Thursday, May 31, 2018

Nashville, I call on you to Save The Fairgrounds Again !!!!

Tony Tenpenny
by Tony Tenpenny, from a Facebook post dated 5-30-2018 - This is my public response to last night’s meeting : As Chairman of the Board of Save Our Fairgrounds I must respond to this continuing give away of public land to a billionaire to build a soccer stadium and an additional 10 Acres of PUBLIC LAND to the same billionaire and his development partners to build commercial, retail, and residential buildings and then pocket the profits. 

This is a disgrace to the citizens of Nashville and flies in the face of what the citizens voted to do in 2011 by a 72% margin. That vote changed the charter of Metropolitan Nashville Government and forces Metro to get 27 votes to change the 3 major uses on this property. Please note on this new plan there is NO PLACE FOR A STATE FAIR. The City of Nashville and all of the citizens here should be embarrassed that we are not honoring the original reason Nashville owns this property now. Over 100 years ago a then wealthy family of Nashville donated the 117 Acres of current Fairgrounds Property to the State of Tennessee and Davidson County Government to insure ONE THING: that Nashville, Tennessee would ALWAYS host the Tennessee State Fair. PERIOD. Just one simple request for ALL of this land. 

Nashville’s leaders again are pushing ahead with their plans and not honoring a request from this family. Look at these plans, No where on this map is there a place designated for a Tennessee State Fair!!!!!! I call on the press to ask John Ingram if he had a choice on where the stadium would be built in Nashville ?? He has told more than one person that I personally know he was told by Rich Rebling and Megan Barry that the soccer stadium had to go on the Fairgrounds property. This is the same kind of plan Rich Rebling has had for the property since he convinced Mayor Karl Dean to announce the closing of the Fairgrounds in 2010. We know how that turned out. The citizens rose up and passed the Amendment to the Charter by 72% of the voters in 2011 choosing to prevent this very kind of thing from happening. So Nashville, I call on you to Save The Fairgrounds Again !!!! Go to Save Our Fairgrounds Facebook page for updates. 
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Background on the Fairgrounds

by Rod Williams - The fairgrounds originally opened in 1891 as a horse racing track named Cumberland Park. The park became the home of the Tennessee State Fair in 1906 and was purchased by the Davidson County government in 1910. That the fairgrounds was "purchased" by Davidson County is what Wikipedia reports but I have had an understanding that some wealthy Nashvillians gave the property to Davidson County with the understanding that it always be used as a fairgrounds or revert to the families that gave it to the County in the first place. I don't know the facts. If anyone can explain this discrepancy, please do so.

Since 1906 the fairgrounds has been the home of the Tennessee State Fair. As state fairs go, it is not
an impressive one. The Tennessee Valley  A & I fair in Knoxville is bigger and the Wilson County fair is bigger. Since 1969 the fairgrounds has been home to the monthly Nashville Flea Market, one of the largest such events in the southeast.  It features 1,500 booths of antiques, collectibles, furniture, glass, jewelry, and fine art with dealers from 30 states. As flea markets go, it is impressive.

The fairgrounds is also home to the Fairgrounds Speedway which is the oldest continually operating track in the United States. The track held NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup  races from 1958 to 1984. Many greats of stock car racing got their start at the Nashville Speedway such as Darrel Waltrip and a bunch of others. In addition to famous stock car racers calling the Nashville Speedway home, famous country musc star Marty Robbins raced there.

In 2009, Mayor Karl Dean announced the Metro government's intention to redevelop the fairgrounds into a mixed-use neighborhood, displacing the state fair. Opposition to the closure prompted a countywide referendum in August 2011 that amended the Metro charter to require the continued existing activities at the fairgrounds site. The amendment was passed by over 70 percent of voters.

In 2016, mayor Megan Barry proposed demolishing several buildings on the fairgrounds to make way for community parks and soccer fields. The plan, which also includes a new soccer stadium for the new Nashville MLS team, would displace the fair by 2019.  This is the briefest of summaries. There has also been issues of the conflicts and relationship between the state fair commission which is charged with putting on a state fair and the Metro Nashville fair board which administers the fairgrounds.  There has also been issues of funding subsidies for the fairgrounds, the banning of a popular gun and knife show which was a major tenant of the fairgrounds, the future of the racetrack,  a consultants study which advised the city on the future of the fairgrounds, and spending of money on the development of the soccer stadium when that funding had not yet been appropriated by the Council. The status and future of the fairgrounds has been a long complicated contentious issue ever since Mayor Dean proposed doing away with it.

Where we are now is that the in November 2017, the Metro Council approved $225 million in revenue bonds to develop a Major League Soccer stadium to be developed on the fairground site. In December Nashville was awarded a MLS franchise. As part of a deal with the developers of he soccer stadium, the city gave ten acres of prime fairgrounds property to the private developer of the soccer stadium. Despite approval of the bonds the soccer deal is not a done deal yet.  The council must still actually approve the issuance of the bonds. Also, the ten acres of mixed use development will require council action to rezone the property.  Also, demolition of current buildings at the fairgrounds will require council action.The developers of the soccer stadium say that without that ten acres the soccer deal will not work.

Recently there was an attempt to approve the issuance of the bonds without those bonds tying the stadium to the fairgrounds location.  That effort appears to have failed. There has been a move to have the soccer stadium be located in Metro Center rather than the fairgrounds.  Developers say the soccer deal is dead if the soccer stadium is located anywhere other than the fairgrounds.

What has developed most recently is that the Fair Board presented a new master plan for the fairgrounds. This plan moves the ten acres that is to be given to the developers of the soccer stadium from one location to another location. Critics of this plan say the new master plan leaves no place for there to actually be a fair at the fairgrounds.

There has been a long hard fight to save the fairgrounds. Leaders of the effort have included council members Tony Tenpenny, Duane Dominy, and Robert Duvall and citizen leaders like Rick Williams and Milissa Simpson and others whose names I do not immediately recall and hundreds of citizens who worked to get the charter amendment passed which we thought would save the fairgrounds. While the leaders of the effort to save the fairgrounds are mostly Republicans, I do not see this as a Republican-Democrat issue but more of a conflict between the elite and the common man.

