Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nashville has allocated $60 million for sidewalks. Only 3.5 miles of new sidewalks!!


Writing in The Tennessean today, reporter Mike Reicher reports the city allocated $30 million a year for each of the last two years for sidewalks and the city build only 3.5 miles of new sidewalks. You can read the story here.

"At that clip," says the writer, "it would take more than a millennium to line all of Nashville’s streets." The amount of new sidewalks built in the last two years it only slightly more than build in previous years at a lot less money. The article gives the city's officials and apologist an opportunity to explain the failure to build sidewalks but there is no good way to sugarcoat such a disastrous failure.

I knew we were spending a lot on sidewalks and I knew we weren't getting much for it but I had no idea we were doing such a poor job building new sidewalks.  I have seen perfectly serviceable sidewalks with only hairline cracks, sidewalks I walk on, on a regular basis, get ripped out and replaced.  I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea it was this bad.  

It seems impossible to waste that much money.  It seems like to waste that much money one would have to do it on purpose. This should be criminal. Mayor Barry should be impeached.  There should be a through investigation. If money was misappropriated someone should go to jail. The council should hold hearings and the public should be outraged.

Thanks to the Tennessean for exposing this waste. Now, what if anything will be done about it?


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Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop in Tennessee

From Governor Bills Haslam - Tennessee’s unemployment rate is continuing to break records. For the fourth consecutive month, we saw a historic low in the unemployment rate with 3.0 percent for September­­­. Even more remarkable: the unemployment rates in all 95 counties dipped below 5 percent for the first time ever. We’re proud of these numbers for Tennessee, but even more proud for what these numbers mean for the hard-working people of our state.

When the unemployment rate is low and job growth is high, it means that
Tennesseans like Ricky, who works for Smith &Nephew in Memphis, can have high-quality jobs and better plan for the future. The story of Tennessee’s low unemployment rate is really the story of Tennesseans who are part of our state’s workforce.

An International Spotlight on Tennessee
October saw thousands of new jobs come to Tennessee from companies across the world, solidifying the Volunteer State’s place as one of the top destinations in the United States for direct foreign investment.

Earlier this month,
I traveled to Japan and South Korea with Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe to meet with leaders of companies looking to invest business in the Southeast. When we pitch the benefits of locating operations in Tennessee, it’s clear that our state has become a leader in the Southeast for attracting foreign companies to invest in our workforce. While in Tokyo, Commissioner Rolfe and I visited with an old friend who certainly knows what Tennessee has to offer: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who led the Department of Economic and Community Development during my first term.

The trip also gave us a chance to meet with and thank the companies that are already investing in Tennessee.
We toured the DENSO headquarters in Kariya, Japan only a few days after announcing that the company would be investing $1 billion and 1,000 jobs in Blount County. Maryville will now be home to DENSO’s primary manufacturing center in North America. We also visited with leaders from Hankook Tire Co. in Seoul, South Korea. The following week, we welcomed Hankook executives in Clarksville to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s manufacturing facility, which is bringing 1,800 new jobs to Middle Tennessee.

On October 5th, we announced that
German manufacturer Hörmann would be bringing 200 jobs and a $64 million investment the Sparta area. Announcements like this demonstrate that Tennessee is making the case to bring new business here, and as companies invest in Tennessee, our state is seeing a return on those investments.

Other highlights from October:

--Last week, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker joined me at the Economic and Community Development Governor’s Conference in Gatlinburg. They both have a long history of helping to transform our state and making Tennessee the economic leader that it is today.

--A week ago, I met some of the inspirational graduates of the Dobyns-Bennett High School Transition School to Work program, which connects students with disabilities to jobs in the local area. I toured Food City in Kingsport where Caleb Peters, a graduate of the program who works at the grocery store, presented me with the Employment First Task Force report. The task force is focused on removing barriers to employment for those with disabilities and ensuring that any Tennessean who wants to be part of our state’s workforce has that opportunity.

--Crissy and I joined Commissioner John Dreyzehner in Jackson earlier this month for the fall tradition of flu shots. As I do every year, I encourage all Tennesseans to head into the annual influenza season with the protection of a flu shot.

--We made a push earlier this month to recruit volunteers to serve as Tennessee Promise mentors. Working with a Tennessee Promise student as he or she begins her first year of college is a rewarding experience and one that doesn’t require a major time commitment. I hope you’ll join the thousands of mentors who have already volunteered and sign up to be a part of Tennessee Promise.

Thank you for your interest in our work. If you have any feedback or just want to be in touch, email me at bill.haslam@tn.gov.

Bill

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Diane Black attacks Randy Boyd with cheap shots.

In a recent statement, Representative Diane Black, candidate for governor,  criticized candidate for governor Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd for his failure to support Donald Trump before he became the Republican presidential nominee, for a $250,000 donation to Conexion Americas, for his past support of Common Core, and for a campaign contribution to a Democrat  member of the state Supreme Court running in a nonpartisan race. She also made a snide remark criticizing Boyd for short running shorts. As part of his campaign strategy Randy Boyd is running across the state. Read more about this at this link: Black launches latest broadside in Tennessee governor's race. 

It is too early for me to make up my mind about who I will support for governor, but Diane Black was my preferred candidate at this time by a slim margin. This was a cheap shot in my opinion however, and she dropped a little in my estimation.

I am also critical of Randy Boyd's support of Conexcion Americas.  Actually, I think the organization does a great deal of good work, but they did favor Nashville becoming a sanctuary city.  If Randy Boyd had only contributed $25,000 I would overlook it but a quarter of million dollars is lot of money. Before making that kind of contribution he should have properly vetted the organzation.

The fact that he did not support Trump until after he got the nomination, in my mind is a plus not a negative. Many Republicans were early supporters of Common Core. It started as a state initiative and it was only after the Obama administration began an attempt to mandate it, that a lot of people turned against it. The short running shorts remarks is just silly and a cheap shot.

I want the candidates to try to convince me that they are the best candidate to continue the progress of the last eight years.  I want them to tell me how they will govern the state. I do not want to see negative attacks against other candidates, at least not this early in the game.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Mayor’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Releases Recommendations.


