Monday, November 19, 2018

What's on the Council agenda for 11-20-2019: Civil Asset Forfeiture, increasing the ticket tax at Soccer games, prohibiting balancing the budget by selling surplus property.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 20th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along. If you are going to watch it, it is somewhat less boring if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  You  don't have to watch it and yet you can still me informed. I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and a video of the meeting. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

There are two mayoral appointments to boards and Commission on the agenda for Council confirmation but none are to  the troubled commissions. The Council rarely rejects a mayoral appointee.

Resolutions: There are 12 only twelve resolutions on the agenda. Only one is controversial.

Resolution RS2018-1486  approve Metro's participation in "Policing for Profit." It is
an agreement for Metro to participate with the State and Federal government in the civil asset forfeiture program.

What civil asset forfeiture does is allow the police to confiscate the cash one is carrying and ones vehicle and possession one may have in his vehicle without being proven guilty of a crime. The person may not even be charged with a crime. To get the cash and belongings returned the person who had their property taken must prove he did not possess them in order to engage in crime.

This is a shameful program and violates basic concepts of fairness, due process, and innocent until proven guilty. For more a more detailed explanation of the bill, follow this link.
Bills on Second Reading:  There are 17 of them. These are the only ones of interest.
Bill BL2018-1283  essentially says that Metro cannot use the proceeds from sale of surplus property to balance the budget.  While it seems to make sense that one should not use one-time money to fund on-going cost, as we did this year, I am not sure that this flexibility should be taken away. There may be times when the city needs to do that. 

Bill BL2018-1334  tweaks the ticket tax for the Major League Soccer Stadium. I don't expect this to generate controversy, but it might. This would raise the overall price of attending a game and may suppress attendance.
Bills on Third Reading:  There are 33 of them. Most are noncontroversial zoning bills or other mundane issues, like allowing underground encroachments into the right-of-way. Below is the only bill of interest.

Bill BL2018-1370  is a disapproved rezoning bill changing from R20 to SP zoning on property located at 1120 Glendale Lane. I have no insight as to the merits of this rezoning. I am simply calling attention to this bill because, being disapproved by the Planning Commission, it will take 27 positive votes to pass.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Please tell your councilman to oppose "policing for profit" and to support innocent until proven guilty and due process.

Most Americans, whether they think of themselves as liberal or conservative, agree on certain basic concepts of government. Most people believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty and believe in due process. Most people do not want the police to be able to confiscate their property if they have not been convicted of a crime. On Tuesday November 20th, the Council will have on its agenda a resolution to approve Metro's participation in a program that violates these basic concepts.

Sometimes called "Policing for Profit," the program the Council will be voting on is to participate in the “Equitable Sharing Program” of  the  civil asset  forfeiture program. The legislation is Resolution RS2018-1486  which formalizes  an agreement between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD). This agreement would govern the participation of DEA Nashville District Office Task Force participants in the DOJ “Equitable Sharing Program” and formalize MNPD's participation in the program.  What this program does is allow Metro to become a partner with the State and Federal government in the civil asset forfeiture program.


What civil asset forfeiture does is allow the police to confiscate the cash one is carrying and one's vehicle and possession one may have in his vehicle without being proven guilty of a crime. The person whose property is confiscated may not even be charged with a crime. Often it will come about that the police stop a car for a traffic violation and the owner gives the police permission to search the car or the police search the vehicle under probable cause. Upon searching the vehicle, the police discover the driver has $5,000 in cash, for example.  They can confiscate the money and the vehicle.  It may be that the person was on his way to Florida to buy cocaine, but he may have been on his way to Florida to rent a truck and buy a truck load of landscape plants for a work project.  In any case, the person who had his property confiscated, in order to get it back must go to court and prove he was not in procession of the cash and the vehicle to commit a crime.  This can be a lengthy and expensive process. Often people do not have the means to wage the legal battle and just lose their property.

I know this is unbelievable. You may have thought that in America you were innocent until proven guilty. That is not the case. Under The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 the procedure as described is perfectly legal. Many poor people who may be carrying cash, with their cash gone, can't afford to hire a lawyer to fight to get their money and car returned and are forced to just accept the injustice and the loss.  It they can fight to get their property returned it may take months or even years to prevail.

Civil Asset Forfeiture is an outrage. It is opposed by liberal groups like the ACLU and conservative groups like The Institute for Justice and The Beacon Center, yet it prevails. The police often use this money to supplement their budget and the practice is sometimes referred to as "policing for profit."  The Council should vote against this resolution and refuse to participate in this shameful practice.

This is the second time this issue has been before the Metro Council. This agreement has to be renewed every year.  It was before the Council last year and by a vote of 16 to 15 with four abstentions the Council approved participation in the program. Councilman Dave Rosenberg spoke against the resolution and argued Metro should not participate in this program.  To view that discussion see timestamp 2:35:10 in the video at this link

Below is the result of the roll call vote when the issue was before the Council at that time.

