Sunday, February 26, 2017
Embattled Judge Casey Moreland who has been accused of impropriety, including having sexual relations with women who appeared in his court has been asked to resign in a letter signed by nine council members. Those members of the Council signing the letter are Dave Rosenberg, Sheri Weiner, Sharon Hurt, Robert Swope, Mike Freeman, Burkley Allen, Mina Johnson, Davette Blalock and Jacobia Dowell. For The Tennessean article on this, follow this link. To read the council members’ letter to Moreland follow this link..
WSMV Channel 4
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Protect private businesses from having Nashville meddle in their personnel and employee benefit policies.
Reposted from The Family Action Council Newsletter - Please
CALL these senators and urge them to vote YES next week on Senate Bill
127 that would protect private businesses from having cities and liberal
elected officials meddle in their personnel and employee benefit
The state should not allow liberal elected officials or liberal cities to discriminate against a business owner because he or she does not provide abortion coverage to employees or provide special legal rights based on sexual orientation/gender identity!
- Chairman Ken Yager - (615) 741-1449
- Senator Richard Briggs - (615) 741-1766
- Senator Ed Jackson – (615) 741-1810
- Senator Paul Bailey – (615) 741-3978
- Senator Todd Gardenhire – (615) 741-6682
- Senator Jack Johnson – (615) 741-2495
- Senator Bill Ketron – (615) 741-6853
- Senator Mark Norris – (615) 741-1967
Things like this are already happening in Louisiana and Virginia, and Nashville is already trying to circumvent other state laws. We need to be proactive in stopping this kind of discrimination against conservative business owners before it happens in Tennessee.
Joel Ebert , USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee , WBIR - Former Tennessee Economic
In a telephone interview Friday, the wealthy Knoxville native said since exiting his job as commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development last month he's traveled to slightly more than a dozen counties, including Hamilton, Sullivan, Shelby and Davidson. (link)
I am in favor of the United States getting control of our borders and fixing our broken immigration system, but there is a demonization of immigrants that is occurring that is simply not supported by the facts. One, is that immigrants are a horde of criminals. Another myth is that immigrants are all on welfare. This piece published in Foundation for Education debunks that myth.
Welfare-Dependent Immigrants Are a MythThe notion that immigrants come to the United States to access public programs has become something of a popular myth.
Low-income immigrants are less likely to access public benefits than their native-born counterparts.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), better known as welfare reform, introduced a five-year ban on lawful immigrants using public benefits with very few exceptions, like refugees and asylees. This helps ensure new immigrants are net fiscal contributors to the US Treasury — a fact which empirical studies consistently confirm. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for public benefits.
Yet some myths are harder to correct than others. Indeed, members of the current White House appear to hold the same misconceptions, as revealed most recently in a draft executive order from January 2017 which claims “households headed by aliens are much more likely than those headed by citizens to use Federal means-tested public benefits.” No citation is provided.
In a new report, my colleague Robert Orr and I demonstrate that low-income immigrants are less likely to access public benefits than their native-born counterparts. This is even true when they are otherwise fully eligible. For example, under current rules for SNAP, noncitizens can bypass the five-year ban if they have children under the age of 18, are blind or disabled, have a military connection, or have worked for 40 qualifying quarters.
Nevertheless, only 35.1% of low-income noncitizen children are members of a low-income household receiving SNAP, compared to 46.8% for the native-born.
Citizen children of noncitizen parents also tend to participate in SNAP at a lower rate.
This report follows up on the report we released Friday on the redefinition of “public charge,” which can be found here.
Samuel Hammond is a poverty and welfare policy analyst at the Niskanen Center.
Forfeiture of Assets in a policy that allows the police to seize assets upon a mere suspicion that one has assets that may be involved in criminal activity. One has to prove he is innocent of using the assets for criminal activity to get them returned. The idea behind this concept is that if one in found in procession of large sums of cash, one may be involved in drug dealing or other criminal activity. Sometimes if can take years to get one's confiscated assets returned. It should not be crime to carry cash. The following is from The Tennessee Eagle Forum newsletter.
FORFEITURE OF ASSETS:
SB 0316 by *Gardenhire,(HB 0421) by *Daniel
Forfeiture of Assets - As introduced, establishes a new procedure for the seizure and forfeiture of assets as the result of criminal activity; requires conviction for the underlying criminal conviction before forfeiture can occur; requires clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture; and provides that all forfeited or abandoned money be deposited in state general fund and all property forfeitures be sold and the proceeds go into state general fund.
NOTE: This is a very important bill and we have seen serious situations here in Middle TN. This article from the Beacon Center explains the details:
Tennessee’s civil asset forfeiture system: Unfair and broken
STATUS: HB 421 will be in Civil Justice Subcommittee for March 1.
ACTION: You will want to encourage the members of this committee to vote for this proposal.
Friday, February 24, 2017
From Senator Jack Johnson - Senate Committees worked at
“full steam” this week as state senators examined the budgets of 11
agencies and departments of state government and approved a number of
important bills. The budget hearings, which will continue through March
16, are part of the process of reviewing how taxpayer dollars are spent
to examine whether taxpayer money is being used efficiently and
effectively to meet the state’s goals. They also provide lawmakers with
an opportunity to talk with state officials about a wide variety of
important state issues.
Among agencies appearing before Senate committees this week were the Tennessee Division of Health Care Finance and Administration, which administers the state’s TennCare program, and the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which regulates the state’s health insurance industry. Both agencies talked about the changing national landscape as Congress and President Donald Trump consider measures to revise, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is also known as Obamacare.
The federal government has steadily increased requirements on states in regard to populations and services that must be covered by TennCare, which serves the state’s Medicaid population. These federal regulations block or severely limit a state’s ability to innovate and make changes designed to control costs or promote personal responsibility.
Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak told members of the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee that Congress should return as much flexibility as possible to the states to address their respective marketplace needs as they consider revisions to the ACA. In the meantime, she stressed the need to stabilize the state’s individual markets by focusing on key areas that can provide immediate assistance like rating factors, essential health benefits, special enrollment periods and grace periods.
As President-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, McPeak could weigh in on proposals pending in Congress as she recently testified before the U.S. Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions.
McPeak also stressed the need for Congress to remain transparent and to engage stakeholders to minimize surprises in the regulatory system. She said markets need clarity so that carriers do not exit markets in mass because they do not have an idea of what to expect in terms of regulation over the next several years.
Tennessee has seen rates steadily increase since Obamacare was implemented. Approved rate increases ranged from seven to 19 percent in 2015, up to 36 percent in 2016 and have increased substantially for 2017. In addition, a Co-op that provided coverage from 2014 to 2015 had to be placed in receivership due to its instability to provide health coverage to enrollees.
Even with rate increases, Tennessee’s individual insurance market continues to struggle, McPeak said. Presently, the state has three insurance carriers, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna, and Humana, offering policies on our Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). However, the future of Humana is in question after the insurer announced last week that it plans to stop selling insurance on the FFM in 2018. The move particularly impacts the greater Knoxville area where no other insurers are present on the exchange. McPeak said she is continuing talks with Humana in an effort to get the company to continue coverage.
In 73 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, particularly the more rural areas of the State, Tennesseans only have one insurer option. This is down from 2016 when the state had two carriers offering policies in all Tennessee counties.
The highlighting in the above is that of the editor.
Former Davidson County Administrator of Elections Albert Tieche says that while we do not have proof that massive voter fraud exist, there is massive opportunity for it to occur. To read his insightful and well-documented essay on the topic follow this link.
CAFFEINATED CONSERVATIONS - Sat., Feb. 25 noon to 2 Uncommon Grounds
Thursday, February 23, 2017
by Anita Wadhwani , USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee - A report by the Tennessee Comptroller detailed hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable spending for food programs intended to feed low-income children under the oversight of the Department of Human Services. (Read more)
What happened at the Feb 21st meeting? Protestors take over the meeting and call Councilman Hastings a "House Nigger." The city approves $13.7 benefit deal for Opryland Hotel.
The big news from this council meeting is that protestors disrupt the meeting protesting the police shooting of an armed convicted criminal almost two weeks ago. The victim was Black and the Police Officer was White. The city has appropriately responded to the shooting and the Attorney General invited the FBI to conduct the investigation into the shooting.
The Council disturbance starts at about timestamp 10:00 in the video. The camera stays focused on the front of the chamber and the sound is off so you really can't tell much about what transpired from the video. At timestamp 21:00 Vice Mayor Briley takes control and calls the meeting back to order and recognizes Councilman Karen Johnson who moves to allow a twenty minute comment period by the protestors at the conclusion of regular business.
The protestors who commandeered the meeting are given the podium at timestamp 1:28:35. The worst comment of the evening was when a speaker wearing a clerical collar called Councilman Hastings a "house nigger" and an "uncle Tom." I am pleased to see Vice Mayor Briley come to the defense of Councilman Hastings and say that those comments were inappropriate.
|The "Reverend" calls Councilman Hastings|
a "House Nigger."
There is not a lot of legislation of interest or controversy on the agenda. This is a meeting where you don't really need an agenda or agenda analysis to watch the meeting but if you want to read the agenda and analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. Appointees are confirmed unanimously as is the norm and all bills on First Reading are approved as is the norm. The only Resolution not on the Consent agenda is RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566 by Scott Davis which expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. It is deferred one meeting. To see the sponsors comment on the resolutions see timestamp 30:53.
In what appears to be a subtle slam at President Trump for his temporary ban on immigrants from dysfunctional countries that produce lots of terrorist and for his resuming enforcement of our nations immigration laws, the Council passes RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-568, recognizing February 19, 2017 as a Day of Remembrance, commemorating the historical significance of Executive Order 9066. That was the Executive Order signed by Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt that imprisoned Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japaneses decent following the outbreak of World War II. I support the resolution condemning that shameful chapter in American history. I fully expected this resolution to pass and I would have obviously voted for it, if I served in the Council. I expected it to pass on Consent without ceremony or grandstanding as do other resolutions on Consent, however. It's passage draws audience applause. To see the Council floor action on this resolution see timestamp 32:45-36:30.
|Ryman renderings of major water park at Opryland|
Bills on Second Reading
BILL NO. BL2017-589 is the bill that would grant a $13.7 million incentive package for Opryland Hotel to build a water park. This water park would be for the use of hotel guest only and not the general public. The argument for this type of crony capitalism is that it has an economic impact, including increased sales tax revenue and employment. Councilmen John Cooper, Colby Sledge and Jim Shulman were the only votes in opposition. To see the discussion see timestamp 44:12-104:48. To see The Tennessean coverage of this issue follow this link.
Bills on Third Reading
BLL NO. BL2016-492 clarifies and modifies Short-term rental (STRP) rules. This passes on a voice vote without discussion. For a lot of background and links to other stories on this topic follow this link. This bill is really pretty simple and just tweaks what already exist. It does not include a moratorium or ban on Short Term Property Rentals.
Important announcement regarding short term rental. There are three new bills addressing Short Term Rental Property that have been filed scheduled for public hearing on March 7th. The three bills will be delayed for public hearing until April 4th. One of these bills would ban all new non-owner-occupied STRP, one would impose a 36-month moratorium on them and one would impose a 12-month moratorium. To hear the announcements see time stamp 1:25:33. Those who care about this issue may want to listen to the announcement. Be aware that between now and then their will be Planning Commission consideration of these bills also. If you care about this issue then you may want to get involved.