My perception is that there is an element of insiders, upper crust elites, and new comers to Nashville who are embarrassed by Nashville's southern, country, and rural identity.  In their vision of the "it" city, there is no room for gun and knife shows, stock car racing, flea markets or fairs.  In the last twenty years or so, city elites have embraced Nashville's identity as "Music City" since that now includes more than just county music and since country music is now cool and since that put Nashville on the map, but twenty years ago they did not want Nashville to be know for that old hillbilly music; they wanted Nashville to be "the Athens of the South." That elitist mentality is still prominent in our city.  In there view, there is not much room for original Nashvillians in the new Nashville. In there heart I think they want Nashville to be "the San Francisco of the South."

The fight is not over. Those who want to wipe the fairgrounds off the map have not won yet. Please stay informed and involved. 
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For the Tennessean's coverage of the latest fairground's controversy, follow this link.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ikea will not be coming to Nashville after all

Ikea's planned store opening in Nashville dead

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Full Speech: President Donald Trump Holds MAGA Rally in Nashville, TN 5/29/18

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Trump rally in Nashville yesterday due to my obligations at home. The rally was to support the candidacy of Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate. While I was originally not a supporter of Donald Trump and while his style and tone still make me cringe from time to time, his accomplishments have caused me to be more supportive. I have warmed to Trump. I think he is putting our country on the right track. Dare I say, he is making America great again?  I remain skeptical of the wisdom of building the wall and remain fearful that he may start a trade war, but the tax cuts, improved economy, appointment of conservative judges, confronting North Korea, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and various other accomplishments are impressive. I would have liked to have been able to attend this rally.

For those who missed the rally and would like to view the rally in full, below is a YouTube video.

If you want more, a group called Right Side Broadcasting Network provided seven hours of coverage with commentary and interviews of people on the street. You can catch that video at this link. To read the Tennessean's coverage of the rally, follow this link.

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Who is running for the office of Vice Mayor?

Soon, probably August the second, we will be headed back to the polls to elect a vice mayor for the city of Nashville. The August second date is also the date of the state primary when Democrats and Republicans will be voting for their candidates for governor and senator. 

The vice mayor presides over the Council  and is next in line to serve as mayor should a vacancy occur in the office of mayor. The vice mayor only votes in the case of a tie in the council, but has enormous influence by virtue of being the person handing out committee assignments.  When Mayor Barry resigned due to being caught abusing her position, related to an extramarital affair with her bodyguard, David Briley was elevated to the office of mayor.  Sheri Weiner who was serving as speaker pro temp was elevated to roll of acting speaker but is only serving in that roll until there is an election to fill the position.

Several candidates have announced an interest in the position. In an article in today's Tennessean, Joey Garrison list these council members as eyeing the position: Sheri Weiner, Jeremy Elrod, Bob Mendes, Burkley Allen, Erica Gilmore, Sharon Hunt, Jim Shulman and Antony Davis.  He provides a short profile of each.  Other candidates could emerge. If the election were today, I would vote for Sheri Weiner.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bellevue Breakfast Club June speaker is Councilman Robert Swope

Who: Councilman Robert Swope, Guest speaker
What: Bellevue Breakfast Club, coffee and pastries available
When: June 2, 8AM
Where: Chili's on Hwy 70

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Why is no one proposing doing something to protect students from a school shooter?

by Rod Williams - As Metro government takes up consideration of the budget, I have heard no one propose that Metro should budget money to make our schools safer.  Protecting school students from a school shooting has not even been mentioned. Not  Mayor Briley, none of the candidates recently running for mayor,  not the Director of Schools, no school Board members, nor Council members, nor student activist, nor engaged parents, nor The Tennessean - not anyone has called for improved school safety.  No one has even called for studying the issue.

It is not rocket science to know what would make safer schools.  Adopting the same policies as airports and the court house and many office building and concert venues and sporting events would be what was required.  Schools would have to have bags checked, single points of entry, and metal detectors.  The cost very well not be worth it, but I find it curious that no one wants to even find out what it would cost.

Following the Parkland, Fla. tragic shooting there were national school walkouts, demonstrations in state capitols and major cities and a march on Washington and high school student activist were on TV for days.  Here in Nashville, we had school walk-outs and students at Hume-Fogg marched to the capital plaza for a demonstration.  Much of the protest seemed unfocused and the message was unclear. The NRA was criticized and attacked and activist called for a boycott of companies who gave discounts to NRA members and boycotts of firms that were friendly to the NRA. A call went out to vote against any politician who accepting NRA funding or endorsements. Other than an anti-NRA focus about the only other consistent message was a desire to ban the AR-15. There was a lot of noise but to what purpose was unclear. After a while the intensity of the protest died down.  Following the Santa Fe shooting the anti-gun activism again geared up but it seems some of the passion had died down and the demands to "do something," seemed more muted.

I guess it is cathartic to demonstrate and march and make rousing speeches following a tragedy such as that at Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas.  I guess it is convenient to have the NRA upon which to vent your anger. It is exhilaration to let off steam amidst people who share your passion. Unfortunately, it appeared to me that all of the thundering was more like shaking their fist at the sky rather than a concrete call to action.  It seems more like "letting off steam," than advocacy of policy.  The protestors did not seem to have a coherent message.  Some called for "gun control" and for adults to "do something," but were not very specific.  About as specific as the protestors got was a call to ban bump stocks and "assault weapons," or "weapons of war."  The most  often sighted "assault weapon" protestors wanted banned was the AR-15.

Banning bump stocks and banning the AR-15 and maybe some other "assault weapons"  really seems like modest goals and would probably not prevent any deaths.  Those goals might even be achievable. A ban on bump stocks most likely will occur. It has been proposed and the proposal in the phase of receiving public comments. There was a ban on the sale of newly manufactured "assault weapons" from 1994 to 2004. It withstood constitutional challenges but it had no demonstrable effect on gun violence. It is possible that with a change in the makeup of Congress, the AR-15 could be banned again. Does anyone really think that would make a difference? 

If a ban on what is called "assault weapons" and a ban on bump stocks went into effect does anyone think schools would be one bit safer?  Would those protesting students feel they had really accomplished anything of much importance? To be effective a ban would not only have to apply to newly manufactured weapons but there would have to essentially be a confiscation of weapons already in the hands of Americans and ban on gun ownership.  The Second Amendment would have to be repealed for that to happen. That is just not going to happen.  It would be an uphill battle to win public support for that and even if a majority of Americans accepted that the Second Amendment should be repealed, the process of changing the constitution is long and slow. Since the first ten amendments were adopted, the constitution has only been amended 17 times and a couple of those were when the South did not have a vote.  We still do not have a balanced budget amendment, a right to life amendment or the equal rights amendment and those have been pushed for years and years. If one thinks they can repeal the Second Amendment, they have their work cut out for  them.

