Monday, March 18, 2019

The National Debt still matters.

by Rod Williams - When President Obama was president, conservatives wrote news articles and scholarly position papers and produced memes and videos explaining the dangers of a growing national debt and it was an important Republican talking point. Democrats had no concern about the national debt. Now, things have changed. Just like the Republicans were the party concerned about the constitutional separation of powers and Democrats didn't; now, Democrats do and Republicans don't. Same with the national debt. Now Democrats care, and Republicans don't.

Answers about what to do about the national debt are not simple. The tax cuts may have contributed to the national debt, but that does not mean the tax cuts were bad. Tax cuts also spur economic growth and bring in more government revenue. Of course, economic growth is not just about bringing in more revenue to the government. Economic growth lifts people out of poverty and keeps people from losing their jobs and their homes and their savings. Increasing taxes may actually cause the National Debt to increase because higher taxes slow economic growth. We can't tax ourselves into solvency. If at the new tax rates, growth could be maintained at about 4% it is believed that government revenue would increase sufficiently to start bringing down the debt.

For more on the relationship to economic growth and the National Debt see,  CBO Shows Faster Growth Is Important for Fixing the Debt.  

Despite Republicans no longer caring about the National Debt it is still important. This article from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation explains why.

Top 10 Reasons Why the National Debt Matters

At $22 trillion and rising, the national debt threatens America’s economic future. Here are the top ten reasons why the national debt matters.
  1. The national debt is a bipartisan priority for Americans.

    Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) agree that the managing the national debt should be a top-three priority for the President and Congress, including 71 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Republicans.
  2. The return of trillion dollar deficits.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the budget deficit will rise from $897 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion by 2029, resulting in a cumulative deficit of $11.6 trillion over the 10-year period from 2020 to 2029.
  3. Interest costs are growing rapidly.

    Interest costs are projected to climb from $383 billion in 2019 to $928 billion by 2029. Over the next decade, interest will total nearly $7 trillion. We will soon be spending more on net interest costs than we do in other essential areas such as Medicaid and Defense.
  4. Key investments in our future are at a risk.

    Higher interest costs could crowd out important public investments that can fuel economic growth — priority areas like education, R&;D, and infrastructure. In addition, growing federal debt reduces the amount of private capital for investments, which hurts economic growth and wages. A nation saddled with debt will have less to invest in its own future.
  5. Rising debt means lower incomes.

    Based on CBO projections from last year, growing debt would reduce the income of a 4-person family, on average, by $16,000 in 30 years. Stagnating wages and growing disparities in income and wealth are very concerning trends. The federal government should not allow budget imbalances to harm American citizens.
  6. Less flexibility to respond to crises.

    On our current path, we are at greater risk of a fiscal crisis, and high amounts of debt leave policymakers with much less flexibility to deal with unexpected events. If we face another major recession like that of 2007–2009, it will be more difficult to work our way out.
  7. Protecting the essential safety net.

    Our unsustainable fiscal path threatens the safety net and the most vulnerable in our society. If our government does not have sufficient resources, these essential programs, and those who need them most, could be put in jeopardy.
  8. A solid fiscal foundation leads to economic growth.

    A solid fiscal outlook provides a foundation for a growing, thriving economy. Putting our nation on a sustainable fiscal path creates a positive environment for growth, opportunity, and prosperity. With a strong fiscal foundation, the nation will have increased access to capital, more resources for private and public investments, improved consumer and business confidence, and a stronger safety net.
  9. Many solutions exist!

    The good news is that there are plenty of solutions to choose from. The Peterson Foundation’s Solutions Initiative brought together policy organizations from across the political spectrum to develop long-term fiscal plans. Each of those organizations developed specific proposals that successfully stabilized debt as a share of the economy over the long term.
  10. The sooner we act, the easier the path.

    It makes sense to get started soon. According to CBO, we would need annual spending cuts or revenue increases (or both) totaling 1.9 percent of GDP in order to stabilize our debt. If we wait five years, that amount grows by 21 percent. If we wait ten years, it grows by 53 percent. Like any debt problem, the sooner you start to address it, the easier it is to solve.
Addressing our national debt is an essential part of securing America’s economic future. These key fiscal and economic issues should be at the forefront of the policy conversation in Washington, and our leaders should seize the opportunity to pursue sensible reforms that will put our long-term fiscal trajectory on a sustainable path.

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Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

 Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

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Tennessee has lowest debt of any state!

While Nashville is ranked as one of the most debt-ridden cities in America for public debt, the state of Tennessee is ranked as the state with the lowest level of public debt. Below is the ranking as a percentage of state GDP.

 Looking at debt as a dollar amount per capita, Tennessee also ranks as the state with the least debt obligation.

So, how does Tennessee compare to the most debt-ridden states? Here is the states with the most debt as a percentage of GDP:

Here are the most dept-ridden states ranked by dollars per capita.

For more information, follow this link.

It matters who governs!

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Steve Glover announces run for at-large city council

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If you oppose men exposing themselves in the girls bathroom, you might be a Nazi.

Men, even a man wearing a dress and makeup and even a man who has tits, who use the women's bathroom could be guilty of indecent exposure if proposed bill HB1151 becomes law.  The bill has passed an important House committee.

The bill expands the offense of indecent exposure to include incidents occurring in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, or shower, designated for single-sex, multi-person use, if the offender is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use. So, if this passes, a person with a penis could not shower with the girls even if he calls himself "Mary."

Libs are gong ballistic. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.  The Tennessean reports of protestors being on hand to protest the bill as it was being deliberated in Committee on Thursday. A protester called Ragan a "Nazi" as he walked out of the room."

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Putting school choice in parents' hands helps neighborhoods. How it works.

by Lee Barfield and Bartley Danielsen, Guest Columnists, The Tennessean - Gov. Bill Lee has a unique opportunity to combine good education policy with effective economic development and environmental policy for low-income communities across the state.

Public school assignment policies currently place heavy burdens on low-income neighborhoods. Since children are assigned to schools based on where they live, financially secure families leave areas with bad public schools and cluster in areas with good schools.

For example, the most recent census shows that Williamson County has 34 percent more children ages 5-to-9 than should be expected given the number of preschool children. Next door, Davidson County has 16 percent fewer 5-to-9 year olds than we should expect.