Press release, Nashville, Tennessee
- Latinos for Tennessee, a non-partisan organization committed to
protecting and promoting faith, family, freedom and fiscal
responsibility issued a statement in support of President Trump's latest
immigration announcement that includes enforcing existing immigration
laws while accommodating young adults that were brought to this country
illegally, at no fault of their own, in a federal program commonly known
"President Trump demonstrated good judgment and compassion in his most recent immigration order while also following through on his promise to enforce existing immigration laws. The reality is that if we are to remain free and prosperous, no one can be above the law. What's more, to rebuild trust with the American people to push for a permanent immigration solution, our government needs to immediately expel those that have come here to our country to commit crime and be a burden on society," said Lopez.
Lopez continued, "It is also important to note that President Trump is simply doing what prior administrations have previously done by enforcing existing immigration laws, including former President Barack Obama, who was described by National Council of La Raza's Executive Director, Janet Murguía, as the 'Deporter in Chief' after deporting millions during his administration."
The Executive Director of Latinos for Tennessee concluded: "Latinos for Tennessee has always been, and remains, supportive of immigrants, and of our immigrant community here in the great state of Tennessee and around our country. But to do this, we must discourage continued illegal immigration and work to improve the legal avenues for legal immigration. We are confident that President Trump understands this and we support him and his administration for doing what is necessary to ensure that we remain a country of laws, and also a country of immigrants."
Latinos for Tennessee has a presence in Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga and is the only ideologically conservative Latino organization in the state of Tennessee.
For more information, visit http://latinosfortn.com.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Time to push back against the left and make our voices heard!
We strongly support President Trump in his effort to put America First and we are holding rallies to show support for President Trump’s policies
There was a spontaneous uprising of grassroots activists that voted for President Trump to find a way to let people know that we support his agenda. Unlike those protesting against President Trump’s vision, we are a diverse coalition that are the heart and soul of America that wants our nation to fulfill our potential, as the greatest nation on God’s green earth!
The rallies will be positive, patriotic, uplifting, and open to anyone that supports an America First agenda.
Bring your umbrella and chair if warranted!
As soon as the video of the meeting is available, I will post it. About the only item of any controversy or interest on the agenda was that the Council voted 33-3 on Second Reading to advance a $13.7 million incentive package for Opryland Hotel to build a water park (link.).
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017
Nashville has experienced steady growth for a number of years but rapid growth in the last three years that continues. Something like 30,000 people a year move to Nashville. This is pushing up property values. One may drive down a street that one haven't been on in a while and hardly recognize it. As a home goes on the market, it is purchased, the existing house torn down and a larger very expensive home goes up in its place. I am shocked at some of the places they are building homes and the prices the sellers are getting.
Nashville is currently undergoing a reappraisal. Property is reappraised not to bring in more tax revenue but to equalize taxes so that those with more expensive property pay more taxes than those in more modest homes. Some people will get a shock when they discover what their property is worth. Mayor Barry, to her credit, has said she will not raise taxes this year. By law, a reappraisal can not increase revenue to the government. Following the reappraisal, the local government must approve a new lower certified tax rate that raises no more money than the old tax rate. Often however, politicians see this as an opportunity to slip in a tax increase, and immediately after adopting the new certified tax rate, they adopt a tax increase tax rate. Citizens often do not understand what has happened and blame the increase in property taxes on the reappraisal.
So, who will see a tax increase due to the property mass reappraisal? If you live in an area that has had property values increase greater than the average increase in values, you can expect a property tax increase. If property values increased at rate less that the average, you should expect a decrease in property taxes. The already highly desirable areas to live saw increases but more modest increases in value than in the newly "gentrifying" neighborhoods, like The Nations, Woodbine, Englewood, and parts of East Nashville. If you live in a modest neighborhood but every time a house goes on the market it is torn down and replaced by a much larger expensive home, you are likely to have big tax increase.
I don't have much sympathy for those who recently purchased a $275,000 house in Woodbine; they can afford the taxes. For those who paid $36,000 for their Woodbine home in 1990, they may have a whopper of an increase. I have sympathy for those whose income did not increase as property values were increasing. I especially have sympathy for those on a fixed income. There is however relief for many of these people. Here are three programs that may help many of those people:
- Tax freeze: A tax "freeze" means the homeowner would continue to pay the same taxes they are paying now even if the reappraisal determines they should pay more. Any homeowner who is 65 or older and earns less than $41,660 may be eligible for a tax freeze.
- Tax relief: Tax"relief" is reimbursement from the state for some or all of the property taxes a homeowner paid in a given year. Metro may match the state relief. Homeowners who are 65 and older or disabled and earn less than $29,180 a year may be eligible for tax relief.
- Tax deferral: Homeowners may be able to defer payment on their taxes until they die or they sell their property. To be eligible, homeowners must be 65 or older or disabled and have a combined income of less than $25,000.
Nashville, the old Howard School location. Applications must be filed by April 5th each year. New applicants must go in person to the Trustees office but no appointment is required. There are certain documents one must bring with them. Go the the website of Office of the Trustee or call that office at (615) 862-6330 to know what to bring. The office is open from 8AM to 4:30PM but applicants need to arrive at the Trustee's office by 3:00PM. Charlie Cardwell is nice man and runs a good office and people in his office are very nice and helpful.
If you think you may be eligible, don't hesitate to apply. If you have employees or friends or relatives who may be eligible, tell them about these programs.
In my other existence, when I am not a political blogger, I am a housing counselor with a non-profit, HUD-approved housing counseling agency. If you are making house payments and worried you may not be able to afford your home and need advice about what to do, give me a call. There are often solutions to avoiding foreclosure and sometimes there is a possibility of getting mortgage payments reduced to lower payments. Call me for a phone consultation or an appointment. There is no cost to the client for the service I provide. Call Rod Williams 615-850-3453.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
he Metro Council will meet Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 at 6:30 PM in
Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you can be a
well-informed citizen of our city and still not have to watch them.
you are going to watch the council meeting, you really need the agenda and the Council staff analysis,
otherwise you will be clueless about what is going on. Follow the
links above to view the agenda and staff analysis. This ought to be a short meeting. There is almost nothing of controversy on the agenda.
