission should never be overruled, otherwise why not just make the Planning Commission the final authority. On the other hand, I do not think the local council member should have any property he wants rezoned, rezoned without question.  Ideally when voting to override the Planning Commission, council members should carefully evaluate the rezoning on its merits.
 
BILL NO. BL2017-741 would require that private parking lots or garages post a sign listing the amount of any fines or penalties that may be charged by the parking facility and to post such information not only at entrances but also at each automatic pre-payment station for those with that type arrangement. Parking facilities must already post their parking fees at the entrance of the facility. This seem reasonable.

BILL NO. BL2017-782 by Councilman Roberts is another rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. 

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

What is “Fake News”?

by Bill Bernstein
The term “Fake news” or inevitably on social media "#FakeNews," became current largely with last year's presidential election and its coverage.  Famously Pres Trump dismissed a CNN reporter's repeated questions at a press conference with the comment “You're fake news.”

But what is fake news?  And why is this so popular now?  For starters fake news is not new, although the variations we are seeing are.  In the past, propaganda, deliberate misinformation, and “yellow journalism” were all common occurrences where governments, politicians or newspaper publishers all wanted something more than to report news. 

But fake news is not simply “facts or opinions I disagree with.”  Truth can be challenging sometimes.
There are many variations of fake news.  Some are obviously fake: stories about Prince Harry having a secret wedding in Las Vegas are simply fiction.  These are easy to spot, as are most “conspiracy” stories. So here are some tips to recognize FakeNews stories:

1).  Any story with “might have” or “could have” is speculation, and very likely #FakeNews. 

Here's a howler from CNNMoney online: The headline reads: Ethics watchdog says White House lawyer might have broken rules.

That sounds like a member of the Trump staff broke ethics rules or committed some kind of crime.  But you have to read in to the story to discover that 1) the “rules” of the headline were ones the administration itself created, 2) even those rules don't apply to people who don't actually work for the administration in any official capacity, in this case Carl Icahn, who was merely an unofficial advisor.  The entire case comes down to an interview the attorney alleged to have violated the rules gave where he stated Icahn was not an official advisor to the President.  And by the way, the “Ethics Watchdog”, Walter Schaub resigned about three weeks later.  Probably for getting into trouble pushing a fake sensationalized story like this.

2) Any story where the headline or lead is not supported by facts given in the body of the story is #FakeNews.

Sensational headlines that oversell the story in the article are by definition #FakeNews. Here's an excellent example of the genre from the Tennessee Star: The headline reads: Mayor Megan Barry Says The Constitution Does Not Apply Here in Nashville: ‘I Am Committed to Meeting the Goals of the Paris Agreement – Even if the President Is Not’

Now, if Megan Barry says The Constitution does not apply in Nashville then there should be a quotation or statement from Mayor Barry that says exactly that, or substantively that.  Read in the story and there is no such thing.  President. Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change.  Mayor Barry condemned the decision, unsurprisingly, and affirmed her commitment to instituting policies that would follow the principles in the Paris Accord.  A mayor instituting policies in her own city is not a violation of the Constitution, however poor the policies are.  The only proof offered to support the headline is this statement in the story: Constitutional law experts around the country have stated that such declarations are in direct violation of Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution of the United States.

The article cites no Constitutional law experts saying any such thing.  And the assertion is prima facie absurd.

3) Any story with George Soros in it that is not about George Soros is very likely #FakeNews.

Soros is a billionaire hedge fund manager who has a charitable foundation and gives heavily to left wing causes.  But in the conservative world Soros takes the position of “International Banker” (or “International Jew Banker” to hold up an old stereotype) and is always a mysterious shadowy figure intent on harming America and its way of life. In this, Soros replaces “the Rothschilds” (the prototypical International Jew Bankers) and “the Rockefellers” (often identified erroneously as Jewish by anti Semites) in the role of conspirator against American values. Here's a particularly egregious example: Vartan Gregorian: Islamic Trojan Horse.

Side note: Any article signed with a pseudonym (here “Politically Incorrect”) is almost certainly fake news as real journalists want their names known. Now Vartan Gregorian is a well known academic and while he was born in Iran he comes from an Armenian Christian family and is not, as the article alleges “an unassimilated Muslim.”  The article starts with an unflattering description of George Soros and then asserts an association between Soros and Gregorian.  Unfortunately there is no evidence, in the real world, much less in the article, that the two men even have met each other, much less have some kind of evil relationship.  Soros is trotted out simply because he is a known “bad guy” so guilt by association helps paint Gregorian as a threat.

4) Any story pushing an affiliation not directly relevant to the story is likely #FakeNews.