As wealthier families "vote with their feet" for high-quality schools, their neighborhoods thrive. Jobs are plentiful, incomes are higher, crime rates lower and grocery shelves are stocked with healthy options. Those left behind in concentrated poverty suffer from joblessness, lower incomes, higher crime rates and food desert conditions.

Children who grow up in these neighborhoods suffer life-long consequences, and it's not just because their schools are bad. Recent research finds that growing up in concentrated poverty is even more damaging than attending a high-poverty school, probably because we spend much more time in our neighborhoods than in our schools. You get the picture. When school assignments end up concentrating poor people in poor neighborhoods, everyone in those neighborhoods suffer.

Of course, there are solutions. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposes requiring suburbs to build more low-income housing so that inner-city families can be transferred into these communities.

This program has proven to be effective for younger children, but it is expensive to implement on a large scale.

Fortunately, a less expensive option exists - one with the environmental benefit of attracting middle-income families back into cities.
Recent research shows that school-choice programs have a significant positive impact on communities that lack good public schools because their programs allow families to disentangle housing choices from education choices.

When parents can choose their child's schools, they are no longer concerned about a bad school assignment. They can choose a more convenient neighborhood near work, enjoying a shorter commute (an environmental positive) and maintaining a higher quality of life.

And this effect is not limited to dense urban areas. Positive neighborhood effects from school choice programs have been found in suburban and rural communities too.

Tennessee legislators are now discussing whether (and how) to adopt Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs. From an economic development perspective, ESAs are the most flexible (and therefore most powerful) school choice tool ever developed. ESAs don't just allow parents to choose a better education option for their child, they allow parents to choose the absolute best option that they can find.

Recently, Environmentalists for Effective Education and the American Federation for Children have worked together to develop a blueprint for implementing "Tennessee Economic Development Zone ESAs."

This program would ensure that residents of low income neighborhoods have access to ESAs. Initially, almost all of the recipients would be low-income families because financially secure families have avoided these neighborhoods. But over time, these neighborhoods will benefit from increasing diversity.

Of course, some critics argue that only the poorest children should get an ESA. The children of doctors, nurses and engineers should be excluded. But this misses the bigger issue. We should celebrate when our communities are economically and culturally diverse. We all know that ending concentrated poverty benefits poor children and brings jobs for parents.

The best way to fix the problems of high-poverty neighborhoods is to reform how education is delivered in them. Economic Development ESAs are good education policy, good environmental policy and good job creation policy.

Lee Barfield is a retired attorney who lives in Nashville and serves on the board of directors for the American Federation for Children. Dr. Bartley R. Danielsen is president of Environmentalists for Effective Education, and a finance and real estate professor at North Carolina State University. 

Originally published in The Tennessean

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Mayor Briley Releases FY 2020 Budget Conversations Schedule

Metro Nashville press release -Mayor David Briley and Finance Director Talia Lomax-O'dneal today released the schedule of the FY 2020 budget discussions. These meetings provide an opportunity for Metro departments and agencies to present their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The FY 2020 discussions will begin Monday, March 25 and conclude Thursday, March 28, with the exception of Metro Nashville Public Schools which will present on Wednesday, April 17. The discussions will be held in the first floor media room of the Metro Courthouse and simulcast on Metro Nashville Network.

A full schedule can be found below:
Mayor's FY 2020 Budget Discussions Schedule

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Williamson County Schools requiring teachers to take Southern Poverty Law Center White Privaledge training.

From Williamson County GOP - All teachers in all schools are attending a four part inservice training based on the work of Dr. Peggy McIntosh and a book she wrote over 30 years ago titled, White Privilege UnPacking the Invisible Knapsack. Dr. McIntosh coined the phase just 16 years after the 1964 civil rights movement and years before a black man raised in a single parent home became President twice.

The Tennessean recently reported on a WCS slavery homework assignment which resulted in two teachers resigning. The Tennessean went on to document two racist incidents occurring in our schools on Friday. Today we learn that these incidents were grossly exaggerated when a parent stepped forward to talk to a reporter at the TN Star.

WCS is moving forward with Dr. Looney's agenda and has planned a "Tolerance Teacher Workshop" taught by the radical left leaning, Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC has gained notoriety for both their lawsuits and for their list of hate groups which includes national Christian organizations and extremist like Senator Marsha Blackburn. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently established the, "SPLC Action Fund" which is a PAC designed to allow them to fund their legislative agenda and elect like minded candidates to office. Conservatives, like Senator Blackburn and Congressman Green can expect to be targeted by the SPLC.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's goal is to create the next generation of voters. They are not concerned about educating your children.

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Metro budget "discussions" begin March 28th.

by Rod Williams - Metro will start the formal budget "discussions" March 28th. They were always called budget "hearings" prior to Mayor Megan Barry rebranding them as "discussions."  "Discussions" sounds so much more "collaborative" and all  touchy-freely. I prefer "hearings."  I hope the next mayor goes back to having budget "hearings."

What happens at these "discussions" is that each department appears before the mayor and presents their budget request. What really happens is that prior to the discussions the mayor's office has already told each department head that there is not going to be a tax increase this year so most department heads will present a budget request that only calls for a modest increase. In years in which the mayor is going to ask for a tax increase, Department heads say houses will burn, police will not be able to stop a crime wave and libraries will close if they do not get a big budget increase. It is somewhat a sham. Some department heads really will plead for more money but they will not go overboard, they kind of already know what to expect. Never does a department head say they need less money than previously.

At the conclusion of the budget discussions, the Mayor and the Finance Director draw up a budget.  On May 1, the Mayor and/or the Finance Director present the Recommended Budget to the Metro Council. The Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee files the budget and tax levy ordinances. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) then prepares the Recommended Budget Book for Council's review. This is known as the "mayor's budget."

During April to June, the Council and the Budget and Finance Committee conduct public hearings as well as hearings with each individual department. The budget is approved on three readings, and may be amended or substituted on the third reading. OMB prepares a substitute budget ordinances for the Budget and Finance Committee as required. This is called the "substitute budget," or the "council's budget." Even if taxes are not going to be increased, the Council always shifts some money around and changes the mayors budget.

On June 30, the Council passes the budget ordinances, and the Mayor signs the budget ordinances into law. If the Council fails to pass a balanced budget by June 30, the Recommended Budget and tax rates take effect by default. In other words, if the Council does not pass their substitute budget the mayor's budget become the budget even if Council does not vote on it.