If one really wants to "do something" about school shootings, then marching and demonstrating without a specific goal seems like wasted energy and campaigning to repeal the Second Amendment seems like wasted effort and a commitment of many, many years. If one was really concerned with stopping school shootings it would seem that improving school security is something that is achievable but it may not offer the same emotional satisfaction as marching against the NRA and engaging in school walkouts.

I am not necessarily advocating turning all schools into fortresses but am surprised that school safety is not a concern beyond a desire for ineffective or unattainable gun control.  Contrary to public perception. gun violence is down considerable from  thirty of fourty years ago but has increased since 2014 from the years immediately prior.  Of the gun violence that does occur, mass shooting account for less than 1 percent of gun violence and school shooting are a fraction of that. In the wake of the two most recent school shootings, students have been quoted as saying they feel like a school shooting is going to happen; they say they live in fear of it.  They say they feel like they have a target on their back. School shootings do, no doubt, effect the psyche of students, but student grossly overestimate the risk of being the victim of a mass shooting.

One study found that time spend in an airline flight was 300 times more dangerous than time spend in a classroom. A study from 2013 found that your chances of dying in a car crash was approximately 1 in 7775, which is about the same as your chances of dying due to any type of gun violence in the next year. As a writer explained in a Washington Post story recently:

The chance of a child being shot and killed in a public school is extraordinarily low. Not zero — no risk is. But it’s far lower than many people assume, especially in the glare of heart-wrenching news coverage after an event like Parkland. And it’s far lower than almost any other mortality risk a kid faces, including traveling to and from school, catching a potentially deadly disease while in school or suffering a life-threatening injury playing interscholastic sports.
Spending money to fortify our schools may not be money well spend. Dollars are limited. To take money away from classroom instruction or school counselors to pay for armed guards manning metal detectors may not be money well spent but don't you think that those Hume-Fogg students who walked out of their classroom to march to the Capitol building would be demanding it?

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President Reagan's Speech For the Fallen


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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Why is Metro short of money?

by Rod Williams - If you have been following the news, you may think that Metro has less revenue to spend this year than they did last year. That is not correct. This year's proposed budget is $2.23 billion, which is $22 million more than last year.  $22 million is not chump change, but it does represent a growth in revenue of less than 1%.  Cost of providing government services has increased more than 1%,  given the services those in power want to provide. The proposed budget does not reduce any services, institute any cost savings, nor does it raise taxes.

Since Nashville is booming and the sky is filled with construction cranes and existing homes are being demolished everywhere and new much larger homes are being build in their place, how can it be that tax revenues are not greater? We know that we have been experiencing historically high appreciation of property.  A couple things or more are going on. 

We had a mass reappraisal this year.  The state mandates that every four years property be reappraised. The reason for this is that values change in relationship to each other. If you and a friend each bought a house four years ago and you bought a house in Antioch for $150,000 and he bought a house in The Nations for $150,000, then four years later the home in Antioch may be worth $200,000 but the home in The Nations may be worth $500,000. The person with the home in The Nations should be paying more property tax than the person with the home in Antioch. A reappraisal determines current value so each are being assessed a tax obligation based on the current value of their home.

Another reason for a periodic reappraisal is to keep local governments honest.  A lot of  State funding, especially education funding, is based on assuring that people from poor parts of the state have an equal opportunity to an education as are people from wealthy counties. So it is in a local governments interest to plead poverty so they can get greater state funding. A periodic state-supervised reappraisal every so often ensures that local governments are not purposely undervaluing their wealth in order to appear poor and get more state funding.

Since the purpose of reappraisal is not to bring in more revenue but to "equalize" evaluations, the state requires that following a mass reappraisal that the local government adopt a "certified" tax rate that  brings in no more revenue than before the reappraisal. Often what happens is that in a year of an appraisal, local government slips in a tax increase. The local governing body does as they are required to do, and adopts a revenue-neutral lower tax rate, but them immediately adopts a higher tax rate, usually at the same meeting. Since most people do not understand what is going on, they blame their increased property tax burden on the reappraisal. Mayor Barry did not do this. Last year would have been a golden opportunity to raise taxes but to her credit, Barry did not do it.

Following the adoption of the certified tax rate, there were a lot of people, especially large companies, who appealed their appraisal and some appraisals were rolled back resulting in the new certified tax rate not bringing in as much revenue as city officials thought it would.

Another factor is that much of Nashville's urban commercial growth has occurred in redevelopment districts and the growth was financed by Tax Increment Financing and the increase in tax revenue flows to MDHA to fund more development rather than flowing into city coffers. I do not know the extend of this but it is a factor. If we had an inquisitive local press, this would be something worth investigating.

So, the bottom line is that while Metro has had a lot of growth, it did not produce the revenue it was anticipated to produce. The budget is considered a "status quo" budget which means that with few exceptions it funds departments at current levels. The two areas most "underfunded" by the budget are a promised Cost of Living employee pay plan adjustment and funding for Metro Schools.

The Metro School funding problem is largely the result of declining enrollment. While Metro's population is soaring, many of those moving to Nashville are childless young millennial's. Our schools are so bad that those with school age children choose to locate to a surrounding county or they send their children to private schools. If we had an inquisitive local press we would know to what extend this is an issue. While the school system has fewer children to educate, the cost of providing that education should also drop but the school system cannot contract as rapidly as enrollment is dropping. In the short-term there are fixed overhead cost.

None of what I have written above is intended to justify a tax increase, which I oppose, but rather to provide context to the claim that Metro has a shortage of revenue.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tennessee ranks No. 1 for international travel growth in U.S.

Tennessee ranks No. 1 for international travel growth in U.S.:  International travelers spent $934 million in Tennessee last year, up 39 percent since 2012, according to the Tourism Economics data. Canada had the highest visitation to Tennessee, followed by United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. ... Tennessee had 113.6 million person stays in 2017, up 3.3 percent from the previous year. Domestic and international travel expenditures hit a record $19.3 billion, up 4.7 percent from 2015, according to the state tourism department, citing U.S. Travel Association.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Briley wins big. No runoff.

David Briley won the election for mayor with 54% of the vote, avoiding a runoff. Carol Swain came in second with 23% of the vote. To read The Tennesseean's story on the election follow this link.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ex-judge Casey Moreland pleads guilty to federal charges after investigation

Casey Moreland
Casey Moreland
The Casey Moreland scandal is a disgusting tale of corruption, bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, greed and taking advantage of the powerless by the powerful.  I hope they throw the book at him.

