Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tennessee's Haircut Cops Bust Barbers Who Lack High School Diplomas

by Eric Boehm, Reason - The Tennessee barber cops caught up with Elias Zarate on January 18,

Zarate was working upstairs at The Revolution Studio, a small barbershop on trendy Front Street in downtown Memphis. The job, which he had held for only a few weeks before getting busted, was like a dream come true for Zarate. He'd learned to cut hair while helping out in his uncle's barbershop as a kid, and he had honed his skills over the years by cutting his siblings' and friends' hair. At Revolution, Zarate had served clientele from ordinary working-class to members of the Memphis Grizzlies, the local NBA team.

But getting that job required a state-issued license. Zarate had bought one a few months earlier from a friend "who knew a guy." He wondered at the time if the license was legitimate, but the opportunity seemed too good—and why shouldn't it be that easy to get a barber license?(link)

My Comment: The requirement to have a high school diploma in order to cut hair should be rescinded.  I would like to see a top to bottom review of all license requirements. Those that have no rationale other than keeping competitors from entering the market should be removed.  Those that are irrational should be removed.  Those that require years of training when the skill could be learned in one day should be modified to reflect the amount of training reasonably required.  Those licensed in another state should have their certification honored in Tennessee.  I am not opposed to all licensing. I kind of like that doctors and electricians have to be licensed. For health and safety reason there are some license requirements that are rational. However, why should a shampoo girl require 300 hours of expensive training? Washing my own hair is something I have been doing almost my whole life. Washing hair is not rocked science. I think I could do it. Yet, if I wanted to wash hair and get paid for I could not do so in Tennessee. Tennessee is one of only five states that require a license to wash hair. That is only one of many jobs that require a  license in order to perform the work. If Tennessee should review their license policy, they should also examine those license that prohibit anyone from practicing the profession who has previously been convicted of a crime. It is difficult enough for an ex-con to reenter society without being excluded from many professions. Over time, the number of profession one can only practice if one has permission from the state has grown. It is time to examine all professional license laws and make them make sense.

Government should not be in the business to keep people from earning a living. 

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Senator Lamar Alexander: Shutting Down the Government Should Never Be a Bargaining Chip

From Senator Lamar Alexander - Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned.

More than 50 senators last night, including almost all Republicans and 5 Democrats, voted to keep the government open. The president has said he would sign the continuing resolution to keep the government open. The Democrats are closing down the government because they want a result on an important issue, and they want it now.

The American people sent us here to make the government work for them, not to shut it down. That should be unthinkable. That should be like chemical warfare. We should never even consider that. So I urge my friends on the other side, let Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer—who are veteran senators, they respect this institution, they're friends with all of us, they're able to make a decision—let them sit down themselves and find an agreement to get this government back open. Let's go to work on the two-year budget agreement, the children's health insurance program, on lowering the cost of health insurance for people buying insurance in the individual market, on the DACA bill and on disaster relief. Let's get that done in a very short period of time.
 Click on image to play the video.

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Democrats shut down the government. How is the fake media reporting it?

Democrats blocked a four-week budget extension Friday night resulting in a government shut down. The House passed the short-term funding bill on Thursday but the vote in the Senate was 50 to 49, but 60 votes were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. The stumbling block to reaching an agreement is that Democrats want permanent status for "dreamers," but no border wall, and Republicans and the President want a permanent status for dreamers and a border wall.  The vote Friday night was a vote to simply keep the government open for four more weeks while continuing to talk and trying to resolve differences. Democrats balked at the extension and filibustered. The Congress is meeting this weekend to continue trying to come to some agreement to pass the extension. If the government reopens by Monday, then most people will not even know it was closed, since most non-essential government services are usually closed on the weekend anyway.

It is going to be interesting to see how the media reports this.  Here is the report from AP.

Government shutdown begins and so does the finger-pointing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans awoke Saturday to learn that quarreling politicians in Washington had failed to keep their government in business, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.
The three previous times the government was shut down, it was because a Democrat president would not give in to Republican demands; this time, a Republican president will not give in to Democrat demands.  The situations are essentially the same. Look at the above headline and story. Instead of blaming the shut down on Democrats as they would have if the parties were reversed they say Democrats will blame Republicans and Republicans will blame Democrats and both sides are to blame.  That is probably accurate, but that is not how they reported it when it was Republicans voting against raising the debt ceiling or voting against a continuing resolution that resulted in a government shut down. I would not complain about the way this is reported if that was the same way the media had reported other government shutdowns.

Here is a MSNBC headline and link to a story in 2013 following a government shutdown: Why Republicans shut down the government.   This is similar to how most of the media reported past shutdowns.

I have been critical of some of Trumps comments about the media.  He once said he would have the FCC pull a cable new outlet's license when in reality the FCC only licenses local stations, not TV networks.  He has also said some things that were denounced as attacks on the First Amendments. Sometimes things he has said may legitimately be interpreted has attacks on a free press.  I know Trump can be bellicose and crude and inaccurate.  He apparently says whatever comes into his mind without having it researched to see if it is accurate or evaluated to see if it is a wise thing to say.  He is like a normal person. I wish he was more measured and diplomatic and thoughtful. Nevertheless, his sentiment is right.  It is way passed the time to stop pretending that there is any such thing as media objectivity or media impartiality or journalistic integrity. The mainstream media might as well be a branch of the Democratic Party.

If this government shutdown last past this weekend, I expect the "Democratic Party media," the "fake media," the "drive-by media," to stop saying both sides are to blame and begin an attack on Republicans for shutting down the government. Truth and accuracy takes a back seat to political ideology for the fake media.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast topic is the impact on the Fairgrounds of the MLS Soccer Field. Sat. 1-20-18

Location: Shoney's (Nolensville Rd & Thompson Lane)
Saturday, January 20th
Social &  Breakfast 9:00 - 10:00 am
Program begins at 10:00 am
**Note the time change

Speakers: DCRP Chairwoman Melissa Smithson & Jim Roberts will provide a behind the scenes update of the Fairgrounds versus the impact of the MLS Soccer Field.

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President Donald J. Trump: Year One

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How will the media respond if the Democrats shut down the government?

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, is prepared to lead a filibuster against a temporary spending measure to keep the federal government funded for four more weeks. During past years when a Democrat president could not agree with Republican spending priorities and the result was a government shut down, the mainstream press almost universally described it as "the Republicans shut down the government." Now that the exact same circumstances exist but the shoe is on the other foot, will the main stream press described a government shutdown as, "the Democrats shut down the government."  If so, then they have at least a little journalistic integrity. If not, then they can forever fairly be referred to as "the drive-by media," "fake news media," and "the liberal media."

