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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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Reception to support Dr. Carol Swain for mayor, Wednesday, May 16, 2018.


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Liberty on the Rocks meets Thursday, May 17th

Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM

SmokinThighs, 611 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

No prayer, no pledge, no reading of the minutes, no speaker, no program; just a bunch of people who love liberty who get together to talk about whatever anyone wants to talk about. The group is predominantly libertarian but various strips of conservatives are in the mix. This is an occupationally and age mixed group with everyone from laborers to college students to business executives to lawyers in the mix.  Sometimes the conversation gets heated but I have never seen anyone resort to name-calling or get personal. With the average crowd numbering close to twenty people, the large group normally breaks into smaller groups with shifting members. One group may be arguing about the role of the American military and foreign policy or discussing the upcoming mayor's race, anther may be discussing bit coin and technology, and yet another group may not be talking about anything political but may be talking about their travel adventures.

I have been attending LOR almost since the first, about eight years ago, and really enjoy it. Join us for an evening of libation and interesting conversation.

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The Tennessean exhibits sexist and gender prejudice in news reporting.

by Rod Williams - In a story in today's Tennessean, it was reported, "Police look for thieves; vehicles had children inside." According to the report, a two year old girl was safe and sound after the incident. A "mother" went into a Citgo on Brick Church Pike to make a purchase and left the car running with her infant child in the car.  Suspects jumped in the car and drove off. By tracking the location of the vehicle, due to the mother also leaving  her cell phone in the car, the police were able to track the vehicle to a location in east Nashville, where the child was found crying standing on the front porch of a home. The thieves and vehicle were not located.

This is the second incident of this nature in a 48 hour period. The other happened at a Mapco on Stewards Ferry Pike the day before and three children were in the stolen car. The thieves later abandoned the car and the children were found unharmed. The thieves in the second vehicle were also identified as male.

The story did not mention the race of the thieves but in the first incident a picture captured from the stores video security camera shows the thieves to be African American.

The official city of Nashville press release did not identify the thieves as "men," but reported the story this way:

Suspect
Detectives are continuing in their efforts to identify the persons responsible for two apparently unrelated car thefts in which children who had been left in the vehicles were briefly taken.       
At 6:20 p.m. Sunday, thieves jumped into a white Hyundai Elantra that had been left running with a 2-year-old child inside while her mother went into Terry’s Quick Stop at 3050 Brick Church Pike.  The persons who stole the Elantra got out of a blue Nissan Versa that was stolen on April 10th from the driveway of a home on Elmore Avenue.  It had also been left unattended and running.  Both the Elantra and the Versa fled the parking lot.  Officers were able to track the victim’s cell phone to East Nashville and located the 2-year-old crying and standing on the front porch of a home in the 1000 block of Pennock Avenue.  She was unharmed.  Officers located the abandoned stolen Versa in an alley between Meridian Street and Pennock Avenue.  The Elantra has not yet been recovered.  
Why did The Tennessean identify the thieves as "males?"  Why, like the Metro press release, did they not call the thieves "persons?" By identifying the thieves as men, The Tennessean is guilty of furthering the stereotype and prejudice that males are more likely to be criminals than are females. Society disproportionately incarcerates many more men than women. Of the prison population 91.7% are male. It would seem that an enlightened policy would strive to have no more men incarcerated than women. Surely there is not a gender difference that would result in more male incarceration than female. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on incarcerating any more men until the ratios reflect the approximate 50% that men and women each represent of the population. As long as our media continues to perpetuate prejudice against men such justice will not be achieved.

Not only are more men incarcerated than women, but police routinely treat men and women differently.  In a routine traffic stop police use more caution and display a firmer attitude when approaching a car with a male driver than a female driver. Police do not treat the sexes equally. Movies and TV crime programs routinely show men more violent and prone to crime than women.

In addition to furthering the societal prejudice that leads to more men being incarcerated than women, The Tennessean report also calls into question the appropriateness of even using the term "male" and "female."  After all, is not sex and gender a societal construct? Even if the thieves appeared to be "male," how do we know they think of themselves as male. Obviously, the reporter did not interview the "men" to ask them their gender preference or gender identity. They could have been male, female, transgender or gender fluid.

