Monday, November 20, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 11/21/2017: A bond issue for $133 million and not much else of interest.

I do not see anything on this agenda that is likely to generate controversy. There is no public hearing, so this should be a relatively short meeting.


The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 21, 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 staff analysis  you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are nine mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed. There are no resolutions or bills on Public hearing. 

There are 14 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes unanimously the committees to which has been 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 however, 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 RS2017-963  approve the issuance of up to $133.2 million in  general obligation bonds to provide funding for various projects contained in the Mayor’s mid-year Capital Spending Plan. That is a lot of money. However, this is nothing to be alarmed about. This planned spending is for projects known about and approved. It includes additional funding for a planned community ice center in Bellevue operated by the Nashville Predators, additional funding for the ongoing renovation of Hillsboro High School, construction of a new Metro police headquarters on Murfeesboro Pike, and reconstruction of the Criminal Justice Center, which houses the downtown jail. All of these projects are already under way. I expect this to be approved without controversy. For more on this, read the bill or the Council staff analysis. To read The Tennessean report on this bill follow this link.
RESOLUTION RS2017-965  declares certain properties as surplus and gives the property to selected nonprofit organizations, and authorizes grants of up to $4.5 million from the Barnes Fund for affordable housing to the selected nonprofit organizations for the purpose of constructing and rehabilitating affordable or "workforce" housing. This is fulfillment of what is already a policy. To see the address of the properties and a list of the non-profits and how much each receive, read the bill. The Woodbine Community Organization gets $1.2 million which is the largest grant.

RESOLUTION RS2017-966  authorizes the Mayor to employ the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann &Bernstein, LLP, as special counsel to pursue claims against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids that have "wrongfully caused drug addiction in Davidson County."
 Bills on First reading: There are 21 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 except in extremely rare cases.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 13 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-949 codifies what is already a policy of metro and establishes a debt management policy for the city.  Metro would be prohibited from issuing or incurring any debt in violation of this debt management policy unless approved in advance by Council resolution. To understand the policy, see the bill and the staff analysis. This is a good bill.

BILL BL2017-952 says that private consultants and contractors who offer services assessing the initial cost, feasibility or adoption of a public project would be prohibited from subsequently bidding on the actual project. This seems like a reasonable policy.  

BILL BL2017-953  restrict door-to-door commercial solicitation to daylight hours. As one who once sold cable TV door-to-door when Viacon was new to Nashville, this seems overly restrictive, especially in the winter when it is dark at 5:30. When I was selling cable, I often worked till 8PM. 
Bills on Third Reading. There are 27 bills on third reading. Most are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission or are approved subject to modification as recommended by the Planning Commission. Below are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-939 would add additional obstacles to adopting the mayor's proposed transit plan. The state enabling legislation allowing for transit improvement known as the IMPROVE Act, provides that a  transit improvement program be adopted by ordinance or resolution by majority vote of the local government’s legislative body. This bills specifies that such a plan must must be approved by ordinance rather than a resolution. A resolution only requires one vote of the Council; a ordinance requires three votes. This is a good bill. It passed Second Reading on a voice vote.

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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Something to be thankful for: the cost of a 2017 Thanksgiving dinner is lower than last year and 23% lower than 1986

A lot of people really believe a lot of false stuff and it is hard to talk them out of if.  One false thing people believe is that violent crime is worse than in the past.  News of mass shootings and knowledge of rampant Black on Black gang related crime in a few cities can lead one to think that crime is worse, but overall  your chance of being a victim of crime is much less than in the past forty of so years.  I am not going to dig out the data to document this point but it is true.  If you doubt me, do the research.

Another thing people believe that is false is that groceries cost more than in the past. I had an elderly relative recently lament the cost of groceries and she told me that every time she went to the grocery store it seems like it cost more. She said the cost of groceries just keep going up.  That is not my experience. It seems like every time I go grocery shopping I see more little Kroger tags below items that say, "new lower price."  I have seen the data, groceries are consistently getting less costly.

Part of the reason people may think that groceries are more expensive is because they buy more expensive items and additional items. Twenty years ago bottled water was not a common grocery store purchase, now many people think they must buy water at the store rather than drink tap water.  Also, shoppers may buy the more expensive but convenient salad in a bag rather than a head of lettuce and other produce to make their own salad.  If, however, you are buying comparable quality of groceries, prices have dropped significantly. They have dropped in inflation adjusted dollars and in percent of income allocated to groceries.

I don't know why people want to believe bad news even when it is false. After all, there is really enough bad news to be depressed about. One reason I think ready to believe bad thing that are not true is because people just like to complain.  Bad news is more enjoyable to talk about than good news. The price of gas fluctuates. When a gallon of gas goes from $1.98 to $2.49 people will share their pain at the pump. Few share their celebration when gas drops from $2.49 to $1.98. People tell each other when they pay more at the pump, they don't tell each other when they pay less.

American Enterprise Institute recently examined the change in the cost of Thanksgiving dinner and found that the cost of a 2017 Thanksgiving dinner is lower than last year and 23% lower than 1986. Believe it and be thankful.




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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gov. Bill Haslam elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association for the second time in three years

Gov. Scott Walker, who is this year's RGA chairman, praised Haslam. “The achievements Governor Haslam has made in Tennessee are enormously impressive, and his experience providing common sense, pro-growth policies will be vital to ensuring our governors have the resources they need to compete and win in 36 gubernatorial elections scheduled to occur over the next year." (link)

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Battle Heats Up Over Some Short Term Rentals In Nashville


WTVF, NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The battle has heated up over regulations for short term rentals like Airbnb in Nashville.

Two Metro Council Members are proposing an amendment that would temporarily stop the issuing of new city permits for non-owner occupied short term rental properties. ....Burkley Allen....

.... However, the Beacon Center of Tennessee is calling for the state legislature to get involved in the regulations.  President Justin Owen said the issue comes down to property rights for Nashvillians, and Metro leaders are taking the wrong approach.