There are twelve appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously. There is one resolution on public hearing to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. These are usually routinely approved. There are no bills on public hearing this meeting.
There are 17 resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent. Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. None of these appear particularly controversial. Here are the resolutions of interest:
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-517 request Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency to revise its official Tax Increment Financing development priorities for the Downtown Core to prioritize green space and public space and deprioritize parking space. I agree with this. Market forces will optimize the correct number of parking spaces and the city also builds public parking garages, the bonds paid for with parking fees. With parking off Broadway running $20 I seldom drive downtown. I can take Uber to and from Broadway for less than $12. We need more green space instead of more parking downtown.There are only five bills on First Reading. First Reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not discussed by committee until after First Reading. Almost always, bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote. I do usually not examine bills on First Reading.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-555 accepts an Enhancing Savings Outcomes for Financial Counseling Grant from the Cities for Financial Empowerment. This would be a grant to help fund the city's Empowerment Center to specifically teach saving skills and train counselors in how to teach these skills. Ideally this would not be necessary. These would be skills that people learn from their parents and that just come naturally, but so many people live in a world of "I deserve it" and "I want it now," that saving and planning ahead is a foreign concept. I know that behavior can be changed and learning self discipline can change a persons life. I am critical of most anti-poverty programs, but those aimed at teaching people to change their behaviors and values that cause them to be poor, I support.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566 by Scott Davis expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. I strongly support this memorializing resolutions.
Bills on Second Reading. There are 14 bills on Second Reading and none of them are of particular interest and I do not expect any of them to be controversial. Some existing programs are extended or tweaked and there are a couple of minor animal protection bills, but nothing that should cause controversy.
Bills on Third Reading: These are the only ones of interest.
BLL NO. BL2016-492 clarifies and modifies Short-term rental (STRP) rules. In October of 2016, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Metro's existing Short Term Rental Property rules were unconstitutionally vague. This bill attempts to correct that defect and defines terms. It really doesn't do anything new. It clarifies and it incorporates recent changes passed by the Council to the STRP regulations.
The bill identifies three different type of STRP: Type 1, owner-occupied; Type 2, not owner-occupied; and Type 3, not owner-occupied multifamily. The bill sets limitation on the number of the different types allowed per census tract and it sets occupancy limits. It sits the minimum and maximum length of stay for an STRP. Why if someone wanted to rent a STRP for more than thirty days, they are not permitted to do so, I don't know. This bill requires that the owners contact information be posted within the property and the owner be available 24/7 to answer calls from renters. It spells out how complaints are handled and says that if a permit is revoked a new permit cannot be issued for that property for one year. It established a fine of $50 a day for operating a STRP without a permit. It also does a lot of other things.
The rules appears overly restrictive and I do not like this bill and would like to see less regulation. Much of what people complain about such as noise and parking is already covered by other code previsions. Also, as some of the thousands of planned hotels and motels rooms get build, I suspect the demand for Airbnb lodging to level off.
Since any change to this bill is likely to impose more regulations rather than less, if I were in the Council I would vote for this. Sometimes as legislator one is faced with the choice of voting for something he does not like in order to stop something from passing that he would like even less.
On the street on which I live there is a STRP diagonally across the street and another two doors down from me. I never have had a problem with them. The owner of the properties has came by to visit with me and gave me her phone number and told me to call her I ever have reason to complain. I don't mind seeing the young girls in town for bachelorette parties come and go and families playing touch football in the front yard. Some people are just not happy if other people are having fun.
This was on Public Hearing two meeting ago and there were a lot of people speaking in favor and a whole lot more in opposition. Those in support were mostly short-term rental hosts saying they support the revised ordinance. Those in opposition said the bill does not go far enough. Some argue that STRP drive up local rental rates by taking what would be rental units off the market. Others complain of living next door to these units where people make excessive noise and party all night. One speaker talks of orgies taking place. I would have to see that to believe it, but that is what is was said. Many of the speakers want type three STRP amended out of the bill and prohibited. Some want type two and three taken out and a few want all STRP banned. A lot of the opposition is organized. Among those in opposition were neighborhood activist John Summers and John Stern. Councilman sledge made arguments against the bill as did Councilman Weiner, Elrod and Glover. I expected amendments to be offered to prohibit type two and type three STRP but that has not happen. Those are coming however in separate bills not as amendments to this bill. To see the discussion at the public hearing see timestamp 38:14- 2:50:52 at this link. To see media coverage of this issue follow these links: WSMV, Nashville Airbnb fans, foes collide at Metro Council ... and The Tennessean, Nashville Airbnb fans, foes collide at Metro Council.
Since this does not include the bans or moratorium, I would support this bill. For much more on the issue see these links:
(update) What's on the Council Agenda for Feb. 7th: New AirBnb rules, $16M more for General Hospital, $ to build affordable housing,
Does racism drive Nashville's crackdown on Airbnb's?
Nashville’s Airbnbs get taxed, but swank hotels get the benefits
Why The Anderson's are suing Metro Government
Metro's Airbnb law unconstitutional!
Critics want to ban all new Airbnb rentals
Nashville Metro Council collaborates with hotels to curb Airbnb’s
BILL NO. BL2016-496 would prohibit vehicles from parking in electric charging station spaces. I have been tempted to park in those spaces myself but have not done so. I am curious how much revenue the city is losing by having these reserved spaces. I have never seen a car charging at them. I wonder how often they are used. Instead of making it a penalty to park in these spaces, I would think the charging station spaces should be turned back into parking spaces.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
This is a text message and unofficial but comes from a trusted source:
TRES WITTUM WON THE DAVIDSON COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN'S RACE TODAY IN A RUN-OFF VOTE.Tres Wittum's eligibility to serve will likely be challenged. If the state party rules he is ineligible to serve, then I would assume Melissa Smithson would become Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party.