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ex-mayoral candidate David Fox joins the fight to stop Mayor Barry's mass transit plan

Ex-mayoral candidate David Fox lends hand to PAC fighting Mayor Barry's transit referendum

by Joey Garrison, USA Today Network, Tennessee - Former Nashville mayoral candidate David Fox is lending his support to a new political action committee that has organized to defeat Mayor Megan Barry's transit referendum proposal. 

The new group, called the NoTax4Tracks PAC, was announced Tuesday to oppose over the coming months what its leaders call "an ill-conceived plan" that would make Nashville's sales tax the highest in the nation while not fixing the city's traffic congestion. Barry wants a referendum on her transit plan put on the May 1 ballot. 

....Fox, who has broken what had been more than two years of public silence on city matters... "It's just an enormous outlay of capital," Fox said. "If you look at just the capital costs, it's eight times the size of the Music City Center. And it's going to be more than that because this assumes federal grant money, which the feds have indicated is not going to happen."

Fox said other cities with similar densities have been unsuccessful in building riderships to justify light-rail projects like the one put forward by Barry. He also said the proposal to increase sales tax by a half cent, and later by 1 cent, would be "brutal to the middle class and brutal to the lower-income residents.

"I think the plan is like a tribute to urban transit plans of decades ago. It's like something out of the 1980s to me. It's like, well, we missed our turn 25 years ago when this was the vogue thing to be doing, and now we're adopting a plan that's I think a backward-looking, extraordinarily expensive change that's not going to materially improve transportation here," Fox said. (link)

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Join the "No TAX 4 TRACKS" movement.
I have joined. This is serious organized opposition to the mayor's backward-looking $9 billion mass transit plan that would make Nashville one of the cities with the highest sales tax rates in the nation and would do nothing to relieve traffic congestion. Join the effort. Follow this link.

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Council meeting postponed to Jan. 23th.

January 16, 2018. Press release -Due to inclement weather, Vice Mayor David Briley has postponed the January 16, 2018 Council meeting until next Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm in the interests of public safety. Associated committee meetings will be conducted on Monday, January 22, 2018.
“We have Council members who have indicated that they cannot attend this evening’s meeting due to the weather. Since there are important votes on the agenda, I do not want to deprive any Council member of the chance to vote on these items.”
Special meetings of the Metro Council can be convened pursuant to Section 3.04 of the Charter of the Metropolitan Government.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Celebrating President Trump's 8 Biggest Accomplishments

I did not support Trump in the Republican primaries. When he first announced, I thought it was a publicity stunt. When it became clear he was serious, I compared him to a carnival barker with an inflated ego and was sure his candidacy would not last.  After he got the nomination, I still could not bring myself to support him.  I was a "never Trumper."

I did not vote for him in the General Election, casting my vote for instead for Evan McMullin. Being certain that Trump would get all eleven of Tennessee's votes I had the luxury of not voting for "the lesser of two evils." If the popular vote mattered or if Tennessee would have been a toss-up state, I would have voted for what I perceived as the lesser of two evils and would have voted Trump, but I would have had to hold my nose to do so.  I was resigned to enduring a Hillary presidency.

Since the election, I have continued to be embarrassed by Trump and scared that he was going to really do something stupid.  I still think he is a person who is crude, rude, undisciplined and a person without a well-founded ideology. Nevertheless, I find myself warming to Trump. I am still embarrassed from time to time and some of the things he says makes me cringe. but I am pleased with his accomplishments.  Not mentioned in the above eight, I am also pleased that he is taking the threat of North Korea seriously.  It is almost too late. Obama had eight years to curtail North Korea and failed. Not mentioned above, I am pleased that illegal immigration has taken a nose dive.  I still have reservations about building a wall the length of the southern border and I have reservations about a budget-busting infrastructure program.  I still fear Trump may disrupt world commerce and weaken the US due to his isolationist and protectionist tendencies, but more and more I am thinking those are simply posturing positions to use in negotiations. So far, he has not damaged international trade.

While I am not yet a Trump enthusiast, I am pleased with his accomplishments. While I often wish he would be more circumspect and diplomatic in what he says, on the other hand, I sometimes find it refreshing that he does not equivocate and use typical political weasel words to express himself. When he says something, you usually know what he has said. Since he has parted ways with Steve Bannon, I am even more hopeful that Tump will really govern.  I know, as of today, 2018 does not look good for Republicans and the House looks like it may be in danger of being lost, but with Bannon gone, there is time for Trump to grow his popularity and rally the nation to his side. With Bannon gone, there is less likelihood, Republicans will nominate nutjobs for candidates who just hand seats to Democrats. If Trump would only moderate his tone a little and if the economy continues to boom, all may not be lost.

In any event, win or lose in 2018, there is much to celebrate about Trump's first year in office.

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What's on the 1-16-18 Council agenda: The mayor's $9 billion transit plan, trampling property rights and stopping affordable housing, new Airbnb rules, and creating a Police Community Oversight Board

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. The hot topics are the mayor's transit program, a bill to create a police citizen's review committee, the bill that would trample a person's property rights and kill an affordable housing development, and bills that would change the rules on Short Term Rentals such as Airbnb. If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis  or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

Mayor's mass transit plan.
Bill BL2017-1031  is the bill to adopt  the Mayor's transit improvement program and approving  the program, and requesting the Davidson County Election Commission to call a county-wide referendum election to be held on May 1, 2018 to approve the tax increases to support the program.  While this should be controversial, expect it to pass overwhelmingly. At a three and a half hour public hearing on January 9th the proponents vastly outweighed the opponents, supporters have been organizing for months, the proposal has the support of Chamber and other movers and shakers in town and the Council meeting as a special council committee composed of the entire body voted 29 to 1 to recommend it. A group called Transit for Nashville Coalition has gathered over 30,000 signatures in favor of a mass transit program for Nashville but the signatures were supporting mass transit not a specific amount of taxes to support mass transit.

Despite the vote in favor of approved this is already determined, I expect a few speeches in favor and look to Councilman Robert Swope and Councilman Jon Cooper to possibly speak against it.  While the bill says the price tag for the plan is $5.4 billion, when all cost are included the price tag is closer to $9 billion.  This assumes no cost overruns. With cost overruns typical of similar projects the real cost is more likely to be between $15 billion and $22 billion. While the vote on Tuesday night well be overwhelmingly in favor of the plan, I am not assuming it will be approved in a public referendum especially if organized resistance emerges.  Some Council members will justify their vote in favor by saying they are simply letting the public decide the issue. That is not what the bill does. It puts the Council on record endorsing the plan. To fully understand the issue see page 6-14 of the staff analysis.