In addition to the prejudiced against men, the story also furthered the stereotyping of some women as bad mothers.  Was it necessary to report that the "mother" went into the story to make a purchase and left the child in the car with the engine running?  Why did the story not report that "the parent" or "adult guardian" went into the store.

Many years ago, The Tennessee and other mainstream news outlets began concealing the race of those committing crime. How long must we wait before the same enlighten attitude applies to sex and gender and that prejudicial sexist distinction is also concealed?
Suspects

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Who voted for the transit referendum? The super cool people.

An examination of the transit referendum election returns shows that the only parts of the county to vote for the referendum were those progressive, gentrified, urban, "hip" areas of town such as east Nashville, downtown, 12th Ave. South, and Sylvan Park. The division was not between the "haves" and the "have nots" but more of a division between the cool and hip and everyone else. This did not hold everywhere however. I have thought I lived in one of the hotbeds of progressivism but I was pleasantly surprised to see my precinct, the Senior Citizens Center at the Fairgrounds, precinct 17-7, voted against it. The vote was 194 against and only 136 in favor.

In general, the areas that voted for the transit  tended to be areas of higher income than the county average, but areas of the county much more affluent, areas such as Belle Meade and Forest Hills, voted against it.

Republicans voted against it and turned out in high number and, surprising to many,  the Black community voted against it. Only five Council districts voted for the transit referendum. If one had the data to study who voted for the referendum beyond just identifying precincts, I would bet that California transplants and millennials overwhelmingly voted for it. Maybe there is hope for Nashville yet.

To see how each prescient in the county voted follow this, link to see Election Commission returns or this link to view The Tennessean's interactive map.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SEIU Local 205 endorses David Briley and Erica Gilmore and Harold Love

by Rod Williams - The union that represents most Metro employees except for Police, Firemen and teachers has made their endorsements and I am very pleased. There was no chance the union would endorse anyone who wanted to increase government efficiency and cut government waste. A more efficient government is not in the interest of a public sector union. Since they were not going to endorse anyone interested in a more efficient government, they did the next best thing and endorsed three big-spending candidates. Endorsing three candidates is about as good as endorsing no candidate. They endorsed David Briley, Erica Gilmore and Harold love. Below is the SEIU press release.

Press release - The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205 announces their recommended candidates for Nashville’s Mayoral special election, which is to be held on May 24th, 2018.

The candidates were chosen by a committee of union members who work for Metro Government or for Metro Nashville Public Schools – all of whom are residents of Davidson County.

Because there are multiple candidates who have been strong supporters of Metro employees and of working families, SEIU Local 205 recommends Mayor David Briley, Metro Council Member Erica Gilmore, and State Representative Harold Love
.
Mayor David Briley has been a strong supporter of Metro employees throughout his tenure on the Metro Council and as Vice Mayor, and he has always been an advocate for making sure Nashville’s prosperity is shared by everyone.

Erica Gilmore was one of the first Metro Council members to speak up to defend Nashville General Hospital and she has been an advocate for holding businesses accountable for public tax incentives they have received.

State Representative Harold Love has fought hard to protect Nashville from overreach by the state legislature and he has been a strong supporter of a living wage in the “Fight for $15” campaign.

All three have been strong defenders of Nashville General Hospital and of the Bordeaux long term care facility.

Election Day for the Mayor’s race will be on Thursday, May 24th. Early voting is from Friday, May 4th until Saturday, May 19th. Complete information on early voting dates and voting locations is available from the Davidson County Election Commission at 615-862-8800.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tennessee small businesses are optimistic. Record Level of Small Businesses Seeing Profit Growth

Press release, NASHVILLE, May 8, 2018— The Small Business Optimism Index sustained record-high levels increasing to 104.8 in April, driven by reports of improved profits, the highest in the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey’s 45-year history. Additionally, the number of small businesses reporting poor sales fell to a near record low. April is the 17th consecutive month of historically high readings, according to the survey that was released today.

“Never in the history of this survey have we seen profit trends so high,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “The optimism small businesses owners have about the economy is turning into new job creation, increased wages and benefits, and investment.”

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Jim Brown said, “Our members are telling us that they're investing in new equipment and hiring additional workers. They wouldn't do that if they weren't optimistic about the direction of the economy.”