Speaking of guilt by association, use of the term “affiliate” is always suspicious.  Anyone active in public life who belongs to organizations and/or donates to them could be said to be “affiliated” with anyone else belonging to or donating to the same organization.  It is meaningless in judging a person's intent or character to assert an association, especially with a known bad guy.
An especially egregious example again comes from the Tennessee Star: La Raza Affiliate That Randy Boyd Gave $250,000 Is Holding Another Anti-Trump Event in Nashville.

You'd be hard pressed to recognize from this headline the article is about an upcoming “Biscuits and Tacos” event put on for Independence Day by Conexion Americas, an organization that helps and advocates for Hispanics in Nashville.  But that is the topic. Sort of.  Note the dog whistles here: La Raza (a national organization often tied to Hispanic nationalism), Randy Boyd (a bad guy in the Tennessee Star's world), and “anti Trump” which connotes disloyalty or being on the wrong side of issues. The article of course has nothing to do with Boyd, La Raza or even “anti Trump”.  Their presence is simply meant to create an association among them that amounts to a smear.

Finally,
5) Any story relying on anonymous sources is likely #FakeNews.

While “Deep Throat” helped break open the Watergate scandal and anonymous sources do often break stories, more often they are cover for fake news.  An especially amusing example is the continuing story that Reince Preibus, the White House Chief of Staff, is getting fired.  That story was reported in the “Palmer Report” on March 30 2017, citing an unlinked Politico story.  CNBC on April 7th relied on a story on Axios, citing “a top aide” to Trump to state Preibus would be fired shortly. On May 27th the Washington Post, relying on “some Trump associates”, reported Priebus would be named ambassador to Greece to remove him from Chief of Staff.  The Post's story concerned an upcoming shake up in the administration and establishing a “war room” to deal with the Russia crisis.  Of course no such thing happened. On May 31st NBC news, citing “multiple sources close to the administration” reported Priebus would be fired and likely replaced with Gary Cohn. And on June 11th Politico, relying on “two administration officials and three outside advisors familiar with the matter,” reported Trump had given Priebus until July 4th to “clean up the White House”.  Of course Priebus is still there.  I should note that all of these stories contain flat denials by the White House itself that there was any truth to them.  People should remember that not every staffer is loyal to his immediate or ultimate boss and many have their own agendas to push.  They do so by providing anonymous “tips” to further one narrative or another.  When these tips confirm a narrative the particular news organization wants to believe, like the Trump White House is chaotic and disorganized, then they are likely to be aired as news.

In all fake news is so not because the facts reported are incorrect.  In almost every case what is reported is “true”.  They are fake because the writers and editors stack fact and opinion, editing to create a false impression by leaving out key pieces of information, or substituting opinion for fact.  To recognize fake news requires asking questions, whether the facts given are relevant, whether there are key pieces of information not being reported, whether the source of the information is reliable or not, and whether the story is really a disguised attempt to push an opinion rather than report news.

Bill Bernstein first came to Nashville in 1980 as a freshman at Vanderbilt. After finishing he spent time in graduate schools in Classics. He returned to Nashville in 1992 and has been a firearms dealer and Second Amendment advocate for over a decade.

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Beth Harwell enters 2018 governor's race





The Tennessean: Beth Harwell enters 2018 governor's race touting experience and leadership

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bill Lee wins Williamson GOP Gubernatorial Straw Poll

Williamson County GOP press release,THOMPSON'S STATION, TN - The Williamson County Republican Party held its annual summer BBQ tonight at Little Creek Farms in Thompson's Station. A record sold-out crowd of 400+ guests attended, and 243 voted in the straw poll, making this the largest gubernatorial straw poll in recent Tennessee political history. 

While straw polls are not always necessarily reflective of the electorate, tonight's straw poll provides a good early pulse check of who influential Republicans in Williamson County and other mid-state counties are supporting in the gubernatorial race. Tonight's attendees included influential conservative activists, prominent donors, party leaders, and over two dozen elected officials. Attendees cast their straw poll ballots with gumballs. The results are as follows: 
Sen. Mae Beavers: 63 
Congressman Diane Black: 16 
Randy Boyd: 4 
Speaker Beth Harwell: 8 
Bill Lee: 153 
Williamson County Republican Party Chairman Debbie Deaver issued the following statement."Congratulations to Bill Lee for winning the first major straw poll of the 2018 gubernatorial cycle. We are thrilled to have so many fine choices for Governor and plan on hosting many more events for Republicans in Williamson County to get to know each of the gubernatorial candidates." 

Addressing the crowd were U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Jack Johnson, Sen. Mark Green, and gubernatorial candidates Sen. Mae Beavers and businessman Bill Lee. All announced and likely gubernatorial candidates who appeared on the straw poll were invited to address the crowd and host a booth. Co-hosts include the Davidson County Republican Party, the Tennessee College Republican Committee, the Republican Women of Williamson County, the Williamson County Republican Career Women, and the Williamson County Young Republicans.