Voting YES to approve Resolution RS2017-920. Voting in favor of Civil Forfeiture

Nick Leonardo, District 1                 Brenda Haywood, District 3         Bill Pridemore, District 9
Doug Pardue, District 10                  Larry Hagar, District 11                Steve Glover, District  12
Holly Huezo, District 13                  Jeff Syracuse, District 15              Mike Freeman, District 16
Mary Carolyn Roberts, District 20   Russ Pulley, District 25                Tanaka Vercher, District 28
Karen Johnson, District  29              Jason Potts, District  30                Jacobia Dowell, District 32
Antionette Lee, District  22

Voting NO, a vote against Resolution RS2017-920. Voting against Civil Forfeiture
 
John Cooper, At-large                     Jim Shulman, At-large                Scott Davis, District 5
Bret Withers, District 6                   Anthony Davis, District 7           Nancy VanReece, District 8
Burkeley Allen, District                  Freddie O'Connell, District 19    Ed Kindall, District 21
Mina Johnson, District  23              Kathleen Murphy, District 24      Jeremy Elrod, District 26
Davette Blalock, District  27           Fabian Bedne, District 31            Dave Rosenberg, District 35

Voting "ABSTAIN"  
Erica Gilmore, At-large                  Bob Mendes, At-large                  Sharon Hurt, A-large
Angie Henderson, District 34 
                                               
NOT VOTING
DeCosta Hastings, District 2        Robert Swope, District 4                 Keven Rhoten, District 14
Colby Sledge, District 17             Sheri Weiner, District  22                                      

Please note that minutes show the only one absent from this meeting was Robert Swope. The others may have been there at one time and stepped out of the room, not paying attention, or simply chose not to vote.  It is very disappointing that some of those who voted in favor of the bill are members who are thought of as among the small handful of conservatives in the Council. Those who I am extremely disappointing with for supporting this bill or failing to vote against it, I have highlighted in red.

It is time to end this shameful practice. If you would like to tell your councilman to vote against this bill, follow this link and you may do so. To find your individual  council member's  phone number and email address, follow this link and click on their name. If your council member voted the right way last year, you may want to encourage them to also vote that way this year.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

None of the worst cities for African-Americans are Southern cities

The Wall Street Journal has published a list of the 15 worst cities for African-Americans and none are southern cities. The report looks at Black unemployment rates compared to White unemployment rates, Black median income compared to White, Homeownership rate comparisons, level of segregation and various other factors. The worse city in America for Black people, according to this study, is Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA. Other cities on the list include Chicago, IL; Freso, CA; and Rochester, NY;  To see the study follow this link.

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Judge denies injunction seeking to stop fairgrounds overhaul for Nashville MLS stadium

The Tennessean - After two days of testimony, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle sided with Metro government on the request, arguing that Tennessee law does not authorize issuing an injunction to halt the work under the circumstances. ....

Jim Roberts, lead attorney for Save Our Fairgrounds, said he is disappointed in Friday's outcome but expressed confidence that his client will ultimately prevail in court.

“Quite honestly, they were able to survive an injunction hearing, but they’re not going to be able to survive trial," Roberts said.

Roberts has said the fea market — a fairgrounds use that is protected in the Metro Charter — cannot survive the loss of some 3,500 parking spaces where the new expo center will be built. Metro broke ground on the new facility on Nov. 1. (read more)

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Newly elected Democrat calls Tennessee racist, Republican voters 'uneducated'

A Tennessee Democrat newly elected to the House of Representatives has said the state is racist and most residents who voted Republican are uneducated.

WREG-TV reports London Lamar said the comments in a now-deleted Facebook video posted following last week's election.(link)

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Beacon Center Condemns Amazon Incentive Package

by Mark Cunningham, Beacon Center, Nov. 13, 2018- News broke this morning that the state of Tennessee and city of Nashville will give Amazon more than $100 million in taxpayer money for a new operations site in downtown Nashville. The Beacon Center has issued the following statement decrying the incentive package. 

Mark Cunningham, spokesman for the Beacon Center stated, “Nashville was passed over for Amazon’s second (and third) headquarters, yet city and state officials still got scammed into giving the company more than $100 million in taxpayer giveaways for a consolation prize, which includes $80 million in cash handouts. Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, and the government played taxpayers with this incentive deal, and it is time for us to speak up against this type of corporate welfare. While we welcome new businesses and the jobs they create to our state, forcing middle-class Tennesseans and small businesses to give their hard-earned dollars to a multi-billion dollar business is both unfair and immoral.” 

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We have paid off Amazon to move here; now, put away the bribe money and pull up the drawbridge.

by Rod Williams - Amazon has chosen Nashville as their East Coast hub of operations it was announced today.  While this is not one of the two big corporate headquarters, it is still a big deal. They will invest $230 million and are expected to create 5,000 full-time corporate jobs. I guess it is an honor, but I am not pleased.

"According to officials, Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of up to $102 million, including a cash grant for capital expenditures from the state of Tennessee for $65 million, a cash grant from the city of Nashville of up to $15 million and a job tax credit to offset franchise and excise taxes from the state for $21.7 million. (link)" This is how not to do economic development.

In addition to incentivizing companies to move here to the point that it cost more to attract them than the benefit they bring and drains public coffers rather than enhances them,  I don't want to grow.  We should have pulled up the welcome mat about five years ago as far as I am concerned.

I do not understand the penchant for growing bigger and bigger.  I don't want to live in a small town.  I like Nashville's size but liked it better about three to five years ago.  I want the amenities a big city has to offer but beyond an optimum size there, it appears to me, there are diminishing returns and then at some point the negatives outweigh the positives.

Although I don't take advantage of all Nashville has to offer, I like that we have museums, good restaurants, a lively art scene, a good symphony, and good places to shop. However, I want to live in a pleasant place, where you can still find a parking place, where crime is low, where people are friendly and taxes are not burdensome. We have passed that point and are headed down the other side of optimum.

Along with growth comes greater congestion, higher prices, and more crime. More people leads to more social problems. Some will argue that more people will provide the density to have better mass transit. I am not buying that argument. Greater density will make mass transit more likely and increase demand for it, but it will still require massive subsidies and tax increases to pay for it. If you look at the tax burden in almost any large city, it is greater than it is in smaller cities. I am not supportive of bigger government and higher taxes.