Nashville Financial Empowerment Center and US Community Credit Union Will Partner on New Loan Option

Metro Nashville Press release, October 27, 2017 - Mayor Megan Barry’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee today unveiled its report containing recommendations to build a more financially inclusive city by increasing financial literacy, empowerment and capability. Mayor Barry was joined at the announcement by committee co-chairs Eddie George, managing partner of Edward George Wealth Management Group, and Dr. Shawn Joseph, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, as well as Paul Johnson, President and CEO of US Community Credit Union, which announced an innovative new small-dollar loan for working Nashvillians who can’t qualify for traditional loans.

Since Mayor Barry launched the committee in September 2016, its members have worked in subcommittees to produce a report with short-, medium- and long-term actions. Mayor Barry charged the committee with developing a “Nashville Vision” that provides a comprehensive approach to empowering low-income and moderate-income Nashvillians toward financial inclusion.

“Nashville has been experiencing terrific economic growth, but that prosperity has not been shared by all. I asked this committee to come up with ways to improve the financial well-being of all Nashvillians. The recommendations in this report will help guide those efforts,” Mayor Barry said. “I’ve instructed my staff to move these ideas to action and complete implementation plans for each of them.”

Each subcommittee created a set of actionable strategies to (1) increase financial literacy, (2) empower residents in their financial decision-making and (3) increase access to financial capability. Their recommendations fall under three target areas for improvement:

  • Financial Literacy: Every student graduating from Metro Nashville Public Schools should be financially literate and understand basic financial concepts.
  • Financial Empowerment: Nashville needs to expand, grow and professionalize financial empowerment tools to empower its residents.
  • Financial Capability: The city needs to increase access to the financial mainstream, meaning safe and affordable financial services, for all Nashvillians, regardless of cultural, societal or legal barriers.
In its report, the committee recommended opportunities for Metro and its educational, non-profit, financial, and legal institutions to prioritize financial inclusion to improve residents’ quality of life. Some key recommendations include:
  • Clearly defining a consistent personal finance curriculum across the school system;
  • Developing criteria and a process for re-credentialing of MNPS personal finance teachers;
  • Forming a private-public partnership that reduces barriers to access workforce or post-secondary attainment; 
  • Finding new innovations that support access to small-dollar loan alternatives;
  • Commissioning an impact analysis of proposed and existing court fines, fees and taxes and the collateral consequences affecting financial security and capability;
  • Deploying pretrial pilot projects that substantially reduce incarceration rates, the associated costs and failures to appear;
  • Protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices by developing a consumer protection program
Discussions have already begun between the Mayor’s Office and several criminal justice agencies about how to implement financial justice strategies, including the use of text-message reminder systems to help ensure that additional debts are not created by a missed court date.

“Personal finance is an important component of a young person’s education,” said Dr. Joseph. “We need the right information at the right time for students to understand this importance, and our teachers need to be equipped with the right tools. Our team will be working with our local Federal Reserve to develop an enhanced training and re-credential process so our teachers are prepared.”
“In principle, personal finance is simple: maintain an active budget, spend less than you make, and save for emergencies and large purchases,” said Eddie George. “However, the process for how to do these things has become increasingly complex. We recommend expanding the capacity of our financial empowerment counseling services to meet these needs.”

“Community Development Financial Institutions across the country are working to improve the economic opportunity of low-income communities, and we are incredibly excited to continue this mission in partnership with the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center,” said Paul Johnson, President and CEO of US Community Credit Union. “We are proud to partner with the Nashville FEC to pair a quality loan product with the financial counseling needed to repair credit and gain financial acumen.”

The Opportunity Loan is designed to help consumers pay off expensive debt and will provide qualifying clients with a loan option up to $4,000. The interest rate and the amount someone can borrow will be based on income, credit score, and ability to repay. Consistent payment will be positively reported to credit reporting agencies.
Full Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Report

My Comment: I commend Mayor Barry for this endeavor. There are several good initiates outlined in the report. For those interested in this issue, I encourage you to read the report at the link above.

For most of my career I have worked with low-income people in some capacity. For about the last 25 years I worked with a non-profit organization as a housing counselor and for many of those years I served as the director of the housing counseling programs.  I have designed programs, written grants and tracked results, counseled clients and taught classes.  I worked with both low-income people who were trying to obtain home ownership and with clients who were facing foreclosure.

One of our programs that was quite successful was "Homebuyers Club."  In this programs we worked long-term with people who were very poor, teaching them financial skills, encouraging them to save money, repair their credit and build good credit, and we helped them get grants and loans to buy a house.  For people who come from generational poverty and have spend their life in public housing, who have lived in an environment where most people were on some sort of welfare and where there were few intact two-parent households, there are tremendous obstacles to getting out of poverty.  As you teach these people how to improve their financial standing and give them skills, you must also help them change their behavior and their way of thinking. That is not easy.

The Homebuyers Clubs were a combination of financial literacy classes and something that resembled an AA meeting. It was as much about encouraging and motivating people as it was about giving them information. In the years I managed the program we had approximately 900 families achieved home ownership.  Most of these were the hard core poor, many of them residents of public housing when they came to us. For those families who succeeded, we changed their life and the lives of future generations.  I feel good about that. For those who did not achieve homeownership, they still may have benefited. I hope so.  Unfortunately, for every success we had probably 100 people who did not achieve success. Some would only come for one meeting or one one-on-one session and when they realized they were not just signing up for something that would just be handed to them, they did not come back. Others tried really hard but the obstacles were just too great and after months of trying they gave up.

I have a lot of thoughts about what needs to be done to lift people out of poverty and what causes people to become part of a class of the permanent poor that have little hope of ever improving their lives.  There are no simple answers but there are things that can help.  The problem of poverty is complex. While there are the hard core poor, there are also people who just do dumb stuff because they don't know better. These people can benefit most from financial literacy. I have seem people who were not the hardcore generational poor but who fail to get out of poverty or who fall into poverty, simply due to poor money management skills or making other poor decisions. I strongly endorse financial literacy being taught in the schools. Knowing some basic life skills like understanding interest rates and how to balance a check book are very important.  Financial skills is probably more beneficial than advanced calculus. While this endeavor of the mayor's will not solve the problem of poverty, it will help.  It is the right thing to do.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Left wing White Nationalist are marching in Murfressboro and Shelbyville

Labels of "left" and "right" and even "liberal" and "conservative" are often confusing and the meaning of the terms can change over time.  Classical Liberalism would now be called conservatism. When the Soviet Union was collapsing those who wanted to maintain a Communist empire were called "conservative."  Nazis are considered part of the right but Nazis were National Socialist who opposed  free market capitalism and believed that people should subordinate their personal interests to the common good.