Nashville is probably no more corrupt than many other cities but power corrupts. Casey Moreland is an example of why we need a vibrant press, an engaged political opposition, citizens who are paying attention, and a healthy skepticism and distrust of government.  For more on the Casey Moreland affair follow these link: here, here, and here.

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Bob Corker: Donald Trump abusing power, 'dangerous' to say auto imports may pose security threat

Senator Bob Corker
 About the time I was sort of warming to Donald Trump and thinking maybe he was not the populist, intemperate, irrational buffoon I originally thought he was and thinking maybe he wouldn't really start a trade war, he has made me think maybe my original assessment was correct. He has kicked things into high gear by called for new tariffs on imports for cars, trucks, SUVs and car parts.

He had backed off his aluminum and steel tariffs, had not torn up NAFTA and was talking about rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership. His challenging China on currency manipulation and theft of intellectual property seemed appropriate and measured. I was beginning to buy the argument that he is really just a good negotiator and starts with a ridiculous opening gambit and then moderates.  Now, I am beginning to think he really is a mercantilist protectionist who really wants to start a trade war.

It is bad enough that Trump is threatening a full scale trade war that may cost American consumers and halt the economic boom, but he is doing much worse than that, according to Senator Bob Corker. Corker says Trump is abusing his authority by initiating an investigation into whether importing automobiles poses a threat to national security.  Here is the statement issued by Corker's office:
U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement after the Trump administration announced it was initiating an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to “determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232.”

“I am very concerned about the president abusing the authorities granted to him in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962,” said Corker. “There is no reason to use this provision to consider imposing tariffs on the automobile industry, and this appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately.”

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Today, May 24, 2018 Special Election, Mayor and Council District 1

Polls Will Be Open 7 a.m.–7 p.m. on May 24, 2018

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Metro Buys HCA $1 Million In Office Furniture

When Metro gives taxpayers money to big corporations it is almost always disguised as helping the poor. It is to help provide jobs in "pockets of poverty," or to clear "slum and blight." The city provided $66 million in corporate welfare to HCA which earned profits of $2.7 billion last year. Included in the subsidy was $1 for moving expenses which could include new furniture. Conference room furniture, including a table with "premium wood finishes" for $8321.25, a Guitar Pick Table for $4190.18 and a Tuxedo Sofa for the Executive Lounge Area for $6540.45 are among the things for which we taxpayers paid. Who thinks we need to raise taxes so we can provide more corporate welfare? To view the News Channel 5 video follow this link.

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NFL: Players must stand for anthem or remain in locker room

(AP) -  imageNFL owners have approved a new policy aimed at addressing the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" but requiring them to stand if they come to the field. (link)

Rod's comment: Good solution, finally.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

50-Cent Property Tax Increase Proposed By Metro Councilmembers

50-Cent Property Tax Increase Proposed By Metro Councilmembers   led by At-Large Councilman Bob Mendes

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Mayor Briley resurrects $125M downtown flood wall and protection system proposal

by Rod Williams - Mayor David Briley is reviving the proposal to build a massive flood wall to protect downtown from

a future flood like occurred in 2010.

Briley has added the flood wall back to the city's proposed capital improvements budget. This proposal has been rejected by the Council on three previous occasions. The Capital improvements budget is not really a budget but a planning document that list projects the city would like to build, list a revenue source for funding the projects and prioritizes projects.

The 2010 flood of Nashville produced 2 billion dollars in damages, however it was not all downtown.  The wall would only protect downtown but everyone would pay for it by an additional fee added to their water bill.  The 2010 flood was considered a "1000-year flood" meaning the likelihood of such a flood occurring is only once in a thousand years.

The wall would consist of supports, (fence post) permanently in place and in the event of a flood, large slats would be placed in the grooves in the supports, creating the wall.  In essence the wall would be constructed when a flood was approaching.

Assume 75 years from now we have another 1000-year flood, am I the only one that thinks the wall may not work?  Any number of things could cause it to fail.  Due to road or subway or other construction, some of the supports may have been removed and not replaced or a slight shifting of the earth due to a tremor or blasting may mean the pieces no longer slide into the upright grooves. Proper training  may not have taken place and pubic works may no longer knows how to make the pieces fit.  Or, some of the slats may have been relocated and no one knows where they are.  I don't think this is far-fetched.  Government is not even very good at maintaining things used every day.  I am just not confident that something that may never be used will be properly maintained.

In addition to thinking it is difficult to plan for such a system and doubt that it will work when needed, I would assume that protecting down town will cause worse flooding elsewhere.  If water cannot flow into downtown, will it not force more water into east Nashville?  The water has to go somewhere. This proposal needs to be defeated again.




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How Council members voted on urging the Governor to veto a bill banning santuary cities

Recently the State legislature passed HB2615, a bill that  would prohibit sanctuary cities in Tennessee and require local law enforcement officials to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to hold immigrants for purposes of deportation.  Advocates of illegal immigration, such as Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, opposed the bill. Others opposed the bill the bill on practical grounds, contending it will make it more difficult to get illegal immigrants to cooperation with police if they fear the local police are acting as ICE agents.  Others opposed it due to a stated believe that the State should not be telling cities what to do. Cities do not have sovereignty, of course and derive their power from what is granted by the State. States have every right to set rules for cities.  Liberals do not understand the basic government structure or purposely make an invalid comparison when they claim that the relationship of the Federal Government to the State government is comparable to the relationship of state government to cities.

I support the bill that passed.  The State was right to require cities to cooperate with the Federal government to enforce immigration law. Governor Haslam allowed the measure to become law without his signature.  He had been heavily lobbied to veto it.

At the May 15th council meeting, the council passed Resolution RS2018-1222  requesting that Governor Bill Haslam veto that legislation. The vote was 21 in favor of the resolution, four opposed and four abstaining. Here is how they voted. 

Voting Yes, voting in favor of the resolution urging a governor to veto the bill banning sanctuary cities in Tennessee  (21): Sheri Weiner, Cooper, Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Sledge, O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, and Lee.

Steve Glove
Voting No, voting against the resolution urging a veto (4): Steve Glove, Steve Glover, Mike Freeman, and Russ Pulley.

Steve Glove
Russ Pulley
 
Mike Freeman


 Casting a vote to Abstain (4): Jeff Syracuse, Roberts, Elrod, and Davette Blalock.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trump to Hold Campaign Rally in Nashville on May 29

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Donald Trump will hold a campaign rally in Tennessee later this month on the same day he will headline a fundraiser for Rep. Marsha Blackburn in her Senate bid.