As anyone who had read my blog for any time knows, I am a conservative. I would like to see Metro cut non-essential services and not raise taxes.  I would like for the city to stop the massive fraud and waste and corporate welfare. I would like to see the city close General Hospital and abolish the Human Relations Commission and make other cuts. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.  Without  Metro being willing to make cuts to services we need a tax increase. We probably should have had a tax increase last year. I could support a modest tax increase. This being an election year Mayor Briley is not going to propose a tax increase. The cooperative press is not going to write stories about how we are on the brink of disaster. We are not, but be sure that that is what we would be reading if the mayor was proposing a tax increase.  While we are not facing a disaster, employees deserve a pay increase and fire and police are under staffed. Also, we need to budget more money to debt service to pay down Metro's debt.

Look out next year! If Briley is reelected, in 2020 he will propose a whopping tax increase.  No matter who is elected, I expect a proposal for a substantial tax increase in 2020.

The budget "discussion" will be on line for viewing if anyone is interested. They each only last a few minutes and are pretty shallow affairs. They are also open to the public if one wants to go and observe in person.  Below is the City's press release and budget discussion schedule.


Metro Nashville press release - Mayor David Briley and Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal have released the schedule for upcoming meetings related to the 2019-20 budget.
The Mayor's Budget Discussions will be aired live on Metro Nashville Network and All budget discussion videos will be archived and available on YouTube and shown throughout the following weeks on Metro Nashville Network.

Schedule for Thursday, March 28, 2019

Conservation and Historical

  • 9:30 a.m. – Codes
  • 10:00 a.m. – Planning Commission
  • 10:15 a.m. – Beer Permit Board
  • 10:30 a.m. – Historical Commission

Health and Social Services

  • 10:45 a.m. – Community Education Commission
  • 11:00 a.m. – Human Relations Commission
  • 1:45 p.m. – Social Services
  • 2:00 p.m. – Health Department
  • 2:30 p.m. – Hospital Authority
  • 3:00 p.m. – Metro Action Commission
  • 3:15 p.m. – Justice Integration Services


Historic Metro Courthouse
1 Public Square
Mayor's Media Room
Nashville, TN 37201

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David French to speak on "Polarization: The True Threat to the First Amendment," at The Federalist Society

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM (CDT)
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP
511 Union Street
#Suite 2700
Nashville, TN 37219

David French, an attorney and senior writer for National Review, will discuss polarization and its threat to the First Amendment. His background includes time as a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, as well as being a veteran of the Iraq War and a former major in the United States Army Reserve.
Space is limited so please RSVP by Monday, March 18.

Share this event:
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Please vote for Nick Lamattina in District 29. Election day is Tuesday March 19th.

by Rod Williams -The District 29 runoff election is Tuesday March 19th. Please vote for Nick Lamattina. For more information on Nick, visit his website at  Nick for District 29.
Early Voting Turnout Light
Election Commission press release -Residents of District 29 will elect a new Council representative in a special runoff election this Tuesday, March 19. Early Voting ended Thursday evening, concluding two weeks of light voter participation.

“We hope there is strong turnout on Tuesday,” said Jeff Roberts, Davidson County administrator of elections. “Every election is significant, so we encourage all registered voters in District 29 to cast a ballot for the person who will best represent them.”

Nick LaMattina and Delishia Porterfield led the field of candidates in the February special election, but since neither received a majority of the votes cast, Tuesday’s runoff is required.

On Election Day, March 19, residents must vote at their assigned polling location, printed on their voter registration card or found via the Polling Place Finder at Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Polling Locations
District Location
29-1 Priest Lake Presbyterian Church
2787 Smith Springs Road
29-2 Lakeview Elementary School
455 Rural Hill Road
29-3 Hamilton United Methodist Church
3105 Hamilton Church Road
29-4 Smith Springs Community Center
2801 Smith Springs Road
All voters must present a Federal or Tennessee state government-issued photo ID, unless an exception applies.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

I applaud Lamar Alexander, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and other Republicans who took a principled stand for constitutional governance.

Twelve courageous Republican senators voted for the bill to terminate President Trump's emergency declaration yesterday. I am pleased that Tennessee's own Senator Lamar Alexander was among them. Alexander and the other who voted for the bill to terminate Trumps emergency declarations were not against the wall but were against President Trump's end run around the Congress to get it.  The Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriated money. Trump tried to get wall funding from Congress, Congress did not give it to him, so he declared a national emergency to reallocate funds. This is as much a blatant abuse of power as anything President Obama ever did. 

Most of the Senators who were outraged at President Obama's abuse of power and who wrapped themselves tightly in the Constitution were deafeningly silent when it came to Trump's abuse of power. There was not a louder critic of Obama's abuse of power than Senator Ted Cruz but he apparently developed a bad case of laryngitis. During the 2016 Republican campaign for the Republican nomination for president, I was tempted to support Senator Cruz and was torn between Cruz and Rubio. I ended up supporting Rubio. I am pleased to see Rubio was one of the twelve who voted for the bill to terminate President Trump's national emergency. I supported the better man. Curz is a strong advocate of the Constitution when it would frustrate a Democrat objective but not so much when constitutionalism would frustrate a Republican agenda. Rubio is principled.  

There is an argument to be made that technically President Trump's use of  calling a national emergency to get his funding for the wall is legal. It may withstand a constitutional challenge, but I hope it doesn't. It is time we returned to constitutional governance. The Congress have given too much power to the executive branch. The Executive branch has power never envisioned by the founders. Congress has passed vague bills and let the bureaucracy make rules and have given the bureaucracy the right to also adjudicate those rules.  Presidents have gradually assumed more power and Congress has let them.  President Obama famously ruled by a "phone and a pen." He unilaterally changed laws and got by with it.  He greatly expanded the power of the executive. I had hoped that a Republican president would reverse the trend toward the imperial presidency but President Trump is accelerating it. When a future Democrat president declares a national emergency to take money from the military to build wind mills because of the crisis of global warming, Republicans will have no right to complain. That president will be doing the same thing President Trump is doing.