“Instead of trying to clarify the law and focus on the real problem, here they are trying to tell even more people not to rent out their homes,” said Owen.  “They are trampling on the property rights of even more people.”
(link)

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Andy Ogles Withdraws from U.S. Senate Race

Republican Andy Ogles quits U.S. Senate race: 'I do not see a path'
Andy Ogles
Andy Ogles, a grass roots political activist and the former head of the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, withdrew from the campaign for U.S. Senate. He listed the difficulty in raising money as the reason for withdrawing saying, “With two Republican candidates for the nomination, who have millions of dollars in their Congressional accounts or personal wealth at their disposal, I do not see a path to raise the millions of dollars needed to run a successful race this election cycle."

Ogles announced his candidacy in September, before Corker announced he would not be seeking reelection. Other candidates did not announce until after Corker said he would not be seeking reelection. With Ogles out of the race that leaves Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) and former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-08) as candidates. Larry Crim who is always running for something and who is not a serious candidate is also running as a Republican. Blackburn is considered the front runner.

The only Democrat seeking the seat so far is Nashville attorney James Mackler, who has no statewide name recognition. There is a national effort underway to encourage former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen to seek the office. The primaries for this seat will be in August 2018 and the general election will be November 2018. For news reports on the story see these links: link, link.


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November 9th marked the end of an era. It should be world-wide day of celebration.

Yesterday came and went with almost no mention that that day was the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It is a shame. November 9th should be a National holiday. Or better yet, it should be a worldwide holiday. It should rival a combination of New Years’ Eve and the 4th of July. There should be concerts, dancing in the street, Champagne toast, ringing of church bells, and fire works.

On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the world changed forever. As the world watched, we did not know if Russia would send in troops to put down the rebellion or not. We did not know if East German guards would fire on their fellow citizens. In 1958 an uprising in Hungary was crushed. In 1968 the Czech rebellion was likewise suppressed. As we watched in 1989 it was hard to believe that the East German rebellion would end differently, but there was reason to hope.

There was reason to believe that there were few true believers in Communism left behind the Iron curtain. Gorbachev, to save Communism, had launched Perestroika and Glasnost, which had not saved Communism but sealed its fate. The Soviets had been forced to realize that they could not outspend the west in the arms race. The Solidarity union movement had sprung up in Poland and not been crushed and Catholicism had a Polish pope who was encouraging the Catholics behind the Iron Curtain to keep the faith, and America had a president who said his goal was not to co-exist with Communism but to defeat it. The West was more confident and the East seemed exhausted.

With modern communications and contact between the captive peoples of the East and the free people of the West, Communist governments could no longer convince their people that Communism was a superior way to organize society. And, for the first time, attempts to spread Communism had failed. From the tiny island of Granada, to Nicaragua, to Afghanistan, attempts at expansion had met with failure. When the demonstrators in East Germany began chipping away at the wall, the guards did not fire, the Soviets did not send in tanks and the walls came tumbling down.

It would still be a couple more years before the other Communist dominoes fell, but one by one they did, except for the two dysfunctional teetering states of North Korea and Cuba. China did not fall, but morphed into a state that Marx or Mao would not recognize. It is only nominally communist. China became a mixed economy with an repressive authoritarian one-party government that daily continues to change.

From the time of the establishment of the first Communist state in Russia in 1917, Communism had steadily grown taking country by county until by the time of the fall of the Berlin wall 34% of the worlds populations lived under Communist domination. And by peaceful means, Communism was gaining ground in much of the west with “Euro-communism” gaining acceptance and becoming parties in coalition governments. For more than seventy years, freedom had been on the defensive and Communism had been ascending.

During that time, approximately 100 million people were killed with a brutal efficiency. Approximately 65 million were killed in China under Mao Zedong, 25 million in Leninist and Stalinist Russia, 2 million in Cambodia, and millions more in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. This was accomplished by mass murders, planned famines, working people to death in labor camps, and other ruthless methods. From the thousands of Cossacks slaughtered on the orders of Lenin to the victims of Mao’s “land reform” the totals mounted. In addition to the millions of deaths, many more millions spend part of their lives in prison in the Gulag of Russia and the reeducation camps of Vietnam and China. Those who never spend part of their life in real prisons, lived in societies with secret police, enforced conformity, thought control, fear, scarcity, and everyone spying on everyone else.

While the world looked with horror on the approximate 11 million victims of Hitler’s Europe, for some reason less attentions was paid to the 100 million victims of Communist tyranny. While the Nazi era lasted for only 11 years, the Communist terror began in 1917 and continues to this day. The story would be complete if the last Communist regime fell, but the fall of the Berlin Wall is a landmark event. By the fall of the wall, it was clear that Communism was not the wave of the future and that freedom would survive in the world.

Not only would freedom survive in the world, but the world itself would survive. It is easy to forget what a dangerous place the world was on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The world's nuclear stockpiles had grown to 70,000 warheads, with an average destructive power about 20 times that of the weapons that were dropped on Japan. One deranged colonel, one failure of a radar system, or one misreading of intentions could have led to events that destroyed the world. We were one blink away from destruction of life on earth. If there is any event in the history of world worthy of celebrating, it should be the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Remember Dan Rather and the fake news hit job on George W. Bush? Rather visits Nashville.

Image result for dan rather
Dan Rather
The Tennessean reports that Veteran Journalist Rather Visits Nashville During Book Tour, never, of course, mentioning the thing for which I most remember Dan Rather. I am not surprised. The mainstream media has a obvious liberal bias.  It is not very often one finds actual instances of fake news but the bias is revealed by what is not reported, by how much emphasis is given to a story and what is buried and what is conveniently forgotten.

In September 2004, two months before the presidential election, Dan Rather did a story alleging that George W. Bush shirked his duties when he was in the Texas Air National Guard. As it turns out the story was based on forged documents that CBS never verified. When presented with the facts, Dan Rather defended his reporting and CBS for two weeks. He only relented when the evidence became overwhelming. To read accounts of the story follow this link and this link.

Rather than an objective reporter, Dan Rather was a partisan hack with an axe to grind. The George W. Bush hit piece was not the only incident of Dan Rather's advocacy journalism. Now, Dan Rather is being presented as the distinguished elder statesman of journalism and a person to be admired and one whose opinions matter.  Oh, well, what do you expect? I will not be buying his book. 