The rally will take place on the evening of May 29 at Nashville Municipal Auditorium. Tickets are available online. (link)

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

(Part 2) What happened at the 5/15/18 Council meeting: Attempt to move soccer stadium fails, auto emissions test to continue, Council opposes efforts to ban sanctuary cities, plastic bag ban dies, and Robert Swope confesses to youthful indiscretion.


This is part 2 of the report on the Metro Council meeting of Tuesday 5-15-2018. To see part one follow this link.  If you are going to watch the meeting, it helps to know what is going on. To access an agenda, the staff agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link. This report picks up at timestamp 1:28 in the video where the council moves to consideration of resolutions.

There are 38 resolution on the agenda most 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. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Here are the resolutions of interest:


Resolution RS2018-1158  is an attempt to decouple the development of a soccer stadium from the location of the Fairgrounds. This resolution authorizes the city to issue bonds for construction of the major league soccer stadium but does not specify the location. There is an effort which I approve of to have the soccer stadium build in Metro Center instead of the Fairgrounds.  The staff analysis says there are several things wrong with this resolution. The owners of the soccer franchise say that building the stadium anywhere other than the fairgrounds would jeopardize the soccer franchise. This resolution was disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee. It is deferred indefinitely, which means this effort is essentially over unless something unusual happens. Councilman Glover made a valiant commendable effort. To see his remarks on this resolution see timestamp 1:46:37 in the video.
Resolution RS2018-1165   is even more money for the Metro General Hospital money pit. It is half a million dollars from the 4% fund for equipment and building repairs.  Since the mayor included a massive increase in funding for Metro General in his budget this is deferred indefinitely by voice vote. To see the sponsors explanation of this action see timestamp 1:48:35.
Resolution RS2018-1171  which would continue the auto emissions testing program in Nashville even though the State says we may discontinue it, passes. This reason given for passing this is that we have contracts with vendors to provide the inspections
 through June 30, 2022. If I were serving in the Council I would have voted against it anyway. If we no longer need the service, I am sure we could have bought our way out of the contract and discontinued the program early. In 2022 the Council will decide the future of the program. There is some explanation but little  discussion other than the sponsors explanation as stated above and this is passed on a roll call vote. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:52.
Voting Yes (28): Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Pridemore, Syracuse, Freeman, Sledge, Allen, O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Murphy, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Lee, and Henderson.
Voting No (7): Cooper, Swope, Hagar, Glover, Rhoten, Roberts, and Rosenberg.
 No one Abstained.
 Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter, all related to the procedure for succession when a mayor leaves office prior to the end of his term. I think what occurred when Mayor Barry was forced to resign worked pretty smoothly and do not see the need for revising the charter, however it is no big deal. It will take 27 votes of the Council for this to pass and then the proposed changes would be decided in a referendum. The resolution was referred to the Charter Revision Commission and recommended for deferral at the request of the sponsor by the Charter Revision Committee. Council Member Rosenberg moved to defer the resolution, which motion was seconded and approved by a voice vote of the Council. This action is explained by the sponsor. To see the explanation see timestamp 1:58:17.
Resolution RS2018-1216 is an attempt to combat the proliferation of campaign signs in the public right of way. It requires a report to the council from public works and codes on the number of signs removed and how many cases were prosecuted, and some other things.This passed on the consent agenda.
Resolution RS2018-1220  recognizing June as  “'Nashville Pride Month', celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities and their enormous contributions to the quality of life in Nashville and Davidson County, and further recognizing the 30th anniversary of the first Nashville Pride event which took place in 1988." This passed on the consent agenda.
Resolution RS2018-1221  is a late filed resolution that required suspension of the rules. This resolution request that the Metropolitan Civil Service Commission propose a pay plan for Metropolitan Government employees limited to the ensuing FY2018-2019 fiscal year, and requesting the Mayor, Director of Finance, and Civil Service Commission to refrain from multi-year pay plans in the future unless a financing plan is presented adequately demonstrating that future revenues will be sufficient to meet the multi-year obligation. This is prompted by what happened when last year the Council voted to approve a cost of living pay increase for employees but the pay increase was not funding in this year's budget. This is a memorializing resolution only and really doesn't do anything. It is not binding on anyone. It is however a responsible statement of policy. The discussion of this resolution starts at timestamp 2:02.
The resolution was approved by the Budget and Finance Committee. Council Member Vercher moved to adopt the resolution, which motion was seconded and adopted by the following roll call vote: Yes (26): Weiner, Cooper, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Swope, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Hagar, Glover, Syracuse, Sledge, Roberts, Mina Johnson, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Dowell, and Lee; No (1): Bedne; Abstain (3): Gilmore, Freeman, and O'Connell.
Resolution RS2018-1222  is another late filed memorializing  resolution requesting that Governor Bill Haslam veto HB2315, which would prohibit state and local governmental entities from adopting sanctuary policies.
I support the HB2615 and oppose cities in Tennessee being allowed to become sanctuary cities. No one speaks against the bill. To see the discussion see timestamp 2:09:50.  Council Member Gilmore moved to adopt the resolution, which motion was seconded and adopted by the following roll call vote:
Voting Yes (21): Weiner, Cooper, Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Sledge, O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, and Lee;
Voting No (4): Swope, Glover, Freeman, and Pulley;
 Casting a vote to Abstain (4): Syracuse, Roberts, Elrod, and Blalock.
Bills on Second Reading. Thee are 13 of them. This is the only one of interest:
BL2018-1173  by Councilman Davette Blalock which would prohibit retail establishments from providing to customers single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition to an assault on my liberty and convenience, some make the argument that plastic bags are environmentally superior to paper bags. This would not ban paper bags. There is a continent size mass of trash in the pacific ocean and plastic bags make up a large part of it and this has received publicity, but the origin of this trash is mostly from five poor Asian countries. Banning plastic bags in Nashville will not decrease the plastic bags in the oceans. The committees that considered the bill voted to defer to the second meeting in July. The sponsor moved to defer indifferently, which means it could be resurrected but mostly likely means it is dead.
Bills on Third ReadingThree are 22 of them. Most are approved zoning bills. Here are the only ones of interest
Bill BL2018-1148 is a rezoing of properties on  Baptist World Center Drive and other nearby streets from various zoning classifications including industrial and residential to an SP zoning. This does not interest me and it is a bill approved by the Planning Commission but at the public hearing several neighbors spoke out against it. It passes on a roll call vote with no "no" votes but five abstentions. There is some explanation and classifications offered. If interested see timestamp 2:34:42.