Significant legislative powers were given to the executive branch by the National Emergencies Act of 1976. It gave the President the power to call a national emergency and provided Congress the option of  terminating the President's emergency declaration. In the past the power of the president to call a national emergency has been used occasionally, but never as a tool for the president to get by means of declaring a national emergency what he could not get legislatively. It has usually been used to respond to a crisis that could not wait for Congressional action. 

Senator Mike Lee proposed a bill to take back from the executive the power to rule by declaring national emergencies. His bill would have said that a national declaration
would automatically end  after 30 days unless Congress voted affirmatively to extend the emergency.  This would still have given a President the power to call a national emergency but would have restored some balance to the balance of powers. His bill did not get any Democrat support. Democrats are no more concerned about constitutional governance than Republicans.  Like most Republicans, they are in favor of the Constitution when it advances their agenda and not so much when it would hinder their agenda. I applaud the twelve Republicans who took a principled stand for constitutional governance.  Below is a statement from several of the senators explaining their vote.

Senator Mike Lee:
Congress is supposed to be the first among the federal government’s three co-equal branches.For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the executive branch. While there was attention on the issue I had hoped the ARTICLE ONE Act could begin to take that power back. Unfortunately, it appears the bill does not have an immediate path forward, so I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration. I hope this legislation will serve as a starting point for future work on this very important issue.
Senator Rand Paul:
I stand with President Trump on the need for a border wall and stronger border security, but the Constitution clearly states that money cannot be spent unless Congress has passed a law to do so.
Senator Marco Rubio:
We have an emergency at our border, which is why I support the president’s use of forfeiture funds and counter-drug money to build a wall. However, I cannot support moving funds that Congress explicitly appropriated for construction and upgrades of our military bases. This would create a precedent a future president may abuse to jumpstart programs like the Green New Deal, especially given the embrace of socialism we are seeing on the political left
Senator Lamar Alexander:
I support the president on border security. I have urged him to build the 234 miles of border wall he has asked for in the fastest possible way by using $5.7 billion already approved by Congress. But his declaration to take an additional $3.6 billion that Congress has appropriated for military hospitals, barracks and schools is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution that I swore an oath to support and defend. 

Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway. The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.

This declaration is a dangerous precedent. Already, Democrat presidential candidates are saying they would declare emergencies to tear down the existing border wall, take away guns, stop oil exports, shut down offshore drilling and other leftwing enterprises—all without the approval of Congress.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Southeast Conservatives Breakfast Meeting

Saturday, March 16th
Breakfast at 8am, Program to Begin at 9am
Shoney's Restaurant on Thompson Lane

This month our speaker is Mr. Jeff Roach who works for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.  He will be speaking about all the construction upgrades and additions to the airport as well as the changes in roads in the area.  This should be a very, very interesting program for everyone in the Southeast Area of Nashville.

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Which Councilmen are not reading their email?

The Tennessean filed a public records request for the email records of all 40 council members and

found that a lot of Council members are not reading their email.

I served in the council before the days of email so did not have the challenge of dealing with it. I remember, however, occasions when faced when a particularly hot issues, that my phone answering machine would quickly fill up with messages and that my phone would ring almost non-stop for hours.  With the ease with which one may send email, I  understand that it can be challenging to read them all and very difficult to respond to all. If I served in the Council today, I would probably not actually read every email. I would mostly likely look at the subject line and delete those of no particular interest to me and not from my own constituents.  Others I would likely skim. I would pay a lot more attention to those from my constituents than those from people living in other districts.

When a particularly hot issue, such as a vote on the fairgrounds or a proposed tax increase is before the Council, the Council can get hundreds of emails in a single day. Some members are better at handling email than others. Below is the list of Council members least likely to open an email and the percentage of emails unread by that councilman in the last six months. 
  • District 30 Councilman Jason Potts: 94 percent.
  • District 27 Davette Blalock: 86.7 percent.
  • District 21 Councilman Ed Kindall: 84.7 percent.
  • District 5 Councilman Scott Davis: 83.75 percent.
  • District 2 Councilman DeCosta Hastings: 83.5 percent.
Not all Councilman receive the same amount of email. Some in districts with lots of rezoning issues receive thousand, while others receive very few. Scott Davis, the fourth worst offender for not reading his emails, during the time period analyzed had over 6,554 emails.. He should have done better, but I can cut him a little slack. Jason Potts, the very worst offender for not reading his email, only had 50. There is no excuse.

To read The Tennessean story, follow this link.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Former Metro Council member Durward Hall dies at age 79

Durward Hall was the father of Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall. He served on the Metro Council from 1987-1995.   (link)

Rod's Comment. I served in the Council with Durwood Hall. He was one of the good councilmen. RIP

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Davidson County Parolee/Probationer Job Fair

Tennessee Department of Corrections, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, NASHVILLE – In an effort to assist the offender population of Nashville and Davidson County, the Probation and Parole office on Blanton Avenue will be holding a career fair on Wednesday, March 13th.
Employers will be present to help individuals with a criminal record bridge the gap and find gainful employment. In addition, representatives from post-secondary education will be on hand to assist formerly incarcerated individuals with creating paths to higher education and finding available funding to help ensure their success.

Offenders currently serving on probation or parole are encouraged to attend the event.
WHAT: Davidson County Parolee/Probationer Job Fair
WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: TDOC Probation and Parole Office, 220 Blanton Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210

Rod's Comment: This is short notice, but please repost if you have the opportunity. We need to make a greater effort to help those who have been incarcerated reenter society.  I support sentencing reform and educating prisoners who want to get an education. What we have been doing is not working. I believe in punishment but I also believe in rehabilitation and second chances.

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Metro Councilman Steve Glover announced he is running for an at-large spot on the city council.

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Will Pinkston makes the Washington Post for trashing Bill Lee's Ed reform proposal.

Will Pinkston
by Rod Williams - The Washington Post ran a story a couple days ago, Tennessee’s governor seeks school vouchers and charter expansion. A Nashville school board member says that would be a disaster.  That school board member is Will Pinkston. He is making a name for himself way beyond Nashville as a consistent opponent of education reform and school choice.

The article reports on Governor Lee's education proposal which calls for a modest voucher program to help students in the lowest performing schools take the amount of money it takes to educate them in public schools and use that money in private schools. A unique feature of this programs is that the local school system would not lose money that they would normally get for educating the student when they lost the student.

Another part of Governor Lee's proposal is a plan to permit charter schools directly from the State rather than requiring them to seek approval of the local school board. Charter Schools can only operated as an alternative for failing schools but many school boards oppose any competition to their failing schools.