I do not want Nashville to be the next Los Angeles, or Chicago, or even the next Atlanta.  Many of these new jobs will not be filled by Tennesseans, but by immigrants from California and New York and other big metropolitan areas fleeing high housing cost, high taxes, crime, and dysfunctional governments. Once here, many of them will want to turn Nashville into a copy of the place they just left. Politically, an influx of people from liberal parts of the country will turn Tennessee into a more liberal state. Culturally, Nashville will change. If not already the case, there will be more Nashvillians from other places here than people from this region. A Tennessee or southern accent will be the exception. We will lose our identity and be just another interchangeable metropolitan city.  Politically and socially and cultural and environmentally, Nashville will be worse for this growth.

We have paid off Amazon to move here; now, put away the bribe money and pull up the drawbridge.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: Here's how the GOP turned Democrats' 'Blue Wave' into just a ripple

Ronna McDaniel
by RNC Chairwomen Ronna McDaniel - The Republican Party faced historic odds ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Since the 1920s, the party in control of the White House has lost seats in both the House and Senate during the president’s first term. Pundits and politicos fixated on this trend, claiming for months that a blue wave would descend across our nation, bringing massive Democrat victories during midterms. But Tuesday’s results proved otherwise.

We staved off a blue wave thanks to the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) largest-ever ground game and record-setting fundraising, and President Trump’s energizing rallies for our candidates.

This week Republicans gained seats in the Senate – a historic achievement that has only happened four times. Our minimal losses were in spite of the retirement of 43 House Republicans, the most for our Party since 1930. Democrats, meanwhile, had very few retirements and their candidates had a significant cash advantage, out-raising Republican incumbents in 92 districts. Despite the odds, the Democratic Party’s so-called tsunami hit a Republican wall and became nothing more than a ripple.

Our success was thanks to grassroots enthusiasm for President Trump and his agenda, our Party’s far-reaching ground game, comprehensive get-out-the-vote operation, and record-breaking fundraising haul. This week, the American people sent a clear message to Washington: Stop obstructing the America First agenda, or go home.

With our permanent infrastructure and strong team in place, Republicans are ready to do it all over again and keep President Trump in the White House in 2020. President Trump did more for Republican candidates this cycle than any other president in history, energizing voters with 53 rallies across 24 states. His rallies brought half a million Americans together in support of Republican candidates in competitive races. On Tuesday our investments paid off. Republicans closed the enthusiasm gap among voters and delivered victories in competitive races across the country.

Look at the way longtime Democrat incumbents lost to strong Republican Senate candidates in key states, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Missouri’s Josh Hawley, and Indiana’s Mike Braun. The RNC had its largest-ever mobilization ahead of the midterms to ensure victory. We outpaced the DNC at every turn, raising a non-presidential year record-breaking $270 million. Our unprecedented fundraising allowed us to invest a record $275 million into this election cycle, making it our most expansive data and ground game investment in history.

We had more than 550 staffers working on the ground across 29 states. We trained more than 25,000 Republican Leadership Initiative fellows, our Party’s most active volunteers in the field. We recruited more than 200,000 volunteers in communities across the country. Our team’s dedication and hard work enabled us to spread our Party’s message of opportunity through 2.6 billion voter contacts, including over 79 million traditional volunteer contacts through door-knocking and phone calls in every corner of the country.

With our permanent infrastructure and strong team in place, we are ready to do it all over again and keep President Trump in the White House in 2020. Now that we have defended and increased our Senate majority, Republicans will continue to fight for President Trump’s agenda and deliver more wins for the American people.

The administration has done so much to lift up American workers and families, with policies that have created millions of new jobs, cut taxes, and grown our economy. We are in a strong position to continue those gains, protect our communities, and confirm the president’s qualified judicial and executive branch nominees.

Americans made their voices heard on November 6. They told us that they demand results and will hold their elected officials accountable. Now, it is time for Democrats to turn away from obstruction and resistance and instead work with Republicans on behalf of their constituents and our country.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

UPDATE: The difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats think this is funny .....



Republicans don't. 

(I is not in good taste to make fun of wounded war veterans.  See timeline 0:57.)

Update: SNL apologized with grace and humor.  I commend them and am satisfied.  Skits like this do not happen spontaneously. This had to be written and rehearsed.  Whether SNL realized it was in bad taste and wanted to do the right thing or got so much heat they felt they had to make amends, I don't know. In any event, it ended well.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

What happened at the Nov. 6 Council meeting: Monroe Harding Children’s Home forced "compromise" rezoning advances, bad kennel bill deferred, Council pay raise fails.





This is the video of the Council meeting of Tuesday, November 6, 2018. It is a little over four hours long. If you are going to watch it, it will make a lot more sense if you can follow along with an agenda. To access a copy of the agenda, the agenda summary and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. I did not carefully watch the full four hours but skipped portion of it looking for the good parts and watched part of it in double speed. If you think I may have missed something important, or important to you, you may want to watch the video for yourself.

Six  members were absent for this meeting. That is a lot. Those absent were Gilmore, Anthony Davis, Pardue, Vercher, Potts and Rosenberg.   Below is a summary of the meeting highlighting of what I deem to be the most important items.

After the prayer and the pledge, the council took out of order memorializing Resolution RS2018-1482  honoring the memory of those killed in the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sending support from the Nashville Community, and calling for an end to hate-filled rhetoric, racism, and bigotry. Several member spoke denouncing hate and intolerance and advocating civility. At timestamp 13:22 the council returns to regular order of business.

There were no surprises in confirmation of mayoral appointees to boards and commissions. They were all affirmed

Public Hearing: There are 30 bills on Public Hearing. Bills on public hearing are usually to rezone a particular piece of property or to change the text of zoning code.   I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest to only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. These are the one I found of interest.

