Friday, September 21, 2018

What happened at the Council meeting of 9/18/18: Tax increment financing (TIF) reform advances.




At one hour and 48 minutes long this is a relatively short council meeting. Nothing of great controversy was on the agenda. To access the council agenda, council staff analysis and my agenda commentary follow this link.

Six Council members were absent this meeting. That is an unusually high number. Those absent were Pardue, Huezo, Weiner, Pulley, Bedne and Dowel. The meeting starts with a couple of ceremonial presentations and does not get down to business until timestamp 19 in the video.  The Vice Mayor announces the establishment of a special committee to look at school safety issues and the establishment of some other special committees and announces that new committee assignments have been made for the coming year. There are no surprises in the confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions and all are approved.

The public comment period starts at timestamp 32:35 and only two people speak and they speak on issues of local concern. So far, the public comment policy is going better than I expected. I thought all kinds of activist would take this opportunity to vent and it would turn into a lengthy session of grandstanding but that has not happened yet.


Resolutions. Most resolutions passed on "consent" which means they were all lumped together and passed by a single vote. Any member could have had a "no" vote recorded or have had an item taken off of consent. Below are the ones I found of interest.

 Resolution RS2018-1385 by Councilman Blalock  is a resolution requesting grocery store operators within Davidson County to take effective measures to reduce the use and/or impact of single-use plastic carryout bags and report the measures being undertaken in this effort, and encouraging the use of reusable bags by residents and businesses within Davidson County. In a previous council meeting Blalock had sponsored legislation that failed to ban plastic bags. In may view this needed to fail also. However, it only "request" grocery story to do this so grocery stores can just ignore it. It passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1390  approves a PILOT for renovation of an affordable housing  apartment complex. I have some concern that this subsidy  may become an expectation for any developer who develops anything except luxury apartments. I admit I do not have enough information to know if this concern is justified. I hope the city is using this tool judiciously. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1391  approves the sale of $775 million in General Obligation bonds. These are all bonds authorized by other legislation actions of the council. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1411  confirms the mayor's appointees of members of a Blue Ribbon Commission to recommend Metro cost saving and improved efficiencies. It is an impressive list and includes former Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz, ex-Metro Councilmember Emily Evans, real estate developer D.J. Wootson, SEIU Local 205 President Brad Rayson and former school board chair Gracie Porter. I am especially pleased to see the appointment of Emily Evans. I observed her when she served on the Council. She is smart and had a firm grasp of Metro financial issues. Dave Goetz seems like a good choice.  I don't know much about the qualification of the others. I am hopeful that this committee will come up with some meaningful recommendations.  The establishment of the Blue Ribbon Commission was an initiative of Councilman John Cooper. This passed on the consent agenda.

Resolution RS2018-1393 was a resolution approving an agreement between the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Metro through the  Nashville Police Department, to provide police assistance to the Middle Tennessee Drug Enforcement Task Force. I assumed this would be routine and be on consent but it was not. The purpose of the Drug Enforcement Task Force is to gather intelligence data and conduct undercover operations related to illegal drug trafficking. I do not know the basis of the opposition as there was no discussion of the resolution. The vote was 28 to 3 with Sledge, O'Connell, and Rosenberg voting "no."

Resolution RS2018-1395  was to appropriate $360,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment for the Nashville Fire Department. It was deferred indefinitely. The sponsor explains that the requested funding for the equipment will be in a different resolution in the near future.
Bills.
Bill BL2018-1283  on Second Reading would prohibit the use of funds from the sale of Metro owned property from being used to fund the operating budget. While I do not think it is wise policy to use one-time funds for reoccurring expenses, I do not think it ought to be strictly prohibited. If this passes it would leave a hole in the current budget because the budget did rely on revenue from the sale of some property that has not sold yet. That problem could be easily fixed by changing the effective date of the prohibition to future budgets and exempting it for the current budget year. Nevertheless, I think this bill should be voted down.  It should be noted however, that anything done by legislation can be undone by a legislation so if this did pass and a future council wanted to undo it they could do so. Passed by voice vote.

Bill BL2018-1314  on Second Reading establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission wold be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. Resolution 1411 above is the confirmation of the five appointed by the mayor. This is deferred one meeting on a voice vote without discussion.

Bill BL2018-1319  on Second Reading would amend the law regarding Tax Increment Financing.  TIF is a program that provides that property taxes generated in redevelopment areas and authorized by Council do not flow to the General Fund but instead are used to subsidize the development and repay the cost of infrastructure improvements in the area. Much of downtown development does not contribute to the tax revenue of Nashville but flows to MDHA because of this. This bill would impose a formula requiring that a portion of the property tax revenue would flow to the general fund to support schools. it is Passed by voice vote and referred back to Budget and Finance. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:13:05- 1:32:19.  This is a complicated issue. A sort of shell game is played with some of the TIF tax revenue in which some money is included in the school budget but the schools must pay that money to MDHA. I think TIF should be greatly reduced and there needs to be more transparency brought to the issue. Hopefully that will happen. This is a good bill and deserves to pass.

Bill BL2018-1315 on Third Reading creates a  Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This sits out the composition of the committee and what they are charged with doing. This is a positive development. Passed 32 to 0.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nashville council issues $775M in bonds to pay for previously approved projects

The Tennessean: Nashville council issues $775M in bonds to pay for previously approved projects

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Bredesen Supports Fully Funding Abortion Provider Planned Parenthood

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Franklin ranked among top 10 places to live in the U.S.