Police Community Oversight Board
Bill BL2017-951  on Second Reading would establish a Community Oversight Board to conduct investigations and provide citizen oversight of officers of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.  It would provide for an eleven member board, seven nominated by citizens groups or by petition confirmed by the Council, two appointed by the Council and two appointed by the mayor subject to Council confirmation. The Board would have the authority to investigate allegations that MNDP officers have committed misconduct in violation of policy or criminal misconduct.The Board would hold regular meetings and have a staff of researchers and lawyers. This would cost about $386,000 a year. A previous Council staff analysis said there are due process concerns with the way the board would operate. In my view this bill needs to be defeated. This bill will probably not be voted on due to procedural issues regarding council rules. More than likely the sponsor will have to start over with a new bill.  Nevertheless, depending on how lenient the vice mayor is, expect some passionate speeches in favor.

Trampling property rights and stopping affordable housing

The Ridge Apartments
Bill BL2016-219   is the bill that tramples a persons property rights, partially taking property without compensation, and kills an affordable housing development. This bill is on third and final reading and it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission which means it will take 28 votes of the Council to pass.  This has been in the works for a very long time. Most zone changes allow people to do something with their property they were previously not allowed to do; this bill is a "down zoning," taking away a right someone now enjoys.  The developer is already vested in the project having designed the development and arranged financing.  If this passes it is an outrage. There will likely be lawsuit which Metro will most likely lose and the state has threatened to withhold low income housing tax credits, an essential financing tool for most affordable housing developments.  For more on this issue, see Contact your Council member. Stop the trampling of property rights and the killing of an affordable housing development.

Changing the rules regarding Short Term Rental (Airbnb" or home sharing). 
Bill BL2017-608,  Substitute Bill BL2017-937Bill BL2017-981, and Bill BL2017-982   all concern short term rentals. I am supporting 937, the least offensive of the bills. The worst of the bill, which would phase out non-owner-occupied short term rentals in areas zoned residential is bill 608. Bill 937 is being supported by the the citizens groups of home sharing advocates. It was worked on for a very long time by a special Council committee and was the subject of numerous meetings. It is called the "compromise" bill but many of the more vocal neighborhood activist are not happy and want to abolish home sharing all together and favor 608 which would abolish non-owner-occupied short term rental. For a more detailed explanation of these bills follow this link, this link, or see the staff analysis starting on page 16.


Other agenda items:
There are seven mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed. There are no bills or resolutions on public hearing.  There are 10 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. I normally do not read bills until they get to second reading.
There are 12 resolution on the agenda and all are on the consent agenda at this time. 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. None of the resolutions on this agenda are of much interest.

There are only four  bills on Second Reading and one of them is the bill to create a Police Community Oversight Board discussed above and another is the mayor's transit plan above. The only other bill on second reading of interest is this one:

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.
There are 32 bills on Third Reading. One of them is the bill to trample property rights discussed above.  Others are the bill concerning short term rental discussed above. Bill BL2017-1026 is the only other bill of interest and it is only of interest because it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission and will require 28 votes to pass.  It changes from RS5 to RM20-A zoning on property located at 1308 Montgomery Avenue.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person but I wouldn't recommend it. There will be a mob of people for this meeting. 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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Mayor Barry uses MLK day as oppornunity to stir racial annimosity and denouce Trump. Shame on Megan Barry.

Instead of using MLK day as an opportunity to promote racial healing and celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. King, Nashville's Mayor Barry used the opportunity to denounce President Trump as a racist.

I am not a fan of Mayor Barry, but there had been several times when she surprised me by her reasonableness.  There have been occasion where she could have taken a hard left position on issues and did not. Also, despite disagreeing with some of her policies I have often thought she was probably a good person.

Perhaps Barry played the stir-racial-animosity card because of her declining support in the Black community.  She has come under criticism by some in the Black community for not taking a harder line in denouncing the police following the police shooting last year of an armed Back man in a James A. Cayce Homes parking lot who resisted police following a routine traffic stop. She has also not endorsed the creation of a Police Citizens Review Board.  Many Black activist are not supportive of Barry's proposed $9 billion mass transit plan, saying it will take away from improved bus service and will promote more gentrification. Perhaps the biggest cause of Mayor Barry's loss of support among members of the Black community is that she proposed converting General Hospital from a hospital to an out-patient clinic. The expensive hospital that requires massive subsidies and cannot fill it's beds is a source of pride in the Black community.

It appears that to get back in the good graces of the Black community, she resorted to stirring  racial animosity. Shame on Megan Barry. For more on the story follow this link.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shame on President Trump for using the term "shitholes"

Shame on President Trump for using the term "shitholes" to refer to certain countries, assuming he did in fact use that term.  He should have referred to the countries in question as disease-ridden, crime-ridden, poverty-stricken, corrupt, dysfunctional, unstable, dirty, shabby, third-world countries.  You know, the kind of places we think of as "shitholes."

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Transit plan supporters outnumber critics at public hearing

I have quickly sampled this three and half hour public hearing but I have not yet watched this video but intend to do watch more of it. If any speaker says anything brilliant I will tag the timestamp. Look for "update," to see if I have posted a timeline notation or provided additional commentary.

According to news reports, proponents showed up early and took all the seats. The Tennesseean says the public hearing was very one-sided and was less a barometer of public opinion and more a sign of months of organizing by the Transit for Nashville Coalition. Here is a  link  to the Tennessean report.

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Barry buckles to pressure. Backs down on closing General

Mayor Megan Barry has buckled to pressure and delayed until the end of 2018 her decision to close General Hospital. As expected, members of the Black community had denounced and resisted her decision but in recent days one of the members of the Council who is considered a conservative came out in opposition.

General Hospital is a failure and cannot fill its beds and serves very little purpose, yet the Black community see Meharry General Hospital as a source of pride. Nashville General is the teaching hospital of Meharry Medical College. Meharry is the second largest educator of African-American medical doctors and dentists in the United States and has the highest percentage of African Americans graduating with Ph.Ds in the biomedical sciences in the country.  Should General close, the mission of Meharry Medical College would not be jeopardized. Meharry recently partnered with HCA to train at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, a hospital in HCA's TriStar Health subsidiary.

General Hospital has long been a money pit. In the last two years the Hospital has sought $26 million in emergency funding  in addition to a $35 million annual subsidy from the Metro Council.  As reported in The Tennessean recently, a recent audit found that the hospital, "failed at basic bookkeeping, unable to keep track of patient payments and major expenses."