Substitute Bill BL2018-1365  is a bill to rezone about five acres of property from R10 to RS10 in Councilman Pulley's district. It is approved by the Planning Commission.  The only reason I am calling attention to this is that I think this type down-zoning is poor policy. This type of down-zoning occurs quite often.  The effect of this bill is that it takes an area which can now have duplexes and makes it illegal to have them. It makes this area single-family only. This reduces future density. As Nashville struggles with the issue of affordable housing and urban sprawl, any policy that decreases density contributes to a lack of affordable hosing and contributes to urban sprawl. This bill is no different than what happens all of the time but I think it is poor policy. Also, it takes away from someone a property right they now enjoy. Neighborhood surveys are conducted to see if residents want this rezoning, but that does not insure that someone may not realize they are losing a property right. I also think that what is often behind this type of rezoning is a desire to keep out renters and protect the character of the neighborhood which may mean to thwart diversity. It helps keep poor people and minorities from moving to these neighborhoods.  I will not be calling attention to every bill of this type but wanted to call attention to the policy that allows this type zoning which contributes to lack of affordable housing, urban sprawl and may violate property rights and may thwart diversity.
Bill BL2018-1370  is a disapproved rezoning bill in Councilman Russ Pulley's district to rezone the property of Monroe Harding Children’s Home. It would rezone "from from R20 to SP zoning on property located at 1120 Glendale Lane, at the northwest corner of Glendale Lane and Scenic Drive, (19.87 acres), to permit 31 single-family lots or a community education use of up to 200 persons, a religious institution, an orphanage, or a day care center (over 75)."

The current use of the property has most of the acreage as open space. The way the property is currently zoned the owner could develop up to 53 units. This "compromise" is a "voluntary" down-zoning being forced upon Monroe-Harding. Monroe Harding desires to relocate and needs the proceeds from the sale to support their mission. The current site no longer suites their needs. Their initial desire was to sale the property as currently zoned which they have the right to do. The Councilman introduced a bill to rezone the property against the will of the owner. His proposal would have allowed much less density than what this current bill allows.  Rather than fight this illegal down-zoning, Monroe-Harding gave into bullying. This is a shameful abuse of power forcing someone to give away their property rights. This compromise does not satisfy many of he neighbors and they oppose any redevelopment of the property. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:51:36- 2:58:49.  This passed on a voice vote on second reading and will require 27 votes to pass third reading.
Bill BL2018-1371 regards dog kennels and and stables. There are several things
wrong with this bill. I am not sure what the bill would do.  It defines kennels as only kennels that breed dogs. Where does that leave dog boarding facilities?  Could they continue to operated in the city? Ten acres seems like an awfully high threshold for having a kennel. This bill was definitely not ready for prime time. I spoke to the sponsor and he essentially said this was a work in progress and he welcomed feedback and input. To contact the sponsor email him at fabian.bedne@nashville.gov. He defered the bill to the December 4, 2018 meeting.
There are 30 resolutions most of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Below are the resolutions on interest.
Resolution RS2018-1395   would appropriate $360,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment for the Nashville Fire Department. The resolution was disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee. Council Member Glover moved to withdraw the resolution,

Resolution RS2018-1430   This is non-binding but would request the Civil Service Commission to increase the salary of the council members from $15,000 to $23,100 and the salary of the Vice Mayor from $17,000 to $25,230.  The council cannot increase their own salary so this would take effect when the new council is seated.  Since the city was unable to honor a promised cost of living salary increase for Metro employees, I do not think the salary of the Council should be increased at this time.  Also, the amount of increase seems excessive. I do not know how long it has been since the council had a pay raise however and how much councilmen in other cities earn.  With a forty-member council, our council members should not earn as much as a comparably sized city with a much smaller council, in my view. I am pleased to report that this was deferred indefinitely.

Resolution RS2018-1455  would approve the issuance of $25 million in General Obligation bonds to fund certain projects.  Some of the projects are not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget adopted by the Council. The Council cannot approve funding of projects not in the CIB. The CIB can be amended however, but that would take a separate action. The resolution was disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee. Council Member Hall moved to suspend the Rules of Procedure to offer a late amendment. The motion was met with objection to cause the motion to fail. Council Member Hall moved to defer the resolution to the December 18, 2018 meeting, which motion was seconded and approved by a voice vote of the Council.

Resolution RS2018-1462  approves a sole-source contract for $455,000 with Benchmark Analytics to provide certain services.  It may be that this firm is the only firm that can provide the services the city needs.   I tend to be skeptical of sole-source contracts. This passed on the Consent agenda. I hope the Budget and Finance Committee carefully investigated this before passing it.
Bills on Second Reading:  There are 12. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2018-1334 tweaks the  ticket tax for the Major League Soccer Stadium. This would raise the overall price of attending a game and may suppress attendance. This was on the agenda on Second Reading last meeting and deferred to this meeting. The bill was recommended for deferral at the request of the sponsor by the Budget and Finance Committee, the Codes, Fair, and Farmers Market Committee, and the Convention, Tourism, and Public Entertainment Facilities Committee. Council Member Henderson moved to defer the bill, which motion was seconded and approved by a voice vote of the Council.
Bills on Third Reading:  There are 17. Here are the ones of interest.
Bill BL2018-1281 (as amended) requires all metro employees and contractors doing business with Metro with contracts of over $500,000, to take a sexual harassment training.  It may be contrary to a state law that prohibits cities from imposing additional requirements on state licensed firms, This has been twerked from when first introduced. Metro would not be doing the training so the companies would do it for their own employees and certify that they had done so.  So, Human Resources is now saying the cost of this would be negligible. The bill does not dictate the extend of the training so it may not amount to much. This was on Second Reading Council meeting before last and deferred a meeting. Last meeting it passed Second on a voice vote. I have no problem with this bill as amended. The issue of imposing additional requirement contrary to state law is probably not a problem since I doubt any company would object given that they do their own training. So, this accomplishes little and cost little. It passes 28-0.