Bill BL2018-1159   restrict the retail sale of dogs and cats at pet stores. There is a lot of confusion surrounding this bill. I had mistakenly reported that with the passage of this bill that only rescue pets or "pound pubs" could be sold in pet stores. Apparently that is incorrect. Animals purchased from breeders could still be sold in pet stores. For the sponsors explanation see timestamp 2:50:42. I did not know this, but when you see pets for sale at a pet store, they are currently being sold though a 501(c)(3) organization that is housed in the pet store. I apologize for contributing to the confusion. It passes.
Robert Swope confesses to a incident from his past
Taking to the floor in a "point of personal privileged," Councilman Robert admits to an incident that occurs some twenty years ago when he was charged with the misdemeanor offense of soliciting prostitution. He is taking the opportunity to expose and explain this because a political opponent is preparing to make it public, and Swope says he wants to explain it first. This does not amount to much of anything. I admire Swope for taking to the floor to address this scandal. He chokes up while making his comments. Several council members join him and put their hand on his shoulder and show him support. This is moving. I admire Swope's courage. For more on this issue follow this link. To see Swope's comment see timestamp  3:03:30.


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Friday, May 18, 2018

Councilman Robert Swope admits To 1998 solicitation bust

Councilman Robert Swope is one of the few self identified Republicans in the Metro Council and he

Robert Swope
was Trump's Tennessee State Director. He is the most conservative member of the Council and yet is effective and respected by his colleagues.  He is running for a position on the Republican State Executive Committee challenging Ron McDow for the District 20 Republican State Executive Committeeman seat. The election is August 2.

Apparently Ron McDow dug up some dirt on Robert Swope. Swope was charged with the misdemeanor of  soliciting prostitution on Sept. 11, 1998. He paid a  $1,000 bond and there was never a  disposition of the case, indicating that it is still open. 

Swope told The Tennessean he had stopped at a gas station in Chattanooga while driving back to Nashville from Atlanta and a woman banged on his window and propositioned him and "out of complete curiosity, I said 'How much?'"  Then blue lights shown up and he was sited with solicitation of prostitution and released.

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.  I have been approached by prostitutes who asked, "You want a date?" I have engaged them in conversation, probably also asking how much.  It could happen to anyone.

Swope told this story near the end of the Council meeting on Tuesday night. "In the decades since this long-forgotten episode, I've grown... met an incredible woman, gotten married, and tried to serve my community and my country as honorably and as well as I could," Swope said. "This alone doesn't absolve me from my past transgressions, but my youthful indiscretions were just that -- youthful indiscretions."

He later told The Tennessean that when he showed up in court, they had no record of his arrest and sent him on his way. The Tennessee reports that Hamilton County court records have no court date listed for Swope or any indication that a subsequent failure-to-appear warrant was issued.

Swope made his public statement because he said he wanted to "get out in front of this."  "I respect my wife, my family, and my constituents of this city far too much to let this come out without hearing it from me first."

Ron McDow who is apparently the one responsible for digging up the dirt on Swope, has a lengthy record accusing him of beating his wife.  (link)
 

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Bitch," "Nigger," "Fuck," are lyrics to a rap song Dr Shawn Joseph played to the Board of Education as an example of inspirational lyrics.

"Bitch," "Nigger," and "fuck," are among the words in the lyrics to a  rap song that praises pimping and taking a hit off of blunt, and getting locked up and says that "real hoes still know they gots to fuck." 

That is typical rap song garbage, but what makes it interesting is that Director of Schools Shawn Joseph decided to play a snippet of the song for members of the school board at a school board meeting. He did not play it to give an example of how degenerate rap music is but in explaining how he sometimes uses song lyrics as inspiration.

That is shocking, but what is more shocking, is that when a board member criticizes his doing so, the leader of the Council's minority caucus said of the board member that her criticism of Shawn was "inflammatory, it seems racially motivated, perhaps more appropriately stated, as culturally and generationally insensitive."

I question if Dr. Joseph has the values or the judgment of someone we want leading our school. Here are the song lyrics. Judge for yourself.
 

I go on and on
Can't understand how I last so long
I must have super powers
Rap 225 thousand hours
Get it calculated do the math
I made 1,000 songs that made you move your ass
And for the last 300 months
I made 16 albums with me on the front and they bump
Where you get your beats?
I heard 93 rappers say bitch like me
2 singers and 10 comedians
And I'm still gon' yell it every time you see me in
What's my favorite word?
BITCH!
Why they gotta say it like $hort?
BITCH!
You know they can't play on my court
Can't hang with the big dogs
Stay on the porch

[Hook: 4x]
Blow the whistle

[Verse 2:]
Where you get that from?
Grab the mic, spit one, let me hit that blunt
Pimp-C, 8-Ball, and MJG
Keep spittin' that P to the I-M-P
Bun-B, that's Texas, baby
Ball and G, that's Memphis, baby
$hort Dog, that's Oakland, baby
Ain't nothin' but pimpin' these days, G
My nigga C got locked up
But these real hoes still know they gots to fuck
Give a fuck nigga what you say
$hort Dog fuck with UGK
Do you really wanna be like me?
Spit game like Snoop and T.I.P
Pretty girls in the VIP
They came with Dre... they don't need ID

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(Part 1) What happened at the Council meeting on 5-15-2018: Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan deferred.


At over three hours long, this is a long meeting. If you are going to watch it, it helps to know what is going on. To access an agenda, the staff agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Since this is a long meeting, I am breaking this report into two parts. This first part primarily concerns the public hearing on the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. While this plan may not be of interest to everyone, this is a big deal.

All mayoral appointees to Boards and Commissions are approved without dissent. There were several appointees to the Human Relations Commission on the agenda.

Public Hearing on the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan (Substitute BL2018-1139).

A new authority has been given to cities by the State to plan, facilitate and guide develop around


transit stops to encourage a certain kind of development around those stops and to give cities the authority to issue Tax Increment Financing bonds for improvements in the designated area. This would be the first time this authority has been used. The Donelson plan will likely be the template for when this is tool is used again, so it is important that the Council get it right.

This designation as a transit-oriented redevelopment district  would apply to the area around the Donelson stop on The Nashville Star line. This plan sits development guidelines and does a lot of different things. There is a lot of detail in the staff analysis for those who want to know more.