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These are the eight council members who voted against the sanctuary city bill.

Robert Swope
Doug Pardue
On July 6th the Metro Council met in regular session and among the items on the agenda was BILL NO. BL2017-739, the sanctuary bill. It was withdrawn by the sponsor. On June 20th the bill had passed second reading by a vote of 25 in favor, eight opposed and four abstentions.  Between second reading and third reading, the mayor had come out against the bill, the sheriff  had come out against it and said if it passed he would not enforce it, the Metro legal department had issued an opinion that the bill was not enforceable and the Council could not compel the sheriff to abide by the bills requirements, the state legislature let it be know they were considering going into special session to nullify the Council's action should the bill pass, and there had been a howl of pubic protest opposing the bill.

Steve Glover
Sheri Weiner
On July 20th when on second reading Councilman Robert Swope led the opposition and gave a powerful speech arguing against it.  When it came to a vote, only eight council members voted against it. The eight "no" votes were Robert Swope, Doug Pardue, Steve Glover, Sheri Weiner, Russ Pulley, Davette Blalock, Tanaka Vercher, and Jacobia Dowell. These council members who had the courage to vote against this bill should be applauded.  If you see them, please thank they for their vote.

The members of the Council voting for the sanctuary city bill were John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Jim Shulman, DeCosta Hastings, Brenda Haywood, Scott Davis, Brett Withers, Anthony Davis, Nancy VanReece, Bill Pridemore, Jeff Syracuse, Mike Freeman, Colby Sledge, Burkley Allen, Freddie O’Connell, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Ed Kindall, Mina Johnson, Kathleen Murphy, Jeremy Elrod, Karen Johnson, Fabian Bedne, and Dave Rosenberg. 
Russ Pulley

Davette Blalock
Four council members, Nike Leonardo, Larry Hagar, Keven Rhoten, and Angie Henderson abstained.

To place a face and council district number with the names, follow this link.

Tanaka Vercher
Jacobia Dowell



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Friday, July 14, 2017

The 20 Council members who voted against even more money for General Hospital.

On June the 20th Council met and adopted the annual operating budget for the city of Nashville.  Several amendments were offered one of which was Amendment number 4 sponsored by Councilman Robert Mendez, which would increase the metro subsidy to General Hospital by $5 million, from $35 million to $40 million..  Any time a proposal is made to increase funding for one part of the budget, the money must come from somewhere else in the budget. This amendment would have taken the $5 million from the reserve fund for new debt.

Metro General Hospital is a money pit that is constantly needing more and more money.  There is no state law or charter requirement that the city even operate a charity hospital.  Metro gives metro employees an incentive to use General and when Metro jail inmates need care they are taken to General, yet General cannot fill its beds. People simply do not want to go to General.  Ever since the advent of medicaid poor people have been able to use the hospital of their choice.  There is little need for a charity hospital, yet we continue to operate General and General constantly needs more and more money. To read a whole lot more about General Hospital, follow this link.

The amendment of add an additional $5 million dollars in subsidy to Metro General failed by a vote of 15 Yes, 20 No, 2 Abstain and 2 Not voting.

These are the 20 councilmen who voted "no," voting against the additional $5 million subsidy for General Hospital:

John Cooper, Bill Pridemore, Keven Rhoten. Freddie O'Connell, Davette Blalock, Jim Shulman, Dough Pardue, Jeff Syracuse, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Tenaka Vercher, Robert Swope, Larry Hagar, Mike Freeman, Mina Johnson, Jacobia Dowell, Bret Withers, Steve Glover, Burkley Allen, Jeremy Elrod, and Angie Henderson.

Those 15 who voted for the additional subsidy are Erica Gilmore, DeCosta Hastings, Nancy VanReece, Karen Johnson, Bob Mendes, Brenda Haywood, Ed Kindall, Fabian Bedne, Sharon Hurt, Scott Davis, Kathleen Murphy, Dave Rosenberg, Nick Leonardo, Anthony Davis, and Russ Pulley.

Abstaining was Colby Sledge and Sheri Weiner.  While an abstention is better than a "yes" vote, I am especially disappointing that Sheir Weiner, who is a Republican, failed to vote "no." Absent from this meeting and not voting were Huezo and Potts.

I do not know why those who voted, voted the way they did.  Some may have voted "no" because they are fiscally responsible or some may have voted "no" because they are Mayor Barry loyalist and since the extra $5 million was not in the mayor's budget, they were not going to vote against the mayor.  In any event, 20 council members voted the right way. If you see them, commend them for their vote.

To view the source material, follow this link. To put a face and district number with the names, follow this link.

