Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fran Bush, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."

Fran Bush
by Rod Williams, Feb. 28, 2019 - Another day; another contentious day at Metro Schools.

Recently the School Board commissioned an outside audit of the human resources department. The audit was conducted by Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and is described by The Tennessean as "scathing." The audit found plenty wrong.

The audit found there were a lack of communication regarding standards, procedures and expectations and this had led to low morale among employees. It found that there were problems with hiring of teachers and that the hiring process was complicated and that well-qualified teacher applicants did not take jobs with the district due to HR delays. It found there was a problem with the way HR conducted investigations and that there was "virtually no consistency in the way investigations are completed by individual investigators." Some of the investigators had no training in how to conduct investigations.

The audit also found there was a problem with how the board reports to the Tennessee State Board of Education when a teacher is placed on leave, suspended or recommended for charges of dismissal. The HR office fails to notify the State in a timely manner.

The report was not intended to be released to the public.  The School Board used the flimsy argument that since it was prepared by an attorney, it was protected by attorney-client privilege. Luckily someone, probably one of Joseph's School Board member critics, released the report to the press.  Following the release of the audit, or perhaps even before, Board members Amy Frogge, Jill Speering and Fran Bush had called for the firing of Director of Schools, Shawn Joseph.  School Board chair Sharon Gentry is a staunch defender of Joseph and said of whoever leaked the report that they had "weaponize it to malign the reputation of the leader of this district during budget season."

Last Tuesday the Board met in a "working session" to address the issues raised in the audit. Human Resources Director Deborah Story made a presentation to the Board addressing the findings of the audit. According to The Tennessean, the meeting became very contentious. Fran Bush was very critical about the actions of the Human Resources department and said, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."  She said Story was covering up Joseph's wrongdoing and trying to cover for him. School Board member  Gini Pupo-Walker insulted Bush by apologizing to Story for Bush's comments.

Things are a total mess at the School Board and our schools are failing.  There are probably lots of changes that need to be made, but the most important thing that could happen is that the School Board needs new leadership. It need not to not renew Josephs contract and needs to begin the search for a new director.

In the meantime, I looked at the petition on Change.org calling for the ouster of  Fran Bush and it seems to have fizzled out. As of today, it has only 258 signers, only having gained eight in the last week.  Good! We need people like Fran Bush on the school board who will boldly call out Joseph's incompetence and mismanagement of metro schools.

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What causes a 12-year-old girl to commit cold-blooded murder of a random stranger?

by Rod Williams - In February five teenagers murdered Kyle Yorlets, a 24 year old Nashville musician. Yorlets was originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania but moved to Nashville to pursue his education and music. He was a recent graduate of Belmont University and was a member of a rock band called Carverton.

The accused murderers are three girls ages 12, 14 and 15, and two boys, ages 13 and 16.  Kyle Yorlets was murdered in the yard of his home in the middle of the day.  Police say Yorlets was a random victim. He was not targeted, but just happened to encounter the kids. Reports say the kids were in a stolen pickup truck in an alley that runs behind Yorlets' home. They saw Yorlets outside. At gun point they robbed Yorlets of his wallet, and told him to hand over the keys to his vehicle. Police seem to think that Yorlets was shot when he refused to give the kids the keys to his car.

When I first heard this story, I was shocked.  I have one daughter who is grown but I stopped to recall what she was like at age twelve. That is the seventh grade for most 12 year olds. Most 12 year old girls are just starting to notice boys. They may be too old for Barbie, but not by much. I recalled nieces and nephews and what they were like at ages 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.  That a 12-year old girl is capable of cold blooded murder is so foreign to me.  I know that by age 16, some boys are at a point where it is easy to fall into mischief,  if they have no guidance and discipline.  Even good kids can get into trouble by age 16.  But a twelve year old and a thirteen year old shooting a man in cold blood? It is hard to fathom.  That they were girls even makes it harder to accept.  In general, I think of boys as more capable of doing something like this than girls.

The children have been charged as adults. Following this murder, there has been lots of news coverage and hand-wringing. A lot of attention has been focused on the need for Juvenile Justice reform.  Comments by State Senator Sen. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis reflect what many feel: “When you have children that young participating in that high level of a dangerous crime, I feel like somewhere along the way there was an intervention that wasn’t taken and we failed those kids.”