Franklin ranked among top 10 places to live in the U.S.

The Tennessean - Franklin is listed on Time Magazine's 10 best places to live in the U.S. The article, published Monday, weighed economic growth, quality of life and affordability. Franklin is no stranger to such lists. It was named by 24/7 Wall St. as one of the best cities to live in in 2017, and ranked the 8th fastest-growing city in the nation by the U.S. Census Bureau last year.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

What is on the Council Agenda for 9-18-2018: an attack on use of plastic bags, a Blue Ribbon Commission to look for cost saving, and studying Tax Increment Financing.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. This is a shorter agenda than that of recent meetings without lots of controversial issues.  This should be a shorter meeting and I am certain Council members will be pleased.  Recent meetings have been marathon session running four to six hours. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.
 

Below is legislation of interest.

Resolution RS2018-1385 by Councilman Blalock  is a resolution calling on grocery store operators within Davidson County to take effective measures to reduce the use and/or impact of single-use plastic carryout bags and report the measures being undertaken in this effort, and encouraging the use of reusable bags by residents and businesses within Davidson County. In a previous council meeting Blalock had sponsored legislation that failed to ban plastic bags. This needs to fail also. We do not need to be trying to force grocery stores to give up plastic bags and forcing them to report to metro on this topic.

Resolution RS2018-1390  approves a PILOT for renovation of affordable housing  apartment complex. PILOT is "payment in lieu of taxes." The company does not pay property taxes but instead makes a payment considerably less than what they would pay in taxes. Only in the last couple years have PILOTs been used to promote affordable housing. Prior to that they were used to entice businesses to locate to Nashville.  I hope someone is closely monitoring this program and thinking long-term. This will be the thirteenth such deal for affordable housing.  When we talk about "affordable housing" we are not talking about the projects.  Unless one had personal knowledge, most of what is "affordable housing" one would not know it was some how subsidized. The unintended consequence of using this PILOT tool to encourage affordable housing, is that it may become an expectation and subvert market forces. There is still a demand for housing that is not luxury housing, but if the expectation become that any developer who builds anything but luxury housing gets a PILOT or tax credits or other subsidies then no developer may build non-luxury housing without that subsidy. On the other hand, my fears may be unfounded. I just hope this tool is being used judiciously.

Resolution RS2018-1391  approves the sale of $775 million in General Obligation bonds. These are all bonds authorized by other legislation actions of the council. I do not expect this to be debated or controversial.

Resolution RS2018-1411  confirms the mayor's appointees of members of a Blue Ribbon Commission to recommend Metro cost saving and improved efficiencies. It is an impressive list and includes former Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz, ex-Metro Councilmember Emily Evans, real estate developer D.J. Wootson, SEIU Local 205 President Brad Rayson and former school board chair Gracie Porter. I am especially pleased to see the appointment of Emily Evans. I observed her when she served on the Council. She is smart and had a firm grasp of Metro financial issues. Dave Goetz seems like a good choice.  I don't know much about the qualification of the others. I am hopeful that this committee will come up with some meaningful recommendations.  The establishment of the Blue Ribbon Commission was an initiative of Councilman John Cooper.

Bill BL2018-1283  on Second Reading would prohibit the use of funds from the sale of Metro owned property from being used to fund the operating budget. While I do not think it is wise policy to use one-time funds for reoccurring expenses, I do not think it ought to be strictly prohibited. If this passes it would leave a hole in the current budget because the budget did rely on revenue from the sale of some property that has not sold yet. That problem could be easily fixed by changing the effective date of the prohibition to future budgets and exempting it for the current budget year. Nevertheless, I think this resolution should be voted down.  It should be noted however, that anything done by resolution can be undone by a resolution so if this did pass and a future council wanted to undo it they could do so.

Bill BL2018-1314  on Second Reading establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission wold be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. Resolution 1411 above is the confirmation of the five appointed by the mayor.

Bill BL2018-1319  on Second Reading would amend the law regarding Tax Increment Financing.  TIF is a program that provides that property taxes generated in redevelopment areas and authorized by Council do not flow to the General Fund but instead are used to subsidize the development and repay the cost of infrastructure improvements in the area. Much of downtown development does not contribute to the tax revenue of Nashville but flows to MDHA because of this. This bill would impose a formula requiring that a portion of the property tax revenue would flow to the general fund to support schools. This is better than nothing.  However, I think it probably should be deferred to see what the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee comes up with.

Bill BL2018-1315 on Third Reading creates a  Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This sits out the composition of the committee and what they are charged with doing. This is a positive development.

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

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Councilman Robert Swope explains his vote on the Fairground/MLS issue.

by Rod Williams - At the September 4th Council meeting, the council voted to approve several

Robert Swope
pieces of legislation necessary to finalized the MLS deal. This issue had been before the Council for months and pitted soccer fans, city insiders, and elites against advocates of saving the fairgrounds. The part of the deal of most concern to those who support saving the fairground was the giveaway of ten acres of fairground property to the wealthy developers bringing MLS soccer to Nashville. They contented that to make the deal work they had to have the ten acres for mixed-use development.