The frequency of positive profit trends went up three points in April due to gains in operating productivity and stronger sales as well as the newly implemented tax law.

Reports of capital outlays rose three points this month to 61 percent, indicating that small businesses are confident and strong enough to make investments. Of those businesses making expenditures, 43 percent are spending on new equipment (up four points), while 27 percent are acquiring vehicles (up three points).

In addition, more small businesses are planning capital outlays in the next few months, increasing three points to 29 percent. As the difficulty of finding qualified workers continues to be a major obstacle for small businesses, with 22 percent citing it as their single most important business problem (up one point), more of this planned spending is expected to go toward training and labor-saving technology.

“There is no question that small business is booming,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Consumer spending, the new tax law, and lower regulatory barriers are all supporting the surge in optimism across all small business industry sectors.”

Small businesses are also confident in future sales growth, with a net 21 percent of owners expecting higher sales volumes (up one point). These numbers are particularly high in the construction and manufacturing industries.

As reported in Thursday’s NFIB jobs report, the share of small business owners who are hiring or trying to hire rose four points to 57 percent, and new job creation remains at historically strong levels, with a net 16 percent of owners planning to create new jobs. Significantly more new businesses are opening than closing, providing a major boost to new employment.

Worker compensation remains at the highest level since 2000, with net 33 percent reporting increasing compensation. The average family saw wages and salaries grow last year. Gains are likely to increase for many families this year due to tax cuts.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Nashville's hotel rates will likely drop this year. Here's why.

Nashville's hotel rates will likely drop this year. Here's why.  The "why" is very, very simple. It is supply and demand. As demand for hotel rooms increases (or

demand for wheat or hookers or coal or labor or money or anything) prices are bid up, when prices rise, suppliers will see opportunity and increase supply. When excess supply is available, prices will drop. Demand and supply are never in perfect equilibrium but are always tending toward equilibrium. This applies to everything except when the government interferes and thinks it knows better than the market. This is basic Economics 101.

This law of supply and demand is as true as the law of gravity. If more liberals understood economics, we would have fewer liberals. It takes a while to bring a new hotel on line but some things, such as the cost of an Uber fare works almost in real time. If more people want to use Uber than there are Uber drivers working, the price of an Uber ride will increase. Some part-time Uber driver will see that fares have risen and decide to go to work.

This article reports that, "more than two dozen large hotels with 100 or more rooms are currently under construction downtown, near the airport, and in outlying areas like Goodlettsville and Green Hills. At least 41 more are in various stages of planning throughout Davidson County."

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Carol Swain, Candidate for Mayor, Calls for Immediate Resignation of Metro COO Rich!Riebeling

Carol Swain
By Rod Williams - Candidate for mayor Carol Swain yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Metro Chief Operating Officer Rich Riebleling. She issued the following statement:
The voters of Davidson County are tired of broken promises, underfunded schools, and cronyism that rewards those at the top. For too long Metro government has been squandering the taxpayer funds of hard working Nashvillians. Today’s revelation of the misappropriation of federal HUD flood relief funds is just another example of the corruption that is plaguing City Hall and the rest of the Metropolitan government. As finance director of the city Riebeling was either complicit in this act or ignorant of it. He can delegate authority, but he cannot delegate responsibility.

Today, I am calling for the immediate resignation and investigation into the dealings of Metro Chief Operations Officer Rich Riebeling. Under Riebeling’s management the city has awarded no bid bond contracts to his son, misappropriated funds at the fairgrounds and given away free office space to his developer friend Larry Atema. Riebeling has said he’s “committed to doing what’s right for the city,” but it is clear that this is not the case. When asked about Riebeling’s place in his administration, Mayor Briley has said he is “committed to continuity.” This statement is a damning indictment of his ability to lead the city forward.
Rich Riebeling
The most recent Riebeling scandal involved the use $7.4 million of federal Disaster Recovery Fund money going towards riverfront development instead of being used to assist homeowners who were flooded out of their homes. Following the 2010 flood, Nashville got $33 million for flood recovery. The $7.4 million diverted from flood recovery went to build the Ascend Amphitheater, a downtown concert venue at Riverfront Park.