In an article in the Tennessean, "White Lives Matter rally: Who are the groups involved, and what do they believe?", the believes of the principle participants in the march were laid out. The bigots organizing the Murfressboro and Shelbyville protest are left wingers when it comes to most issues other than race. 

The Traditionalist Workers Party opposes capitalism and colonialism and calls for a “National Socialist government, economy and society for our people.” There website echos Occupy Wall Street saying, "Democrats and Republicans put Wall Street Greed Ahead of Main Street Values." They also demand an "end of foreclosures and taxation on the primary dwelling places."  On environmental issues they say, "We stand for investing in and developing renewable and green energy sources for long-term energy independence and reduction of carbon emissions to give clean affordable power to our nation, millions of jobs to our citizens, and cleaner air and water for our families."  On healthcare they say, "Healthcare is a right for our people, not a business opportunity where working families and the poor are left without adequate access to doctors, medicines and proper treatment."

The National Socialist Movement calls for a livable wage, the ending of taxes on food, medicine, housing, clothing and other necessities, affordable housing, and universal health care.  They "demand the nationalization of all businesses which have been formed into corporations." They are also strong environmentalist. They see access to higher educations as a right. They advocate for "the common good above self interest."

Vanguard America is a group that has splintered several times and recently Word Press closed down the organization's website so one can not get first hand information about what they believe but the group's "manifesto" does not reveal many positions on issues other than those related to race.  They do condemn global finance and say of ​multinational corporations​ they "have bled this nation dry will not be allowed to continue their detrimental efforts unabated." The League of the South does not address any issues except those related to their advocacy of session from the union.

When one hears white supremacist groups defined as "right-wing" or "alt-right" keep in mind that many of them are anti-capitalist, favor a system of national health care, and are environmentalist.  They could just as easily be called socialist or leftist.


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Friday, October 27, 2017

Marsha Blackburn on the Uranium One scandal, The Clinton Foundation and Hillary's pay-to-play

From Marsha Blackburn - Many of you contacted my office this week about the news stories on the Uranium One deal and the Clinton Foundation. As part of our oversight work here in the House, my office has been looking into the Clinton Foundation and the appearance of “pay to play” activities and improprieties while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. In 2016, I authored a report outlining my findings, my efforts to have other agencies investigate, and the responses we received from those agencies. With the latest news bringing up more accusations and questions, House committees have opened further investigations into the matter. I support their efforts and will do what I can to get the facts. 

My Comment: The mainstream media can still not get excited about Obama era scandals or any wrongdoing involving Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation but we may be reaching the point to where the establishment media cannot keep sweeping Clinton crimes under the rug and hiding them deep within the newscast.  When it come to revelations of Hillary misconduct, instead of screaming, bold, above-the-fold banner headlines, the press hides the stories as if they were inconsequential.  It looks like the crimes of Hillary Clinton and the misuse of her office as Secretary of State are going to see the light of day, however.  It may not be too late for Hillary to go to jail or at least have her reputation damaged to the point that even the most liberal partisan can no longer hold her in high esteem. I hope Marsha Blackburn and others in Congress will be relentless in pursuing this issue.

The liberal establishment will claim that any focus on Hillary misconduct is a distraction to take the focus off of the alleged Trump campaign-Russian collusion, but the truth matters.  We already know that the source of the allegation of Trump-Russian collusion was allegation in a dossier resulting from Clinton campaign financed opposition research that involved Russian sources. Maybe the real Russian collusion is the Hillary campaigns.   So far, there is no proof of Trump's collusion with the Russians to influence the election but we know that under Clinton's term in office as Secretary of State that Russia was able to get control of 20% of America's uranium and that at the same time $145 million dollars in Russian contributions were made to the Clinton Foundation. 

In addition to the Russian connection there is a lot of other evidence of corruption and misuse of Hillary's office. It appears to me that the Clinton Foundation, which never delivered more than 15% of their donations to the causes they supported, was nothing more than an instrument to facilitate pay-to-play. There should be a full investigation.  The Uranium One deal should be fully investigated as well as the allegation that the Clinton Foundation likely facilitate the distribution of watered down HIV/AID medications in sub-Saharan Africa through its Health Access Initiative. Allegation of Hillary's corruption and misuse of her office should be fully investigated. I am hopeful that the truth comes out. 

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Rep. Charles Sargent announces he will not seek re-election

In announcing he would not seek reelection Sargent said he had been battling skin cancer on and off for years and is retiring to focus on his health. He has served in the State legislature for 21 years. Rebecca Ann Burke is a declared candidate for the seat and was going to challenge Sargent in the primary. So fare she is the only announced candidate but with Sargent not seeking reelection other candidates may announce. For more, follow this link  and this link.

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The Alexander-Murray bill stabilizes insurance markets, saves money and nibbles away at Obamacare

by Lamar Alexander - Over the last four years, the 350,000 Tennesseans who purchase their health insurance in the individual market have seen their premiums skyrocket 176 percent. Our insurance commissioner has called the market in Tennessee "very near collapse."

Last week I announced that a group of 24 senators—12 Republicans and 12 Democrats— is cosponsoring the short-term bipartisan legislation I authored with Senator Patty Murray that will help stabilize premiums and expand access to insurance in the individual health insurance market for those Tennesseans and millions of other Americans. I've spoken to President Trump four times about our legislation and he encouraged me to reach a deal.

This week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its report finding that our bill will benefit taxpayers and consumers—not insurance companies. The president has said repeatedly and I have said repeatedly that our plan must not bail out insurance companies. We've written language to make sure it does not. Now the Congressional Budget Office says it does not. The analysis found the Alexander-Murray proposal would also reduce the federal deficit by $3.8 billion. So not only does it not cost anything, it saves the taxpayer money.

The Congressional Budget Office also found that a provision that would allow people over the age of 29 to purchase a new catastrophic insurance plan would bring healthy people into the market and lead to lower premiums.

Only about six percent of insured Americans get their health insurance in the individual market. This is where people who don't get insurance on the job or from the government purchase insurance. Imagine yourself, a 45-year-old songwriter in Nashville, who loses her job, has three kids, and goes out into the individual market and finds out she can't buy health insurance because no company is offering it. If we do not act, this is the kind of consequence we are talking about.