While poor management is obviously a problem, the real problem with Nashville General is that  no one wants to go there.  Metro jail inmates without insurance needing hospitalization have no choice and are sent to General and there is a financial incentive for Metro employees to use General but it still cannot fill its beds. The facility is  licensed for 150 beds, staffed for 114 and has an average of 44 beds filled a day. Metro General should have been closed fifty years ago.  Ever since the advent of Medicaid there has been no need for a city charity hospital and the reason it has been kept open is purely political. There is no federal or state law or metro charter provision requiring the city to operate a charity hospital.

I thought it took courage for Megan Barry to propose closing General. It did, but unfortunately Barry did not have the backbone to follow through and rally support. Facing other issues, such as pushing her transit plan, I doubt the mayor will invest political capital in trying to build support for an end of year decision to close General.  We are probably stuck poring more money down this rat hole for many more years to come.

For more on General see the following:
Mayor Megan Barry delays closure of inpatient care at Nashville General Hospital
Why is Steve Glover fighting to keep General Hospital open? Very disappointing. 
The Tennessean, December 17, 2017: Future uncertain for Nashville General CEO amid mayor's plans to end inpatient care.
The Tennessean, December 15, 2017:  Hospital landscape in limbo as questions swirl over Nashville General's fate
The Tennessean, December 14, 2017: Audit: Nashville General plagued by financial mismanagement despite progress. 
For previous reporting on Metro Nashville General issues covered in this blog, follow this link.   

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Why is Steve Glover fighting to keep General Hospital open? Very disappointing.

Steve Glover, fighting to
Keep General Hospital Open

According to The Tennesseean, a bill has been filed by two metro council members to force the city to keep General Hospital open for at least a year and a half.  The sponsors are Erca Gilmore and Councilman Steve Glover.  Steve Glover! I am shocked.  I expected push back from the Black community and from some super liberals in the Council and am not surprised that a Black council member would introduce such legislation but fiscally responsible members of the Council should be rallying behind the mayor on this issue. Councilman Glover is thought of as one of the conservatives in the Council. He is a Republican. If Steve Glover would like to explain why he is taking this action, he is free to leave a comment.

Member of the Black community see Meharry General Hospital as a source of pride. Nashville General is the teaching hospital of Meharry Medical College. Meharry is the second largest educator of African-American medical doctors and dentists in the United States and has the highest percentage of African Americans graduating with Ph.Ds in the biomedical sciences in the country.  Meharry recently partnered with HCA to train at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, a hospital in HCA's TriStar Health subsidiary. Meharry's mission will not be jeopardizes by the closure of General.  Despite serving very little purpose for the city and despite there being no law requiring the city to operate such a hospital, no previous mayor has dared to antagonize the leadership of the Black community by proposing to close General Hospital.

In the last two years the Hospital has sought $26 million in emergency funding  in addition to a $35 million annual subsidy from the Metro Council.  As reported in The Tennessean recently, a recent audit found that the hospital, "failed at basic bookkeeping, unable to keep track of patient payments and major expenses."

While poor management is obviously a problem, the real problem with Nashville General is that  no one wants to go there.  Metro jail inmates without insurance needing hospitalization have no choice and are sent to General and there is a financial incentive for Metro employees to use General but it still cannot fill its beds. The facility is  licensed for 150 beds, staffed for 114 and has an average of 44 beds filled a day. Metro General should have been closed fifty years ago.  Ever since the advent of Medicaid there has been no need for a city charity hospital and the reason it has been kept open is purely political.

Finally, surprisingly,  a liberal mayor is showing the courage to close this money pit and instead of being cheered on and supported by a Republican in the Metro Council, she is being sabotaged.  I am very disappointing. If you see the mayor encourage her to stay the course. If you interact with your council members, please tell him or her to support the mayor on this issue.

For recent news regarding Nashville General, see the following.
The Tennessean, December 17, 2017: Future uncertain for Nashville General CEO amid mayor's plans to end inpatient care.
The Tennessean, December 15, 2017:  Hospital landscape in limbo as questions swirl over Nashville General's fate
The Tennessean, December 14, 2017: Audit: Nashville General plagued by financial mismanagement despite progress.
For previous reporting on Metro Nashville General issues covered in this blog, follow this link.  

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Senate confirms Nashville attorney Chip Campbell as federal judge for Middle Tennessee

The Tennessean reports,  Senate confirms Nashville attorney Chip Campbell as federal judge for Middle Tennessee.

Chip Campbell is the son of  Bill and Beth Campbell. Beth is a Republican work horse and is well know in Republican circles, having worked tirelessly in numerous political campaigns.  She is a former member of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee and is currently serving as a member of the National Republican Executive Committee.

The Senate voted 97-0 on Tuesday to confirm  William “Chip” Campbell Jr. to become a U.S. District Court judge for the state's Middle District, which includes Nashville and the surrounding counties. He is an attorney in the Nashville office of Frost Brown Todd LLC,

Congratulations Chip, Bill and Beth!

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Pro-Life Vote Upheld on Amendment 1. Judges Rule Unanimously Against Planned Parenthood

Tennessee Right to Lifem JANUARY 9, 2018 - In a resounding victory for pro-life Tennesseans, Judges on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected a pro-abortion effort to overturn the 2014 voter passage of Amendment 1.   

"Although the subject of abortion rights will continue to be controversial in Tennessee and across our nation, it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people's 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest," wrote Senior Judge David McKeague, a 2005 appointee of George W. Bush. 

Tennessee Right to Life expresses profound gratitude to the many supporters, advocates, and voters who sacrificed to see Amendment 1 placed on the ballot and passed by public vote. It was made necessary by a radical pro-abortion decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000 which wrongly declared a so-called "fundamental right to abortion" in the Tennessee Constitution thereby making enforcement of common-sense protections impossible in Tennessee. 

Passage of SJR 127 and Amendment 1 remained the top priority and legislative goal of Tennessee Right to Life for more than 16 years.

"Today's ruling is vindication of the state's amendment process and victory for the thousands of pro-life Tennesseans who sacrificed to see Amendment 1 passed," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. 

"We are grateful to the legislators who placed the amendment on the ballot, to voters who approved it, and to the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Coordinator of Elections who all worked tirelessly to defend it," said Harris. "The voices of Tennessee's voters have been heard and, as a result, public policy decisions on the matter of abortion can be rightly debated and determined by the people's representatives."