Bill BL2018-1316  establishes screening requirements and standards for waste
dumpsters. This is great for those of us who have to walk or drive by unsightly dumpsters but will add expense for entrepreneurs wanting to start a new business.  Well intention measures like this drive gentrification by making it difficult for poor neighborhoods to exist and if all parts of the town are aesthetically pleasing to middle class taste, you price poor people out of their neighborhoods and this leads to loss of affordable housing and makes it harder for struggling entrepreneurs to start new businesses. You cannot have a lot of affordable housing without affordable neighborhoods and affordable neighborhoods may have unscreened dumpsters behind tire shops. You can't still have affordable neighborhoods and expect every neighborhood to look like Green Hills. This passes with no discussion on Second reading and passes Third by a vote of 28-0.

Bill BL2018-1329 establishes some rules for the residential parking permit (RPP) program. Some residential areas near popular commercial area have had a problem with parking. Visitors to the nearby commercial establishments have been taking all of the parking on neighboring streets and residents who rely on on-street parking can not park on their own street. This permit system attempts to solve that by allowing only cars with permits to park on that street. If however you want to have guest for a baby shower or family dinner, it means they would be illegally parking on your street. Residents could purchase two guest permits good for a year. While this RPP system is new to Nashville it is common in lots of larger urban areas. No doubt this policy will be tweaked from time to time. This passes 28-0.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November 9th marked the end of an era. It should be world-wide day of celebration.

by Rod Williams - Tomorrow will come and go with almost no mention that that day was the 29th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It is a shame. November 9th should be a National holiday. Or better yet, it should be a worldwide holiday. It should rival a combination of New Years’ Eve and the 4th of July. There should be concerts, dancing in the street, Champagne toast, ringing of church bells, and fire works.

On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the world changed forever. As the world watched, we did not know if Russia would send in troops to put down the rebellion or not. We did not know if East German guards would fire on their fellow citizens. In 1958 an uprising in Hungary was crushed. In 1968 the Czech rebellion was likewise suppressed. As we watched in 1989 it was hard to believe that the East German rebellion would end differently, but there was reason to hope.

There was reason to believe that there were few true believers in Communism left behind the Iron curtain. Gorbachev, to save Communism, had launched Perestroika and Glasnost, which had not saved Communism but sealed its fate. The Soviets had been forced to realize that they could not outspend the west in the arms race. The Solidarity union movement had sprung up in Poland and not been crushed and Catholicism had a Polish pope who was encouraging the Catholics behind the Iron Curtain to keep the faith, and America had a president who said his goal was not to co-exist with Communism but to defeat it. The West was more confident and the East seemed exhausted.

With modern communications and contact between the captive peoples of the East and the free people of the West, Communist governments could no longer convince their people that Communism was a superior way to organize society. And, for the first time, attempts to spread Communism had failed. From the tiny island of Granada, to Nicaragua, to Afghanistan, attempts at expansion had met with failure. When the demonstrators in East Germany began chipping away at the wall, the guards did not fire, the Soviets did not send in tanks and the walls came tumbling down.

It would still be a couple more years before the other Communist dominoes fell, but one by one they did, except for the two dysfunctional states of North Korea and Cuba. China did not fall, but morphed into a state that Marx or Mao would not recognize. It is only nominally communist. China became a mixed economy with an repressive authoritarian one-party government and it is now flexing its muscle and threatening its neighbors, but it is not spreading an ideology to change the world.

From the time of the establishment of the first Communist state in Russia in 1917, Communism had steadily grown taking root in country after county until by the time of the fall of the Berlin wall 34% of the worlds populations lived under Communist domination. And by peaceful means, Communism was gaining ground in much of the west with “Euro-communism” gaining acceptance and becoming parties in coalition governments.

For more than seventy years, freedom had been on the defensive and Communism had been ascending. During that time, approximately 100 million people were killed with a brutal efficiency. Approximately 65 million were killed in China under Mao Zedong, 25 million in Leninist and Stalinist Russia, 2 million in Cambodia, and millions more in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. This was accomplished by mass murders, planned famines, working people to death in labor camps, and other ruthless methods. From the thousands of Cossacks slaughtered on the orders of Lenin to the victims of Mao’s “land reform” the totals mounted. In addition to the millions of deaths, many more millions spend part of their lives in prison in the Gulag of Russia and the reeducation camps of Vietnam and China. Those who never spend part of their life in real prisons, lived in societies with secret police, enforced conformity, thought control, fear, scarcity, and everyone spying on everyone else.

While the world looked with horror on the approximate 11 million victims of Hitler’s Europe, for some reason less attentions has been paid to the 100 million victims of Communist tyranny. While the Nazi era lasted for only 11 years, the Communist terror began in 1917 and continues to this day. The story would be complete if the last Communist regime fell, but the fall of the Berlin Wall is a landmark event. By the fall of the wall, it was clear that Communism was not the wave of the future and that freedom would survive in the world.

Not only would freedom survive in the world, but the world itself would survive. It is easy to forget what a dangerous place the world was on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The world's nuclear stockpiles had grown to 70,000 warheads, with an average destructive power about 20 times that of the weapons that were dropped on Japan. One deranged colonel, one failure of a radar system, or one misreading of intentions could have led to events that destroyed the world. We were one blink away from destruction of life on earth. If there is any event in the history of world worthy of celebrating, it should be the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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A Great Victory! A Great Victory Celebration!

by Rod Williams - I am pleased with the election results -relatively pleased. Unfortunately we can expect two years of gridlock and investigation after investigation but it could have been so much worse. The "blue wave" just didn't happen. Democrats did no better than the party out of power normally does in a mid-term.  I think the results would have been much worse if the Dems had not acted so disgustingly toward Judge Kavanaugh. I also think the illegal alien caravan helped by drawing a distinction between border-security Republicans and open-border Democrats. 