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The Lie That Will Not Die

Gene Wisdom
by Gene Wisdom - Like a bad horror movie the twentieth century gave birth to a monster. We are told it came to us suddenly in the form of a Revolution in Russia. But no, the beast gestated for decades in the minds of those thinkers who also gave us modern liberalism. The evil twin carried the same genes of a focus on economic equality, on the ability to create a utopia here on earth, and more fundamentally in the view that man’s nature is malleable; no, even more—perfectible. In the even earlier—by millenia—promise made to Adam by one who said he had Adam’s best interest at heart. Satan. “I’m from hell, I’m here to help.”

The promise? You shall be as Gods. If possible that would indeed be quite an improvement on man’s nature which eons of evolution have yet to dent.

Jean Jacques Rousseau tickled man’s ears telling him that he was born a noble savage, that the society into which he was born corrupted his soul. If man would but subsume his will to the General Will embodied in the State and eliminate those intermediate associations and influences and obligations he could live the tranquil life. Karl Marx simply gave a different cast to the baleful society; for him, the evil was in the economic arrangements, in exploitation by a powerful class. Still, the evil was not within man’s heart but again “out there” in the world. The goal was the same. General Will became the State, centralized and all powerful.

Lenin went on to weaponize these perversions, the ancient promise. Class warfare became coup d’etat, a sudden taking of power. But to effect the promise, to seal the lie, required a revolution in society, in government. Once power was taken, the real revolution began of overturning society. The intermediate associations were abolished as Rousseau required. Private organizations were eliminated, churches closed, priests imprisoned as in the first Rousseauan experiment, the French Revolution, opponents tortured and eliminated. Individual farms had to be abolished in the government’s absorption of individuals and the economy. Millions died in the ensuing orchestrated famine. To remake man, millions had to die. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, Lenin said. Millions.

And the millions multiplied. By the count of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, that number is over 100 million. The bodies piled up. In the USSR, where this nightmare first took form, the number was over 30 million, according to the late scholar Robert Conquest. In China, 65 million. Eastern Europe, Angola, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Nicaragua. And in North Korea, Cuba, and China, the bodies continue to pile up. For those who doubt China’s place in Communism’s ongoing horrors, you need but read human rights activist Harry Wu’s report on the Chinese laogai prison system.

And these numbers are but the bodies, the lives taken. Communism’s toll, its lie, also counted in the souls and minds destroyed. The horrors of the Soviet Gulag, the ongoing hideousness of the North Korean concentration camps in which over 200,000 are currently imprisoned, Cuba’s political prisons, and the systemic campaign of rapes of German women by the Red Army at the end of World War II are the short list.

In addition to the torment behind its Iron Curtain were the efforts to subvert free countries in the Marxian mandate of the Communist Manifesto, “Workers of the world, unite!”, the infernal version of the Great Commission, except that instead of freeing individual souls, it sought to subjugate peoples behind its barbed wires and guard towers. It began with the Communist International, the Comintern, in a worldwide campaign of subversion. The discipline of world Communist parties is captured in J. Edgar Hoover’s classic, Masters of Deceit. While not remembered as a moral high point it should not be forgotten that Senator McCarthy’s campaign was a response to that effort of subversion and espionage. And in addition to this are the countless numbers who have died fighting to defend against Communism’s attacks. American lives alone in Korea and Vietnam are over one hundred thousand.

President Trump, whom I otherwise am loathe to mention in the same sentence as Ronaldus Maximus, in a very Reaganesque move declared November 7 as National Day for the Victims of Communism. But is Communism a lesson not to be repeated? On that day one hundred years ago Lenin declared war on civilization, giving pallid life to the dream of Rousseau. We’ve long heard the adage from George Santayana that “those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it”. Unfortunately, given modern liberalism’s spoiled fruit in the West, which is our public education system and the attack on learning and real history, has given us a generation of “millennials”, most of whom in recent polling prefer Communism to free enterprise and liberty. And so, this system that has cost the lives and souls of millions of people, this lie that has had more human cost than centuries of warfare lives in the prison countries of North Korea, Cuba, and China, and in the weakened minds of Western youth.

Gene Wisdom, a retired naval officer, is a lifelong conservative Republican.  He is a native Alabamian, and he and his wife have recently moved from Nashville, where they lived for ten years, to Knoxville. While in Nashville Gene was moderator of the Conservative Fusion Book Club.

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Rep. Black hopes senators do their job on tax reform

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mayor Barry Letter to Council Regarding Meharry Medical College and Nashville General Hopsital

Last Thursday, Mayor Barry announced plans to phase out General Hospital as a hospital and instead turn it into an ambulatory surgical care center, which would provide only outpatient services. She has been criticized for not giving the Metro Hospital Authority nor the Health and Hospitals Committee of the Council advance notice.  I can understand those in the Council or on the Hospital Authority for feeling blindsided, yet I applaud her for taking bold action.  Advance notice would have only given those who oppose this action time to rally, demonstrate and organize. There will still be plenty of time for that as this move will not take effect until sometime next fiscal year.

For a very long time, Metro General has been a money pit, that cannot fill its beds and there is no charter requirement or state law requirement requiring the city to maintain a charity hospital. This should been done a long time ago.

Below is a copy of the letter Mayor Barry sent to the Council explaning her actions. The highlighting in the letter is mine.

November 9, 2017
Dear Vice Mayor Briley and Council Members:

I want to let you know about an important change in the relationship between Nashville General Hospital and Meharry Medical College and plans for reconfiguring the hospital’s operating model to make it more financially stable.

Meharry, a historically black medical college, has trained doctors to provide care throughout our nation, including in many underserved areas, for more than 140 years. Nashville General has served as the index teaching hospital for Meharry since 1992, giving medical students invaluable experience working with patients from across our community. However, Nashville General’s current daily census is about one-third of its licensed capacity. Only about 40 of its 120 beds are being used on an average day, and 20 percent of those are part of an inmate care contract. Meharry currently has to pay to send students to other states in order to get the experience necessary to enter the medical profession. 

As a result, Meharry, which owns the building in which Nashville General operates, needs access to a local hospital serving a greater number of patients in order to make its educational program the best it can be. Today Meharry announced that it will partner with Nashville-based HCA’s TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, giving the nation’s premier hospital company access to some of the best and brightest young minds the medical community has to offer.