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Monday, January 8, 2018

What to do about Mass Transit and traffic congestion

by Rod Williams  - All of the candidates for mayor have issued statements or published position papers addressing the issue of mass transit and traffic congestion.  Polls of what Nashvillians care about list mass transit and traffic among the top issues. The long hard-fought battle to stop the AMP caused people to focus on the issue of mass transit.  And, people’s own personal experience of dealing with Nashville traffic has elevated the issue. I have lived in Nashville most of my adult life and I remember when we could brag that Nashville was a “15-minute city," meaning you could get anywhere you wanted to go in fifteen minute. That changed a long time ago.  Traffic is a serious issue and good big cities have mass transit. It is fitting that traffic and transit are important  issues.  Below are my thoughts on the issue.

I want to see Nashville develop a system of mass transit that uses the private sector to the largest extend possible.  I would like to see us transition from a public mass transit system to a private mass transit system.  I would like to see us do things never done before.  We should break new ground. We should be known as the city with a great transportation system primarily dependent on the private sector to provide the service.  We should privatize mass transit.

By “privatized” I mean both fully privatized non-governmental transit, and public-private-partnership and out-sourcing, private companies hired by government to provide transit services. 
As an example, Uber is a fully private operation with no government subsidy and minimal regulation.  Airport-hotel express bus service is private form of mass transit. A private-public partnership may be that a company builds a light rail line and operates it, for instance from the airport to downtown, and we lease the rail line for 75 years.  Some turnpikes are built like this.  Hiring a private firm to provide a service is the way the state often houses prisoners and the way we pick up most of the city’s garbage.  

We need to seek a unique solution:  If I were mayor I would seek out consultants who have experience in successful cost effective mass transit relying on private providers.  If we cannot find a consultant with a track record of doing this, we could do it ourselves.   I would call Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Grayline, Megabus, and others to the table and ask for RFP’s for moving masses of people efficiently.  These app-dispatched type companies like Uber and Lyft are relatively new.  They have made lots of money and have lots of money to invest and they may be looking for opportunities to grow.  Brainstorm with them. Invite them to help us solve our transit problem.

Look at Megabus: For $10 one can go from Nashville to Atlanta on a Megabus.  Would Megabus want to take over a Nashville Express bus services?  Or, maybe Grayline?Remove prohibition against private companies competing with the MTA.  At this time probably no company would want to provide a purely private bus service but we should remove the impediment if one did want to.  We should change the environment to one that welcomes private solutions, competition and innovation instead of a climate that penalizes private solutions. 

Remove the requirement for a 'certificate of necessity' before one can operate more cabs or start new cab companies.  The only logic for restricting supply of taxis is to protect those already in business from competition. Taxis are not mass transit, but they complement mass transit.  For one thing, they get people out of their private car and once one has become accustomed to not driving their private car, then other forms of transportation may also become more attractive.  Also, if one takes a bus from Murfreesboro to downtown, often one must still get somewhere else.  Taxis can take you the few blocks or miles from the end of the bus line to where you need to be.  Also, taxis do not need to park downtown for 8 hours at a stretch and if we had more taxis in use there would be less demand for more parking.

Look at how we pick up garbage: 
I was in the Metro Council when we changed the way we pick up garbage. The city picked all up of it, it was a more labor intensive process and garbage cans were manually lifted instead of mechanically lifted and service was twice a week instead of once a week. We transitioned to a once-a-week, mechanical-lift, uniform-garbage-can system.  Metro still designs the routes and supervises quality but most garbage is now picked up by private companies.  This has saved metro a lot of money.  Garbage workers were some of the lowest paid employees in the city but disability claims and retirement was very expensive. Metro employees and the public resisted the transition to private companies collecting the garbage but the transition to the current system happened and it has worked well.  During the transition, Metro public works “competed” with private companies. The cost of metro picking up garbage was established counting all cost in order to measure and compare the deal we were getting from private firms.  If Metro could “bid” lower on a route than a private company, Metro continued the route.  Eventfully, private companies took over most to the routes. The city simply could not pick up garbage as cheap as a private company. 

My Thai observation #1: It doesn’t matter the color of the bus.  I did not know what I was observing at the time but as a young man I spent 15 months in Thailand. I was in the Air Force and I lived off base and enjoyed my experience.  I learned how to take the local buses and get around.  I noticed that on a bus route that I used, I sometimes caught a brown bus and sometimes a green bus, but the bus followed the same route and regular schedule regardless of the color of the bus.  It was only years later when doing some research on transportation that I realized that the local government set the routes and allowed private companies to bid on the routes.  On the same route,  one time the bus may be one owned by one company but the next bus may be a bus owned by another company.

My Thai observation #2:  It is not a taxi and it is not a bus. Often instead of catching a bus, I would catch another type service.  In Thailand, they were often mini- pickup trucks that had a top but open sides with benches facing each other on each side of the truck bed.  Later I realized this type service is called a “jitney” and operates in many countries, but we do not have it in America.  It is a service that operates on a relatively fixed route but can deviate a block or two off the route to drop someone off at their home or place of work.  With modern phone apps and almost everyone having a smart phone, I think an Americanized version of jitney service could work in Nashville.  Obviously, Instead of pick-up trucks however I would envision vans or very small busses. 
The Nashville Star has been a failure and not a model to follow. This 30-mile line starting in Lebanon was projected to move 750 per day but on average it only moves 550 people a day.  The fare box only covers only 15% of the cost of a trip on the train.  With an operating budget of $5.1 million, that is not a sustainable model.  Also it gets very few cars off the road.  If 550 people a day are taking the train, some of those would be riding with a spouse, or car pooling or riding a bus or not working downtown. So if we consider 75% of those riding the train would be driving a car that is only 413 cars taken off the road in that 30 mile stretch of I-40 or Lebanon Pike.  That is an insignificant number.

We do not need to widen roads. There may be bottle necks that could be improved, but widening roads is like solving a weight problem by buying a bigger belt.  Sitting in traffic is one of the “cost” that will result in people being willing to use mass transit and also influence people’s decision about where they live and work.

Not everyone minds their long commute. People like to talk about their horrible commute, but some people are accustomed to it and value the independence of their car and do not want to ride mass transit.  I think I would hate it myself, but some people have told me the ride home gives them time to unwind. They do not find it nerve wracking. They want to listen to their music or choice of talk show or sports and do not want to share that choice and they want to stop off at the grocery store on the way home.  Don’t assume people want to give up their car.  We are not now maximizing the use of vanpools and car pools and the express bus services. If we are not now maximizing alternative options, they why should we assume other options would get people to give up their car? There may not be as much demand for mass transit as some assume. Equal to the challenge of how we move people is selling people on the idea of using mass transit.  Don’t assume that if we build it, they will use it. 