The Washington Post story quotes Will Pinkston in calling charter schools "taxpayer-funded private schools."  They are not, of course. They are public schools that operated independent of the local school board, giving principles more autonomy to manage their school. While not all charter schools outperform traditional public schools, some have shown phenomenal success in educating children that were being failed by local schools.

In his critique of charter schools, Will Pinkston gives some examples of problems encountered with charter schools such as New Vision Academy which recently closed. One of the good things about charter schools is that they can have their charter pulled if they fail to deliver.  They can cease to exist if they fail.  A failing public school goes on and on forever failing the students they are supposed to serve year after year.

Pinkston also brings out the same tired old argument that charters take money away from the regular public school.  That is true only if you think it should cost as much to operated the school system if you had no children to educate as it does with children to educate.  Under charter schools the funding to educated the child follows the child. When the local school system not longer educates the child they no longer get the money to educate that child.  That sounds reasonable to most people exccept Will Pinkston and those who want to maintain a monopoly on education.

In almost all sectors of the economy, competitive markets outperform state monopolies and people generally like consumer choice.  No child should be condemned to being uneducated because of the zip code in which he lives.  I support Governor Lee's effort to improve education in Tennessee. Local school board members are often indebted to the local teachers union who helped elect them and they also become protective of their school system's bureaucracy.  In Nashville our education system is failing our children.  The number of failing schools in increasing. Our local schools are getting worse, not better.  Consumer choice will show local school boards the failure of the system they manage and they don't want that. Will Pinkston has been an opponent of choice and reform since serving on the school board. Educating children is  a state responsibility, those who advocate reform should not let people like Will Pinkston stand in the way of delivering an education to our children.

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Bill Freeman is not running for mayor.

Bill Freeman
Bill Freeman announced yesterday he is not running for mayor. This is a surprise. Almost everyone I know who follows politics assumed he would be a candidate. Below is his statement:
I have chosen not to run in the election for Mayor of Nashville, and it has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. In many ways, I feel that this time in Nashville’s history is the singular point where I could have made a positive impact on the direction of our city. I’ve arrived at this difficult decision for personal reasons, and I am so grateful to the many people who encouraged me to consider running for this office.

So many people have told me that they felt I was the right person at the right time, and I will forever appreciate their encouragement and their insight. There can be no greater compliment than being asked to run for an elected position and being told that you would make an excellent candidate to represent the will of the people.

Nashville is indeed at a critical point in our growth. Our finances are making it challenging to ensure that we plan properly for a successful and productive future while at the same time taking care of the practical problems facing us today. We need to make sure that we treat our Metro employees like we would like to be treated. Those of us who take on the difficult work that we ask of them—our law enforcement officers, our teachers, our emergency responders, our fire fighters—deserve to be appreciated with compensation fitting for their service.

We need to plan accordingly for our growth but also make sure that we do not leave behind those who need our help the most—our minority communities, our residents who work hard but still struggle to provide for themselves and their families and those of us who must work harder just to overcome the disadvantages that life has put before them. We can’t allow Nashville’s growth and vigor to push everyone but our most successful residents to the side. I hope and pray that our next Mayor and those who he or she trusts to conduct our city’s business keeps these needs at the forefront of the work they do every day. We are putting our trust in their hands, and it will be their responsibility to shepherd Nashville to the future we all will enjoy.

While my decision is to refrain from entering this race, it is still important that we all continue to support our elected officials with their decisions. We should also volunteer our expertise, our concerns and our time to serve our city in those areas we each consider that need the most help, be it homelessness, youth outreach, education, hunger or any other segment of our community that could benefit from our efforts. I thank those who are closest to me for their wise counsel and for so many of you who have encouraged me to enter the race. It would have been my greatest honor to serve as mayor of Nashville, and I will always appreciate the encouragement I’ve received.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Governor Lee presents conservative budget proposal highlighting job growth, public safety and education improvements

by Senator Jack Johnson, NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 7, 2019   Governor Bill Lee presented his first State of the State / Budget Address to the General Assembly Monday evening outlining his proposals for the 2019-2020 budget year.  The proposed budget continues Tennessee’s strong fiscal stewardship which has earned the state triple-A bond ratings with the nation’s top credit rating agencies and recognition as one of the best financially managed states in the U.S.  It also makes key investments to promote job growth, improve education, expand rural opportunities, and enhance public safety. 

In addition, the Governor offered initiatives to modernize healthcare and make it more affordable. 
Lawmakers went straight to work Tuesday morning examining budget details.  The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from administration officials who gave a budget overview and answered numerous questions about the spending plan.  Committee members expressed strong support for the Governor’s plan to add a record-breaking deposit to the Rainy Day Fund that will lift the state’s savings account to a historic high of $1.1 billion.  The fund is critical in times of emergency or a downturn in the economy.
The $38.6 billion budget represents a 1.1 percent growth and cuts $42.2 million in costs without compromising services.  It also does not take on any long-term debt.  On tax relief, the proposal provides $10 million to fund legislation repealing the amusement tax on gym memberships which has disproportionately impacted small business owners.  The tax relief legislation advanced through the Senate Revenue Subcommittee this week.  The tax, which is exempted for gyms over 15,000 square feet, serves as a disincentive for physical fitness centers at a time when Tennessee is ranked 40th in the nation for physical activity and 35th for adult obesity. Illnesses related to diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease costs Tennessee directly and indirectly more than $5.3 billion annually.
The Senate’s nine standing committees have scheduled a combined 59 hearings to review individual budgets of all departments and agencies of state government over the next five weeks.

The full speech is available on Governor Lee’s website and the proposed budget is available on the Department of Finance & Administration website.

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"Rainbow Stew," is a better theme song for The Green New Deal than "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Yesterday, I posted The perfect theme song for The Green New Deal  and said it was Big Rock Candy Mountain. It is a song about a hobo's vision of the perfect world: 
 All the cops have wooden legs
 And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth/ 
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay

Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
It is as irrational and fanciful as the Green New Deal. There are a couple line that are really relevant to GND: "the handouts grow on bushes" and "the sun shines everyday." However, while thinking it was a good fit, I was little disappointed because I thought it had a line about cars running on water are something like that.  I thought maybe it was in another version of the song.  I searched and searched and couldn't find those lines.  I thought maybe I had imagined them. 