Of all of the pieces of legislation before the Council to finalized the deal, the one piece of legislation that had the least chance of passing and thereby the best chance of derailing the MLS deal and the ten acre giveaway was  Substitute Bill BL2018-1289. This legislation approved the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium and the imposing of a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer Stadium. The reason this was the best chance to derail the MLS deal was because this bill required 27 votes to pass instead of a simple majority. It passed by a vote of 31 to 8. 

Recently I posted How they voted on the Fairground giveaway and who switched sides.  Included among  those who voted in favor of the MLS deal who had previously been opponents was Councilman Robert Swope. This came as a shock to many.  Robert had been a critic of the deal. On this and other issues, such as the transit issue, Robert Swope had always taken the conservative position and had emerged of one a very few dependable conservative voices in the Council and a Republican leader in Nashville.

I asked Robert to explain his vote which he did graciously and in detail.  I am posting below his explanation in full.
Rod,

As you know, the Fairgrounds Nashville MLS Soccer deal is a highly emotional and complicated issue.  In light of this fact, I have, for months, attempted to not only accommodate soccer in Nashville, but protect the existing Fairgrounds and all the activities that currently reside there.    I do believe that both can exist together, if sane minds prevail.

For the past 20+ years, every mayoral administration has attempted to bulldoze the fairgrounds to make profits off of public land.  This has been an ongoing WAR.  The 1902 land grant, the 1962 Charter of Nashville, and the 2011 referendum have done their best to protect this 117 acres.... but for the last 2 decades, the war has intensified.  With each battle becoming harder to fight.

In my humble opinion, the war needs to end.

How does this happen?  Protect the elephant in the room.  In the 117 acres that is Fairgrounds Nashville, the elephant is the speedway.  One of the oldest tracks in America, producer of more NASCAR drivers than all other tracks in America combined, and a jewel that is currently in desperate need of love and attention.  If you want to "Save The Fairgrounds"... then you need to save the elephant.  Long Term.  Something that no other person or group has managed to do in the last two decades.

When the MLS deal was proposed last October, I fought it tooth and nail.  What was proposed would be the start of the end of the speedway.... and as a consequence, the State Fair and the Flea Market... and ultimately the Fairgrounds itself.  I consider these three things the 3 legged stool that IS the Fairgrounds.  And I have spent months working to save them all.  Months spent on my own dime, my own time, and my own energy.

To make a very long story short (considering I have personally spent over 600 hours working this), Speedway Motor Sports (SMI), the folks who own Bristol and a half dozen other tracks, approached me two months ago.  After numerous meetings and calls, at my request, they wrote a letter to the Mayor and all Councilmembers expressing their interest in a long term contract to manage the Speedway.  This letter fell on totally deaf ears.  This was totally amazing to me.  No-one even had the time to respond.  Except myself.

So.... I began calling, meeting, and emailing the mayor, council members, Tony Formosa, Melissa Smithson, Shane Smiley, John Rose and numerous others attempting to bring everyone to the table to once and for all Save The Fairgrounds.  This was an intensive all out drive to convince the Mayor, and everyone else, that in order to save the three legged stool, we need to save the elephant.  If the speedway were to be contracted on a 30 year deal, then everything else would be saved as well.

There are a hundred other things involved here... .including the needs of the State Fair, the monthly Flea Market vendors, Christmas Village, Hunters Auto show, the Botanical shows, Boat Show, and hundreds more.  All of these were at risk IF the speedway were to fail.  I took my time and energy to speak with most, if not all of them.  Including chairing two Codes Fairgrounds and Farmers Market Committee special meetings in council.

This is a very complex issue....with hundreds of variables, and I wanted to see this from all sides before I acted upon anything.

Please make note:  I was out of the country on business when the council vote occurred last November.  IF I had been in chambers that night, I would have voted no.  Since that time, and until the third reading, and final vote, I have abstained (essentially voting no) from every vote.  I did this because during this entire process I was working my *** off to "Save The Fairgrounds" by bringing SMI to the table, coordinating with the State Fair, the Flea Market vendors, the Save The Fairgrounds coalition, the mayors office, the Fair Board, and others.  Basically bringing a company, and its owners, who are worth far more than the entire Nashville Soccer group combined, to protect the elephant.

Each of these groups agreed with me on several key issues that become the mantra of my personal mission.  They are:

1) The Formosa family shall remain promoting and operating local racing.  (This was agree to by SMI from our first conversation)
2) SMI would receive a 30 year contract to promote NASCAR racing at the speedway.
3) SMI would agree (and they have) to SHARE the expense of rebuilding the speedway with the city.  50-50.  This includes safety upgrades, new seating, new PA, new lighting, a full television/media center, sound barriers, and numerous other upgrades.  No other private entity has EVER offered the city such a deal.
4) The State Fair and the Flea Market vendors would have voting seats on the design board for the new exhibit space (this is being done now)
5) The State Fair would be offered a 30 year deal from the city IF the speedway were secured for the same time period.

All of these things are currently being done.  It will take weeks for these deals to be consummated... but I have personally shaken hands with the mayor and the SMI folks and feel comfortable that these men will honor their promises.

This all comes down to trust.  I am a man that lives up to his word. And I expect, and demand, that others do as well.  My yes vote on the stadium and additional 10 acres of development came at a VERY high price.

My price was the protection of the remaining 100 acres of Fairgrounds Nashville for generations.
My price was the end of a 20+ year war.
My price was saving a 100 year old treasure from any and all further development.
My price was creating a crown jewel where there is now a run down facility for all to enjoy.
My price was never having to spend hundreds of hours of my life again in protecting this treasure we all love in different ways.