The agreement will protect Americans facing higher premiums this year, give states permanent, meaningful flexibility to create more choices among health insurance policies in the individual market, and includes new access to a ‘copper plan,’ which would allow people of all ages to purchase catastrophic insurance so a medical emergency does not become a financial emergency. I talked with Bret Baier of Fox News last Thursday about the conservative wins in the legislation and said I agree with President Trump 100 percent that insurance companies should not be bailed out.


My Comment:  I commend Lamar Alexander for his work on advancing a needed reform to  Obamacare that will stabilize the insurance market, save money and nibble away at Obamacare. Some Republicans do not want to do anything to improve Obamacare, instead hoping that it will utterly fail and thus improve the chances for a Republican repeal and replace. That is wrong on several levels, the way I see it. First of all, the people who will be without insurance if prices continue to skyrocket and if insurers pull out of the market place are real people who will be hurt. Secondly, instead of causing people to turn to a Republican alternative to Obamacare, the collapse of Obamacare may cause people to demand a larger roll for government. The collapse of Obamacare may lead to an acceptance of a nationalization of all healthcare.  If markets collapse instead of people turning to a Republican solution, "medicare for all" may gain appeal.

Alexander has been able to get Democrats to sign on to a bill that significantly nibbles away at Obamacare. It begins to jettison the idea that plans must cover a whole list of government mandated essential services. This bill allows the sale of catastrophic insurance plans.  That is a big deal.  It also allows for some state flexibility.  These may be small steps, but small steps may be all we are going to get and may be the only way forward.  I do not think Republicans can achieve wholesale repeal of Obamacare anytime soon, but "Obamacare" can be modified and reformed till it is unrecognizable.  Alexander has allowed Democrats a way to pull back from Obamacare without admitting they are doing so.  This allows Democrats to save face. Continuing down this path of nibbling away at Obamacare while simultaneously expanding consumer choice and market forces is probably the best we can get.  Lamar Alexander's bi-partisan approach to reforming Obamacare may be the best way forward to deal with a healthcare system that is still in crisis.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Music City for Marsha: Sunday, October 29th

More info and RSVP here
 

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Who is running for Beth Harwell's seat? Repubs' Joseph Williams, and Brent Moody; Dem' Bob Freeman.


Joseph William
With Beth Harwell vacating her House seat to run for governor, this creates a vacancy for the seat she now holds. The seat is a rare Republican stronghold in overwhelmingly Democratic Davidson County. The seat encompasses Belle Meade, Greenhills, Oak Hill, and Forrest Hills. It is one of the top districts in the country for big Republican donors.

Seeking to fill the seat is Joseph Williams a Nashville attorney formerly with the conservative Christian public interest law firm of American Center for Law and Justice and a former teacher at Whites Creek High School with Teach for America. Also seeking the seat is Republican Nashville surgeon Brent Moody.  Seeking the seat as a Democrat is Bob Freeman son of Democrat super fund raiser and real estate developer and former candidate for mayor Bill Freeman.

For more details, see the following.
The Tennessean: Republican Joseph Williams to run for Beth Harwell's Tennessee House seat
The Tennessean: Nashville surgeon to run for House Speaker Beth Harwell's District 56 seat
Website: Joseph Williams

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A victory for private property rights and affordable housing in Antioch

The Ridge at Antioch

A ruling from the State Court of Appeals  upholding a Davidson County Chancery Court ruling ends the long fight to deny a property owner his property rights and stop the construction of an affordable housing apartment complex in Antioch.  Property rights and affordable housing won.

Last year a developer proposed building a 96-unit apartment complex in Antioch. The development met the existing requirements and did not require a property zone change. Neighbors in Antioch did not want additional affordable housing in their community and fought the development. Councilman Karen Johnson introduced legislation to "down-zone" the property to a zoning that would not allow the construction of apartments.  A down zoning is a form of "taking." The owner retains title but the government takes away the development rights the owner previously enjoyed. At the public hearing to down-zone the property, neighbors favoring the down-zoning argued the development would "ghettoize" their community. Johnson did not have the votes to pass the bill which was disapproved by the Planning Commission and would have required 27 votes to pass on Third Reading, and she differed it indefinitely. (link)


Meanwhile, some Antioch residents filed suit to stop the development and lost in court, appealed and lost the appeal. The apartment complex knows as The Ridge at Antioch will be priced to be affordable to people who make 60% of the median Nashville area income, which for a family of three is $37,140. The financing of the project included $11 million in tax credits awarded by the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency. When the councilman tried to kill the project, THDA threatened to withhold future tax credit grants to Nashville if that occurred.

Having worked in the non-profit housing sector most of my career, I am well aware of these type tax credit properties.  They are not "the projects." The rent price is not based on an individual's ability to pay, but on what is "affordable" for a person of that income bracket.  While I do not know the actual rent these units will bring, affordable rent for a person making $37K would be $925 a month. Many people living in apartment developments of this type are not even aware they live in property restricted to people of modest income. There are a lot of single mothers with two children whose income does not exceed $37K and lots of young couples with one child just starting their careers whose income does not exceed $37,000.  One will not see old junker cars or any indication that a project of this type is priced to be affordable housing. The people living in these units are not generally people on welfare but are often young working people.

While a lot of lip service is paid to affordable housing, there are a lot of metro policies that discourage the development of affordable housing and a lot of hypocrisy around the issue.  Some of the Council's biggest advocates of  "affordable housing" supported Johnson's effort to kill this development.  While I am pleased this affordable housing project can move forward, I am more pleased that there was a victory for private property rights.  While I am not an opponent of planning and zoning and think that establishing land uses is proper function of government, it is morally wrong to take away one's property rights.  In this case it was especially reprehensible, because the developers and owners were already vested in the development. Plans had been drawn, financing arranged and the project was ready to move forward when the councilman and community tried to take away the property owners right to build. This was a good outcome.

To read The Tennessean story, follow this link.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Tennessee gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd's plan to have Jeb Bush headline fundraiser spurs attack from rival

Tennessee gubernatorial hopeful Boyd's plan to have Jeb Bush headline fundraiser spurs attack from rival

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I didn't know there was a sexual predator metal.

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Nashville sales tax rate would tie Chicago for nation's highest under Mayor Barry transit plan

by Joey Garrison, USA Today Network - Tennessee - Nashville’s combined sales tax rate would be tied with Chicago's atop the nation in six years if voters approve Mayor Megan Barry’s funding proposal to pay for a $5.2 billion transit plan.