At the time of the flood, I was working as a HUD-approved housing counselor with a non-profit housing counseling agency and encountered numerous people who lost their home or had to declare bankruptcy or spend their life savings or went deeply in debt because of the flood. It ruined peoples lives and to think that money was diverted to other purposes other than the purpose for which it was intended especially angers me.  In a Channel 2 news report, members of the Metro Council say they were unaware of the redirection of Disaster Recovery Funds.

It is time for Rich Riebeling to be fired or forced to resign. I appreciate Carol Swain for calling for his resignation. This type of using public funds as your own slush fund needs to stop. Cronyism and misuse of public funds needs to stop.  Rich Riebeling is probably no worse than many others in similar positions elsewhere. Actually, Nashville is probably less corrupt and mismanaged than cities like Chicago and New Orleans but because we are not the worst does not mean our level of mismanagement and corruption is tolerable. I just assume a very large chuck of all tax money is wasted or misspend, but it should not be that way. We should not just accept that a large portion of public money is misspent. I think there needs to be an investigation of the $60 millions spend to build 3.5 miles of sidewalks, but no one seems to care. That should generate outrage. It is time to drain the Nashville swamp and Rich Riebeling would be a good place to start!

Below is the News Channel 4 report of this story:

WSMV News 4

For more on the unauthorized spending of money for the soccer stadium, see this Channel 4 story: Metro official apologizes for spending $135K on stadium without permission.

For more on the $511,000 sweetheart deal with Larry Atema for consulting services, see this story: Fairgrounds consultant paid $511,000 in management fees.


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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Happy Cinco de Mayo from The Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

by Rod Williams - There are plenty of festivities around town tonight for Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for Fifth of May, is the date observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. It is not, as some think, Mexican Independence Day. That is in September. Actually, in Mexico Cinco de Mayo is minor holiday.  In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture, but mostly it is an excuse to get drunk.  If doesn't rank with New Year's eve as  a favorite day of the year to get drunk, but it ranks up there with St. Patrick's Day.

A lot of people who do not normally go to bars and drink will be out drinking. Margaritas is the favorite adult beverage of choice on Cinco de Mayo. The Tequila in a sweet sour salty Margarita can kind of slip up on you and you get drunk before you know it.  Unfortunately, a lot of  people who get drunk will be driving and a lot of them are amateurs at driving under the influence. This  guide from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving is provided  to help you improve your drunk driving skills or think about alternatives to drinking and driving.

(1) Don't Drive drunk. That is the number one rule: don't do it. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else.  If you are lucky and don't kill someone else or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children or visitation rights, a lot of money, and maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you. If at a friend's house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night.  Use the ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient.  To use these services you page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until you're drunk to try to download the app. Here is a link to the Uber app.



(2) Pick the designated driver before you start drinking.  If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people, then have a designated driver. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.
 
Despite the above advice I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk. I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are possibly driving impaired I am providing these below tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(3) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. See the above tips. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(4) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” That is what often happens. If during the evening you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner liquore with coffee, and a champagne toast, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.

On occasion, but not as often as I would like, I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight in a four hour period, but it has happened.

To reach the same level of intoxication, a female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(5)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. In the days before Uber and when you could still park on Broadway, I would visit the honkytonk strip of Lower Broad. I never would  park on Broadway, however. I live on the south side of town, so I would park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. That meant I did not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(6) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are may have had enough to register drunk and use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Be aware of this.

(7) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(8) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. This was in a previous car, years ago when headlights did not turn on automatically. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(9) Do not commit other crimes while driving drunk. If stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, don't compound your problems by being arrested for drunk driving and somethings else.  Don't smoke dope while driving drunk. Don't get arrested for drunk driving and for speeding, or possession of a controlled substance, or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or soliciting prostitution. One crime at a time!

(10) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(11) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(12) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

Rep. Bill Beck
(13) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person (link) with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk straight and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop.

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(14) If you are seeing double, close one eye. 

I have never been arrested for drunk driving but I admit I have been guilty of it. I guess I have been lucky. As a young adult I was more often guilty of it than I have been as an older adult. Nevertheless, from time to time, I still have probably technically met the blood alcohol level for being drunk.

Stay safe. Don't drive drunk. Drive careful. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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