My concession was having to agree to the additional 10 acres of land.  This was a pill I HATED to swallow.... but agreed to based on solemn promises made to me by the mayor, SMI and others.  It was the hardest vote I have had to make on this council.

I expect all of these agreed to promises to be consummated within the coming weeks.  SMI has been in town three times and has taken meetings with all the parties relating to the "three legged stool".  So far, everyone seems to be in agreement.  They will be back in town within a week and written agreements are forthcoming as I write this to you.  I TRUST that men who have agreed in principle will honor their words moving forward.

Again... this is about trust.  Something this city desperately needs to regain.  I hope I have played a part in rebuilding that trust, for the betterment of all, the protection of the Fairgrounds property, and in building a facility that we are all proud of....... and not simply been played.  Time will tell.  It always does.

All the Best,

Robert

Robert Swope
Metro Councilman - District 4
Nashville, Tennessee

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I will not wear or buy Nike

by Rod Williams - I will not be buying Nike shoes since Colin Kaepernick is now their spokesman. Not that my not buying Nike will have an economic impact on the company.  My "boycott" of Nike will be less than negligible.  I just don't buy that many sneakers. I will not buy or wear Nike not to cause financial harm to Nike but as a matter of conscience.

After this announcement by Nike, I went to my closet to see if I had any Nike's I needed to trash. I don't have any athletic shoe brand loyalty and did not even know what brand I was wearing. Thankfully, my shoes are not Nike, because I am frugal and hate to waste, and I would have hated to throw them out before they were worn out but I would have.  I have two pair of tennis shoes, one pair is a Reebok and the other is Dr. Scholls. I had one pair of Nike socks which I will trash and they are almost new.

I am not big on boycotts.  There is too much other stuff to be informed about to try to remember who I am supposed to boycott. Life is complex enough without evaluating companies and products based on the causes they support, the political opinions of the company owners or to

whom they give discounts.  I will never join AARP, but I am not going to boycott companies that give AARP members a discount. Life it too short to complicate it like that.

Following the Parkland school shooting, there was a push by gun control advocates to pressure companies to drop their NRA association and some did.  The "NRA association" did not amount to much really. Usually the "association" meant that NRA members got an insignificant discount if they presented their NRA membership card at the time of purchase.  I don't remember if it was Delta Airlines or some other company, but one major company in a year's time had only awarded four NRA discounts. The reason is that usually only one discount can apply at a time and if you purchase through another party, such as Travelocity, you don't get any other discount. I bet most NRA members even think to present their NRA membership card and ask for a discount.

In response to companies dropping their NRA discount, some conservatives mounted a boycott of companies like Delta airlines that had disassociated themselves from the NRA.  I recently took a trip to Montreal, Canada and flew on Delta simply because it was the best and most convenient option. The supposed boycott of Delta did not enter into my calculation.

Due to their bathroom policy some people boycott Target and lots of people boycott Starbucks but I forget the reason why. I don't do Starbucks, not because I am boycotting them, but because I think they are overpriced and there is other coffee just as good.

So, my point is that I am not big on boycotts. However, Nike is different. By choosing Colin Kaepernick they have chose the person who started a movement to disrespect the flag. I do think people ought to have the right to disrespect the flag.  I even think they should have a right to burn the flag if it is their own flag.  The first amendment should extend to symbolic speech and flag burning is symbolic speech.  The flag itself is not a sacred icon but a symbol and while I find burning it or disrespecting it offensive, free speech means sometimes people may do or say something that offends you. That doesn't mean that you have to respect them or associate with them.

Nike has taken sides and proudly aligned itself with those who disrespect the flag. The logic of the move to show disrespect for the flag is that it somehow protest alleged police brutality. "Taking a knee," is to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I get it. However, to choose this kind of protest to make your point is so very offensive to me.  I am a patriot. I love my country and I pledge allegiance to the flag and and to the republic for which it stands. I take showing respect for the flag seriously. I sill can get goosebumps at patriotic displays.

Nike may know their customers. Maybe this won't hurt them at all.  I assume among many Blacks this will make Nike more popular.  I perceive that many millennials and many other liberals, are slightly embarrassed by patriotic displays and find patriotism not much more than tribalism. They may view themselves as citizens of the world rather than America and see attachment to country as an embarrassing relic of a previous era of jingoism and irrational romanticism.  They probably applaud Nike.

As for me, I cannot respect someone or a company who disrespects the flag. If there was a rally to publicly burn your Nike's, I would attend and throw my Nike socks in the fire.  I would feel good doing so.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

MLS, Nashville ownership discussed 'plan B' if stadium location and fairground giveaway was rejected.

During the MLS debate  the plan which placed the stadium at the fairgrounds and included a ten acres fairground giveaway to the wealth developers, we the public and members of the council were told if the plan did not go through then the MLS coming to Nashville was dead. It was the fairground giveaway deal or no deal. Well, there was a plan B all along.

Garber: MLS, Nashville ownership discussed 'plan B' if stadium was rejected

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

How they voted on the Fairground giveaway and who switched sides.

As everyone who cares knows already, at the last council meeting legislation was passed that approved the building of the MLS stadium and the giveaway of ten acres of fairground property to the developer. This action required the passage of several pieces of legislation.  The most crucial of the votes was the vote on  Substitute Bill BL2018-1289 which approved the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium and the imposing of a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer Stadium.