Over that same time, Nashville would move up the list of cities with the highest effective tax rates on hotel stays, moving to sixth overall and to second among the nation’s 26 largest markets, behind only Atlanta. (link)

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sen. Rick Santorum Endorses Dr. Mark Green for Congress

Press release, FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced his endorsement of Dr. Mark Green for Congress today. A longtime leader in the conservative movement, Santorum was the winner of the Tennessee Republican presidential primary in 2012, where he also handily won the 7th congressional district.

“Mark Green has been a true champion for conservative values in the State Senate, and I’m confident he’ll bring that same much-needed leadership to Washington. Our country desperately needs bold conservative leadership, and Mark is the right man for the job,” stated Senator Santorum.

Since announcing his run for Congress, Green has coalesced support from Republicans all across the 7th district. Yesterday, Green announced Doug Grindstaff, the influential former Chairman of the Williamson County, as his Treasurer, and the strength of his candidacy was recognized with an early endorsement from the Club for Growth.

A resident of the 7th congressional district since 2002 when the Army moved Mark to Clarksville with his family, Green recently sold his Clarksville-based healthcare company founded in 2007 that has grown to $200 million in annual revenues. In the State Senate, he has served as lead sponsor of the Hall Income Tax elimination bill, sponsored the Teachers’ Bill of Rights and numerous veteran and small business support bills, and worked against the expansion of Obamacare by passing a health savings account pilot program. A graduate of West Point, Green has served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of a Bronze Star and Air Medal with V device for valor under enemy fire.

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Tennessee sues Nashville schools for not turning over student contact information

The state of Tennessee sued Metro Nashville Public Schools on Wednesday for refusing to turn over the contact information for students zoned to failing schools. (Read more)

My Comment: Our school board wants to protect students from being offered an opportunity to escape the failing school to which they are assigned.

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Meanwhile, as Nashville builds a transit system of the past, ...

"The research adds to another study published this month by researchers at the University of California, Davis, who found users of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are less likely to use public transit. The Davis study — which looked at Boston and six other metropolitan regions — says that the trend away from public transit could have broader implications once autonomous vehicle technology becomes commercially viable and a feature of ride-hailing apps." (link)

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Join the DCRP for Our Next Social Event!

Thursday, October 26th from 5:30 - 7 p.m
Party Fowl, 719 8th Avenue South
Eat, Drink and Be Republican Social! Mix and mingle with other like-minded conservatives, enjoy drinks and delicious Nashville hot chicken (dutch treat)
Complimentary valet parking

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What happened at the Oct. 17th Council meeting? Not much. Soccer stadium funding bill deferred.



At under an hour long this is a short meeting. Nothing very interesting happens and their is not much need to watch it. The most significant item on the agenda was RESOLUTION RS2017-910 which  would approve the issuance of $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds by the Sports Authority all for the purposes of financing a Major League Soccer stadium proposed for the Nashville Fairgrounds. This was deferred a meeting.

To access the agenda, the agenda staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link. No one "takes a knee" during the pledge. Below is other items of interest.

RESOLUTION RS2017-900  and RESOLUTION RS2017-909  would have approved a housing incentive grant agreement between the Metro and Miken Development for the conversion of two units of workforce housing  located at 1211 51st Avenue North. These were withdrawn at the request of the administration. Why, I don't know. The developer would have converted two units to workforce housing and received a grant of $18,204 per year for 15 years. That seems like an expensive way to build  housing for people with an income that is between 60% and 120% of the median income

“Workforce housing” is defined as housing that costs the consumer no more than  30% of his gross income for households earning more than 60% but  not more than 120% of the median household income in Davidson County. For a family to two, the median income is $52,026. So a couple with income of 120% of that, or an income of $62,300, could pay rent of $1560 a month and still live in a unit that was subsidized.

RESOLUTION RS2017-911 which provides $1 million in funding to favored non-profits passes on the consent agenda.  Twenty-seven non-profits get funding including  $25,700 to Southern Word to teach skills in spoken word poetry to prevent violence. For a full list of agencies getting funding see the staff analysis.

BILL BL2017-802  on Second Reading is deferred indefinitely. This is a bill concerning right of way closures and work performed in the right of way. There have been several bills on the topic of right of ways in recent months.  This would impose increased penalties for closing a right of way without a permit and provide an easier means for the public to report right of way problems and do some other minor things. I suspect this will come up again.

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Understanding the Soccer stadium deal.




Metro is proposing to build a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds to be financed by $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds. Revenue bonds are paid off by the revenue generated by the project. That is the way we finance the building of public parking garages, convention centers, and sports stadiums. One thing the public should keep in mind is that if the revenue is insufficient to pay for the bonds, the bonds become a general obligation of the city. If the city should get a soccer franchise and then five years down the road we should lose the franchise, what happens?

There are ways to mitigate the risk to the taxpayers. One way the risk is mitigated is by partnering with private developers who will also be at risk. The greater the investment by the private sector, the less risk the public carries. Other options are bonds that insure against failure.  Other factors that need to be addressed upfront is who is responsible for upkeep and modernization. Some cities lose a franchise when a team leaves a city because the city will not upgrade a facility to the satisfaction of the team owners.  All deals like this carry risk to the tax payers but some deals are much worst than others.  The details can matter.

If you really want to get into the weeds on the soccer stadium issue, a good place to start is by reading the resolutions and watching this meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee. For more details you may want to watch the special meeting of the Sports Authority at this link.

Watching committee  meetings also informs you of which council members ask probing intelligent questions. While not everyone is on the Budget and Finance Committee and only committee members can vote, any member may attend meetings of the committee and participate. The real work of the council is done in committees. Unfortunately the sound quality in this video is not that great at the start of the video but it gets better a few minutes  in.

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Liberty on the Rocks, Oct 19th


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Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast special guest Bill Lee

Bill Lee
When: Saturday, October 21, Social &Breakfast 8:30 - 9:00 am. Program/Guest Speaker 9:00 - 10:00
am
Where: Shoney's, (Nolensville Rd & Thompson Lane)
Who: Guest Speaker, Bill Lee, Gubernatorial Candidate

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Expect Metro's transit proposal to have major cost overruns if built. Real cost probably $8 billion to $11 billlion.