MELISSA SMITHSON WAS SELECTED FIRST VICE-CHAIRMAN BY ACCLAMATION.
ERIN ROGUS WHO WORKS FOR FORMER U.S. SENATOR BILL FRIST WAS ELECTED COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY.
HEATHER SCZEPCZENSKI WHO WORKS FOR THE STATE TREASURER WAS ELECTED 2ND VICE CHAIRMAN.
EVAN FREEMAN WITH LARMAR ALEXANDER'S OFFICE IS NOW RECORDING SECRETARY. METRO NASHVILLE COUNCILMAN STEVE GLOVER IS THE TREASURER. AARON SNODDERLY IS THE ASSISTANT TREASURER.
I don't guess I had ever heard the term "goat rodeo" before, but today at the Davidson County Republican Party caucuses and convention, while a lengthy floor debate was going on with lots of points of order being made, someone said to me, "This is a real 'goat rodeo."' "Goat rodeo" is a term meaning a chaotic, unmanageable situation. That about describes the DCRP convention today.
The caucuses and convention took place today at the Maxwell House Hotel. In previous years the Party would have the caucuses on one Saturday and then the next Saturday, have the convention. This year, they had both on the same day. That, I think, was an improvement. Not many people want to give up two Saturdays in a row for the Party.
The caucuses are actually 35 separate meeting, one for each council district. At the district caucus meetings any bonafied Republican may attend and elect delegates to the convention. There is almost always more slots available than people attending so almost always anyone who attends can be elected as a delegate. I live n District 17 and we were authorized six delegates and there were only two people from District 17 who attended the caucus. All totaled there was only about 200 people who attended.
The caucuses convened at 9AM this morning and that went relatively smoothy. I assume most attendees had preregistered, so there were no long lines to check credentials. The caucus meetings were over by about 10AM. The convention did not convene until 12:30PM however so we had to kill two and half hours. I went off my diet for the big breakfast buffet and had a most enjoyable breakfast with three other people who were attending. We had meaningful discussions of weighty political issues.
When the convention convened, that is when the goat rodeo started. First of all, outgoing Chair Bob Ries made a speech, which I thought was alright but he took some people by surprise as that was not listed on the agenda. He laid out a list of proposed reforms for the Party and expressed his frustration with his tenure as chairman.
The next order of business was the calling of the roll to determine that a quorum existed to conduct business. Thirty percent of the districts have to be present to have a quorum. Always in the past, it was "districts" that had to be represented, but outgoing Chairman Bob Ries said it had to be precincts. He quoted from the state party bylaws and insisted that we had to call the roll of precincts. That would have taken a while and would have been chaotic. While there are 35 districts there is something like 168 or so precincts. I know in which district I live and where I vote, but not the precinct number. I am sure most people who attended have their voter id card with them, but calling the roll of precincts would have taken time. After some back and forth, Bob Ries relented and districts rolls were called instead of precincts. I could not hear the discussion of those without a microphone so I don't know what facts were presented to resolve this issue but it was resolved and we moved on. I think calling the roll of precincts would have been fine, but one would think everyone would be on the same page, and this would not be a last minute surprise.
After the roll call, the next item was to elect a county Party chair. There were three candidates whose names were placed in nomination: Jim Garrett, Connie Hunter and Tres Wittum. There were short nominating and campaign speeches by the three candidates and then the real chaos started.
There was a floor challenge to the candidacy of Tres Wittum. However, there was parliamentary maneuvering first as to how to make the challenge. Then, there was debate about how to deal with the challenge once the proper language was used to make the challenge. The credentials committee met outside the big room, in the hall, to deliberate. It took a while. The rules committee came back with a three-to-two vote for a ruling that said, his candidacy would be permitted but he did not meet the qualifications. WHAT? A lot of discussion ensued with points of order and raised voices.
There were conflicting information about why the committee ruled in this fashion and I am not convinced the committee ruled the right way. There was a motion made to stay the election until a determination by the State Party could be made that the committee had made a proper ruling. That motion was ruled out of order because, as it was explained, the State Party will rule the County Party acted improperly, if the county did act improperly, but only on an appeal, after the fact. The State Party will not rule prior to the County Party's action. Other motions and discussion occurred then the actions of the credentials committee was determined to be final and not subject to acceptance or rejection by the convention.
After that was settled then came the election of chairman. Jim Garrett got the most votes followed by Tres Wittum, but neither got a majority, so there had to be a run off election between these two candidates. While they were still counting ballots for the run off contest, I had to leave. My wife is an invalid and I can not go anywhere without a sitter for her. I had arranged through an agency to have a sitter until 2:30PM. I thought that would be plenty sufficient. It wasn't. I still do not know who was elected to leadership positions in the Party. I will update when that information is known.
The Davidson County Republican Party does not run like a "fine-tuned machine."
Thursday, February 16, 2017
However, a few bad votes are NOT what President Trump is talking about. Trump is talking about large numbers of fraudulent votes –enough to change the outcome of an election. Is that actually happening? The answer is “We don’t know”, because nobody wants to look. Democrat leadership keeps saying there is no evidence of voter fraud. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority leader says he doesn’t want to spend any federal dollars to look into possible voter fraud.
Here in Tennessee Republican state election officials have been reluctant to look into the possibility of non-citizens being registered to vote. But refusing to look makes people more suspicious. This idea that the public can be assured that all is well even though no investigations have been done is ridiculous, but that is what we have been told for quite a while. There are a lot of different loopholes in the system where fraud can occur and little holes can sink big ships.