This is also an opportune time to revisit Nashville General’s operating model, which has proven fiscally unsustainable, and restructure it in a way that will promote better health care outcomes for residents in North Nashville and across our city. Since 2005, Metro has provided more than half a billion dollars to support the operations of Nashville General, while the number of patients being served has decreased. I believe we can invest our resources more strategically to provide for the health care needs of our city’s indigent population, while maintaining operations at Nashville General Hospital.

With the help of restructuring specialist Kevin Crumbo, who has donated hundreds of hours of his time, the Metro Hospital Authority and my administration have been exploring ways to improve Nashville General’s long-term outlook. It’s time for a new model, one that will be focused on preventing people from needing in-patient services while ensuring that the patients currently using Nashville General for their outpatient health care needs, which amounts to more than 90% of the total patient visits, will still receive the same – or better – care at this facility.

Later this year, my administration will submit to the Council a substantial request for supplemental funds to stabilize Nashville General’s fiscal situation so the hospital can continue to provide services and meet its financial obligations for the rest of this budget year. Meanwhile, we will work with stakeholders throughout the upcoming budget cycle toward a goal of refocusing Nashville General Hospital’s operations to an ambulatory care model that provides high-quality clinic and other outpatient care services.

We also will create an indigent care fund to ensure that all patients who are currently using Nashville General will still have their health care needs met either at Nashville General or at other area hospitals. This will result in better health care outcomes for the patient population being served.

As a city, we are financially committed to promoting better health results and health care operations. We can restructure that commitment in a way that results in the best health care outcomes for residents while providing a more stable funding model that won’t require Metro to sacrifice services in other areas of government, or possibly raise taxes, in order to provide that quality care.

As I’ve said many times, I am committed to safety-net care in our community. This will take all of us, working in good faith and with good intentions, to create a successful new model for Nashville General Hospital. My administration and Meharry Medical College are absolutely committed to working with community stakeholders to do just that. I know we’re up to the task, and I appreciate your partnership as we take on this important work.

Kind regards,

Megan Barry
Mayor


For more on this issue and background on General Hospital see the following:

Mayor Megan Barry announces plan to end Nashville General inpatient care

Metro General Hospital is seeking an additional $10 million dollar subsidy from the city.

General Hospital request for additional subsidy jumps from $10 Million to $16 Million.

Metro General seeks $7.5M more, on top of a recent $10M more, on top of the budgeted $33.5M subsidy.

How the Mayoral candidates would address Metro General Hospital. None of them impress me. 

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cost for stadium were deceiving

Writing in today's Tennessean, reporter Mike Reicher reports that the economic impact report paid for by the team owners greatly overestimated the economic impact of the proposed MLS soccer stadium and overestimated the sales tax revenue the project will generate. The report treated all anticipated sales tax revenue generated by the development as new revenue. It completely ignored what is called the “substitution effect.” 

The substitution effect takes into account the simple commonsense fact that if money is spend for something it is not spend for something else. People who spend money going to a soccer game would have spend that money on another sporting event, or going to a movie or a concert, or would have purchased more consumer goods.  The substitution effect would only not apply to money spend by visitors who come to Nashville for a soccer game who would have not otherwise have came to Nashville, to economic activity or growth that occurs due to the soccer stadium that would not have otherwise occurred, or to money people would have otherwise saved had they not spend it on attending a soccer game. While one can't place an exact percentage on what portion of the sales tax revenue generated by the project would be due to the substitution effect and what portion would not, most would simply be substitution effect revenue.

According to the soccer deal, if Nashville is awarded a franchise, the team will pay $9 million each year toward the $13 million annual debt payment. Those attending soccer games at the stadium  will contribute through ticket tax and sales tax revenue. The deal limits public investment to $25 million for stadium infrastructure, plus any annual shortfall.


The deal fails to acknowledge that sales tax revenue redirected into the stadium financing will  be a drain on the city and state coffers. Those attending soccer games likely would have spent that money on other sales-tax-producing purchases. The author of the article points out that funds that will now pay the debt on the stadium would have been paying for police, schools and roads. To read the article, follow this link.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dr. Arthur B. Laffer Endorses Mark Green for Congress

Arthur Laffer
Arthur Laffer
Press release,  FRANKLIN, Tenn. Dr. Arthur B. Laffer announced his endorsement of Dr. Mark Green for Congress today. The father of supply side economics and architect of the Reagan Administration’s economic policies, Laffer’s policy ideas led to the economic growth of the 1980s.

“As a Tennessean, I’ve witnessed firsthand Mark’s leadership for pro-growth policies in the State Senate. With great tenacity and courage, Mark led the fight to repeal the Hall Income Tax, making Tennessee one of only two states that has ever repealed an income tax of any kind. The U.S. Congress needs Mark Green’s leadership,” stated Laffer.

An Army veteran, physician, and businessman, Green has attracted support from conservatives across Tennessee and the country. He has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, FRC Action, the House Freedom Fund, and conservative leaders across Tennessee.

“I’ve looked up to Art Laffer ever since I was a student of economics at West Point. His work has sparked so much growth throughout our country’s history, and Tennesseans are better off because of it,” commented Green.

For more information on Dr. Mark Green, please visit: http://www.markgreen4tn.com/.

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Reception for Mark Green


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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mayor Megan Barry announces plan to end Nashville General inpatient care,


Metro General Hospital
Mayor Barry had announced plans to end Metro General Hospital as a hospital. This is a major step in the right direction and long overdue. Metro General has been a money pit unable to live on the money the city appropriates and unable to fill its beds. On average,only about a third of the beds at General are filled.  Ever since the advent of medicaid most poor people have been able to go to the hospital of their choice.  They do not have to go to General and they don't.

The city, in addition to the subsidy, tried to prop up General by making it the hospital where jail inmates are taken when they need care and by giving a discount to Metro employees who use the hospital. The hospital simply could not attract enough customers to be viable.

This move by Mayor Barry should have been taken about twenty-five years ago. There is no law or charter requirement that metro maintain a hospital yet no administration would look at getting out of the hospital business. General has a vocal constituency in the Black community. General is also the teaching hospital for Meharry Medical College and a source of pride and prestige in the Black community.