Not every bus has to be the same.  Some millennial and young professionals may want luxury seats and Wi-Fi and a smooth ride. Recent immigrants living out Nolensville Rd may be happy with a school-type bus and lower priced service and greater frequency of service may be more important than a luxury ride. Let entrepreneurs have a chance to provide different models and see what works. What works on one route may not be the same as what works on another route.

Mass transit and planning for development should coincide.  I have traveled quite a bit in Europe and in some other countries. A visitor to Europe may think the walled cities with big cathedrals and cobble stone streets are quaint and that everyone lives like that. If you take a train from one city to another in many of these countries, however, you will find that much of the population live clustered around railway stops at different points along the route.  One may pass through miles of sparse development or pasture and farmland and then come to a railway stop and there will be a population center with multi story apartment buildings around the train stop.  Should we build a light rail line or develop a Bus Rapid Transit route down Nolensville Road or some other major corridor, then land use planning should allow high rise, high density development of apartments clustered around the transit stop. 

We need greater density to make mass transit successful.  We should discourage rezoning of neighborhoods to single-family-only, should encourage zoning that allows auxiliary living units on residential properties (mother-in-law apartments) and increase density along major corridors, at mass transit hubs, or major transit stops.  This would also increase the supply of affordable housing. 

Express bus service is a “public good."  It is a given that getting more people to take buses from Murfreesboro to Nashville, or Gallatin or Clarksville to Nashville is a public good.  When someone takes the bus it makes the road less congested for the rest of us.  It reduces the demand for widening roads, reduces commute times for other drivers and cuts pollution by reducing idling cars.  It reduces poverty by making it possible for low-skilled workers to get to jobs, it increases disposable income and spurs economic growth by allowing people to spend more of their money on other goods rather than transportation.  Yet ridership is low. (I do not know the number, but know it is low. We need the numbers in order to say:  “X number of people commute from Murfressboro to Nashville everyday, yet only X percent takes the express bus service.”)  

Regional transportation is also a State public good. Metro should not pay the lion’s share for regional transportation. The more people who take the Murfreesboro to Nashville bus, the more it helps the State, since it reduces traffic on the interstate highway. We need regional support and state financial support for efforts to increase mass transit.  Our Nashville legislative delegation should advocate for regional transit to get TDOT support for every vehicle that is taken off a state road due to someone using mass transit. 

Express Bus service is a bargain.  One can take a bus from Murfreesboro t o Nashville for $4 for one trip or 20 trips for $70. That is only $7.50 a day!  To park at the 701 Church Street garage is $5 for one hour, $8 two hours, and a $13 daily maximum if one can find a place to park.  So to take the bus for a month is $7.50 x 20 days= $150 a month; to take a car is $150 parking (assume one leases a space by the month), gas $200 (assume a tank a week at $50 x4= 200) maintenance and oil changes assume $50 a month, and assume the wearing out of a car used mostly for work $400 a month. (Assume a $20,000 car for 5 years plus interest). So the cost of taking the bus is $150 a month and the cost of driving is $800.

So, how do we get more people to take the bus? Assuming it is a pubic good and we want more people to take the bus, and it is a bargain, why won’t people take the bus? It could be that it is inconvenient to be at the bus stop on time, one may want to stay in town to have dinner, one may have to pick up the kids or stop at the grocery store and the bus does not take you to the door of your business.  Other people may not take the bus because they just love their car, and you would have to pay them to take the bus.  However, many people do not know of the option of express bus service or have never even considered it.  One thing government does not do well is advertise its services and most of the time with good reason.  Most government services do not have to be advertised because people have to have them, want them or not.  Other services are government monopoly and people have no choice of provider. For other services, if more people use the service such as libraries or parks we will have to build more libraries or parks. However, getting people out of their cars can save money and solve a problem. We need to “sell” people on using the bus.  We need billboards and ads touting the benefit of taking an express bus service. Any RFP for a private company to take over an express line should include a proposal for advertising and increasing ridership and perhaps provide an incentive for increasing ridership.  Even if we do not privatize the line, we still need to advertise.

Use Technology, synchronize lights, and build roundabouts and pedestrian passageways:
My favorite bad example of uselessly sitting at a traffic light is Craighead and Bransford.  The light takes forever to change with traffic going neither direction.  Often I have been tempted to run the red light. This would be a great place to build a roundabout or turn the light to flashing red and flashing yellow after 8PM unless there is a function at the Fairgrounds.  I am sure this is only one of a thousand examples in town. I have traveled in Europe and I know roundabouts take some getting used to but they are safe and keep traffic moving. Also, by reducing idle time, they improve air quality and reduce air pollution.  All lights should be automated to be timed to move traffic most efficiently.  On super busy roadways with pedestrian traffic, we should construct pedestrian bridges or tunnels.  This will increase safety of pedestrians and reduce the light timing necessary for pedestrians to cross the road.  This would not be something for downtown where we want to encourage pedestrian traffic and slow traffic, but I am sure there are some areas where this would be beneficial, such in Greenhills. I have seen these used European cities. It works.

Make the city more walkable by stopping building sidewalks stupidly and require new developments to have a “pedestrian plan,” just as they must now have a traffic plan, a lighting plan and a storm water plan. I have examples of poor planning and building sidewalks stupidly that I could show you.  It seems as if some streets were designed to ensure people never walk. 

Most people do not work downtown.  A lot of people do, but I have never worked downtown.  If we moved masses of people from Murfreesboro to downtown, then how we would they get them to their jobs which are scattered throughout the city and the region?  Before we focus on a massive investment of a Murfreesboro to Nashville route or similar routes we need to figure out how to get people where they want to go once they get downtown.  Private paratransit could help accomplish this. 

We must realize that it is difficult to retrofit a city build mostly after the advent of the car to accommodate mass transit.  Cities with really good mass transit are cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.  These are all cities that had large populations and were built prior to the advent of the automobile.  We should not over promise on mass transit. Atlanta has a large rail system but its job centers are not clustered, making that rail system less useful.  

Realize the future may be here before you know it and needs may change. It was not that many years ago that everyone did not have a smart cell phone. That technology has changed much of how we live from how we find places, connect with people, and decide the routes we take.  The demand on our roads and use of one’s own car may decrease. More people may work from home. UPS, Federal Express, pizza delivery and running to another office to deliver a set of document may be done mostly by drones in five to ten years.  To go somewhere, you may click an app on your phone (or key bob type device or whatever) and a driverless pod rushes to your house and takes you where you want to go. We will still need roadways but some problems may take care of themselves and it is difficult to plan for a future 75 years down the road when technology we have not even dreamed of yet, may appear at any time. 