The reason this was the most crucial vote is because the vote on this bill was the best chance opponents of the fairground giveaway had to stop it from happening. Both provisions in this bill, the demolition and the privilege tax, required 27 positive votes to be approved.  All of the other pieces of legislation only required a simple majority.  On second reading the bill failed to get 27 votes. On second reading only 24 voted in favor, seven voted against, eight abstained, and one member did not vote.  Since the bill required 27 votes to pass on final reading an abstention or not voting was as good as a "no" vote.

Unfortunately, between second reading and final reading some council members had their arms twisted, were somehow bought off, or were persuaded in their own mind by the preponderance of the arguments that the MLS stadium and fairground giveaway was a good deal.  The final vote was 31 in favor and eight "no" votes and no abstaining votes and no one not voting.

Below is a list of those who voted "yes" in favor of the bill and third and final reading.  I have highlighted in red those who were "No" votes, "abstain" votes or not voting when the bill was on second reading. In other words, these are the people who switched sides.

 Yes (31): Allen, Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Robert Swope, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Pridemore, Rhoten, Syracuse, Freeman, Sledge, O'Connell, Roberts, Kindall, Weiner, Mina Johnson, Murphy, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Lee, and Rosenberg.


Hall and Haywood were "yes" votes on second reading who switched to  "No." They switch from being in favor of the fairground giveaway to opposing it. Robert Swope is the most surprising of all of those who switched side from a vote against the giveaway by voting "abstain" on second reading to a "yes"  on third reading. I have asked him to explain his vote. When I get a reply, I will post it.

Here is who voted "no" on third reading, the vote that really mattered on the only bill that had a chance of stopping the fairground giveaway.  No (8): John Cooper, Johnathan Hall, Brenda Haywood, Doug Pardue, Larry Hagar, Steve Glover,Holly  Huezo, and Angie Henderson. These brave soles who voted "no" need a thank you.  For their contact information, click on their name below the picture. For contact information of other council members, follow this link. Also, if you are unsure of which district you live in, follow this link and look to the top right of the page for the "Council District Lookup" tool.

John Cooper
At-large
Brenda Haywood
District 3
Jonathan Hall
District 1


Doug Pardue
District 10
 

Larry Hagar
District 11
Steve Glover
District 12


Holly Huezo
District 13















Angie Henderson
District 34


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Bill Lee Super Saturday, Saturday September 15th.


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Southeast Nashville Conservatives Breakfast Meeting Saturday, Sept. 15th


Breakfast 8-9am, Meeting Called to Order at 9am
Shoney's, 407 Thompson Lane, Nashville
On the agenda are:
  • 917 Society
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Evann Freeman - Marsha Blackburn's Campaign
  • David Birdsong - Campaign

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Leadership Institute campaign workshop coming to Cool Springs, October 6th.

I have taken the class and highly recommend it. For more information follow this link.

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Tax Cuts Work bus tour to be in Franklin at the Factory Sept. 19th


For more info and registration follow this link.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

United Way chapters in Nashville and Williamson County give financial support to Planned Parenthood

From 2nd Vote - United Way is the world’s largest privately funded non-profit organization and raises over $5 billion every year. Across the United States, a coalition of 1,129 United Way chapters partner with businesses, civic organizations, educational institutions, healthcare providers and more with many decisions made on the local level. United Way claims neutrality on the Life issue, but many chapters have financially supported Planned Parenthood programs. According to United Way’s own admission, an estimated 5-6% of local chapters have financial ties.

In 2015, 2nd Vote created the Pro-Life Guide to United Way to provide conservatives with a free resource that shows which chapters do contribute to Planned Parenthood.  The latest update with the most recent publicly available financial documents show 62 United Way affiliates donating to the abortionist. Our research team updates the information each year and has linked the supporting documentation.

Recently, United Way updated a position statement dismissing affiliate support for Planned Parenthood as “only a small number.” Well, if a Planned Parenthood abortion costs up to $950, the $2.7 million funneled through United Way would pay for at least 2,901 procedures in a single year. Does that sound like “only a small number” to you?

#

Rod's Comment: While the vast majority of United Way chapters do not support Planned Parenthood, the Nashville chapter, called the United Way of Middle Tennessee, and the Williamson County United Way do. The information is not current for the most recent year. Unless I have information showing that the Nashville chapter has stopped funding Planned Parenthood, I will be withholding support for United Way. To see which chapters of UW contribute to Planned Parenthood, follow this link.

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Phil Bredesen has supported higher taxes and is out of touch.

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Small Business Optimism Shatters Record Set 35 Years Ago

NFIB press release, NASHVILLE, Sept. 11, 2018 — The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index soared to 108.8 in August, a new record in the survey’s 45-year history, topping the July 1983 highwater mark of 108. The record-breaking figure is driven by small business owners executing on the plans they’ve put in place due to dramatic changes in the nation’s economic policy.

The August survey showed:
  • Job creation plans and unfilled job openings both set new records.
  • The percentage of small business owners saying it is a good time to expand tied the May 2018 all-time high.
  • Inventory investment plans were the strongest since 2005 and capital spending plans the highest since 2007.