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Tennessee ranks as the eighth most fiscally healthy state

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has ranked Tennessee as the eighth most fiscally healthy state in the nation up from tenth place in 2016.  The rankings are based on the following five categories:

  • Cash solvency.  Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short-term bills?
  • Budget solvency. Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues, or does it have a budget shortfall?
  • Long-run solvency. Can a state meet its long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
  • Service-level solvency. How much “fiscal slack” does a state have to increase spending if citizens demand more services?
  • Trust fund solvency. How large are each state’s unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities?
Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming  rank as the top five states. Oil and gas revenue account for the high ranking of some of the states, but declining revenue from these sources has seen some states, such as Alaska, drop out of the top five.

The bottom five ranked states are Maryland, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Jersey. Each of the bottom five have urge debt obligations and unfunded pensions and healthcare liabilities play a major roll in low rankings.

Last night at a meeting of the Bastiat Society, the guest speaker was Justin Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasurer for Tennessee. He spoke of Tennessee's sound financial standing and pointed out that Tennessee is almost alone as a state with no debt for road construction.  He also said Tennessee's pension obligations are actuarialy sound and that Tennessee is transitioning from a defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution pension system for new hires. Tennessee is not using one-time monies to fund on-going expenditures. By any measure, Tennessee is fiscally responsible.

As Tennessee's fiscal health has been improving, Tennessee has reduced the State workforce by about 5,000 people and services have not suffered. Our ranking for the quality of our public education has increased from among the worse three or four in the nation to a ranking in the mid-twenties.  Also, the number of college educated adults has been increasing.  We can rightly be proud of the job Governor Haslam and our Republican dominated legislature are doing.



To read the full article or delve deep into the details of the data that supports the rankings, follow this link.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nashville's Metro Council kills latest attempt to cut lifetime health benefits

Nashville's Metro Council kills latest attempt to cut lifetime health benefits

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Trump nominates Senate Leader Mark Norris for federal judgeship in Tennessee

Trump nominates Senate Leader Mark Norris, three others as federal judges in Tennessee

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Liberty on the Rocks meets tonight, July 20th

Who: A group of people, numbering anywhere between 8 and 25, who love liberty and who range in age from 18 to 80, and who vary in occupation from students to laborers to attorney's and businessmen, who are generally labeled "right of center" and may call themselves, libertarian, tea party, Republican, conservative, constitutionalists, Objectivist, and  an occasional anarcho-capitalist.

What: Liberty on the Rocks is a get-together that involves eating and drinking and talking and respectfully disagreeing and exchanging of ideas usually about some political topic (but not always) which could be the news of the day, or foreign policy, or the monetary system, or the roll of the family and gay marriage, or legalization of drugs or prostitution, or privacy and the NSA, or the welfare state, or education reform, or criminal justice and prison reform, or the death penalty, or immigration policy, or morality, or  just whatever topic one brings up. There is no program.

When: Thursday, July 20th 5:30 until everyone leaves which usually people start leaving about 9:00, but sometime later but you can come as late or leave as early as you please.  

Where: Smoking Thighs, 611 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Why: For the enjoyment of good conversation with like-minded people. 

To RSVP follow this link

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Eat Drink and be Republican

From the Davidson County Republican Party.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ten books every conservative should read


Gene Wisdom
by Gene Wisdom - As a conservative reader and student of this outlook called conservatism I have developed a passion for helping others to “turn that light on”, to make that discovery of a set of ideas that would bring them perfect understanding, intellectual nirvana, of our political world.  No, no, not a grasp of political strategy and the correct stance between RINO’s and Tea Partiers, and how insiders operate.  Not even a policy guide presenting a checklist of the issues important for conservative voters. 

No, I’ve long believed that as conservatives we need, we require, a better understanding of the grounds beneath our positions.  Because I believe that conservatives are rooted both in the truth and in the knowledge that there is truth, we should hunger for it to feed our minds, to secure us to the ground and thereby protect ourselves from liberal flights of fancy.

So my friend Rod Williams tasked me to do what I’ve been tumbling around in my head for several years: present a list of the top ten books for conservatives.  I’ve got to admit, I had to kind of round out the group as the first three or so were automatic, works that I have been repeatedly sharing on Facebook and with friends, urging “Conservatives, you must read this!” 

Number one, then, is the one I have probably most worn a groove in my Facebook timeline with, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, by George H. Nash.  It is no exaggeration to declare that it is the place to start for anyone who wants to understand conservatism and who seeks to grasp the roots and foundations of modern conservative thought.  Nash explores the three-legged stool of conservatism: libertarianism, traditionalism, and anti-Communism.  And no, these legs aren’t simply marijuana legalization, the Christian right, and kill-a-commie-for-mommy.  He examines the postwar thinkers behind each of those elements and those, like William F. Buckley, who sought to bring their often disparate ideas together into a movement. 