I woke up this morning and it came to me! The lines I were thinking about were not in Big Rock Candy Mountain, but in a Merle Haggard song, Rainbow Stew.  No wonder I was confused, the songs have a similar theme.  Both talk about free bubble-up and rainbow stew.  Rainbow Stew had to be influenced by Big Rock.  Here are the lines that make Rainbow Stew a better theme song for The Green New Deal than Big Rock Candy Mountain.
When they find out how to burn water
And the gasoline car is gone
When an airplane flies without any fuel
And the satellite heats our home
But one of these days when the air clears up
And the sun comes shinin' through
We'll all be drinkin' that free bubble-ubb
And eatin' that rainbow stew
Also, Merle Haggard's song is more catchy than the Big Rock song. Here it is: 

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

The perfect theme song for The Green New Deal

Today I have been reading several things about The Green New Deal.  It is unbelievable that this program of utopian idealism is even being taken seriously. We might as well promise everyone a pet unicorn. It would require repealing the laws of nature and the laws of economics. It is fantasy. Yet, many are endorsing it. Most Democrat presidential candidate have endorsed it. If you notice closely however, many are endorsing a green new deal, rather than the Green New Deal. They are leaving themselves a lot of wiggle room to disavow their support for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal.

Anyway, my reading about the Green New Deal made me think of the perfect theme song for the movement. Remember the movie O' Brother Where Art Thou? It featured an old country music song called Big Rock Candy Mountain. It is a hobo's idea of paradise. It has a line about "the handouts grow on bushes," and another about, "the sun shines everyday." I thought it had a line about, "the cars run on water," but I must have imagined that line, I can't find it. Anyway, this is the perfect themsong for The Green New Deal.

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The Fetal Heartbeat Bill will not withstand a constitutional challenge and does not deserve to pass.

In a yesterday blog post, I gave a "Hallelujah" to news that the Tennessee state House had advanced the Fetal Heartbeat Bill, that would ban abortion after the detection of a heartbeat and make it a crime for a doctor to perform such abortions.  I spoke too soon.

The bill is almost certainly a bad bill that will not withstand a legal challenge. That is the view of David Fowler of The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT).  Fact is a social conservative advocacy organization that has been in existence for over twelve years.  David Fowler is an attorney and served 12 years in the State senate and is Executive Director of the organization.  FACT is the organization that is the force behind much of the pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family legislation that passes in the Tennessee legislature. Fact also fights in court to defend those position and to beat back progressive overreach.  There is no one more pro-life than David Fowler. If David Fowler says the bill is a bad bill, I believe it.

Yesterday in a blog post titled "Is the Fetal Heartbeat Bill Viable?," David explained why the Fetal Heartbeat Bill is a wasted effort and almost certainly likely to be overturned in the Courts. He explains that in the last abortion bill that went before the Supreme Court, the court laid out what the Court would look for in future cases in order to consider a challenge to the precedent of Roe v. Wade. David says this legislation addresses none of those points.  He said if he served in the State legislature he would have been one of those who would have abstained from voting for the bill. I recommend you read his article.

I understand wanting to take a stand for life, but it does no good to pass a bill when you know before it is ever passed that it will be overturned in the Court. David, in his article, does not argue for doing nothing but says the legislature needs to build an arguable rational for any anti-abortion bill they pass that will provide some grounds to defend it in the courts.

I know some pro-life advocates can be very passionate and to save the lives of unborn children is something to be passionate about.  There is however a difference between being passionate and irrational.  On Facebook, I have seen some pro-life advocates denouncing those representatives who abstained on the bill and calling for those people to be primarried. Those who abstained showed courage in resisting popular passion and doing something that would feel good but accomplish nothing.  It is good to be principled and passionate, but if not tempered by a little pragmatism it is wasted energy.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Blackburn opposes resolution to block Trump border emergency

Blackburn opposes resolution to block Trump border emergency. No surprise.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Fetal Heartbeat Bill Passes in Tennessee State House

The Tennessean: Tennessee House of Representatives passes controversial fetal heartbeat bill

Tennessee Star: BREAKING: Fetal Heartbeat Bill Passes in Tennessee State House with 65 Ayes, 21 Nays and 7 ‘Present Not Voting’

Glen Casada on Facebook: Proud to announce that we have just passed the heartbeat bill in the House. If destroying an eagle’s egg is a federal crime, then stopping the heartbeat of another human being is certainly, at the very least, a crime against humanity. #TNleg is #ProLife!

Life Tennessee House Passes Bill to Ban Abortions Once Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins 

To read the bill, see how legislators voted and to track the bill's progress, follow this link:  HB0077.

My Comment:

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Rand Paul Is Right to Reject Trump’s Emergency Declaration and other Republican are hypocrites.

Republicans must consistently oppose a “pen and phone” approach to governing.
by Katherine Timpf, March 5, 2019, National Review -Senator Rand Paul has announced that, despite supporting improvements in border security, he will vote against President Trump’s emergency declaration on the grounds that it’s an abuse of executive power — and he’s absolutely right.

“Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate,” Paul wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News. “We were right then.”

“But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power,” he continued." 
by Rod Williams - That is my view exactly. If you have any integrity you can't be for the constitution only when it helps you in attacking the agenda of the other party and not care about the constitution when it would keep you from advancing your own agenda. Democrats didn't care about the constitution when Obama was in office and abused executive power and now with Trump in office, Republicans don't care.

Almost all Republicans have been guilty of being hypocrites. Senator Ted Cruz was one of the most vocal and articulate critics of President Obama's abuse of executive power. He was relentless in calling out President Obama. He now has lost his voice.

In an article, Obama Is Not a Monarch, Cruz decried the President for his executive amnesty for immigrants. He said the Presidents unilateral decree seriously undermined the rule of law. He called the action "lawless" and "unconstitutional."  He quoted the founding fathers and The Federalist Papers in making his case that President Obama had violated the Constitution and said, "A presidential temper tantrum is not an acceptable means of discourse."

Cruz is a smart guy and does not shoot from the hip.  He can articulate his arguments. He was right then, and if he said it today, he would be right today.  Obama still had two years left in office when Cruz issued  a 16-page report that laid out 76 Examples Of Obama's 'Dangerous Lawlessness.'  He listed example after example of how Obama abused executive power and disregarded and violated the law. Suddenly, Ted Cruz sees no evil.