“Today’s groundbreaking numbers are demonstrative of what I’m hearing every day from small business owners – that business is booming. As the tax and regulatory landscape changed, so did small business expectations and plans,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “We’re now seeing the tangible results of those plans as small businesses report historically high, if not rerecord-breaking levels of increased sales, investment, earnings, and hiring.”
State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Jim Brown said, “When small-business owners feel good about the direction of the economy, they are more likely to invest in new equipment and new employees.”

A net 10 percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months, up two points. August is the ninth consecutive strong month of reported sales gains after years of low or negative numbers. The net percent of owners planning to build inventories rose six points to a record net 10 percent, the 14th positive reading in the past 22 months. The frequency of reports of positive profit trends rose two points to a net one percent reporting quarter on quarter profit improvements, the second highest reading in the survey’s 45-year history. 

“At the beginning of this historic run, Index gains were dominated by expectations: good time to expand, expected real sales, inventory satisfaction, expected credit conditions, and expected business conditions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Now the Index is dominated by real business activity that makes GDP grow: job creation plans, job openings, strong capital spending plans, record inventory investment plans, and earnings. Small business is clearly helping to drive that four percent growth in the domestic economy.”

As reported in last week’s NFIB’s monthly jobs report, a seasonally-adjusted net 26 percent of owners plan to create new jobs and 38 percent of owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, both survey highs. Sixty-two percent of owners reported trying to hire, with 89 percent of those owners reporting few or no qualified applications for their open positions. A record 25 percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem, up two points from last month.

The report concludes, “As a leading indicator of economic activity, the Index turned up sharply late in November 2016 and headed to readings in the top 5 percent of the Index history in December, never looking back. Three months later, economic activity soared, rising from 1.5 percent GDP growth to over 3 percent. Profits are driving the stock indices for ‘small’ firms to record levels, mirroring the record levels of profit gains for NFIB firms.”

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Metro Nashville's comprehensive customer service system. File a complaint. Get an answer.

From time to time almost everyone has a need for metro services, or a complaint to file or questions about Metro services.  Does you neighbor have an inoperable car taking up curbside parking or is there an abandoned car on your street? Is their an overgrown lot next door?  A pothole to complain about? Or, is a street sign missing?  Do you want to know how to get a building permit? You don't need to call your councilman or look up a number.

HUB Nashville is a comprehensive customer service system, that makes it easy to connect with Metro to make service requests or ask questions.  HUB Nashville is a one-stop shop currently available by phone and online, that is easy to use, and doesn’t require a user to know which department they need to contact.   

Common requests for the HUB are: Trash Services, Recycling Services, Trash and Recycling for New Construction, Illegal Dumping, Request Additional Recycle Cart, Right of Way Overgrowth, Sign and Signal Repairs, Request Replacement Recycle Cart, Purchase Replacement Trash Cart, and Potholes.


Here is how to use the system:

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What happened at the 8/4/18 Council meeting: In addition to MLS stadium-fairground giveaway passing, Edgehill conservation overlay approved, Bordeaux waste facility approved and bills to address TIF financing study and more.





This meeting s four and half hours long. The most important issue of the meeting is the future of the MLS stadium and the giveaway of ten acres of fairground property. By now anyone who care about this issue knows that the MLS stadium and fairground property giveaway passed. For more on this see Council approves fairground giveaway. 

Below is a summary of other meeting highlights. Parts of the meeting I watched in real time and parts of it watched at double speed and I skipped parts of the meeting looking for the good parts.  To follow the meeting you may want to access the meeting agenda, staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda which you can find at this link. If you do not want to watch the meeting but find out what happened to a specific piece of legislation, you may want to refer to the meeting minutes. They are not yet posted by should be posted by tomorrow or the day after. You can find the minutes at this link.

The invocation is offered by Councilman Robert Swope. A message from the mayor urges the council to approve the MLS stadium. It is rare the mayor offers such a message. No surprise, all mayoral appointments to boards and commission are confirmed unanimously. Bills on Public Hearing are zoning matters which I did not find any of much importance and none proved very controversial. As is the norm all bills on first reading pass by a single vote.

Resolutions: Most are mundane things and are approved on the consent agenda. These are the ones of interest:

Resolution RS2018-1328 is one of the fairground MLS stadium resolutions. It is moved out of order to follows the bills related to this issue.

Resolution RS2018-1373 calls for a county-wide referendum election to ascertain the will of the people regarding the issuance of general obligation bonds by Metro for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at the Fairgrounds. Senator Cooper makes a good speech advocating passage to no avail. Councilman Glover makes a good speech. It failed by a vote of 12 in favor and 25 opposed. To see the discussion got to timestamp 28:47 in the video. Action on the bill is concluded on this at timestamp at 1:05:05.

Resolution RS2018-1385 by Councilman Blalock  is a resolution calling on grocery store operators within Davidson County to take effective measures to reduce the use and/or impact of single-use plastic carryout bags and report the measures being undertaken in this effort, and encouraging the use of reusable bags by residents and businesses within Davidson County. In a previous council meeting Blalock had sponsored legislation that failed to ban plastic bags. That effort failed. This resolution is deferred.

Resolution RS2018-1386 says that if we do build a MLS stadium that the practice field be located in District 1. It passes.
Bills on Second Reading: 
Bill BL2018-1293 approves a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium.  Bill 1289 also imposes the privilege tax. This one is one withdrawn.

Bill BL2018-1314 establishes a Blue Ribbon Commission to identify government inefficiencies. This is a positive development. It passes.