This originally appeared in this blog on  July 15, 2015. In the mid 1980's I Iead an effort with my friend Roger Bissell to stop a proposed special tax to support mass transit. During that process I studied the issue of transit in some depth. Also from my service on the Planning Committee of the Council and work with an engineering firm I had more exposure to traffic planning issues. I believe the time is now to develop a primarily private forward- looking transportation system. With new technologies emerging we do not need to build the system of the past. Nashville could break the mold and do something cutting edge if we had the right leadership. Rod Williams

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Important public hearing on the mayor's transit proposal tommorrow!

This meeting will be packed with supporters for this proposal. For months the mayor has been building support. There are organization like Bike Walk Nashville and others who you can bet will be there in force. The proponents are organized but the opponents are not.  Unfortunately due to my personal situation, I cannot get away to attend this meeting. If only proponents speak up, members of the Council will think most people support it. Please show up and let your opinion be known.

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

First Tuesday guest speaker is Ralph Schulz of the Chamber making the case for the mass transit plan.

From Tim Skow, Host of First Tuesday:
MONDAY .... January 8th a '' YUUUGGGGE DAY'' ....
especially for all those who engage in the politics in and around Middle Tennessee ...

SOME ... will be prepping for the Opening the TN Legislature the next day.
Some  .... will be gearing up for the National Championship football game that night
Others .... will be working their way to see President Trump during his Nashville visit.

BUT...THE brightest minds engaged in Nashville's future and its political affairs ..... will be at the JANUARY version of 1ST TUESDAY dealing with Mayor Barry's plan to raise[and spend] no less than $5,400,000,000++ from Nashville taxpayers for Mass Transit.

Yes ....all the events will be memorable... BUT ... only one will impact the future of Nashville and middle TN for decades!

Plan to join us and invite your friends on MONDAY.... Jan 8th .... details follow. 
1ST TUESDAY invites you to a $5,400,000,000 lunch
 No version of 1ST TUESDAY has ever brought our Members and Guests a meeting  that has sooooooo much on the line for Nashville’s future.
Mayor Barry is proposing a new Mass Transit plan with a budget of over $5.4 Billion dollars. Her proposal encompasses a wide and complex range of topics critical to Nashville’s future…. Topics that include but are not limited to the following:
·        TRAFFIC !! traffic issues are approaching extreme with no end in sight
·        GROWTH! roughly 2,000 people a month are moving here !
·        FINANCIAL ISSUES !! Nashville isn’t made of $$. WHAT do is at stake?
·        COMPARABLE CITIES SOLUTIONS? Atlanta, Austin, Denver & others?
·        FACTS vs ‘’FAKES’’? … What concerns are REAL? Which are ‘’Bogus-BS’’?
[its already coming … AND… it is going to get even more outrageous ! ]

Therefore – we will have 2 meeting in JANUARY on Mayor Barry’s proposal.
 Monday – JAN 8th  RALPH SCHULZ returns from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and Members of Mayor Barry’s team will make their case. AS USUAL – the 2nd half of our meeting with be a lively Q&A.
Details for 2nd meeting will follow next week.
Doors at WALLER Law [511 Union St – 27th floor] open at 11:00am. Event is $20 for Members and $25 for Guests. Lunch is at 11:30. Program at NOON sharp! Visit our website at and click on ‘’Join Us’’ to secure seats
if $25 ‘’Guest’’ gives you trouble …use the $25  ‘’Dues’’ icon instead ]
The GOOD news is that temperature will be in the 40s ! AND parking under the building for $7 !
SEE you on MONDAY … JANUARY 8th … if not before!
Tim Skow

ALSO: …. Just a reminder for those of you who missed being part of the toy fund drive … 2018 DUES are DUE !

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Being appointed by the Council to fill a General Sessions Court vacancy is no guarantee one will keep the seat, next election.

Recently in writing about the Metro Council's selecting of a General Sessions judge to fill a vacancy, I wrote the following: "Usually these vacancies get filled by a sitting councilman. Once elected, General Court judges seldom face serious challenges for reelection so getting the seat is almost like a lifetime appointment."

I was relying on  limited knowledge of former councilmen who were selected by the Council to fill a General Sessions Court vacancy such as Bill Higgins, Leon Ruben and Amanda McClendon. At one timeI think what I said was true, but apparently no so any more. In a Tennessean article today, Nashville Judge Sam Coleman draws 2 election challengers, the reporter writes: "The last three judges appointed by the council have gone on to lose their first elections. The most recent was former Councilman Mike Jameson, who lost to Rachel Bell in 2012 after Jameson had been appointed to the seat the year before."

I stand corrected. No longer does being appointed by the Council to fill a General Sessions Court vacancy guarantee one will keep the seat next election. I am please to offer this correction.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Mayor's Nashville transit plan requires $9B for all expenses - nearly double the construction price tag. That assumes no cost overruns.

According to an article in today's Tennessean, Mayor's Nashville transit plan requires $9B for all expenses - nearly double the construction price tag.   This assumes no cost overruns. One would be foolish to not assume cost overruns. The average cost overrun is about 50% and many do much worse.  The Big Dig in Boston was approved in 1982 for completion in 1998, at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion.  The project was to re-route 3.5 mile of an interstate in downtown Boston and put in a tunnel under the city. It was finally completed 25 years later in 2007, at a cost that The Boston Globe estimated at $22 billion.  Nashville's proposal includes 26 miles of new light-rail, improved bus service and an 1.8 mile tunnel through limestone below downtown. If approved by voters I am betting the final cost of Nashville's transit program will be about $25 billion. In addition, the fare box seldom covers the operating cost and requires massive annual subsidies.

Transit project cost overruns (source)

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(final update) What happened at the 1/2/18 Council meeting: trampling property rights deferred, Nick Leonardo elected judge, new short term rental regs advance, more transparency for corporate welfare approved, ...

At four hours and 20  minutes long this is a long council meeting.  I skimmed parts of it and I zipped through most of the bills on public hearing at double speed, so I may have missed something. If you are going to watch the Council meeting you really need a copy of the agenda and the staff analysis. You can get those documents as well as my commentary on the agenda at this link.

Bill to take away property rights deferred.

proposed bill to kill The Ridge at 
Antioch deferred,
In my view the most important item on the agenda was BILL NO. BL2016-219 on Third and Final Reading which would trample a persons property rights and kill and affordable housing project. It was differed by rule because the sponsor was not at the committee meeting considering the bill.  It will be back on the agenda January 16th.  For much more on this issue, follow this link: Contact your Council member. Stop the trampling of property rights and the killling of an affordable housing development.