I am immensely pleased with the Tennessee results! Great evening! Congratulations Bill Lee and Marsha Blackburn! Both won by comfortable margins when the media was predicting close races. The victory is more spectacular considering the  Democrat opponents of each tried to present themselves as moderate problem solvers, not partisan Democrats.  The voting public was not fooled.  It matters which party governs and I think people get that.

I enjoyed the Marsha Blackburn victory party last night. Victory parties are so much better when you win. It was in big banquet room at the Cool Springs Marriott. Lots of good conversation and networking, OK food. The Pecan crusted chicken bites were good. Cash Bar. Victory speech by Marsha was exhilarating.

Great music by Jack Johnson and the Austin Brothers, Lee Greenwood sang "I'm proud to be an American ..." to a recorded soundtrack, a couple songs from Larry Gatling, and a  full show by John Rich of Big and Rich, with Gretchen Wilson ("Redneck Women") and a new female artist who was great. She sang a moving song and about being the wife and an army Ranger. I bet Nashville has the best victory parties of any state. I doubt other Senate race victory parties had the quality of entertainment.

It was an enjoyable evening. Due to my wife's health condition, it takes planning and luck for me be able to get out and I can't go to everything. I am happy I was able to attend this event.




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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Victory Parties tonight, First Tuesday meets Monday 11-12-2018

From Tim Skow, Monday 11/5/18:

1ST TUESDAY Members and friends!

It is finally time... time to Vote... time to WIN...time to Celebrate! 

.... AND 

...it is time to make your plans for the November version of 1ST TUESDAY that is slated for the Monday following Election Day! 

As they were on August primary night ... 

''Senator-to-be-Marsha B.'' Victory Party at Cool Springs Marriott -- doors open at 6:00 pm.

''Governor-to-be-Bill Lee'' Victory Party at The Factory in Franklin -- doors open at 6:30 pm.

AND.....
as usual follow election day(s) our  1ST TUESDAY for this month will be on MONDAY, Nov 12th. As usually, doors at Waller Law [511 Union St] will open at 11:00 am. Lunch at 11:30 with program at NOON sharp.

Event is $20 for Members --  $25 for Guests.
It is going to be GREAT opportunity to ask the questions that have been on the minds of MANY of us for a long long time !

Make your plans to be there on MONDAY, Nov 12th !
Details when the polls close !

IF.... you haven't voted yet .. GO VOTE .. and take a friend!
 
Hope to see you at The Factory and/or Cool Springs Marriott tomorrow night ... if not before !

Tim Skow
Host of 1ST TUESDAY

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

What's on the Council agenda for November 6th: Increasing the pay for Metro Council members, regulating dog kennels out of business, selling bonds for projects not in the CIB, changing the zoning of Monroe Harding Children's Home.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 6th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along. If you are going to watch it, it is somewhat less boring if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  You  don't have to watch it and yet you can still me informed. I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and a video of the meeting. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

There are four mayoral appointments to boards and Commission on the agenda for Council confirmation but none are to  the troubled commissions. The Council rarely rejects a mayoral appointee.

Public Hearing: There are 30 bills on Public Hearing. Bills on public hearing are usually to rezone a particular piece of property or to change the text of zoning code.   I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest to only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. At public hearings almost all opposition come down to (1) concern about traffic, (2) water runoff and potential for flooding, (3) overcrowding of local schools and impact on infrastructure, (4) detrimentally changing the character of the neighborhood. You will hear the same agreements over and over. I am only pointing out the bills that I think will have an impact beyond the immediate neighborhood or for some other reason are of interest.

Bill BL2018-1370  is a disapproved rezoning bill in Councilman Russ Pulley's district to rezone the property of Monroe Harding Children’s Home. It would rezone "from from R20 to SP zoning on property located at 1120 Glendale Lane, at the northwest corner of Glendale Lane and Scenic Drive, (19.87 acres), to permit 31 single-family lots or a community education use of up to 200 persons, a religious institution, an orphanage, or a day care center (over 75). This may constitute an attempted "taking" of property, or it may not. I know there has been concern in the community that a large number of home could be build on what is now green space.  Monroe Harding needs the proceeds from the sale to expand and relocate.  I don't know if this bill is the result of a compromise that Monroe Harding is agreeing to or an attempt to take away their property rights. Being a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission this can pass second reading by a simple majority of those voting but will require 27 votes to pass Third Reading. If anyone has insight as to the status of the Monroe Harding controversy, please contact me and share the information. Write me at Rodwilliams47@yahoo.com.

Bill BL2018-1371 regards dog kennels and and stables. There are several things
wrong with this bill. It would establish a minimum of ten acres to have a stable or kennel. That is a high threshold.  You cannot find ten acres in Davidson County on which it would be economically feasible to use as a kennel.   Also there is no logic as to why ten acres should be necessary.  People need kennels near them, not way out in the country. This would curtail a service that people need. Another, more significant problem, is that it defines kennels as "an establishment for the breeding of dogs."  That is not the customary definition of "kennel."  If the intent of this was to make it only apply to kennels that breed dogs as opposed to boarding kennels, then the wording should be different. Are boarding kennels called something different in the code and defined?  What would be the effect of narrowly defining kennels as places to breed dogs? Could other boarding kennels continue? Why is this even needed? If noise is the problem, that can be addressed with the existing noise ordinance. In any event this bill has not yet gone to the Planning Commission and must be deferred one meeting.  Maybe it will be amended or the sponsor can be persuaded to withdraw it. As written it needs to be defeated.
There are 30 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. However, some atrocious memorializing resolutions that were on the consent agenda have been approved from time to time. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Below are the ones on interest.
Resolution RS2018-1395   would appropriate $360,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment for the Nashville Fire Department. The only reason I am calling attention to this resolution is because it was previously deferred indefinitly and is now back on the agenda. There must be a problem with or opposition to this ordinance or it would not have been previously deferred indefinitely.  If is my understanding that the Fire Department is in need of this. It has not yet been acted upon by the Budget and Finance Committee.