The plan sits aside $10 million in TIF funding for affordable housing. TIF stand for Tax Increment Financing and is the type of financing that has funded much of the gulch development and downtown. Under TIF, instead of the tax income generated by a development flowing into the city coffers it is used to fund development in the redevelopment area. The logic for this is that without the use of this tool the development would not have occurred in first place. At one time this made scene and was a tool for redeveloping blighted area. In my view it is being abused.

I believe this new transit-oriented redevelopment authority can be a good planning tool and approve of it. However, I do have concerns. A major concern is that this may give to MDHA the authority to condemn property and take it for redevelopment without that action going back before the Metro Council. MDHA has a long history of misusing eminent domain. You may recall the case of Joy Ford, who some years ago had to fight MDHA which wanted to take her small music business office to make the property available for a larger development. That is only one of many instances where MDHA has taken property which was not in any real sence "blighted" and and simply took the property so a larger concern could develop property that would bring in more tax revenue. I could not support any bill that gives MDHA condemnation authority. In my view, all use of eminent domain should require council action.   I am trying to get clarification of this point.

A whole bunch of people speak in favor of this bill and against it. Most of those speaking against say they are not really against it they just want it improved. One of those speaking against is former Councilman John Summers speaking on behalf of The Coalition of Nashville Neighborhoods. I often disagree with Summers but this time he raises several good points, one of which is that TIF money is not MHDA money and TIF financing diverts money away from the general fund and robs the city of the funds to support general services and instead gives that money to support specific developments. He says instead of giving MDHA control of the TIF money and letting them decide how it is spend, he says that each project seeking TIF funding should have to come back before the Council. I agree. (see timestamp 1:04:20 for his remarks)


Several people speak against the bill saying that while it will result in the development of some units of affordable housing that it will tend to destroy more units of affordable housing than it creates. Often people oppose the development of affordable housing in their neighborhood but no one argues against the bill on those grounds. Some speak against the bill, because the bill would prohibit the establishment of twenty-some types of businesses in the overlay district. The bill is criticized because development decision making would be shifted from the democratic process of a councilmen sponsoring bills to decisions being made by MDHA.  Action on the bill is deferred until June 5th.  To view the public hearing and council discussion of this bill see timestamp 34 - 1:28:35.

To read 20-page MDHA report on the plan, follow this link
To read the bill and the staff anallysis, follow this link.
Here is a link to The Nashville Business Journal report on this issue: What a development in Donelson means for Nashville's $5.4 billion mass-transit overhaul 
The Tennessean coverage: Donelson debates Nashville's first planned transit-oriented district.




Check back for the part 2 report on what happened at the May 15th Council meeting.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Metro Council passes resolution to continue emission testing

WSMV News 4

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Metro Council to debate county's emissions testing program

WSMV News 4

Rod Williams' comment: In addition to the argument that eliminating the fee would save taxpayers $9 dollar per car for getting the auto emissions test and the argument that the air is much cleaner than when this requirement was first imposed on Nashville, there are other arguments.

  • We are a crossroads of three major interstates and most cars polluting our air are cars traveling thorough Nashville, not cars owned by Nashvillians. The auto emmission test has minimal impact.
  • If a car fails, it can cost hundreds of dollars to make the repairs to bring it into compliance and the people who drive the few old cars that may fail an auto emissions test are owned by low-income people. A person of low income has to have a car to get to work. Taking a few hundred dollars to get a car repaired out of a family budget can be a tremendous hardship on a low income person. 
  • If you value your time at all, the time it takes to have the test done is more costly than the $9 fee. 
 The state has said we no longer have to have auto emission testing; Metro should let it end.

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What's on the 5-15-18 Council agenda: Keeping auto emission testing, banning plastic bags, banning pet store pet sales except pound pubs, and honoring the enormous contribution of homosexuals.

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, May15, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.  

Appointments to Human Relations Commission

The order of business is the call to order, prayer and pledge followed by approval of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions.  This is usually routine and the Council just rubber stamps whomever the mayor appoints but recently there has been some Council scrutiny of appointees.  Recently an appointment of a very qualified person the mayor had appointed to the Sports Authority was rejected and last meeting a reappointment of someone to the Board of Zoning Appeals just barely passed.  

On this agenda there are ten appointments to boards and commission, eight of them reappointments or new appointments to the Human Relations Commission.  If I were serving in the Council, I would vote against all of the Human Relations Commissions appointees or at least be recorded as abstaining. It is not that I have anything against the particular appointees but this is an agency that needs to be abolished.  The primary thing this board does is promote political correctness. I don't know if they still do it, but for years they engaged in normalizing homosexuality among children by sponsoring the twink booth (Youth Pavilion) at the Nashville Pride Festival which is Nashville's gay pride festival. 

Some of the things they sponsor I have no problem with, but do not think it is a proper government function.  As an example, is the sponsorship of the Celebrate Nashville festival.  This was formally the Celebration of Cultures. I really enjoy the festival and glad it occurs but it is the type of thing that there would be no shortage of private sponsors of it government was not involved. It would still occur. The legitimate things the agency does, such as taking discrimination complaints, could be done by any number of other agencies such as the Fair Housing, MDHA, the Attorney Generals office and others. This is an agency that simply does not need to exist. Back in the 80's when I served in the Council we were able to defund the agency and went several years without a Human Relations Agency.  Nashville is now a much more "progressive" city and I do not see the city defunding or abolishing this agency, but they should.

Public Hearing on the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan (Substitute BL2018-1139).

There is a new authority given to cities to plan, facilitate and guide develop around transit stops to encourage a certain kind of development around those stops and to give cities the authority to issue Tax Increment Financing bonds for improvements in the designated area. This would be the first time this authority has been used. This designation would apply to the Donelson stop on The Nashville Star line. There is a lot of detail in the staff analysis for those who want to know more. I have no problem with this concept.  If the public has concern with this it will probably be due to the affordable housing component. The TIF funding can sets aside $10 million in TIF financing for affordable housing. Many people oppose the development of affordable housing in their community.

My primary concern is that this appears to confer the power of eminent domain to MDHA for use in this area. I would only support this if eminent domain condemnation had to go back to the Council in each instance where it was used.