Who can disagree with that?  Maybe, if we had a more perfect juvenile justice system, these kids could have been turned from the path that led to this terrible tragedy.  Prior to this tragic murder, an 18-member special committee had been created by Governor Bill Haslam to identify gaps in the system and help children before they commit violent crime.  Several people mentioned the work of this committee, hoping it can make meaningful changes that will prevent future juvenile crime. State Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, said he hoped the group would take a comprehensive approach that extended beyond the courtroom and examined schools, mental health services and the criminal justice system for young offenders.

That is a good goal. We should look at schools and mental health services and the criminal justice system for young offenders.  As reported in the Tennessean, Nashville police Lt. Blaine Whited, who supervises the police department's Juvenile Crime Task Force, said his officers often rearrest the same juveniles over and over again.  He said there is "problem in the system."  Since the police task force was formed last February, 222 minors have been charged with crime and during the year, the Police arrested 101 of them more than once.

There is a "problem in the system," but I think we need to look deeper than the schools, the mental health services, and the justice system.  What is wrong with society, that leads to this?  It is not often that 12-year-old girls commit murder, but juvenile crime in general is a problem and it appears to be getting worse, not better. 

Some would offer a simple answer and say society took a wrong turn when we banned school prayer. I think there may be validity to that. I think starting the day with a solemn acknowledgement of God whose blessing we seek and whose will we should try to follow inculcates a common sense of morality.  It causes people to stop and say to themselves, I ought to try to be a good person.  In a society with so many different religions, however, I don't know how one can acknowledge God without offending others who have a different concept of God. As difficult as it may be to reintroduce prayer into the school without violating Supreme Court ruling, I think it is a goal worth pursuing. it may help.  That may be impossible to achieve, however, and would take a very long time and don't think that in and of itself that would resolve the problem.

A problem I see is that we are so conditioned and intimidated by political correctness that we are in denial of societal problems rather than trying to solve societal problems.  While the problem of crime and violence cuts across class and race lines, we should acknowledge that crime is a problem that plagues the Black community more than others.  Instead, we bend over backwards to make it impossible to acknowledge this.  When schools punish Black kids more than white kids, rather than acknowledge that Black kids may commit more offenses than White kids, we chastise the schools for unequal treatment and racial profiling and accuse teachers of bigotry. A good place to start in addressing problems is to acknowledge the truth.

I don't know anything about the kids who committed this senseless murder other than their sex and age which I read in the paper.  I am going to bet however, that one thing they have in common is that their is no father in the home. This is a problem, about which we are in denial and it is impolite to observe that having intact families makes for a better society.

Fathers matter. Seventy-one per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless. Fatherless children do less well in school, scoring less well on tests of reading, math, and reasoning skills. Eighty-five percent of youth in prison are from fatherless homes. Girls from fatherless homes are more likely to become sexual active earlier and are more likely to themselves become unwed mothers. Ninety percent of  runaway children are from fatherless homes. From drug abuse to sexual abuse to any number of measures of well-being, children from intact families fare much better than children without a father in the home.  The data is easy to find. Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger by Dr. Edward Kirk writing in Psychology Today provides a good analysis.

If we acknowledge that fatherless children is a problem, what as a society do we do about it?  There are no easy answers. A good starting place is simply to acknowledge it. The welfare system is a problem.  There are public benefits that drive families apart or keep families from forming.  A single women with two children may qualify for benefits such as housing, food stamps, and health care that if she were married to the father of the children, the combined income of the two parents would make the family ineligible for assistance. To qualify for these public benefits, the parents may just live together and get the welfare but not get married. Unmarried parents living together do not prove as stable of a family structure as when the parents are actually married. 

The role of this "marriage penalty" needs to be acknowledges and addressed. One approach would be to abolish all welfare benefits and replace them with a guaranteed national income.  There may be other less drastic solutions but the fact that welfare is a cause of fatherless families should be acknowledged. There are also tax structure issues that could be changed to favor marriage.

Persuasion can go a long way in changing values and behavior.  I think there is a public interest in promoting the value of families.  Just as there was a pubic campaign to persuade people to reduce litter, wear seat belts, and stop smoking, there should be a public campaign to persuade people to wait to have children until after they are married. Advertising campaigns could feature a contrast showing a single mother of two labeled "the face of poverty," and a father, mother and two children labeled "the face of success."  The facts of the devastating impact of father less families should be featured in public service announcements so that everyone knows that children born to single mothers are more likely to do poorly in school, to live in poverty, become runaways, to get pregnant early, and to go to prison.