Mayor Megan Barry released her plan for mass transit yesterday. It calls for 26 miles of light rail, improved bus service and a subway for downtown drilled through solid limestone.

The stated price tag is $5.2billion. On any major government project like this, I think it is safe to assume major cost overruns, so realistically we are probably talking of a price tag of closer to $8 billion. Most rail project cost 40 to 50 percent more than projected and some final cost are greater than twice the estimate (link). 

When Denver's Regional Transit District (RTD) decided to build the West light-rail line, it projected that it would cost about $250 million. Adjusting for inflation, that’s was about $350 million in 2012 dollars when the project began; when the line was completed the cost was $707 million. A Boston-area subway-line extension was estimated to cost $1.4 billion  and came in at $2 billion, Cost overruns is the norm. For a list of other projects around the country and to compare the estimated cost to the real cost follow this link.

The $5.2 billion estimated price tag is only for construction. No estimate of the operating subsidy has been offered.  Projects of this kind never pay for themselves.  The fare box receipts do not cover operating cost.  More than likely, bus service will actually surfer it this transit system is built.  To fund the operating cost of the rail system, funds will likely be shifted from bus service pay rail operating cost.

For my views on transit issues follow this link.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bastiat Society meets this Thrusday, October 26th.


 To Register follow this link.





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Monday, October 16, 2017

Democrat Bredesen confirms interest in Tennessee Senate race

Democrat Bredesen confirms interest in Tennessee Senate race

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Fund raiser for Dr. Brent Moody for State Representative


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Nashville GOP chair urges voters to contact their councilman and voice concern over the soccer deal

From the Davidson County Republican Party:

A Note from our Chairman:
As everyone has seen in the news lately regarding the proposal of the new MLS Stadium at the Fairgrounds, the Mayor and this administration in the next month will be voting to do the following:
  1. Approve a new MLS Stadium to be built on the Fairgrounds using 10 acres and giving 10 acres of the land to the developer for private mixed-use development
  2. Thru the Sports Authority (metro entity) issue $225 MILLION in bonds for the construction of the stadium (basically co-signing for the Ingram-led investment group).
Whether or not you support efforts to bring a MLS team to Nashville, we must make sure any proposal does not leave Nashville taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns or revenue shortages, or give away/lease city land without ensuring it benefits and meets the needs of Nashvillians.  

I urge everyone to email or call your councilman, or email all the council members at councilmembers@nashville.org, to voice your concerns over this project. 

Read the Mayor's formal proposal here and learn more about this issue below: 

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 10/17/2017? Approving the sale of $225 million in bond sales to fund a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds.

The most important item on the agenda is a resolution to the authorize issuance of $225 million in bond sales to build a soccer stratum on the site of the fairgrounds. 

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. 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 two mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed.  There are no bills or resolutions on Public hearing.

There are 29 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. 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. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Resolutions on the consent agenda are lumped together and passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a resolution pulled off of the consent agenda or have their "no" vote or abstention recorded. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Below are the resolutions of interest.

RESOLUTION RS2017-910 would approve the issuance of $225 million in revenue bonds and general obligation bonds by the Sports Authority all for the purposes of financing a Major League Soccer stadium proposed for the Nashville Fairgrounds. Not part of the resolution, the stadium developers have pledged another $25 million. Before the bonds could be issued the team must be awarded a major league soccer franchise and some other conditions must be met. For a deeper understanding of the issue, you may want to read the bill and the staff analysis. There are several more provisions in the bill.  I expect this will be deferred do to the complexity and controversial nature of this issue.

RESOLUTION RS2017-911 provides $1 million in funding to favored non-profits.  Twenty-seven non-profits get funding including  $25,700 to Southern Word to teach skills in spoken word poetry to prevent violence. For a full list of agencies getting funding see the staff analysis.
Bills on First reading: There are 8 bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading. I do not read them until they get to second reading. Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 8 bills on Second Reading. None are very important and likely to generate controversy.BILL BL2017-802  is a bill concerning right of way closures and work performed in the right of way. There have been several bills on the topic of right of ways in recent months.  This would impose increased penalties for closing a right of way without a permit and provide an easier means for the public to report right of way problems and do some other minor things.

Bills on Third Reading. There are 25 bills on third reading. Most of them are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission. None of them are very interesting.

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 and you can watch it live on Roku. 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.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Public Hearing on Proposed Major League Soccer Stadium

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 9, 2017) - Vice Mayor David Briley announced today a public hearing to allow members of the public to voice opinions to Metro Council members regarding the Major League Soccer stadium proposed for development at the Fairgrounds Nashville site .

The public hearing will be held Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at 6:00 pm in the Creative Arts Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville . Members of the public are encouraged to attend and to relay candid opinions and assessments of the proposal (within individual time limits) for the benefit of Metro Council members who will soon consider legislation to authorize financing for the proposal.

"Before the Council makes a decision on the proposed soccer stadium, we need to hear directly from the public. By conducting our public hearing at the Fairgrounds, both the public and the Council will get a firsthand impression of what's being proposed ," the Vice Mayor stated.

WHO:  Vice Mayor David Briley; Metro Council members
WHAT: Public hearing regarding proposed MLS soccer stadium
WHEN: Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 6:00 pm
WHERE: Creative Arts Building, The Fairgrounds Nashville 625 Smith Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203 
The Resolution authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the stadium is expected to be considered by the Metro Council on October 17, 2017, although a deferral of the Resolution until November 7, 2017 is anticipated.

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President Donald J. Trump should resign immediately

President Donald J. Trump should resign immediately if he has any honor or decency or if he cares about our country. He should realize he is unfit for the job of president and an embarrassment to the office. 

He seems to have no core values. He seems to have no political philosophy. He has no coherent policy. He seems to be uninformed of his own policy positions. He seems to not understand the basics of government. He does not have command of the issues. He appears to have contempt for the First Amendment rights of the press or to not understand it. He is inept and reckless and crude and a bully and much too sensitive. He is undisciplined and impulsive and he picks needless fights over unimportant matters. 

He has surrounded himself with some good people but then he undermined them at every turn. He seems to not know the difference between the truth and a lie.  As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may or may not have said, he is a moron.  As Senator Bob Corker recently said, his reckless behavior may be leading the country toward World War III. 

Please Mr. President, do the honorable thing and resign now. 