There is certainly a known history of voter fraud in Tennessee. Much of it is from the era when Tennessee was a one-party state and Democrat factions fought against each other at the county level. The Democrat leaders at the state level turned a blind eye to it, back then, viewing it as a family squabble. The book “Secrets of the Hopewell Box” by James D. Squires tells the story of under-the-table voter fraud that used to take place in Davidson County in the 1950s. The movie “The Battle of Athens” tells the true story of overtly corrupt county politicians in McMinn county in 1946, who were rigging elections. In the pivotal scene from that movie, (it’s on YouTube) the sheriff brazenly steals the ballot boxes on election day and lock themselves in the jailhouse to “count the ballots”. Armed WWII vets who have had enough corruption besiege the local jail. A serious exchange of gun fire occurs. The corrupt politicians surrender the ballot boxes only after the vets blow open the heavy, locked, jail house door with dynamite. The vets were never prosecuted because the fraud was so obvious.
I have personally heard stories about corrupt local political operatives, some of whom are still alive, who allegedly stole local elections as recently as the 1980s, and were never prosecuted. So, there is a history of voter fraud in Tennessee. The question remains, is there a significant level of voter fraud occurring today in the US? Again, the answer is “We don’t know and no one wants to look.”
In the last 5 years, Republican state legislatures in the US have been pushing for and passing Photo ID which is a reasonable measure to prevent people from voting under a false identity. Democrats have opposed that and labeled it as “racist” and “voter suppression” to justify their opposition. That does not comport with logic. A photo ID is required in almost all instances when we interface with a government agency or a business that is regulated by a government agency like banking or airline travel. No one ever labels those photo ID requirements as “racist” or “banking suppression.”
According to an August 2016 Gallup poll, 95% of Republicans support photo ID, and 63% of Democrats do, too. That is about 80% of the population. When Democrat politicians oppose Photo ID in spite of overwhelming public support,it makes Republicans wonder if the Democrat politicians know that there is fraud going on in their favor. Again, we don’t know the truth. And nobody has really looked.
State Election Laws and Federal Election Laws
Each state has its own set of election laws and they vary. Some leave more loopholes for fraud than others. The federal government has passed several laws since 1993 regarding voting, but the federal government has not forced states to close opportunities for fraud. The federal government gets very involved in bringing lawsuits when states themselves try to close opportunities for fraud with state legislation such as Photo ID. That creates a situation where people perceive the federal government to be going against the will of 80% of the population. It angers conservatives and makes them suspicious of the federal government’s motives.
The loopholes in the various state laws and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 can be divided into two basic categories:
American self-governance is built on the basis of an informed and involved electorate. In our age, there are plenty of people who have no desire to be informed or involved in the process for a variety of reasons. That is a choice people are free to make. But the politicians wanted to boost turnout, so Motor Voter was born. It resulted in an influx of new registrations from government offices other than the county election offices. But there was an increase in poorly completed applications, applications from those already registered, and ineligible voters attempting to register. The voter rolls got bigger and had more inaccuracies.
Motor Voter also requires every state office that provides public assistance (welfare) of any kind to become a voter registration office and to register welfare recipients to vote, as well as update their registration any time they move. From the Department of Justice website regarding NVRA 1993, here is a description of the agencies, that became voter registration offices -
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food-Stamp Program), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formerly the Aid to Families with Dependent Children or AFDC program), the Medicaid program, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This also includes state public assistance programs.
You cannot really fault the people working at the driver’s license or welfare offices. They did not hire on to be election officials. But, to comply with the law, they do make sure everyone gets an application to register to vote, because they know they can run afoul of federal law (NVRA) if they fail to provide one. So, that is what they do, to citizen and non-citizen alike. Steve Abernathy, who at the time was a Davidson County Election Commissioner with extensive election experience, spent 4 hours observing the process at a drivers’ license office in 2012. He noted that US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) were both offered the opportunity to register to vote even though LPRs are not citizens. The staff did not advise the LPRs that it is a felony for non-citizens to register to vote. Do a lot of non-citizens actually register? We’re not sure.
You may be thinking, “But wait. In Tennessee, you have to put down a social security number on the registration, right? If those SS numbers are fraudulent, the registration gets kicked out, right?” Not necessarily. In Davidson County, if the SS number on a new application to vote is a duplicate of an SS number of a voter that is already on the roll, the system flags the new registration as a duplicate and does not accept the registration. That process is repeated across county lines when all registrations are uploaded to the state. This is a good thing but, neither the counties nor the state of Tennessee checks the SS numbers against the Social Security Administration’s data base to see if the numbers are indeed valid numbers issued by the SS Administration and that the names on both the SS Administration rolls and the voter rolls match. That could and should be done and it would greatly reduce the opportunities for fraudulent registrations. But that loophole is still open in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Fraudulent Registration - Multi-State Cooperatives and SS Number Verifications
There is a system called E-Verify that employers use to check the validity of SS numbers to make sure they are not employing illegal aliens. There is a similar system called Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) that verifies eligibility for welfare benefits for non-citizens. Some citizen groups are now advocating to extend the practice of verifying an individual’s citizenship status to voter registration rolls. That makes sense. However, 43 of the 50 states do not require a full SS number when registering to vote. That means going to SS number verification nationwide would require all the voters in those 43 states to submit their SS number to their county or state election officials. That would be a difficult but not impossible task. Looking at the history, it is possible that the DoJ and the federal judiciary would strike down such an attempt to verify citizenship for voting by using SS numbers. The DoJ and the judiciary do have a history of stopping state’s attempts to prevent voter fraud.