Another standout is the second one on my list, James Burnham’s Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism.  While I believe that conservatives must be grounded in conservatism as a set of ideas and must understand their philosophical history and roots, I am convinced that we should no less seek to understand our opponent in the realm of ideas, modern liberalism.  Burnham investigates key areas such as the liberal’s view of human nature, the liberal order of values, their attachment to universalism and internationalism, their devotion to equality, and their sense of guilt.  If we do not understand the bases of their beliefs we WILL NOT understand where they seek to go.  To take us. 

A particular longstanding favorite is Men and Marriage, by George Gilder, described back in the day as Ronald Reagan’s “intellectual guru” for his landmark book, Wealth and Poverty.  For me, a key insight is Gilder’s exploration of the fact that marriage civilizes men.  He argues that single men are the bane of civilization for the destructive—and self-destructive—influences and impulses they wield in society. 

A companion that must be mentioned with Gilder’s work is Charles Murray’s blockbuster Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980.  This book is often credited as being the inspiration behind the “Clinton welfare reform” (actually the Republican welfare reform that Clinton vetoed several times before finally signing it) and its premise is that welfare policy has been a miserable failure, that the War on Poverty became instead a war on families.  He builds on Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insight from two decades earlier, that the War on Poverty contributed to the dissolution of black families in the United States and was beginning to have the same impact on white families while expanding its destruction to blacks.  By the way, Murray carries forward and expands his contributions in his recent Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. 

Because it embodies so many of the truths of conservatism our American Constitution is rightfully honored by people of various stripes on the Right and it embodies both the love of liberty and the rich history and tradition of our British forbears.  In order to understand its principles and protections we properly look to the period of its writing to understand the Framers.  In my opinion, one of the best sources on the struggle to ratify the Constitution, a controversy which should shape how we view its provisions, is Library of America’s two-volume, The Debate on the Constitution, a collection of both Federalist and anti-Federalist arguments, for and against the Constitution, including several of Publius’s writings in The Federalist Papers.  Here I’ll throw in what I believe is another indispensable read and a reference.  In my opinion, many conservatives and liberals err in understanding what our Founders were seeking to hammer out, misunderstanding that could be allayed by simply reading James Madison’s Notes on the Convention.  James Madison was present every day of the Federal Convention and took copious notes of the proposals, debates, and votes.  A reference that belongs on the shelves of every student of the Constitution is Liberty Fund’s The Founders Constitution, a 5-volume oversize collection of writings that both informed the Founders and contemporary understandings, and does so, clause by clause for the Constitution and the first twelve amendments. 

Rounding out the gotta have’s is a primer, and so a placeholder for an explication of its principles, Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, that timeless work on free-market economics.  We all laugh about how little liberals understand about the basics of economics.  But how much do we know?  One of the three legs of the conservative stool, as Nash detailed, is libertarianism.  And there is nothing in libertarianism that is built on so rigorous and studied a system as the principles of the Austrian school economics, developed by Carl Menger, Eugen Bohm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek.  Modern libertarianism has degenerated, due to some unfortunate influences from the 60’s, into a hippie “if it feels good, do it and keep the government’s hands off me” and has largely left behind these pillars.  I doubt if more than a handful of my libertarian friends has read one of those classics, even Hazlitt’s introduction. 

And, speaking of Hayek and being forgotten by modern libertarians.  Another work that merits top-shelf consideration for any conservative is Hayek’s The Mirage of Social Justice, which is the second volume of his 3-volume Law, Legislation, and Liberty.  The centrality of that concept in the lexicon of modern liberalism (and thereby into modern political policy discussions) merits the place of this work for modern conservatives.  Hayek lays bare the utter meaninglessness of the concept and crumbles one of modern liberalism’s fundamentals.  Not a small contribution from someone who in another essay explained “Why I Am Not a Conservative” and contributed so many other major works to our understanding, including The Road to Serfdom, The Constitution of Liberty, and The Counter-Revolution of Science. 

The attack of the cultural Left on morality and Western civilization has required the shoring up of our philosophical foundations.  This became clear to me as I began to explore natural law (Thomas Jefferson’s “laws of nature and of nature’s God”) as the underpinning, the philosophical roots, of conservatism, of society.  For myself, that study began with the reading of Heinrich Rommen’s The Natural Law, which provided a basic understanding of both the concept and its philosophical history.  This opened the door to such modern natural law scholars as Robert George (whom the New York Times called America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker”), J. Budziszewski, and Hadley Arkes.  Start with Rommen, though. 

The next book is really more of a genre than a single work.  And I almost left it out of this listing.  One of the three legs of the conservative stool identified by George Nash is anti-Communism.  As an element of the movement it was the unifier that often bridged the warring divide between libertarians and traditionalists.  There is a long list of go-to books for understanding the subversive influence of Communism in America.  The first two I would suggest are legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Masters of Deceit and You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists) by the Founder of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, Frederick Schwarz.  One corrective to the historical smears that make up liberal revisionism is Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein.  In this blockbuster, Weinstein set out to prove Alger Hiss was not a Soviet spy and wound up making the definitive case for Hiss’s guilt. Another is Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, by M. Stanton Evans, an icon of the conservative movement.  There are easily a dozen other books that recommend themselves in this area. 