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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

AP FACT CHECK: WH wrong in saying Corker behind Iran deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders missed the mark on Tuesday when she accused Republican Sen. Bob Corker of working with Democrats and the Obama administration to make the Iran nuclear deal happen.

THE FACTS: Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had no role in crafting the 2015 international agreement forged by the U.S. and other world powers to constrain Iran’s ability to build a nuclear arsenal. Corker was a vocal opponent of the accord and argued President Barack Obama should have made the seven-nation pact a treaty subject to approval by the Senate. Read Full Article

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The truth is Senator Corker opposed the Iran nuclear deal and tried to stop it. Trump and others are simply lying.

It you repeat a lie long enough and loud enough, soon most people will believe it to be true. That is what has happened with the claim that somehow Senator Bob Corker was responsible for the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.  Bombastic radio talk show hosts first made that claim and now it has taken on a life of its own. Most recently President Trump made that claim in an attack on Corker. People who make that claim may be innocently repeating a lie or purposely lying, but ether way it is a dirty lie.

The truth is that the Iran deal did not have to be passed as a treaty. The deal was undoing sanctions that were imposed by the United Nations and executive order.  There was absolutely nothing to compel President Obama to submit the Iran deal as a treaty. Corker was successful in forcing the administration to allow Congress to weigh in on the deal but unfortunately, Republicans could not muster the votes to stop it. If not for Bob Corker the Senate would have not even had a chance to stop it. Corker should be hailed as a hero who tired and failed rather than being unfairly denounced as a facilitator of the deal or even worse. I watched the events unfold in real time. I watched the news and the hearing televised on CSPAN. There is simply no basis for the lie that Corker was somehow responsible for the Iran deal. 

You may have policy differences with Corker on some issues or simply may not like his personality, but the truth matters.  

The following from USA Today tells the truth.
Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opposed the nuclear deal and spoke out frequently against the international pact, which was negotiated by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015.

In one particularly memorable exchange, the Tennessee Republican hauled then-Secretary of State John Kerry before his committee, grilled him about the deal and then proclaimed bluntly: “I believe you’ve been fleeced.”

In Congress, Corker led the opposition to the agreement and authored legislation that put in place a process for lawmakers to review and eventually vote on the deal. Obama had planned to implement the agreement without congressional approval before Corker’s bipartisan legislation.

In addition to giving Congress a say in the deal, the Corker-authored bill required that the president certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear agreement. (link)

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CAFFEINATED CONSERVATIVES MEETING Saturday, October 21

12 Noon to 2pm, Uncommon Grounds, 1053 Donelson Avenue, Old Hickory, 37138

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’



In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”
“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
....
Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview. (link)

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Diane Black: President Trump’s Immigration Principles are a Strong Step to Securing Our Border and Keeping Americans Safe

Press release, Nashville, TN – Today, Diane Black released the following statement regarding the immigration principles released by President Trump yesterday:

“I applaud President Trump for taking a strong step to secure our borders and keep Americans safe. The President has been consistent in his efforts to stop illegal immigration and make sure that we put Americans first. I support him and I hope every Republican does the same.

I’m glad the President has included some of the provisions from my bill with Senator Toomey (H.R.400 -  Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act) to end sanctuary cities and make sure that liberal politicians around the country can’t ignore the law and put their citizens in danger. It’s something we need to do, and I support President Trump’s efforts to do it.”

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fairgrounds backers slam proposal for Nashville Major League Soccer stadium.

Last night supporters of the Metro Fairgrounds turned out in numbers for a public comments session of the Metro Fair Board and voiced their adamant opposition to Mayor Barry's proposed $250 million dollar soccer stadium on the site of the fairgrounds. There was special opposition stated to the give away of ten acres of property to a private developer for a mixed use and affordable housing development. 

A few years ago former Mayor Karl Dean tried to abolish the fairground and have the property redeveloped.  Citizens rallied and stopped the proposal and got the Metro Charter amended to protect the fairgrounds. Now it appears Mayor Barry is trying to accomplish what Mayor Dean could not but by doing it incrementally. The fairground site is already too small for a really quality state fair. That was the conclusion of a costly consultants report a few years ago.  If the city gives away the site little at a time, the fairgrounds will be much to small to serve as a fairground. Then, the state fair will relocate to another county and that will make it even more difficult to preserve the fairgrounds without a fair.

It is my view that the sophisticates who embrace Nashville's "it city" status are embarrassed by things like auto racing, flea markets and fairs. While now, city leaders and everyone voice support for the music industry there was a time when sophisticates were embarrassed by "hillbilly" music.  It was only with reluctance that the snobbish class embraced the moniker "music city" when they realized it was the economic engine that drove tourism which drove the economy. So while the sophisticates, many of them transplants to our city, have accepted country music they would still like to rid Nashville of its southern, rural, and "redneck," image. Fairs, flea markets, and auto racing simply do not fit the image of what they want Nashville to be.

To read The Tennessean's report on the meeting see, Fairgrounds backers slam proposal for Nashville Major League Soccer stadium.

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What happened at the Oct 3rd, 2017 Council meeting: Home sharing ban fails, Columbus dishonored, ..



This is a long meeting. The most controversial bill is a bill to ban certain classes of short-term rental properties and it is deferred to January 2018/ To view the council agenda, the council staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Boards and Commissions elections and confirmations
Two mayoral appointments to boards and commission are confirmed without dessent as is the norm.

Eight positions were  filled by Council elections. Two, were to seats on the Health and Educational Facilities Board. This board "is authorized to issue revenue bonds and loan the proceeds to finance the acquisition, construction, development, rehabilitation, and improvement of health, educational, and multifamily housing facilities. The types of eligible projects and borrowers are determined by State statute and include hospitals, universities, non-profit schools, and multifamily housing developers." Seats on boards that can issue bonds and control big chucks of money are highly prized. The candidates are Isaac Addae, Stephan Frohsin, Sarah Hannah, Saletta Holloway, Sean McGuire, Chris Moth, and Blake Wilson. Most people could care less who who serves on these boards and commissions but it is important to the political class. Council members are sometimes heavily lobbied to vote for one candidate or another to fill these positions. Serving on these boards is a valuable service to the city and enhances the prestige of those who serve. While I have heard of some of these people, I really do not know who they are and have no preference. The Council elects Issac Addae and Chris Moth.