Dropping that requirement led to a surge of non-citizens acquiring a Tennessee driver’s license because a valid driver’s license serves as an acceptable ID for so many things in life. The practice of issuing full-fledged driver’s licenses to non-citizens was stopped in 2003. But for 2 years, between 2001 and 2003, Tennessee driver’s license offices made no distinction between citizens and non-citizens when issuing driver’s licenses. Motor Voter was already the law so the state employees at the driver’s license offices were required to offer voter registration applications to all who registered. It seems reasonable to conclude that during that time period the potential for non-citizens to register to vote was high.
The Partnership for a New American Economy estimated that 45,750 non-citizens were living in Davidson County between 2010 and 2012. That population number, combined with the two years of full driver’s licenses being issued to non-citizens, and the fact that SS numbers on voter registrations are not verified with the Social Security Administration, suggested that it would be prudent to check the voter rolls for non-citizens. Tennessee law makers actually passed a law, TCA 2-2-141, requiring that the voter rolls be checked for non-citizens after Jan. 1 of 2012.
Abernathy tried to get the Tennessee Department of Safety to provide a list of Davidson County residents who had acquired the “Certificate for Driving”. That is what non-citizens in Tennessee now get when they pass the driving test. That list could then be compared against the Davidson County Voter database to see if there were matches. It was going to be a test only, with no purges resulting from the search. (Purging voters from the roll requires a specific process.) The Republican election officials at the state level opposed Abernathy’s test and the Tennessee Department of Safety refused to supply the list.
On Jan 1 of 2012, TCA 2-2-141 went into effect. It required the State Coordinator of Elections to perform a statewide comparison similar to the one Commissioner Abernathy had been attempting at the county level. The new law set no timetable for this action to occur nor did it specify how to do the comparison. Many people involved in elections thought the comparison should be done before the 2012 election. It was not. When the comparison finally was done, after the 2012 election, the State Election Coordinator announced that Davidson County had 14 non-citizens registered. The Coordinator did not explain how the comparison was done. The state elections officials’ opposition to Abernathy’s effort caused some to wonder just how rigorous the statewide comparison was or was not. And because the law did not specify that the comparison would be repeated, it is not clear whether it has or will be repeated.
In one Q & A at a meeting of county election officials, the State Election Coordinator was asked about the comparison he was required to run but had not yet done. He advised those gathered that Tennessee officials were concerned that if the Tennessee comparison produced false positives, the national media would attack the Tennessee state officials who made the comparison, like they had done to Florida officials when Florida generated false positives doing a similar comparison. That expressed fear seemed to indicate that the desire to avoid false positives was strong, and that could lead to a less than rigorous search for non-citizens on the voter rolls.
It is important to remember that the Republican state election officials in Tennessee had just successfully implemented Photo ID. Nationally, there were attempts to strike down Photo ID in other states. Tennessee’s success had the Democrats in the state determined to find an aggrieved party to be a plaintiff in a suit to overturn Tennessee’s Photo ID law. After several attempts, the Democrats were unable to find anyone who had been harmed by the law, so Tennessee’s law withstood the challenges. We now know that the Obama Administration had moved beyond biased or politicized and into the realm of “weaponized” against conservatives. The IRS in particular was harassing legitimate conservative groups including True the Vote, a group that was starting to point out that the national voting system had loopholes that could allow fraudulent registrations and fraudulent voting.
Had Tennessee made an attempted to identify and purge non-citizens from their voter rolls, the Obama DoJ may well have brought suit against Tennessee with all the attendant media coverage and the typical labeling of the Republican officials as “racists” and “xenophobes”. And the gubernatorial aspirations of more than one Republican could have been seriously damaged. That may have been more risk than they cared to tolerate. So, we still do not know if the Tennessee comparison was rigorous or not.
In a meeting with the DA where the Commission Chairman and I were encouraging him to prosecute voter fraud cases, he told us that he thought it was too difficult for people to register and vote. I was surprised that a DA had accepted claims that are provably false. It has never been easier to register and vote than it is now. Voters can register by mail, they can register at the driver’s license office or any office that provides public assistance (welfare). Tennessee counties hold voter registration drives annually inside the High Schools for seniors who are 18 or will be 18 when the next election arrives. Registration applications can be printed from the internet and voter registration applications in large quantities are available for anyone who wants to go out and register people.
When a state or federal election arrives, Davidson County has approximately 14 days of early voting at 12 locations throughout the county that are open all day, 6 days a week. During Early Voting, any voter who is registered in Davidson county can walk in and vote at any of the 12 he chooses. On election day, voters who chose not to vote during the two weeks of early voting must vote in their assigned polling place. There are 170 polling places for election day voting in the county. That means your precinct is not far from your residence. Voting has never been easier. But people pushing a partisan agenda or seeking to raise money for political purposes have said on TV and in the newspapers, that it is too hard to register and vote. The media never fact-checks the claim, so a lot of people believe it in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary.
Fraudulent Voting - ID Requirements for Voting Vary by State
- California 55
- Illinois 20
- Iowa 6
- Maine 4
- Maryland 10
- Massachusetts 11
- Minnesota 10
- Nebraska 5
- New Jersey 14
- New Mexico 5
- New York 29
- North Carolina 15 (ID Law struck down)
- North Dakota3 (ID Law struck down)
- Oregon 7 (votes by mail)
- Pennsylvania 20
- Washington 12
- Vermont 3
- West Virginia 5
- Wyoming 3
Another opportunity for fraudulent voting is absentee ballots. It is very difficult to know if the voter or someone else actually filled out the ballot which is then mailed in. J. Christian Adams, a former US DoJ lawyer in the Civil Rights Division, authored a book entitled “Injustice” and in it he explains how the US DoJ, during the Obama administration, refused to hold accountable those committing absentee voter fraud in Mississippi.
Registering and Voting on the Same Day
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
If same day registration requirements included full SS numbers and technology allowed immediate verification of 1) Citizenship with the SS Administration, 2) Residency at the address given, and, 3) Verification that the voter was not registered in any other state, then same day registration would not present the opportunity for fraud that it now does without such verifications. But the loophole remains in place.