The reason I almost left these in history’s dustbin is that modern conservatives have seemingly forgotten that there is true evil in the modern world.  The evil of Communism is one of the “gifts of the Left” and is part of the poisoned progeny of Jean Jacques Rousseau.  It is therefore the ideological cousin of modern liberalism and that kinship explains why Burnham in Suicide of the West found that, for modern liberalism, there are no enemies to the Left.  While Communists were often contemptuous of their cousins as “useful idiots”, liberals seem to have a warm spot in their hearts for their murderous kin.  I also fear that modern libertarianism shares some traits with liberalism, viz, a belief that human nature is good, an attachment to rationalism over traditionalism, and the hyper-rationalists’ over-confidence in the ability to remake society on these bases. 

As starting points for a couple of social conservative issues (issues because the Left’s agenda has forced them on us and not even through democratic means), the best place to start, to learn the best grounding for the pro-life/anti-abortion position is Francis Beckwith’s Politically Correct Death: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights.  Though the title is rather emotionally-charged this book lays out in very clear and logical terms the scientific/medical arguments against abortion.  A close second in this category is The Moral Question of Abortion by Stephen Schwarz. 

The other issue of the day for social conservatives is of course the attack on the institution of marriage posed by the push to legitimize same-sex marriage.  While there are other works on this subject, the author to look for is Ryan Anderson, who has become the go-to expert in presenting these arguments for preserving this core institution of Western civilization.  Anderson was a force of one around the country and often cited, including by Justice Alito in his dissent in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court decision, by proponents of preserving this institution.  Anderson’s first book on this issue, as one of three co-authors, was What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, which began as an article for The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, a Federalist Society online publication.  His second is a compelling critique of that decision, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, which explores the ramifications for our First Amendment liberties. 

OK, like the dessert list, I couldn’t limit myself.  There are probably a few more than ten above but I believe they make a good starting point for anyone seeking to better understand the political thought of the Right.  As I suggested earlier, there are different elements of conservatism and in fact it can be broken down further than the three listed in Nash’s history.  And neoconservatism and the New Right were barely making their appearance when his book first appeared and so he added them in a later edition.  

Gene Wisdom is an Alabama native but has lived in the Nashville area since 2007. He, his wife Vicki, and their dog Savannah live near Nolensville.  Gene is a conservative activist and leads the Conservative Fusion Book Club.



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THE HEALTH CARE OPTIONS ACT OF 2017

The Health Care Options Act of 2017 is sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander. While this is not a repeal and replacement for Obamacare, this sounds like a reasonable proposal to help those who are being left without any insurance coverage as Obamacare collapses. The summary is provided by Senator Alexander' office.

Action is needed now to help Americans who may soon have zero health insurance options on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. The Health Care Options Act will allow these Americans—who would otherwise be unable to use their ACA subsidy to purchase health insurance—to use their subsidy to buy any insurance plan approved by their state.

PROBLEM: MILLIONS MAY HAVE ZERO OPTIONS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE
ON ACA EXCHANGES NEXT YEAR

Individuals who receive an ACA subsidy can only use that subsidy to purchase health insurance through an ACA exchange. They are locked in a failing system.

These Americans had fewer health insurance options on the ACA exchanges for the 2017 plan year than the year before, and next year, millions face an even worse reality: having zero health insurance options to purchase on their ACA exchange.

While Congress needs to enact long-term structural health reforms, it must take immediate action to provide relief for Americans trapped in collapsing exchanges.

• In 2016, 7 percent of counties in the United States had just one insurer offering plans on their ACA exchange. This year, that number jumped to 32 percent.

• Five states have only one insurer offering ACA plans in their entire state this year: Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

• Nine states have only one insurer offering ACA plans in a majority of the counties in the state: Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, and Florida.

• Next year, we know the problem will be much worse. There are 34,000 Americans who rely on an ACA subsidy to buy health insurance on the exchange in Knoxville, Tennessee. All of the insurers who have offered plans on that exchange have announced that they are leaving for 2018, leaving no options.

• As more insurance companies announce their plans for the 2018 plan year, it is very likely that more counties across the nation will face challenges similar to Knoxville.

ACTION NEEDED: MORE HEALTH CARE OPTIONS

• Americans with an ACA subsidy but no health insurance on their ACA exchange would be allowed to use their ACA subsidy to purchase health insurance outside of an ACA exchange, as long as the insurance is approved by the state for sale in the individual market.

• Available to individuals who live in a county where the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies there are no options on the ACA exchange.