Bill BL2018-1315   creates a Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This is another positive development. Despite Nashville's massive growth, Metro is short of money. A lot of that is because the development was financed by Tax Increment Financing and the tax revenue does not flow into city coffers but goes to MDHA to repay TIF. This passes.
Bills on Third Reading:
 Second Substitute Bill BL2016-414   is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It changes from R6 to SP zoning for various properties along Elvira Avenue, Maynor Avenue, and Keeling Avenue, approximately 600 feet west of Anderson Place (4.86 acres), to permit a maximum of 180 residential units. I have no opinion on the merits of this bill and am simply calling attention to it because it is a disapproved bill and  required 27 positive votes to pass.There was quite a bid of discussion on this. It  passed. If you care about this, go to timestamp 1:22:36 to watch the deliberation.

Bill BL2018-1245 is the controversial proposal to apply a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District to the Edgehill community. This is approved by the Planning Commission so it can pass with a simple majority and I expect it to pass. It only passed on one vote when before the Planning Commission and when on Council public hearing, a lot of people spoke on this bill both pro and con. The bill is substituted to take out a couple properties.  To see the discussion on the bill see timestamp 1:47:10.- 2:00:36. It passes on a voice vote.
  
Bill BL2018-1280  approves the plans for a non-hazardous liquid waste processing facility to be located at 2832 Whites Creek Pike. This was controversial on public hearing and passed on Second reading by a vote of 21 to 12 to 3. I have no opinion on the merits of the issue. However, to be honest, if I were Black and lived in Bordeaux I would probably feel I was being dumped on also. Bordeaux has been the home to a landfill, the mulch recycling facility and the State prison. I can understand the resident's resentment to another waste facility even if it is state of the art and sanitary. To see the discussion see timestamp 2:021:09- 2:24:27.  It passes by a vote of 31-7-1.
At this point I am discontinuing an item by item report. Most of the rest of this meeting is taken up by the MLS-fairground giveaway issue. If you are concerned at all you already know the outcome. To see the remainder of the meeting and the debates on the bills related to this topic start at timestamp 2:24:23.
Bill BL2018-1289 approves the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville, and amending Title 5 of the Metropolitan Code to impose a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium. Approved. 

 Bill BL2018-1291 on Third Reading declares the ten acres to be given away as surplus property and approves a ground lease for the property. Approved.

Bill BL2018-1293 approves a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium. Withdrawn. Same issue addressed in
Bill BL2018-1289.

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Council approves fairground giveaway.

The best chance the Council had to stop the fairground giveaway failed. That best chance was to not pass Bill BL2018-1289 which approves the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at the fairgrounds, and 
to impose a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium. 

The reason this was the best chance to stop the fairground give away was because this bill required 27 votes to pass Third Reading. It passed on Second Reading by a vote of 24 to 7 with 8 abstentions and one not voting. All of the other pieces of legislation regarding the MLS stadium only needed a  simple majority. Since bill 2018-1289 did not get 27 votes on Second, I thought it might not get them on Third. It did. The vote was 31 to 8. The proponents picked up seven votes!  Look for a later post and I will list how individual Council members voted.  The soccer deal gives ten acres of fairground property to the MLS developers for a mixed use development. The land is valued at $20.7 million.

Another bill that I thought might derail the fairground giveaway was  Resolution RS2018-1373
which would have put the question of funding the stadium to a vote of the people. I thought sufficient number of council members may want to pass this hot potato to the voters. That failed by a vote of only 12 in favor and 25 opposed. I will list how individuals voted on this resolution in a later post.

The only chance left to stop the fairground giveaway is if a recently filed lawsuit succeeds which challenges the legality of the Council giveaway which the litigants claim violates the Metro Charter.

To read The Tennessean's coverage of the story follow this link

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Please vote for "A Disgruntled Republican" as the best local blog. Voting ends Sept. 6th.

 Voting ends Sept. 6th. Please vote.

Please vote for "A Disgruntled Republican" as the best local blog in the Nashville Scene's "Best of" poll.

Follow this link and in the category "Best Blog (local)," write in "A Disgruntled Republican."  


https://www.nashvillescene.com/bestof2018#/gallery?group=292838



I appreciate your vote.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

What's on the Council Agenda for Sept. 4, 2018: Other than fairgrounds, the Edgehill Conservation overlay, establishment of a Tax Increment Financing study Commission, a government efficiency study commission, and not much else.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.

The most important issue before this council is the MLS stadium and the future of the fairgrounds. There is one resolutions and there are three bill regarding these issues on the agenda. I have explained those in a separate post at this link: Council to decide fate of fairground at September 4th meeting.  This is going to be close. If council members vote on Third reading the same way they did on Second the fairground will be saved, but a lot could have happened since last meeting. To see how voted to support the fairground property giveaway, follow this link; to see who voted to save the fairground follow this link.

Below is a summary of other things on the agenda.

Confirmation of appointments to Boards and Commissions: There are four appointments to boards and commission on the agenda and as always I expect the Council to rubber-stamp these appointments. Two are to the Charter Revision Commission and two are to the troubled Hospital Authority. The Hospital Authority which oversees Metro General Hospital has seen turmoil in the last year. About half the board resigned over that time. Metro General has had constant cost overruns and the board approved a contract extension for the General Hospital CEO without a  written contract or specifying the level of compensation for the director. Due to resignations the Hospital Authority, for a time, operated without the statutory number of doctors serving on the board. I hope the Council carefully examined the nominees but I expect they did not. 