As reported in The Tennessean, Mayor Barry said her administration would submit to the Metro Council a “substantial request” for funds to stabilize the facility until the end of the fiscal year which ends June 30th.  She said her focus would be on efforts on transforming the facility into an ambulatory surgical care center, which would provide only outpatient services. She also says she intends to pursue the creation of an indigent care fund to pay for hospitalization costs for low-income Nashvillians at the privately run hospitals in the city.

I commend Mayor Barry for taking this long overdue move. I expect there will be a howl of protest and push-back. To read The Tennessean story see, Nashville General to end inpatient care, Mayor Megan Barry announces.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What happened at the Council meeting of 11/7/2017: Soccer deal approved, Civil forfeiture approved, and a citizens Police review board advances.




The big news of the night is the approval of RESOLUTION RS2017-910, the $225 million bond issue for the $275 million soccer deal. To see the discussion go to timestamp 1:30:37 in the video. The vote in the Budget and Finance Committee was 10 for and 3 against and two not voting. 

While the deal was tweaked to placate some opponents, the major issues remaining creating opposition was the weak guarantee that left Metro holding the bag if the team lost money or if the team owners should lose their franchise, and the give away of ten acres of fairground property to the team owners. John Cooper makes a good argument against the giveaway of the ten acres of fairground property to the developer and criticizes previous decision that allowed the fairgrounds to fall into a state of disrepair. He calls the ten acre giveaway a "gentrification scheme" that benefits the team owners. I encourage viewers to watch his remarks.

After more than an hour of discussion the resolution is approved by a vote of 31 to 6.  Those voting against the resolution were john Cooper, Steve Groper, Holly Houzo, Larry Hagar, Mina Johnson, and Dave Rosenberg.

For those really interested in the deal details you may want to read the actual resolution and see the staff analysis. Also, the discussion that took place in the Budget and Finance committee is insightful and you can view that meeting at this link.  For more on the deal and the opposition see this link. For media reporting on the Council's vote on this issue see the following:
      Channel 4, WSM:  Metro Council approves financing plan for soccer stadium
      The Tennessean: Soccer Stadium a go.

This is  long meeting at over three and half hours long.  In addition to the contentious soccer issue this is public hearing night.  The chamber is packed with spectators. To access the agenda, the agenda staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link. You will get more out of the meeting if you know what's going on. Following the prayer, pledge, an insignificant message from the mayor, two presentations, and noncontroversial confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commission, the consideration of legislation business starts at timestamp 20:19.

Pubic Hearing. There are two resolution and 27 bills on Public hearing. These are zoning bills or bills related to zoning policy. These really bore me and I watch these segment at double speed. Unless one lives in the vicinity of the proposed rezoning one will probably find this boring. I don't even try to form an opinion on each and every zoning issue.  None of the bills on this public hearing are particularly contentious and most had no one speak either in favor or opposition. None are bills are disapproved by the Planning Commission so we do not have to see slide shows and Planning Commission presentation. Below are the bills of interest.

BILL BL2017-903 would ban decorative "rope lighting" on any building, sign, or property with non-residential zoning located adjacent to an arterial or collector street except those in the downtown area. The sponsor tried to pass something similar back in August (BILL NO. BL2017-704) but that bill would have applied to residential property also. This bill is not as bad as that bill, but I still do not see the necessity of this and remain opposed. Rope lighting is that lighting that you have probably seen that outlines a tree or structure. It is often used as Christmas decorations but sometimes is used year-round. Why one would want to ban this I have no ideal. I like it. I oppose this bill. It is approved by the Planning Commission. No one speaks on it and it is approved.

BILL BL2017-929  is a bill to rezone property in Bordeaux area. I find this of interest not due to the merits of the bill but find it instructive of the way people think about "affordable housing."    This bill rezones some agricultural zoned property to a zoning that would allow the construction of up to 40 multi-family residential units. One person speaking on the bill, while saying she does not want to discriminate, makes it clear she does not want section 8 housing in the community.  This is not that uncommon. Many people in what is now affordable communities want their community to be upgraded with more expensive homes. They want their affordable community to not remain affordable.  Many Council members and other public advocates of affordable housing have this same attitude.  They oppose "concentration of poverty." We saw this same sentiment at play in a long drawn out fight to stop an affordable housing development in Antioch.

While I don't doubt that advocates of affordable housing actual want to see the development of affordable housing, they do not want it build were economics would have it be build. Councilman Bedne says this, saying "we need city-wide affordable housing ... all over the city, and not just take advantage of economical affordable land." 

Advocates of  "affordable housing" want it mixed in with more expensive housing and want to see the building of upscale housing in neighborhoods that now have affordable housing.  Of course this will result in those areas being "gentrified," and the destruction of much of the remaining affordable housing stock. When that happens advocates of affordable housing will bemoan "gentrification."  I think we would do more to advance the cause of affordable housing if we worked within the framework of market forces. Affordable housing advocates often support policies that are detrimental to affordable housing. To have a significant amounts of affordable housing in Nashville we need neighborhoods with affordable housing. To see the discussion of the bill see timestamp 57:20.

BILL BL2017-937 is another bills that would address home-sharing or short term rental. It would establish a STRP Advisory Committee and it would allow existing permit holders to renew definitely, apply percentage caps to Not Owner-Occupied units within certain census tracts, and apply distance restrictions of 1,320 feet between Not Owner-Occupied units, among other changes. The Council has been working on the issue of short term rental property for a long time, at least a year. A comprehensive short term rental ordinance is in the works and is to be presented to the Council in January. This bill is deferred to December 5th.

BILL BL2017-938  would exempt religious institutions from current sidewalk requirements, provided the religious institution is within the General Services District and does not abut an existing or planned sidewalk. Currently if a developer does an infill development even on a street without sidewalks they must build sidewalk even if there are no other sidewalks on the street. This can greatly increase the cost of development and can result in less affordable housing. In my view the whole requirement that developers build sidewalks should be scraped except in rare circumstance. This bill is deferred to the first meeting in January.
There are 27 resolutions all of which are initially on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Resolutions which receive negative votes in committee are pulled off of consent. Also any councilman may have a resolution pulled off of consent. Those remaining on consent are lumped together and passed by a single vote. 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. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. there are several resolution on this agenda which would complete the purchase and removal of certain previously identified flood-damaged properties.Below are the resolutions of interest.