The Democrats are hypocritical in denouncing President Trump for his violating the Constitution when they were silent when President Obama violated the Constitution. The Republican hypocrisy however is much more offensive. The Democrat hypocrisy is akin to someone who stopped doing wrong and started doing right, while the Republican hypocrisy is akin to someone who stopped doing right and started doing wrong.

I have never expected great fidelity to the Constitution from Democrats. Most Democrats believe the constitution is more of an inspirational framework rather than a binding charter. They believe in a 'living Constitution' that has to be interpreted in light of contemporary circumstances and mores.  Just take the way they look at the Second Amendment. They would not let the Second Amendment stop them from imposing "sensible" gun control.  They would argue that the founding father did not know we would have AK47s and so we must apply common sense and do what we think the founding fathers would do if they were hear today.  Or, they reinterpret the Second Amendment to mean that the National Guard has the right to be armed.

Contrast this with the way most Republicans view the constitution.  They would call themselves 'strict constructionist' or maybe 'textualist' or 'originalist'. Republicans believe the Constitution means what it says and means what the founding fathers meant it to mean. They believe it is a fixed charter. They believe it is as close to scared as a secular work can get. While it is amusing to see Democrats suddenly have concern for the Constitution it is heartbreaking to see Republicans no longer have concern.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Carol Swain closer to becoming a candidate for mayor.

Carol Swain has taken a step closer to becoming a candidate for mayor. She has filed the "appointment of Treasurer" form. Below is her Facebook post announcing this move. I am sending her a donation and encourage readers to also do so. 

As I explained in a previous post, I was hopeful that John Cooper would run for mayor or some other sane Democrat or a closet Republican who was not closely identified as a conservative. I would prefer a candidate of this type simply because I think they would be more electable. Since no such person has emerged, I will be pleased to see Carol Swain run but suspect victory will be a steep uphill climb. To make a contribution, follow this link.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

New evidence suggests $1 million wasted, Dr. Joseph misled the School Board.

Please watch this Channel 5 WTVF news report by Phil Williams.  He reports that 
there's new evidence that Metro Schools may have wasted a million dollars of your money. He uncovers proof that the schools director, Dr. Shawn Joseph, misled the school board about a contract that spend a million dollars on software to track student achievement. This was software that Joseph had helped promote in his previous job.  He also signed a separate contract for another $500,000 just to have the company Certica Solutions write the questions for the software.

This is an outrage! How long will the School Board put up with this incompetent and likely unethical person leading our schools. Under his leadership the number of failing schools is increasing.  Our schools are on a downward spiral plagued by mismanagement, waste,  and incompetence.  It is way past time for him to be fired.

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Governor Lee's bold, thoughtful, optimistic agenda for Tennessee.

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Governor Bill Lee address First Tuesday.  He spoke for about 40 minutes followed by about 20 minutes of Q and A. He laid out his agenda for his administration and emphasized the policy proposals he made at last night's State of the State address.

On education, he said there would be a new imitative on vocational programs to provide the training people need to find good jobs. He also pledged to increase STEM education. He proposed $30 million dollars to improve school safety and put school resource officers in those schools without them. I was pleased to hear  him pledge to improve civic and character education in Tennessee. I am not so sure what constitutes "character education" but certainly agree with the need for Civics education. He said there would be an improved civics curriculum and requirements.  With many young people saying they prefer socialism over capitalism, in my view, we have a failure to inculcate proper civic values in young people. There also seems to be a lacking of understanding of American exceptionalism and the basics of how government functions. Civics education is badly needed.

Lee also proposed a new Education Saving Account plan that would allow low-income parents of children in the worst schools to take the funding that would go to educate that child in a public school and allow them to use those funds for tuition at a private school.  If I understand his proposal correctly, an element of the proposal that makes this different from other proposals of this kind is that normally when a child no longer attends the public school he would  otherwise attend, this causes the school they are not attending to lose the state funding that would follow that child.  Under Lee's proposal, the ESA money would be additional money for that purpose and the school would not lose money. This should satisfy one of the primary criticisms of voucher-type proposals.

Lee also spoke about criminal justice reform and the need to emphasis rehabilitation and education and job training for inmates. He said our current criminal justice system is failing and reform would benefit the incarcerated, save money, and make our communities safer. He spoke with real passion on this topic. As a private citizen he has long been involved in the program Men of Valor.

He also emphasized the importance of improving health care for Tennesseans and lowering health care cost. He said with the health care talent in Tennessee that there is no reason Tennessee should not lead the nation in innovation to lower cost and provide better health care. He does not have firm proposals yet but has appointed an advisory board to examine the issue and recommend proposals.

He also spoke about "good government" and said he would keep Tennessee growing and improving without raising taxes or indebtedness. He said he knows boom times come and go and he is committed to  increasing Tennessee's "rainy day fund."

I was really impressed with Governor Lee. He is thoughtful, energetic, and committed to a vision. I think is the right person at the right time to continue the progress Tennessee is making in education and to address other issues facing our state. He is a good man with a strong Christian faith and his enthusiasm and optimism are contagious.

I wish you could have been at First Tuesday today. If you missed his State of the State address, see it below. To skip the ad, click "skip ad."

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Rand Paul: "I can't vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn't been appropriated..."

"I can't vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn't been appropriated by
Congress," Paul said at a GOP dinner Saturday night at Western Kentucky University, according to the Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News.

"We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn't authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it's a dangerous thing."  (Senate seems to have votes to reject Trump's wall move)

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Ted Cruz: "An imperial presidency threatens the liberty of every citizen."

"The President’s taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. " "An imperial presidency threatens the liberty of every citizen." "Because when a president can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, he is no longer a president." Ted Cruz referring to President Obama's unilateral actions. ( link)

" ____________________________________." Ted Cruz referring to President Trump's unilateral actions.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Nashville is the fifth worse city in America for unfunded city retiree health care promises.

While many know that Nashville ranks as one of the worst cities in America for high per capita pubic municipal debt, what is often not know is that Nashville has an enormous hidden debt.  That hidden debt is not debt that shows up on a balance sheet but is the unfunded retiree health care promises. An article appearing in Frobes magazine dated Jan. 29, 2019 found that Nashville was the fifth worse city in America for unfunded city retiree health care promises.