Resolutions and bills on public hearing: There are  eleven bills on pubic hearing. I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest to only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. At public hearings almost all opposition come down to (1) concern about traffic, (2) water runoff and potential for flooding, (3) overcrowding of local schools and impact on infrastructure, (4) detrimentally changing the character of the neighborhood. You will hear the same arguments over and over. I only call attention to bills that I think will have an impact beyond the immediate neighborhood or are bills that have already been to the Planning Commission and have been disapproved by the Planning Commission, or  for some other reason are of interest. None of the ones on this agenda do I find of interest. 


Resolutions: There are only 16 resolution on the agenda. Initially all resolutions are on the consent agenda. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes unanimously the committees to which it is 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. Except for the resolution related to the Fairground, none of these are of much interest.

Bills on First reading: There are nine 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. They are all lumped together and pass by a single vote except in rare circumstances. I normally don't read them until they get to second reading.
 
Bills on Second Reading: There are only four. Here are the ones of some interest.

Bill BL2018-1314 establishes a Blue Ribbon Commission to identify government inefficiencies. This is a positive development. I do not expect it to be controversial. Maybe, it will do some good.

Bill BL2018-1315   creates a Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. This is another positive development. Despite Nashville's massive growth, Metro is short of money. A lot of that is because the development was financed by Tax Increment Financing and the tax revenue does not flow into city coffers but goes to MDHA to repay TIF. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are 19 of them. Here are the ones of interest.
Second Substitute Bill BL2016-414   is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.  It changes from R6 to SP zoning for various properties along Elvira Avenue, Maynor Avenue, and Keeling Avenue, approximately 600 feet west of Anderson Place (4.86 acres), to permit a maximum of 180 residential units. I have no opinion on the merits of this bill and am simply calling attention to it because it is a disapproved bill and will require 27 positive votes to pass.

Bill BL2018-1245 is the controversial proposal to apply a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District to the Edgehill community. This is approved by the Planning Commission so it can pass with a simple majority and I expect it to pass. It only passed on one vote when before the Planning Commission and when on Council public hearing, a lot of people spoke on this bill both pro and con.
  
Bill BL2018-1280  approves the plans for a non-hazardous liquid waste processing facility to be located at 2832 Whites Creek Pike. This was controversial on public hearing and passed on Second reading by a vote of 21 to 12 to 3. I have no opinion on the merits of the issue.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary. 

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

These are the Council members who voted to save the fairgrounds. (voting "No," "abstain," or not votng on Bill BL2018-1289.)

There have been several recorded votes related to the fairgrounds issue so the record is clear who supports building the MLS stadium at the fairground and giving away ten acres of fairground property and who wants to save the fairground.  On all of the recorded votes, the record is pretty consistent as to which members support the fairgrounds and which do not.

One of the most important votes was the roll call vote on second reading of Bill BL2018-1289. This was the ordinance to approve the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new major league soccer stadium at the fairgrounds and impose a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium.

This was approved by a vote of 24 in favor, seven "no's", 8 abstaining, and one not voting. A vote to "abstain" means the council member pushed a button voting to abstain. "Not voting" means the Council member did not a push a button.  They may have been absent, hiding in the bathroom, distracted or sitting on their hands.

While BL2018-1289 passed second reading, for this bill to pass on third reading it must get 27 positive votes.  Both the imposing of a tax on ticket sales and destruction of fairground buildings require 27 votes.  Since the final vote requires 27 votes, a vote to abstain or simply not pushing a button at all is the same as a no vote.  To simply this issue I am calling those who voted for this bill as having voted against the fairgrounds and those who voted "no," "abstain," or not voting as having voted for the fairgrounds. This is how those who did not vote for the bill voted. No (7): Cooper, Pardue, Hagar, Glover, Freeman, Vercher, and Henderson; Abstain (8): Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Swope, Roberts, Mina Johnson, Dowell, and Rosenberg.

If you want to call or email a Council member and thank him for his vote and encourage that member to continue to support the fairgrounds that may help shore of that member's resolve. You can be assured these council members are being bombarded with calls urging them to support the stadium.

With limited time, if you are going to call any of these, the "abstain" should have higher priority than the "NO". To win in saving the fairgrounds, some who voted "yes" last time must be switched to "no" or "abstain" or not voting: or we must hold every abstain and No who voted that way on Second reading. Among the "abstain" is Robert Swope.  I don't know why he voted "abstain" rather than "no" but he is a solid supporters of the fairgrounds, so I would suggest skipping him and concentrate on the others to encourage them to vote "no" or to continue to vote "abstain."  If calling a council member, be polite and respectful.  Getting mad and threatening will not help achieve your objectives. ,

Voting to Save the Fairground (voting "no" on Bl2018-1289) 

Larry Hagar
D-11

Doug Pardue
D-10
John Cooper
At-Large




Steve Glover
D-12
Mike Freeman
D16
Tanaka Vercher
D-28
Angie Henderson
D-34
















_________These members voted "abstain."________ 

Erica Gilmore
At-large

Bob Mendes
at-large


 








Jacobia Dowell
D-32



Robert Swope
D-4









Mina Johnson
D-23
Mary Carolyn Roberts
D-20










Dave Rosenberg
D-35


















Not Voting: Holly Heuzo
Holly Huezo
d-13
  


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