Resolution RS2018-1430   This is non-binding but would request the Civil Service Commission to increase the salary of the council members from $15,000 to $23,100 and the salary of he Vice Mayor from $17,000 to $25,230.  The council cannot increase their own salary so this would take effect when the new council is seated.  Since the city was unable to honor a promised cost of living salary increase for Metro employees, I do not think the salary of the Council should be increased at this time.  Also, the amount of increase seems excessive. I do not know how long it has been since the council had a pay raise however and how much councilmen in other cities earn.  With a forty-member council, our council members should not earn as much as a comparably sized city with a twelve-member council, in my view.

Resolution RS2018-1455  would approve the issuance of $25 million in General Obligation bonds to fund certain projects.  Some of the projects are not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget adopted by the Council. The Council cannot approve funding of projects not in the CIB. The CIB can be amended however, but that would take a separate action so this will likely be deferred.

Resolution RS2018-1462   would approve a sole-source contract for $455,000 with Benchmark Analytics to provide certain services.  It may be that this firm is the only firm that can provide the services the city needs.  I hope the Budget and Finance Committee looks at this very carefully to determine that the specs were not written in such a way as to make Benchmark the only company that could supply the services and to insure that they really are the only firm providing the desired services. I tend to be skeptical of sole-source contracts. 
Bills on Second Reading:  There are 12. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2018-1334 tweaks the  ticket tax for the Major League Soccer Stadium. I don't expect this to generate controversy, but it might. This would raise the overall price of attending a game and may suppress attendance. This was on the agenda on Second Reading last meeting and deferred to this meeting.
Bills on Third Reading:  There are 17. Here are the ones of interest.
Bill BL2018-1281 (as amended) would require all metro employees and contractors doing business with Metro with contracts of over $500,000, to take a sexual harassment training.  It may be contrary to a state law that prohibits cities from imposing additional requirements on state licensed firms, This has been twerked from when first introduced. Metro would not be doing the training so the companies would do it for their own employees and certify that they had done so.  So, Human Resources is now saying the cost of this would be negligible. The bill does not dictate the extend of the training so it may not amount to much. This was on Second Reading Council meeting before last and deferred a meeting. Last meeting it passed Second on a voice vote. I have no problem with this bill as amended. The issue of imposing additional requirement contrary to state law is probably not a problem since I doubt any company would object given that they do their own training. So, this accomplishes little and cost little. It won't  hurt if it passes.

Bill BL2018-1316 would establish screening requirements and standards for waste
dumpsters. This is great for those of us who have to walk or drive by unsightly dumpsters but will add expense for entrepreneurs wanting to start a new business.  Well intention measures like this drive gentrification by making it difficult for poor neighborhoods to exist and if all parts of the town are aesthetically pleasing to middle class taste, you price poor people out of their neighborhoods and this leads to loss of affordable housing and makes it harder for struggling entrepreneurs to start new businesses. You cannot have a lot of affordable housing without affordable neighborhoods and affordable neighborhoods may have unscreened dumpsters behind tire shops. You can't still have affordable neighborhoods and expect every neighborhood to look like Green Hills. This passes with no discussion before and it probably will again, but I oppose it.

Bill BL2018-1329 establishes some rules for the residential parking permit (RPP) program. Some residential areas near popular commercial area have had a problem with parking. Visitors to the nearby commercial establishments have been taking all of the parking on neighboring streets and residents who rely on on-street parking can not park on their own street. This permit system attempts to solve that by allowing only cars with permits to park on that street. If however you want to have guest for a baby shower or family dinner, it means they would be illegally parking on your street. Residents could purchase two guest permits good for a year. While this RPP system is new to Nashville it is common in lots of larger urban areas. No doubt this policy will be tweaked from time to time.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the MetroYouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video here the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Save Church Street Park

by Councilman Angie Henderson, Reposted from Facebook
Angie Henderson
-
  If you care about the standards Nashville sets for swapping, selling, or renting your public park land for private, profit-making purposes, please follow this matter closely and share with fellow lovers of parks. If you were interested or engaged in the Fort Negley/Greer Stadium/Cloud Hill debate, you should be engaged in this matter too.

Ask yourself what has been the catalyst for these two recent contentious conversations about our parks? 
#1.  A developer has an idea/desire and goes to the Mayor’s Office where the developer finds a willing ear and a pride and penchant for deal making. The developer and the Mayor’s Office compile a complex package with several community benefits, which obfuscate the deal’s core flaws and make it appealing to a variety of constituencies. After everything has been worked out to the maximum benefit of the developer, they trot the deal out for some token “community engagement.” As I said regarding the Cloud Hill proposal, this approach to community planning is top-down and backwards. Smoke and mirrors. Again. 

The recent Plan to Play Master Plan calls for MORE park space and pocket parks in the downtown core. Swapping this lone park, ideally located right across from our beautiful downtown library, for an awkward parcel on James Robertson Parkway with high traffic volume, high speeds, next to a traffic island and a parking garage, one building away from the bus station, at a major intersection and immediately adjacent to the already sizable and successful Public Square Park, is NOT a gain or even a balanced swap. It is a loss for Church Street, the core of downtown, which is already lacking green space, and for Nashville’s future.

Church Street Park has several problems and challenges today. A group of homeless persons spend the majority of their day in the park and thus in the absence of intention, vision and planning, the park has been allowed to languish rather than being elevated into the gem that it can and should be for everyone who lives and works nearby. Every major city has homeless persons, and every major city has pocket parks. We are not unique. If we truly want to make this a great park, we can. Not saying it’s easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

With the passage of the proposal before the Parks Board, Church Street Park will cease to exist and become another Giarratana high-rise tower. To soften this blow, it is proposed that he would contribute funds and design for the adjacent street to become an enhanced, park-like streetscape. I’m sure that would be lovely, but we don’t have to swap the park to create that. Just like we don’t have to swap the park to design and build supportive housing for the homeless on 2nd Avenue North that the city already owns.