• The individual mandate penalty would not apply for these individuals.

• This temporary authority would be in place through the end of the 2019 plan year.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

What happened at the Council meeting of 7/6/17: Sanctuary city bill withdrawn, ending lifetime health care for Council members withdrawn, ban on hourly motel rental passes.



The big news of the night is that the sanctuary city bill  was withdrawn as the sponsors had previously stated they would do. If you are going to watch the meeting, you need a program. To get a copy of the agenda, the staff analysis of the agenda and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

The opening prayer is by Mary Murphy, Chaplin of Vanderbilt hospital, and is a not too subtle advocacy of illegal immigration.  She prays that the Lord will open the eyes of the Council to see that all people are created in God's image, male or female or trans, resident or immigrant.

Only one of the three appointees to Boards and Commission were approved and that was that of Mr. John Spragens to the Beer Board. The other two were deferred one meeting and why is not stated. The Rules and Confirmation Chairman, Councilman Jim Shulman, says the nominee was approved eight in favor and one against and then says, there are only eight people on the committee and the "no" vote voted against all resolutions on the agenda and the "no" vote was by Adacus Elrod, "who is the young son of Councilman Elrod." The nominee was approved on voice vote with no recorded "no" votes.  What?  I am baffled.  Adacus Elrod is not a member of the Council.  Why is someone not on the Rules and Confirmation Committee voting in that committee. I assume this was an attempt at humor and Adacus Elrod is a very young son of Councilman Elrod and was there and verbally said "no" when the vote was called for.  I don't know, but that must be it. I have asked for an explanation.

Public Hearing
I am only making note of those bills that were disapproved by the Planning Commission or have greater impact beyond a single neighborhood or generate a lot of public comment or for some other reason are of interest to me. 

BILL NO. BL2017-701  by Karen Johnson is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It would apply an Urban Design Overlay District on 11.25 acres on Moss Springs Rd and Bluewater Trace. An Urban Design Overlay is a tool to insure that future development or redevelopment is in character with what already exist in the neighborhood and addresses such things as height of buildings and construction material and orientation of the front door and location of the garage. Since this is a disapproved bill the Planning Commission makes a presentation and explains why the bill was disapproved.  The Planning Commission spokesman explains that the proposed UDO requires design features such as building material and driveway width that are to a higher standard than that of the existing housing. As an example, the proposed UDO requires garages to be detached or "side-loading" and he says there are existing housing that has attached "front-loading" garages. To see the discussion of this bill see timestamp 10:13. The bill is approved on a voice vote. A dissaproved bill has to have 27 positive votes on third reading.

BILL NO. BL2017-704 would ban rope lighting on a property that adjoins an arterial and collector street everywhere in Davidson County except in the core of downtown Nashville. This is deferred to the public hearing in August.

BILL NO. BL2017-719  is a bill disapproved by the planning Commission. It would change from R6 to SP zoning on one piece of property. It passes on a voice vote and no one speaks on the bill.  



BILL NO. BL2017-782 is a disapproved bill that would change from CS and R6 to RM15 zoning on property located at 622 Croley Drive. No one speaks in opposition. It passes.
Resolutions. The public hearing is concluded and resolutions are taken up at timestamp 1:27:40 in the video. None of the resolutions are of particular interest. Bills on First Reading all pass by a single vote as is the norm.

Bills on Second Reading 
BILL NO. BL2017-705  would establish an incentive program for neighborhoods that are in full compliance with codes.  A neighborhood could be awarded $5000.  Under this plan, if a neighbor has an overgrown lot, codes could review the violation but not impose penalties and the neighborhood could exert pressure on the offender to come into compliance. I oppose this. I do not want to give more power to neighborhood leaders who may have been elected by only the tiny fraction of the neighborhood that showed up at a community meeting called by the association.  Neighborhood organizations have no official status and no legal authority. I don't want to give them power.  This was deferred from the May 16 Council meeting to the June 6th meeting and then deferred again to this July 6th meeting. It is deferred indefinitely at the request of the sponsor.  No money for this was included in the annual budget so if passed it would have no effect since it is not funded.

BILL NO. BL2017-706 by Scott Davis would reallocate the tax money collected from homesharing (airbnb, STRP) and create a new program. Currently Metro collects a tax on STRP and the revenue is dedicated to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing. This bill would create a new Metropolitan Neighborhood Improvement Fund (NIF) and direct that half of the revenue collected from STRP be directed to this fund. This NIF would be a new bureaucracy with an appointed board and various powers and a mission to improve neighborhoods.  I oppose this.  We do not need another bureaucracy. We already have various agencies to deal with the issues that this NIF would deal with.  I also do not think more agencies should operate off their own dedicated funds.  Funding priorities should be decided by the mayor and the council. This was on the agenda of the May 16th meeting and deferred to this July 6th meeting. It is deferred indefinitely.
Robert Swope watches Bob Mendes
give his speech advocating sanctuary policies.