Nick Leonardo elected judge.
Ana Escobar loses General
Session Judge contest to
Councilman Nick Leonardo

A high profile item on the agenda was the council election to fill a General Secession Court vacancy. The Council selected Councilman Nick Leonardo over Ana Escobar, a high-profile domestic violence victim advocate who was highly favored by the Nashville Bar Association. The Tennessean  provides a more detailed report on this issue which you can read at this link: Metro Council votes to appoint Councilman Nick Leonardo judge over prosecutor Ana Escobar.

Mr. Holliday who was also a nominee withdrew his nomination. The name of Ana Escobar is placed in nomination by Councilman Robert Swope. Pat Shea, former president and CEO of the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, urged the council to support Ms Escobar. In my view, Ms Escobar was the better candidate to serve in this position which hears most domestic violence cases in Nashville. Escobar has worked both as a prosecutor of domestic violence cases and as a defender of those accused of the crime. She is an expert. I think the practice of giving preference to ones colleague simply because you served with them in the council is a practice which should end. Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher made a passionate speech in favor of Councilman Leonardo.

By a vote of 21-16 the Council selected Leonardo. It you wish to watch the council process and speeches relating to this election see time stamp 3:15-19:30. When the minutes of the meeting are posted I will post the record of how individual members voted.

New home sharing restrictions advance.
The item of most interest to the public on the agenda was Substitute Bill BL2017-937 and three other bills on public hearing all dealing with the issue of home sharing or "short term rental property." This issue has been being worked on by the Council for months. BL2017-937 was a bill that had the support of the home sharing community but did not go far enough to satisfy many neighborhood activist types. It was the result of an ad hoc committee of five council members assigned earlier this year to study the issue. It imposes new restrictions on home sharing and lowers the cap of how many such units may exist but does not take away from anyone currently providing this service the right to continue to do so.   

Bill BL2017-981  would allow “STRP–Owner-Occupied” as an accessory use in specified zoning districts and allow “STRP–Not Owner Occupied” as a use permitted with conditions in specified districts. So,  as I understand it, what the practical effect of this would be is short term rental could exist in residential areas where the owner lives in the property on the same lot as the short term rental unit.  A person would not be allowed, however, to own the house next door and rent it as short term rental. Those already existing however could continue to exist.  

Bill BL2017-982 also deals with short term rental but seems less significant than the others.  If adopted in conjunction with BL2017 608 or  BL2017 937 or  BL2017-981 its impact would be limited to allowing duplexes to be considered for owner-occupied permits under certain circumstances.

Bill BL2017-1005 would allow Hotel/Motel use within the Urban Zoning Overlay (UZO) district on no more than three percent of the residentially zoned properties within each census tract. This bill is disapproved by the Planning Commission. A UZO is essentially the old part of the city and it generally calls for pedestrian friendly construction with parking behind a business rather than in front of it and it imposes other restrictions. While this is not exactly a short term rental ordinance, some hotel-motels rent rooms primarily on sites like Airbnb and are much like non-owner occupied multifamily short term rental, so this would put a cap on those type businesses. 

Not on pubic hearing but a bill which is worse than any of the other is BILL NO. BL2017-608 which would be a radical change and would establish distinct land uses for “Short term rental property – Owner- Occupied” and “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied”, and establishing a phase out date in year 2021 for “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied.” If this passes in addition to ending short term rentals of homes not occupied by the owner, in order to offer home-sharing services, one would have to get their property rezoned. 

All of the bills on public hearing were all lumped together to hear from the public. Unlike a regular pubic hearing, where the council hears from the proponents first and then the opponents, the vice mayor allows people to line up an one by one and have their say on any or all of the four bills either pro or con. The public hearing goes on and on and on and gets real repetitive. If you are already familiar with the arguments pro and con, there is not much to be gained by watching the public hearing. To get a flavor of the public hearing you may want to sample a few but their is little to be gained by watching the complete public hearing.   To view the public hearing and the discussion see timestamp 53:52- 3:55:49. For a good clear explanation by Councilman Shulman of what bill 937 would do go to timestamp 3:31: 37 -3:30:24 in the video. The Tennessean does a good job of reporting on the public hearing and provides some background. For more on this issue see my commentary and to read The Tennessean's reporting see, Nashville council advances new Airbnb rules, setting up legislative showdown.   

Substitute Bill BL2017-937 passes by a machine vote of 19 in favor, 14 opposed, 4 abstentions and 3 not voting. I will post the results of the vote in a later blog post.
Bill BL2017-981 passes by a machine vote of 17 for, 16 agaisnt, 4 abstentions and 3 not voting. 
Bill BL2017-982  passes by a machine vote of 28 to 13 and 4 abstentions.and 3 not voting.
Bill BL2017-1005 fails by a machine vote of 6, 21,10, and 3 not voting.

More transparency for corporate welfare.
BILL BL2017-983 which would require certain information for the assessment of economic and community development incentives offered in the form of PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements and Council approval of such agreements passed by voice vote. This bill was supported by a liberal activist group and labor unions and opposed by some business interest and the Chamber of Commerce. On this issue I found myself allied with the liberals.  In my view more transparency in awarding incentives to business is a good thing. To read The Tennessean's account of the council action on this bill see, Nashville council passes new transparency rules for future city incentives.

Other Council Action
Mayoral appointments to boards and commission were approved without dissent as this council almost always does.  All bills on First Reading were approved by a single vote as is the norm. Other than the short term rental bills discussed above none of the other bills on public hearing generated much controversy, most were approved without anyone from the public speaking on them.

Bill BL2017-938  on Public Hearing which 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 was deferred to the first meeting in March.

Bill BL2017-1029 on Public Hearing which would require contributions paid in lieu of the construction of sidewalks to stay within council districts is deferred to the April public hearing

Bill BL2017-1030 by Councilman Glover on Public Hearing which would  require an annual study be conducted by the Department of Public Works to determine the cost of sidewalks within Davidson County and to preclude in lieu payments absent such study is deferred to the April public hearing.

Bill BL2017-951 on Second Reading which would establish a  Community Oversight Board for the police department is deferred indefinably.

BILL BL2017-1031 on Second Reading which is the mayor's $5.2B mass transit bill is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2017-608  on Third Reading which is the worst of the proposed short term rental bills and would phase out all non-owner-occupied short term rentals is deferred one meeting in order to be on the same agenda as the other short term rental bills.

SUBSTITUTE BILL BL2017-953 on Third Reading which imposes various regulations regarding commercial solicitation  including restricting door-to-door commercial solicitation to the hours of after sunset or 7:00 pm, whichever occurs later passes.

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