Approved by acclamation Council members Mendez  and Cooper are selected to serve on the Audit Committee, Councilman Hager to serve on the Traffic and Parking Commission and Councilman Bedne to serve on the Planning Commission.

Public Hearing
Public Hearings on zoning matters starts at timestamp 24:20 in the video. I do not try to form an opinion on each zoning bill and watch the video at double speed. I may have missed something, so it if you care about zoning issue, you may want to watch the video yourself.  Most of the time the only people who care about zoning issues are those with a stake in getting the rezoning approved and any nearby neighbors who may be opposed. Below are the bills on public hearing that generated significant opposition or for some other reason I find of interest.

BILL BL2017-819 is an approved bill to chance the zoning from ORI to SP to allow a hotel to be build on the southwest corner of Poston Avenue and 29th Avenue North. This is property near Centennial Park. Several people speak against the bill. The major concerns are changing the character of the neighborhood, and traffic. At the request of the sponsor the bill is approved on second reading and third reading is deferred to the fist meeting in November. It passed on a roll call vote of 37 to 3. This hearing starts at about timestamp 24:25 in the video and ends at timestamp 59:43.

BILL BL2017-852 in Councilman Mary Carolyn Roberts district expands an Urban Zoning Overlay District by 1591 acres.  This is a huge expansion. This was previously on the agenda but deferred to this meeting. I thought it might generate controversy because it impacts such a large area but no one speaks on either side and it is approved.

BILL BL2017-885 is a bill approved with conditions, disapproved without by the Planning Commission. It would change from RS10 to SP the zoning on 52 acres in Councilman VanReece's district to allow up to 321 multi-family residential units and a mixed use development. Several people speak against it. It is approved on a voice vote.

BILL BL2017-891 is a bill approved with conditions, disapproved without by the Planning Commission. It would change from RS5 to SP zoning on properties located in Councilman Scott Davis' district to permit up to 158 multi-family residential units. It is approved on a voice vote.
Resolutions
Consideration of resolutions starts at timestamp 1:48:57 in the video. Most are routine and are lumped together and pass by a single vote on the "consent" agenda. A few are deferred one meeting. Below are the ones of interest:
RESOLUTION RS2017-902 authorizes the sale of up to $300 million of water and sewer revenue bonds.  It passes on consent. 
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RESOLUTION RS2017-907 requests the Second Monday in October be recognized as Indigenous People's Day. This is the same day as Columbus Day. If I served in the Council, I would not oppose a resolution calling for a day to honor American Indians on some other day of the year, but I find it offensive to declare it on Columbus day. I would have opposed this resolution.  When reading the agenda, it did not register with me that this day was Columbus day. To me, this resolution smacks of anti-Catholic, anti-Italian and anti-Western civilization bias. I see this as part of the liberal agenda that also advocates tearing down monuments and dishonoring American heritage. The vote on the resolution is YES: 26, NO: 5, ABSTAIN: 7 and  NOT VOTING: 2. To see who voted which way, follow this link. To see the discussion go to timestamp 2:04:05 in the video. No one speaks against the resolution. I wish one of those who voted against it would have spoke against it.
Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote as is the norm, except for one bill which is substituted. First Reading simply gets bills introduced. They are not reviewed by committee until after First Reading.  

Bills on Second Reading. Below are the ones of interest:
BILL BL2017-870   declares a piece of school property as surplus. The value of this property is $3.4 million. Councilman Grover moves to amend this bill so that the proceeds from the sale be used to pay down metro schools debt. This certainly seems reasonable. Councilman Rosenberg argues against this. Councilman Mendez who is often perceived as a Council liberal but who is often fiscally responsible supports Councilman Grover's amendment.  The vote is 19 to 19 and the Vice Mayor has to break the tie and votes "no," so the amendment fails.This is very disappointing. Our council continues to pile up debt and has no interest in being responsible. The bill passes.
BILL BL2017-905 and BILL BL2017-906 would establish a a merit-based grant program for non-profits. Currently Metro gives lots of money to worthy non-profits but it seems there is no logic to who gets the money and who does not. Some agencies that get metro funds have had council members as their board members. This would establish a criteria for which organizations get grants. Bill 905 passes and since 906 does almost the same thing it is withdrawn. This is a positive development.

BILL BL2017-907  would exempt from the minimum distance requirements for off-sale beer permits those establishments that had on on-sale beer permit following approval of a council resolution. This seems reasonable. It passes.
Bills on Third Reading. Below are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-608 is the bill that would phase out Short Term Rentals for all but  owner-occupied properties. This bill also does a lot else. Please see the staff analysis for details. For an explanation of the amendments watch the video.  A committee of the Council has been meeting on this issue for months and this bill was first introduced in February of this year. Several council members argue that an ad hoc committee of the Coucil has been meeting on this for months seeking a comprehensive solution to a perceived problem and that, that committee should be allowed to finish their work before this issue is addressed by the Council. Currently no "type 2" permits, which are permits for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, are being issues, so deferring the bill will not hurt anything. There is concern that if the Council does something too radical, their action could be nullified by the State legislature. Concern is also expressed that if Type 2 short-term rentals are banned that the city will still be faced with an issue of those who rent their property short-term without having a permit. Enforcement of any ban is an issue. I oppose any ban on short-term rental. Many people have followed the rules and spend a lot of money to make their property available for shot-term rental. It is not fair to pull the rug out from under them. My view is that owners of property should have the same right to rent short-term as they do long-term. On the short street on which I live, there are several short-term rental properties and I have never had a problem with any on them. The short-term rental properties are good neighbors. There is a lot of repetitive arguments made on the bill and parliamentary maneuvering and in the end the bill is deferred until the first meeting in January. To view the lengthy discussion see timestamp 2:27:36 to 3:59:07.

BILL BL2017-719  in Councilman Scott Davis district is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. I have no opinion on the merits of the bill but it is of interest because it is a disapproved bill and takes 27 votes to pass. It fails by a vote of 13 to 20.

SUBSTITUTE BILL BL2017-801 would require a report from the Department of Public Works regarding obstructions or excavations which close or occupy any portion of the public right of way for a period in excess of six (6) months. This substitute makes the bill less strong or imposes less red tape than did the version before substituted. Not a bad bill as it now stands. It passes.

BILL BL2017-867 would strengthen the hand of the government in punishing those with overgrown lots  and BILL BL2017-868  would strengthen the hand of government in punishing those who repeatedly violate property standards laws. Both pass.

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