BILL NO. BL2017-741 would require that private parking lots or garages post a sign listing the amount of any fines or penalties that may be charged by the parking facility and to post such information not only at entrances but also at each automatic pre-payment station for those with that type arrangement. Parking facilities must already post their parking fees at the entrance of the facility. This seem reasonable. It passes.

BILL NO. BL2017-743 is a companion bill to the sanctuary city bill.  This one would have
terminated a contract between Metro and the U.S. Marshal Service to house federal inmates. The bill is withdrawn but that does not keep the sponsor from making a speech touting the righteousness of his cause. See timestamp 1:41:14.

BILL NO. BL2017-790   modifies the provision of health insurance benefits for Council members after they leave office.   Currently policy allows Council members to participate in Metro's health insurance program under the same terms and conditions as are available to regular Metro employees. After leaving office, members who were participants in the health care plan are allowed to continue, provided they pay the full amount of the premium with no subsidy from Metro. However, if a Council held office for eight  years or more they are permitted to continue the health care plan, only paying an employee's portion and the balance of the insurance premium paid by Metro. This would leave unchanged this benefit for current or past council members but for new council member, this generous benefit would be reduced. Except in a few circumstances, no Council member serving after August 31,2019 would be eligible for the subsidized health care benefit after leaving office. I support this. Members of the Council should not get lifetime healthcare simply for serving in the Council. It is deferred indefinitely which most of time means it is killed.  
Bills on Third Reading
BILL NO. BL2017-611 is an anti Short Term Rental Properties bill.  Already an applicants for a STRP permit is  required to  include a statement with his application that "the applicant has confirmed that operating the proposed STRP would not violate any Home Owners Association agreement or bylaws, Condominium Agreement, Covenants, Codes and Restrictions or any other agreement governing and limiting the use of the proposed STRP property. "This would add requirement that an applicant advise "the department of codes administration of any objection or opposition to the application by any such association of which the applicant is aware." The bill is substituted and I am not sure what the substitute does. It is deferred indefinitely at the request of the sponsor but he explains why he is proposing the bill and says he hopes the bills objectives will be achieved in future legislation that a committee of the Council is developing that addresses several aspects of STRP.

BILL NO. BL2017-726   would add a requirement for the Department of Finance to maintain a written debt management policy for the metropolitan government. While revenue has been increasing to Metro, we have at the same time been increasing our debt obligations.  Our debt is manageable now, but if and when Metro's growth slows, along with insurance obligations to retirees and Metro Pension obligations, much of the budget will be untouchable and essential services will have to be cut. My view is that now is a time we should be reducing debt, not adding to debt. This bill would require Metro to have a debt policy including pension liability and establishes certain criteria for establishing the debt policy.  This alone will not bring fiscal responsibility to Metro Government; that takes courage and will, but this is a good step in the right direction. It is approved on a voice vote. I would like to point out that the sponsor is Bob Mendes who is also the prime sponsor of the sanctuary city bill. While I think the sanctuary city bill is the worst bill on the agenda, I think this is the best bill on the agenda. One can do something you strongly disagree with and then do something you strongly agree with in the same meeting. I would consider the sanctuary city bill a liberal proposal, but this a fiscally responsible conservative proposal.

BILL NO. BL2017-737 would subject "platform vehicles" in Nashville to the regulations of the Transportation Licensing Commission. This is vehicles like open deck buses are a trailer pulled behind a tractor.  This does not adopt specific regulations but would make these vehicles subject to regulations to be adopted by separate future legislation. It passes.

BILL NO. BL2017-738 would prohibit motels from marketing or renting rooms for a period of
Councilman Colby Sledge defends illegal immigration
before withdrawing the sanctuary city bill.


less than ten hours. 
In my view, why you rent the room for less than ten hours, should be no ones business. For a city so liberal  that it promotes acceptance of homosexuality among the youth of our city, this seems somewhat puritanical. It passes without discussion.

BILL NO. BL2017-739  is the sanctuary city bill and ends up being withdraw as the sponsor said he would do.  Councilmen Colby Sledge, the prime co-sponsor of the bill, takes to the floor to defend the bill prior to withdrawing it.  He says the illegal immigrants embody the principles of the July 5th holiday we just celebrated. He says we have an "us" versus "them" problem.  He chastises the  collective "we" for not defending illegal immigrants. He defends those who illegally enter this country.  I have posted numerous times about this controversial piece of legislation. To learn more about this issue, scale down and see previous postings. To see Colby Sledge's pro illegal immigration speech in which he essentially calls those who don't support illegal immigrants as bad people, see timestamp 2:04::20 to 2:08:24.

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