This “swap” is a bad deal. I urge you to speak up to the Parks Board to oppose it, if you agree. Don’t hesitate to contact me, if you’d like to discuss or learn more. Please follow the provided link to read deal-related documents and be sure to send an email asap to metroparks@nashville.gov and councilmembers@nashville.gov. The developer’s team has already set up an automated email to encourage support of the land swap. It is important that you lend your voice as well.

The public hearing on Oct 22 at 6:00 PM is specially called, and the Parks Board will deliberate and vote on the matter at their regular noon meeting on November 6. Don’t delay! Your participation is needed to #SaveChurchStreetPark. Please share this post!

Rod's Comment: I support saving Church Street Park.  As Councilman Henderson points out, the reason behind this proposed swap is that the Church Street Park has been taken over by the homeless. The park is not a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.  If not for the homeless takeover, it could be.  If you are not familiar with the park, it is directly across the street from the stately downtown public library. It has a nice fountain and the back wall of the park features a large interesting mural.  

I don't know the limits of policing authority to curtail the homeless residency in the park but surely
Church Street Park
there is something that can be done to reclaim the park for public use. It seems to me that the park could restrict homeless use by prohibiting overnight sleeping in the park, perhaps closing the park from  12 AM to 6 AM and posting and enforcing a "Keep Off the Grass" rule.  Rules against alcohol consumption and other violations could be enforced. In any event, it should not be the policy of the city to close a park and develop the land, just because it is being used by the homeless. There has to be a better solution.  Cities in which people live need green space. 


Also, we cannot just surrender public places to the homeless.  The grand public library is frequented by the homeless who sit in the reading room and who use the public restroom.  Should we close the library? 

Ms Henderson is also right about the deal.  Even if the city deemed it a good policy to close the park, it should be closed and the site developed in an open transparent process not by means of a backroom sweetheart deal. 


Since Ms Henderson posted the above to her Facebook page, the Metro Parks board's acquisition committee, in a tie vote, voted 3-3 on recommending approval of the Church Street land swap deal. Mayor Briley appeared before the Committee speaking in favor of the deal as did the district Councilman Freddie O'Connell.  Councilman Angie Henderson spoke against it. This coming Tuesday, the full seven-member Park Board will take up the issue. The Committee's vote will not be binding but would carry considerable weight with members of the Metro Council who ultimately will decide the issue.

To learn more about the issue and the details of the land swap, read the Tennessean's coverage at this link.  If anyone is inclined to appear at the Park Board meeting, the board meets at 12:00 p.m., on the first Tuesday of each month at the Parks Headquarters, 2565 Park Plaza. The next meeting at which time the Board is taking up this issue is November 6th. There is not a public hearing on the issue but sometimes the presence of members of the public at an event can impact a body's decision. I have not seen any public call for supporters of the Park to attend the Board meeting. 

If you are inclined to communicate your position on the closing of Church Street Park to a Park Board member, follow this link for a list of members and their contact information. To contact all of the Park Board members as well as Metro Parks staff send email to metroparks@nashville.gov. It is also important to let members of the Council know of your concern. To email all of the Council members in one email, email to councilmembers@nashville.gov.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Judd Cowan was once an infant. He was not born as a 35 year old man.

Recently Bo Mitchel put out a negative mailer attacking 26 year old Judd Cowan for being young. He pulled pictures from Cowan's Facebook page of when he was a teenager in high school and created a collage to attack Cowan as too young to serve in the State House.  Judd writes that his friends didn't think the attack piece went far enough and made the above mailer for Bo to use.

Time is short, if you can do anything to help Judd Cowan who is challenging Bo Mitchell in the race for the District 50 State House, please do.  There is a lot that needed between now and the end of the day November 6th.  Candidates always need more money, but they also need door to door canvassers, phone call help, and people to work the polls on election day. Please help Judd beat Bo!

For more information visit, Judd Cowan's website at this link.

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John Ryder explains why Republican electoral chances are not nearly as dire as sometimes reported.


John Ryder
Nov. 2, 2018 - John  Ryder is former General Counsel to the Republican National Committee and is currently Chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association. He is a "Republican numbers Guru" known for his statistical insights, predictions and analysis. He seldom gets it wrong. I saw him speak at a First Tuesday event in October 2016 and he predicted Trump would win the election when almost all pollsters said he would lose. 

Writing in yesterday's Memphis Commercial Appeal, Ryder offered his insight into the upcoming election and says Democrats prospects are not nearly as great as they seem and Republican chances are not as dire as sometimes reported.  Below is an excerpt:
It looks to me as though the Blue Wave is confined to the blue enclaves and the Red Tide is concentrated in red precincts. Where the concentration is less pronounced, the “wave” is less prominent.

In other words, the spatial polarization that exists in society will manifest itself in increased turnout – one way or the other — in the areas where partisans are most concentrated.

Is there a hidden vote? It’s hidden in plain sight, almost. While the generic ballot for Congress favors the Democrats, the generic ballot in the most competitive districts is tied or favors the Republicans, according to the ABC News Poll and the Wall St. Journal/NBC poll.

That is because the generic ballot in heavily Democratic districts, like the 9th District in Memphis, overwhelmingly favors the Democrat, while in the competitive districts, perhaps the Second district in Arkansas, the generic ballot is closer. There the Republicans have a slight advantage.
That is reassuring and makes sense. He also writes about the impact of negative advertising and the impact of news media bias in the article.  You can read it at this link.



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