There are 38 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 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. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Here are the resolutions of interest: 


Resolution RS2018-1158  is an attempt to decouple the development of a soccer stadium from the location of the Fairgrounds. This resolution authorizes the city to issue bonds for construction of the major league soccer stadium but does not specify the location. There is an effort which I approve of to have the soccer stadium build in Metro Center instead of the Fairgrounds.  The staff analysis says there are several things wrong with this resolution. The owners of the soccer franchise say that building the stadium anywhere other than the fairgrounds would jeopardize the soccer franchise. This resolution was disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee.
Resolution RS2018-1165   is even more money for the Metro General Hospital money pit. It is half a million dollars from the 4% fund for equipment and building repairs. A half million here and a half million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. 
Resolution RS2018-1171  would continue the auto emissions testing program in Nashville even though the State says we may discontinue it. This needs to be defeated.
Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter, all related to the procedure for succession when a mayor leaves office prior to the end of his term. I think what occurred when Mayor Barry was forced to resign worked pretty smoothly and do not see the need for revising the charter, however it is no big deal. It will take 27 votes of the Council for this to pass and then the proposed changes would be decided in a referendum. If I had a vote I would vote "no" but might be persuadable.
Resolution RS2018-1216 is an attempt to combat the proliferation of campaign signs in the public right of way. It requires a report to the council from public works and codes on the number of signs removed and how many cases were prosecuted, and some other things.
Resolution RS2018-1220  recognizing June as  “'Nashville Pride Month', celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities and their enormous contributions to the quality of life in Nashville and Davidson County, and further recognizing the 30th anniversary of the first Nashville Pride event which took place in 1988."

Bills on First reading: There are 12 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. 

Bills on Second Reading. Thee are 13 of them. This is the only one of interest: 
BL2018-1173  by Councilman Davette Blalock which would prohibit retail establishments from providing to customers single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition to an assault on my liberty and convenience, some make the argument that plastic bags are environmentally superior to paper bags. This would not ban paper bags. There is a continent size mass of trash in the pacific ocean and plastic bags make up a large part of it and this has received publicity, but the origin of this trash is mostly from five poor Asian countries. Banning plastic bags in Nashville will not decrease the plastic bags in the oceans. This bill needs to be defeated. 
Bills on Third ReadingThree are 22 of them. Most are approved zoning bills. Here are the only ones of interest
Bill BL2018-1148 is a rezoing of properties on  Baptist World Center Drive and other nearby streets from various zoning classifications including industrial and residential to an SP zoning. This does not interest me and it is a bill approved by the Planning Commission but at the public hearing several neighbors spoke out against it.

Bill BL2018-1159   restrict the retail sale of dogs and cats at pet stores. Only rescue pets or "pound pubs" could be sold.
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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Monday, May 14, 2018

Feds didn't know flood money was going to amphitheater

flooded homes, Nashville 2010
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The federal agency that sent Nashville flood relief money said they did not know that $7 million was going towards an amphitheater. ... A News4 I Team investigation found that Nashville officials told HUD in 2013 they couldn’t find anyone who still needed help after the May 2010 flood. That flood destroyed 11,000 properties in the Nashville area. (link)

Rod Williams Comments:  This story which first broke a couple weeks ago particularly outrages me.  I have worked as a Housing Counselor for a non-profit HUD-approved housing counseling agency for over twenty-five years and still do part-time.  Ever since about 2007 when the housing crisis hit, I have worked almost exclusively as a mortgage default counselor.  I knew of people who lost their homes or their life
Ascend Amphitheater
saving or had to file bankruptcy due to the flood. The assistance they received was insufficient to make their homes livable. Some of them experienced a hardships not because they were flooded but because they suddenly lost their job due to the company they worked for being flooded and closed for a long period of time. If Nashville officials would have asked me, I could have told them, there was still a need to help flood victims.

If you recall the period of the flood and the aftermath, in addition to the Federal funds, a lot of United Way money was diverted to flood relieve and a lot of new money was raised for flood relief.  It is an outrage that this money intended for flood relief was instead used to build the Ascend amphitheater. This kind of cold-hearted opportunistic misuse of funds should not occur.  Anyone involved in this decision to divert flood relief money should be fired. It is time to drain the swamp!


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2018 Statesmen's Dinner, June 8th

From The Davidson County Republican Party:

https://secure.anedot.com/tennessee-republican-party/2018statesmensdinner

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Nashville Police Union rakes Briley over the coals. Here is the video.




by Rod Williams - This is almost painful to watch.  I am not a fan of David Briley but I feel sorry for him in this video.  It is a video of his May 1 appearance before the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police seeking their endorsement in the upcoming election. He did not get the endorsement. The police are not happy.

Last year the Metro Council voted to give Metro employees a three percent cost of living increase but they are not going to get it.  Metro's income is significantly less than anticipated.  Briley says his two highest priorities in developing the budget was to fund the cost of living increase and to give metro schools their budget request and he regrets not being able to do either. He also says he was committed to not raising taxes this year.

He is challenged on his decision not to seek a tax increase. One person ask him way he is so opposed to raising taxes when he just backed the transit plan which would have imposed a massive regressive tax on those least able to afford it. Briley has no good answer. I think it was a good question. (This questioning starts at timestamp 6:21 in the video.)

Why, in fact, won't Briley propose raising taxes this year? He has not made a pledge not to raise taxes next year, so why not just raise them now?  The obvious answer is political. A proposal to raise property taxes at the same time the tax referendum to fund a transit plan was on the ballot would have doomed the transit plan which, of course, failed anyway.  Also, proposing a tax increase now would hurt Briley's election chances in the upcoming mayor's race.

Metro is going to have to raise taxes or cut spending. While it seems every city always wants to grow, growth does not pay for itself.  Larger cities generally have higher taxes.  With growth comes more congestion, crime, social problems and demand for services.  Unless city leaders have a vision and commitment to keep taxes low, taxes increase.

While I support Carol Swain in the upcoming mayor's race, I hope she resist the temptation to promise everybody they will get all they want. Employees cannot get a cost of living raise and schools get their full funding request unless taxes are increased or cuts are made elsewhere. I favor cuts made elsewhere but also do not assume a 3% cost of living increase is necessarily justified nor do I assume Metro Schools should get everything they ask for. The Schools should not be exempt from scrutiny and seeking increased efficiency.

There are places budgets could be cut. For long term control of government spending, Metro's employee pension plan should be changed from a guaranteed benefit plan to a guaranteed contribution plan, Metro General Hospital is a relic of the days prior to medicaid and should be closed, every position and every function within government should be examined to eliminate waste, services than can be privatized should be privatized, Metro must make policy and personnel changes to get control of the runaway cost of police and firemen overtime pay, the Human Relations Commission which serves little purpose other than to promote political correctness should be abolished, and the city should eliminate its funding of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Either spending must be cut or taxes must be increased. That is an obvious fact. Doing either calls for leadership.

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