RESOLUTION RS2017-910  is the soccer stadium resolution addressed at the top of this page. It is not on "consent."
RESOLUTION RS2017-920  concerns civil forfeiture. That is a program that is sometimes called "policing for profit." It allows law enforcement to take someones property upon arrest without due process and then the person who had their property taken must fight to prove they were not guilty of a crime in order to have their property returned. Most often the person who had their property taken are low income and cannot afford the legal fees necessary to fight for the return of their property.

This resolution would approve two agreements between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Metro Nashville Police Department. These agreements would govern the participation of DEA Nashville District Office Task force participants in the United States Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program. In my view civil forfeiture is an evil practice in which metro should not participate. Both liberal and conservative civil liberty advocates included the ACLU and organization such as The Institute for Justice oppose civil forfeiture. This resolution was not on "consent."  Dave Rosenberg speaks against it. Unfortunately it is approved by a vote of 16 to 15 with four abstentions. To view the discussion see timestamp 2:35:10.

RESOLUTION RS2017-951 would accept a grant of $50K from the State to be matched by $50K from Metro to print new, larger recycling cart stickers and tags to increase curbside recycling and participation in Nashville. Unless I am missing something, this seems like a waste of money. It passes on the consent agenda.

RESOLUTION RS2017-962  recognizing November 20, 2017 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a memorializing resolution which means it simply expresses the will of the Council and has no force in law. It passes on a machine vote of 31 in favor, one opposed, two abstentions and six not voting. 
Bills on First reading: There are 35 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.  Normally bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote. It is rare that a bill on First Reading is voted on separately. 

Councilman Scott Davis has BILL BL2017-951 acted upon separately.  This is a bill that would create a Community Oversight Board responsible for providing citizen oversight of the Police Department. He moves to pass the bill and defer to the first meeting in January for consideration on Second reading and he ask for a public hearing on the bill. At the Vice Mayor's suggestion the request for a public hearing is taken out of the motion with an understanding that that will be decided at a later date. Normally the Council does not have hearing on any bills but zoning resolutions and budget resolutions. Davis says that his motion would allow the task force working on the bill time to produce a really good bill.Councilman Russ Pulley moves that the bill instead be deferred on First Reading two meetings. Davis passionately argues his position. See timestamp 3:19:05 for Davis' emotional speech. Davis prevails.
  
Bills on Second Reading. There are 9 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-939 would add additional obstacles to adopting the mayor's proposed transit plan. The state enabling legislation allowing for transit improvement known as the IMPROVE Act, provides that a  transit improvement program be adopted by ordinance or resolution by majority vote of the local government’s legislative body. This bills specifies that such a plan must must be approved by ordinance rather than a resolution. A resolution only requires one vote of the Council; a ordinance requires three votes. This is a good bill. It passes on a voice vote.

BILL BL2017-941 would establish a a Commercial Permit Parking Program. The council would have to approve the geographic areas in which this applied. In those areas commercial vehicles could only park on the street if they had a permit to do so.  As we grow, parking become more of a problem with people parking on streets taking parking places that deny those spaces to those who have businesses or residence on the street a place to park. These seems reasonable. At the request of the sponsor it is deferred to the second reading in December.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 9 bills on third reading. Most of them are zoning bills that have been approved by the Planning Commission. None of them are very interesting.

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Metro Council approves financing plan for soccer stadium

WSMV News 4

Below is the commentary of Melissa Smithson as posted to her Facebook page. Melissa has long been an advocate of the fairgrounds and was a leading opponent of the soccer deal.

Well, we can thank our council for setting the precedent tonight that our city will give you free public land if you are interested in development. NO, REALLY!

And, we will co-sign a loan for you if you need us to so you can hold on to YOUR MONEY, and you can pay us back a little each year, and hey - if you are not able to pay us back or guarantee the loan, that's okay too, our taxpayers have got you covered. AND, you can keep the land we give you too! WOW!

We were outnumbered by soccer fans tonight and did not have the turnout and was disappointed, and I don't hold any ill-will to any of them and not against soccer in any way. A number of them I talked to tonight do not understand either why the giveaway of public land was in the deal. It's one hurdle we were not able to overcome tonight, but we will stay on top of it and will have more chances to debate and people's voice be heard on this as there are more resolutions and bills to be vote on. I hope you will continue to contact the council and let them know your voice on this. Thanks to those that came out tonight!

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Budget and Finance Committee votes 10-3 to approve the $275 million soccer stadium deal

After several hours of discussion and consideration of several amendment, the Budget and Finance Committee voted to approve the approve the $275 million soccer stadium deal by a vote of 10-3. Major concerns that the guarantee from the team owners was a weak guarantee with no individuals team owners responsible remains a very weak guarantee. The tea acres to be given to the team owners remains as part of the deal.

Those voting against the resolution were Councilmen John Cooper, Angie Henderson and Steve Glover.  Councilman Bob Mendes who had been critical of the deal now supports it and voted in favor.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Our city does not NEED another major sports league

Melisa Smithson
by Melisa Smithson - The leadership of our city is once again trying to sell the taxpayers on the latest and greatest ‘must have’ - Major League Soccer, and they want it ONLY on the Fairgrounds property. They also want the taxpayers to co-sign for the deal for the billionaire owners, the Ingram’s, who could get any financial institution to loan them the money. In return, the city will give them 10 acres of prime real estate at the Fairgrounds for making the deal. Also, they want to take away 30 acres for a ‘Fair Park’ with seven soccer fields, a dog park, and greenspace.


If you don’t know already, a prominent family of the times donated the Fairgrounds to the State to generate revenue to hold a State Fair each year. In the Private Acts of 1923, a Fair Board was established, giving them ultimate power to excise a tax, borrow money, whatever it had to do to generate revenue to hold the yearly State Fair. When the Metro government was formed, it adopted the Private Acts as part of their Charter.


During Karl Deans reign in 2010, the city wanted to do away with the Fairgrounds to build a mix-use facility with parks, affordable housing, retail (sound familiar) – all part of a ‘Master Plan’. A small group of us got together to form a coalition and were able to stop the city from bulldozing the Fairgrounds, assembled a petition drive, and placed a referendum on the May 2011 ballot, which 72% of the voters of Nashville voted to keep the Fairground’s existing uses and require a super majority vote of 27 another referendum for any changes to the existing uses or demolition of buildings.