There may be large scale voter fraud. Some knowledgeable people believe that, including the President of the US. On the other hand, there may be nothing more than the typical “background noise”of a few bad votes here and there as others believe. But to insist there is “no problem” while refusing to even look, defies common sense. And no one at the national level has had the courage to even talk about it, until now.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
On Saturday February 18th Davidson County Republicans will hold their caucuses and convention. I have received very little information about it an nothing official from the Party. Here are the candidates that I know of that are seeking leadership position.
James B. Garrett
(Lonnie Spivak had floated his name but has reportedly decided against it.)
The 2 Vice Chairman Positions
Charles (Chase) Montgomery
Check back an update for more information on these candidates and others who may become known. I will provide it as it becomes available. However, with the convention this Saturday, much may not become available. If a candidate will send me their announcement I will post it. If they want to post an essay to convince readers of this blog that they deserve your vote to lead the Party, this space is available.
Tres Wittum unsuccessfully ran for Chairman at the Convention two years ago. He works for
for the Chairman of the TN Senate Finance Committee.
Connie Hunter is very active in local Republican politics and has served in leadership positions. Melissa Smithson is also active in local Republican Party politics and unsuccessfully ran for council last council elections.
Monday, February 13, 2017
by Chris Butler, Tennessee Watchdog - Nashville Metro Council members who push for new regulations on
Airbnbs seem to do so at the behest of powerful hotel interests, which
resent the competition and are now leaning on government for support. Many people have made the claim, and evidence exists to support it.
Nashville Metro Council member Burkley Allen has put forward new licensing requirements for anyone in the city who runs an Airbnb or a similar home-sharing program.
As reported, these home-sharing options operate much like an Uber app. Instead of people using their
Burkley told Tennessee Watchdog in an email she got involved only after Airbnb’s competitors reached out to her. “This issue was first brought to my attention by properly zoned historic bed and breakfast operators who asked that the city level the playing field between them and properties that were operating short term rentals without any regulation,” Burkley wrote.
According to the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a Nashville-based free-market think tank, “leveling the playing field” means hurting the competition. “What got Councilmember Allen to begin was a disgruntled business competitor,” Beacon staff wrote in legal filings. Almost immediately, Beacon went on, the bed and breakfast operators hired lobbyists from the hotel industry and “began to coalesce around a shared political goal.”
These efforts reached a new level of urgency after the 2016 Country Music Awards Fest. Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau reports said spending at the event decreased by 1.5 percent because use of home-sharing options in the city doubled — from 4.9 percent to 9.2 percent, Beacon said.
The bed and breakfasts and members of the hotel industry, Beacon went on, called upon the American Hotel Association to step in.
|Greg Adkins (photo courtesy of the|
Tennessee Hospitality and
“This is all about protecting the hotel industry,” said Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham. “If you’ll notice, many of the people encouraging these regulations are associated with the hotel industry.”
Regulations and inspections
Greg Adkins, spokesman for the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association, said his industry wants a level playing field because “hotels are more regulated than any industry that churns out pollution.” Regulations imposed on hotels include liquor licensing, building code requirements, occupancy permits, and wage compliance rules, among many others. Thus, hotels must pass down the extra cost of doing business to their customers, Adkins said. Airbnbs, he went on, aren’t similarly regulated.
“Our interests are to not make the public sick, and that is why we feel very strongly that Airbnbs should not serve customers food because they can get sick and die potentially from a food borne illness,” Adkins said.
Meanwhile, Alece Ronzino, who runs a competing Airbnb, said she doesn’t understand why Adkins worries about a customer getting food poisoning. “If that were to happen, as awful as that would be, how would that affect him in the hotel industry? Why is that an issue to him?” Ronzino asked.
“Airbnbs are not trying to be hotels at all. People are intentionally trying to get away from the hotels’ corporate, sterile feel, yet there are plenty of people who will still prefer to stay there. The rate at which new hotels are continuously being built in Nashville shows they are not struggling.”
Ronzino said the proposed regulations, if enacted, would hurt her revenue stream. Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Brett said in an emailed statement the proposed regulations are
A recent Washington Post article quoted a New York state hotel executive, who said Airbnbs in his state would help his company raise prices on his hotel rooms. Allen said she could not comment about what goes on in New York.
According to a recent NewsChannel 5 report, council members are pushing for an amendment to temporarily stop issuing new city permits for non-owner occupied short-term rentals. It’s a move to determine how best to regulate home-sharing properties.
“The properties are operated by landlords who don’t live at the homes they’re renting and are often looking to cash in on Nashville’s popularity,” the station reported.
As Tennessee Watchdog reported, while Nashville officials seek ways to regulate Airbnbs they’re also giving millions in taxpayer dollars to high-priced hotels — which compete against Airbnbs.
Cunningham said last year some of those hotels charge as much as $400 a night.
These proposed regulations, Ronzino said, are bad for the city.
“You think about all that growth we’re having in tourists and all the write-ups about Nashville being the ‘It City,’” Ronzino said. “The more space we can offer to people in a reasonable and economical way then that is just better for our city.”
Contact Christopher Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update by Rod Williams: The regulations under consideration passed second reading of the Metro Council on 2-7-2017. The bill will be on third and final reading on 2-21-2017. Also on Second reading on 2-21-2017 are bills to impose a moratorium on all new Airbnb type rentals except those that are owner-occupied. For more on this topic see these post:
(update) What's on the Council Agenda for Feb. 7th: New AirBnb rules, $16M more for General Hospital, $ to build affordable housing,
Does racism drive Nashville's crackdown on Airbnb's?
Nashville’s Airbnbs get taxed, but swank hotels get the benefits
Why The Anderson's are suing Metro Government
Metro's Airbnb law unconstitutional!
Critics want to ban all new Airbnb rentals