The following table shows cities with the largest difference in reported vs. total unfunded retiree health care promises, or hidden debt.

This is bad. It needs to be taken seriously. The amount of reported debt makes us the second worse city in America but this hidden debt is just as real. 

As our school continue to get worse, as crime increases, roads go unpaved, employees go without pay raises and essential services suffer, we continue to handout corporate welfare and whistle past the graveyard. We continue to look okay but we are in denial.  Much of the growth is the result of corporate welfare. We are continuing to grow and tourism is booming but the growth does not pay for itself and it puts more pressure on infrastructure and creates new problems and more demand for expanded services. If we should have another flood like 2010, or another great recession like 2007, or lose a sports franchise, or if Nashville should find itself as no longer the favored city for tourism, we could be facing a crisis. It is more important than ever that we elect to public office fiscally responsible people.

We are in a much worse financial situation than those cities to which we are often compared such as Charlottesville or Austin Texas which are not on the list.  We are in worse financial shape than Atlanta or New Orleans. 

There are progressive  Nashvillians who would like to make Nashville the San Francisco of the South.  We may not be there socially yet, but we are already there fiscally. 

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Bill to close party primaries in Tennesee fails in committee.

In December the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee voted to support "closed primaries" and party registration in Tennessee. Legislation to accomplish that was introduced in February.  That fight is now most likely over, at least for this session of the legislature. If the bill passes in the Senate committee to which it is assigned, it could still pass but failing in a House committee was a damaging blow to the bill. In the Senate, the bill has been deferred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee and that committee has  deferred the bill to March 19th.

The House Local Committee voted against the bill with two in favor and 14 opposed.  Voting in favor of the bill were Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) and Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro).

Voting against the bill were Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), Dale Carr (R-Sevierville), John Crawford (R-Kingsport), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Esther Helton (R-East Ridge), Jerome Moon (R-Maryville), Gloria Johnson (R-Knoxville), London Lamar (D-Memphis), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), Ron Travis (R-Dayton) , Dave Wright (R-Corryton), and Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga).

I do not support closed primaries.  To read my commentary on the bill follow this link. To read the bill and follow legislative action follow this link

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Sen. Alexander: Trump Can Build Border Wall Without “Dangerous National Emergency Precedent”

"I support what the president wants to do on border security, but not the way he has been advised to do it. There has never been an instance where a president has asked for funding, Congress refused it, and the president then used the National Emergencies Act to justify spending the money anyway.  If President Trump can build a wall when Congress has refused to provide the funding, then the next president can declare a national emergency and tear the wall down or declare a climate change emergency and stop oil exports and offshore drilling. There is no limit to the imagination of what the next leftwing president could do to harm our country with this precedent.” – Senator Lamar Alexander

** Click here for video of the Senators remarks **
Press release, WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that President Trump already has congressional funding authority to build the wall he wants on the southern border without resorting to a “dangerous national emergency precedent.” In an address on the Senate floor, he urged the president to ask his lawyers to “take a second look” at existing funding authorities that don’t require a national emergency when he returns from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I support what the president wants to do on border security, but not the way he has been advised to do it. It is unnecessary and unwise to turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis about separation of powers when the president already has congressional funding authority to build the 234 miles of border wall that he requested in his January 6 letter to the Senate,” Alexander said.

“There has never been an instance where a president has asked for funding, Congress refused it, and the president then used the National Emergencies Act to justify spending the money anyway. If President Trump can build a wall when Congress has refused to provide the funding, then the next president can declare a national emergency and tear the wall down or declare a climate change emergency and stop oil exports and offshore drilling. There is no limit to the imagination of what the next leftwing president could do to harm our country with this precedent.”

Alexander said, “After an American revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive who could tax the people and spend their money any way he chose. The Constitution gave that responsibility exclusively to a Congress elected by the people, and every one of us United States senators has sworn an oath to support that Constitution. Separation of those powers is a crucial constitutional imperative that goes to the heart of our freedom.”

Quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Alexander said that the “genius of the American constitutional system is the dispersal of power. Once power is centralized in one person, or one part of government, the Bill of Rights is just words of paper.”

The senator continued, “There is a way the president can avoid this dangerous precedent completely: he can use the congressional funding authority he already has to build the 234 miles of wall that he asked Congress to approve in his January 6 letter to the Senate.”
The senator offered this analysis of existing funding authority that could be used to support building the wall that the president has requested: “If my analysis is incorrect,” he said, “I hope that the president’s lawyers will tell me.”
  • One January 6, in his letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the president requested $5.7 billion to build 234 miles of new physical barrier on the southern border.
  • On February 14, Congress passed the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which provided $1.375 billion to build 55 miles that the president asked for.
  • On February 15, the day he signed the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, President Trump announced that he would use two additional sources of funds that already had been approved by Congress which could be used to fund the border wall:
  1. About $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
  2. Up to $2.5 billion from other Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities and block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries. The president is authorized to do this because of a provision in law that allows him to transfer up to $4 billion among accounts at the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense budget is over $600 billion. 
The senator said that these three sources of funds added up to about $4.5 billion, or $1.2 billion less than the $5.7 billion the president requested in his January 6 letter. “So by transferring $3.7 billion – instead of $2.5 billion – from Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities, the president would be able to build the 234 miles of wall he requested and would not need to declare a national emergency. To be specific, this means the president would use: $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security Appropriations bill; $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund; and $3.7 billion from Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities.”

“Using funds already approved by Congress avoids the constitutional crisis of separation of powers,” Alexander said. “It avoids establishing a dangerous precedent, which could be misused by subsequent presidents. It avoids taking money for military construction projects specifically approved by Congress such as military barracks and hospitals. And it also avoids months or years of litigation, which could make it unlikely the full 234 miles are ever built.”

The senator concluded, “It may be a couple of weeks before the Senate votes on a resolution regarding the national emergency declaration so there is time for the president’s lawyers to take another look and determine whether we can both build the 234 miles of border wall that the president requested and avoid this dangerous precedent.”

Rod's Comment: I am in total agreement with Senator Alexander. It is sad to see Republicans abandon their fidelity to the Constitutions when they were so critical of Obama's unconstitutional actions. I think the constitution should matter no matter who is n the oval office.

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