Fast forward to today, they are presenting the same ‘Master Plan’, only disguising it as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to bring Major League Soccer to Nashville. When we decided to bid for an NFL team, we had a chance to vote for it. The city is trying to sell you that our opportunity is now and only now for MLS. This is not true. They can apply again within two years, but they say that would be much harder and competition would be further along in the bid process, and we must act now, sounding like a typical sleazy used car salesman.


This deal has BAD written all over it for the taxpayers and citizens of Nashville: 

  • Why are we co-signing for bonds for $250 million for the owners? 
  • Why are we having to give away land for the deal? 
  • Why the Fairgrounds when the city owns so much more property? 
  • Why no ‘Plan B’ if the Fairgrounds cannot accommodate? 
  • Why do we need to have a MLS Stadium, while we haven’t paid for the Titans Stadium or Sounds Stadium? 
  • Why put our city, and state, at risk for a lower bond rating? 
  • Where is our money from all the investments already made in downtown? 
  • Why are we not seeing a return in our surrounding communities from the Sounds or Titans or Predators? 

This deal is not good for Nashville in so many ways. It will cannibalize the existing uses of the Fairgrounds, and the city will be on the hook if the sport does not do well (we are already on the hook for the Sounds, Preds and Titans). It’s like our city leaders are addicted to development and the latest and greatest ‘must haves’, but our city has a lot of ‘need to haves’ we must address. Our surrounding communities have been ignored and in need of sidewalks, public safety, public works, schools, to name a few. Let’s start spending our resources on our neighborhoods and not downtown, and not to MLS. We can skip this one, focus on our communities, and stop spending our money! 
 

Melissa Smithson is owner of  Smithson Marketing Solutions and Chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. She has been a leader in the effort to save the fairgrounds. 

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Let's Move Nashville Open Houses

On October 17, Mayor Barry announced a $5.2 billion transportation infrastructure plan called "Let's Move Nashville: Metro's Transportation Solution," which would be paid for by combination of sources including a sales tax increase that would tie Nashville with Chicago for the highest sales tax in the nation. You can read the fact sheet on the proposal here, and/or attend one of the following Mayor's office open houses to share feedback, questions and concerns. 


Let's Move Nashville Open Houses: 
  • Thursday, Oct. 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Nashville Farmers' Market food court area, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. 37208
  • Thursday, Nov. 2, 6-8 p.m.: Tennessee State University, Elliott Hall, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd. 37209
  • Thursday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m.: Lentz Public Health Center, Centennial Rooms, 2500 Charlotte Ave. 37209
  • Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6-8 p.m.: Trevecca Nazarene University, Tarter Student Activity Center, 333 Murfreesboro Pike 37210
  • Saturday, Nov. 18, 12-2 p.m.: Coleman Park, gym, 384 Thompson Lane 37211
  • Monday, Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m.: East Nashville Magnet High, 110 Gallatin Ave. 37206

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What's on the Council agenda for Nov. 7, 2017: The $275 million soccer deal, slowing down the mayor's transit plan, a Transgender day of remembrance.

The most important item on the agenda is RESOLUTION RS2017-910 to authorize issuance of $275 million in bond sales to build a soccer stratum on the site of the fairgrounds. Despite some tweaks that improve the bill, it still includes giving 10 acres of prime property to the developer and the guarantees that the proposed team owners will be responsible for the bulk of the debt remains weak. Before the bonds could be issued the team must be awarded a major league soccer franchise and some other conditions must be met. One of the conditions that must be met is that the Council must approve demolition of some existing building on the fairground site which are to be replaced under this plan. For a more detailed analysis of the resolution follow this link and see the staff analysis and read the bill. The staff analysis runs several pages long. It should be noted that I am writing this on Sunday November 5 and more changes may be made to the resolution at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Monday November 6. As of this time, I remain opposed to this resolution.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 7, 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 staff analysis at  http://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/Council/docs/analysis/2017/Analysis Fiscal Notes 11.7.17.pdf or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

There are three mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed.

There are two resolution and 27 bills on Public hearing. The resolutions are unimportant and simply exempt  establishments from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.The bills on public hearings are all rezoning bills or related to planning and zoning policy.

Rezoning hearings bore me and I don't even try to form an opinion on the merits each rezoning bill before the Council.  Rezoning bills usually are of interest only to people who live near the proposed rezoning. 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. If you are interested in knowing what is permitted in different zoning districts, follow this link. I call attention to only those bills on public hearing that for some reason I expect to be controversial or to bills which have been disapproved by the Planning Commission. A bill disapproved by the Planning Commission requires 27 votes to be approved on third and final reading and sometimes that can be difficult to obtain.  Some bills on public hearing have not yet been to the Planning Commission and some are approved contingent upon the sponsor making changes recommended by the Commission. Below are the bills on public hearing I find of interest.

BILL BL2017-903 would ban decorative "rope lighting" on any building, sign, or property with non-residential zoning located adjacent to an arterial or collector street except those in the downtown area. The sponsor tried to pass something similar back in August (BILL NO. BL2017-704) but that bill would have applied to residential property also. This bill is not as bad as that bill, but I still do not see the necessity of this and remain opposed. Rope lighting is that lighting that you have probably seen that outlines a tree or structure. It is often used as Christmas decorations but sometimes is used year-round. Why one would want to ban this I have no ideal. I like it. I oppose this bill.
 
BILL BL2017-937 is another bills that would address home-sharing or short term rental. It would establish a STRP Advisory Committee and it would allow existing permit holders to renew definitely, apply percentage caps to Not Owner-Occupied units within certain census tracts, and apply distance restrictions of 1,320 feet between Not Owner-Occupied units, among other changes. The Council has been working on the issue of short term rental property for a long time, at least a year. A comprehensive short term rental ordinance is in the works and is to be presented to the Council in January. This bill is do be deferred to December 5th.

BILL BL2017-938  would exempt religious institutions from current sidewalk requirements, provided the religious institution is within the General Services District and does not abut an existing or planned sidewalk. Currently if a developer does an infill development even on a street without sidewalks they must build sidewalk even if there are no other sidewalks on the street. This can greatly increase the cost of development and can result in less affordable housing. In my view the whole requirement that developers build sidewalks should be scraped except in rare circumstance. I support this bill but the whole issue should be addressed. 

There are 27 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. there are several resolution on this agenda which would complete the purchase and removal of certain previously identified flood-damaged properties.Below are the resolutions of interest.
RESOLUTION RS2017-910  is the soccer stadium resolution addressed at the top of this page.

RESOLUTION RS2017-951 would accept a grant of $50K from the State to be matched by $50K from Metro to print new, larger recycling cart stickers and tags to increase curbside recycling and participation in Nashville. Unless I am missing something, this seems like a waste of money.

RESOLUTION RS2017-962  recognizing November 20, 2017 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. I am sorry that any transgender person or any other person has lost their life to violence but this is meaningless political correctness. However, if I were serving in the Council, I would probably let it slide since these memorializing resolution simply express the view of the council and are not official acts of the Metro Government. The handful of conservative council members should probably pick their battles and just let this pass.
Bills on First reading: There are 35 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 9 bills on Second Reading. These are the ones of interest.
BILL BL2017-939 would add additional obstacles to adopting the mayor's proposed transit plan. The state enabling legislation allowing for transit improvement known as the IMPROVE Act, provides that a  transit improvement program be adopted by ordinance or resolution by majority vote of the local government’s legislative body. This would specify that such a plan must must be approved by ordinance rather than a resolution. A resolution only requires one vote of the Council; a ordinance requires three votes. This is a good bill.

BILL BL2017-941 would establish a a Commercial Permit Parking Program. The council would have to approve the geographic areas in which this applied. In those areas commercial vehicles could only park on the street if they had a permit to do so.  As we grow, parking become more of a problem with people parking on streets taking parking places that deny those spaces to those who have businesses or residence on the street a place to park. These seems reasonable.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 9 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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Nashville Republican Women November Luncheon: Wednesday, Nov. 8th

Luncheon topic is immigration.  More info and RSVP here.
 
 

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

1st Tuesday featuring Republican Party State Chairman Scott Golden

Monday, Nov. 13th at Waller Law, 511 Union Street, Nashville
Doors open at 11am, Lunch begins at 11:30. Program starts at Noon sharp with Q&A session ending promptly at 1pm. Chairman Golden will give behind the scenes insights into the upcoming elections. 
$20 for 2017 Members and $25 for Guests.  More info and register here.
[Remember: parking under building at 511 Union St is only $7 for 2 hours if you tell them you've been to 1ST TUESDAY!]

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Soccer stadium deal tweaked, still has problems

Image result for Nashville MLS Soccer Stadium ConceptYesterday, Mayor Barry made some last minute tweaks to the $275 million soccer stadium project but they still do not satisfy two major concerns. One remaining concern with the project is that the guarantee that the owners of the soccer team would be responsible for the lease payments which in turn pay the bonds which finance the stadium.  Ultimately revenue bonds are a responsibility of the government and if revenue is insufficient to pay the bonds then the local government must make up the difference. As if often the case in deals like this however, the team owners are on the hook to guarantee the payments will be made to the city even if the revenue is low and the team loses money or, in the worst case, the owners lose their franchise. The bonds are for 30 years and the team agrees to sign a 30 year lease. The resolution says the team owners would guarantee the lease payments.  That is a problem. No individual team owners are named. "Team owners" is most likely a legal entity that could bankrupt if they lost their franchise.  If individuals team owners are not on the hook for the commitment to the city, then the commitment is not worth much.

Another problem with the deal is that it gives 10 acres of fairground property to the team owners for private development. This is in addition to the eight acres for the stadium. The owners say they must have this to financially make the deal work. I was initially concerned about the lost of property that shrinks the fairgrounds.  However, I have given more thought to that and am less concerned.  The State Fair will probably never be in a class with other state fairs.  Now, the State Fair is less prestigious and less well attended than many county fairs. While the loss of parking is a concern, the site is sufficient to maintain current uses at the fairgrounds.  Unless we are going to embark on a plan to expand the fairgrounds to have a truly impressive state fair, then there is not much lost by shrinking the fairground site. I still have a concern about just giving away ten valuable acres, but that is a different concern than shrinking the fairground footprint.

Other tweaks to the deal did address some concerns. One issue that may have been resolved in the revision is a change that says before any bond debt is actually issued for the project the council would have to approve by resolution the demolition of certain buildings at the fairgrounds. Bonds are authorized by resolution but then a separate resolution is required to actually issues the debt. The soccer deal includes demolishing and replacing several of the old buildings at the fairgrounds. Prior to these changes, the bond deal would be finalized and then at a later time the mayor would submit a demolition plan.  A Charter provision requires that no building on the fairground property may be demolished without a two-thirds approval vote of the Council.  What could have happened under that scenario is that the Council could have approved the bond sale and then if they could not get the 27 votes to demolish certain buildings at the fairgrounds then the stadium would have been build but the fairground improvements would not have happened.   Under this new version, the council can approve the $275 million resolution, then approve the demolition and reconstruction plan before actually issuing the debt. This is an improvement.

The deal is also strengthened by new guaranty language that says the team owners would be responsible for the pledged lease payments, team capital contributions and cost overruns.  If the team ownership changes, the new owners inherit these commitments.

Taking a lead in opposing the deal is Councilman-at-large Bob Mendez and Councilman Jeremy Elrod who are still not satisfied.  Councilman John Cooper has been a critic but his primary concern was about the possibility the stadium could be build but then the fairground building demolition may never occur.  That concern seems to be alleviated by the change mentioned above.

The soccer stadium deal appears in some regards to be a better deal than some other similar type deals in which the city has engaged.  I am especially pleased to see the team responsible for cost overruns, not the city. I also however, share the concerns about giving away ten acres of the fairgrounds for private development and am especially concerned about the weakness of the owner guarantees. This resolution will be on the agenda Tuesday night.  If it does not pass, then Nashville will not be in the running for a team franchise.  As of now however, I continue to have reservations about this deal and do not think it should be approved. If the grantee could be strengthened then I most likely would be in support of this proposal.

For more on this issue, see the Tennessean story and the Bob Mendez blog at the highlighted links.

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