Also, condemnation and societal pressure can change behavior.  In modern America, one of the things we are most judgmental about is being judgmental.  We have embraced absence of moral values as a moral value. To disapprove of another's behavior and to show your disapproval is considered mean.  We need to began to change that.  Bringing children into the world without a father should be stigmatized.  We have almost made being a single mother a badge of honor and something to be celebrated.  I think it should be something to be condemned and the children pitied.  Single women who have children should be embarrassed and ashamed. Also all "single mothers" should not be put into the same basket. The media always refers to all single women raising children as a "single mother."  We should change that and recognized that there are "widowed mothers," "divorced mothers," and "unwed mothers."  Being an unwed mother should not be a badge of honor.


For more on the murder of Kyle Yorlets and related stories, follow these links: link, link, link, and link.   For more on the issue of fatherless children, follow these links: link, link, link, and link

 

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Carol Swain is exploring running for mayor again.

by Rod Williams - Carol Swain, African-American conservative author and former Vanderbilt professor, is exploring running for mayor again. She is forming a campaign staff and has let it be know she may run. She ran for mayor last year in the special election to fill the remainder of Megan Barry's term who resigned in disgrace after her affair with her police bodyguard and the misuse of public funds came to light.  Upon Barry's resignation, Vice Mayor David Briley became acting mayor until the special election to elect Barry's successor.  Bailey won that election with 54% of the vote, Swain got 23% and the remaining vote was split among eleven other candidates. 

I think Briley is vulnerable.  Employees did not get their promised pay raise and they are mad, our schools are failing, the city is rocked by scandals of cronyism and misuse of funds, we have the second highest debt burden of any city in America and we are the fourteenth most dangerous city in America. Our police department, fire department and schools are understaffed and our roads are filled with potholes.  People see massive growth and yet the city is broke.

Briley has already picked up a challenger in State Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) who in mid-January announced his candidacy.  Clemmons appears every bit as liberal as David Briley, but he has more charisma and is better looking and while those things maybe shouldn't matter, they do.  A person who it was assumed would seek the office but who has since stated he would not run, is Councilman-at-large John Cooper. I was disappointing that he will not be running for the office.  He is one of the council members most knowledgeable about the city's finances.  I don't know if he is as liberal on social issues as is Briley and as was Barry, but he is fiscally responsible and I thought he would be a good person to get the city's debt under control and our fiscal house in order. I would have supported him if he ran.

It is expected that Bill Freeman, a major national Democrat Party fundraiser, Nashville Developer and owner of the Nashville Scene will seek election. If he does, he will probably be the top challenger to David Briley. In the 2015 election which resulted in a runoff between David Fox and Megan Barry, Freeman came in, in third place.  Another potential candidate is African-American Councilwomen-at-large Erica Gilmore. Neither of those appeal to me. If Briley, Clemmons, Freeman and Gilmore were the only choices, I might could be persuaded to vote for Freeman, but probably not.  If those were the only choices, I might write in a name or just not vote in the mayor's race. 

If there was a sensible pragmatic fiscally responsible challenger to Briley, such as John Cooper I would support such a person even if they mouthed liberal platitudes. Since, I see no such person running, I will be pleased if Carol Swain runs.  I will vote for her.  Unfortunately, I would not expect her to win. Her conservative view are too well known. She is often labeled as homophobic and Islamophobic by her critics.  She describes her political affiliation as "a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third." Nashville is not a hospitable place for Christians, conservatives, or Republicans.

My perception is that Nashville is even more liberal now than in 2015 when we elected Megan Barry.  As the demographics shift to younger people and more Northeastern and California immigrants, the chance for a conservative candidate to be elected mayor dims.  Many of these newer immigrants to our city may not care a lot about the details of local governance and particular policy positions but they will vote for the candidate that they perceive as the most liberal. Issues like being pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-illegal immigration, pro-Green New Deal, favoring removing confederate names and monument (not that we have many) and racial "social justice" are going to be more important than the city's debt, tax rates and an adequately funded pension plans. I hate to be so pessimistic but I do not see an opportunity for a path to victory for any conservative, especially an outspoken social and cultural conservative.


For more, follow this link and this link

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Councilman Robert Swope's Reelection Campaign Kickoff Event



Robert Swope is one of two solid conservatives in the Metro Council. He needs to reelected. I plan on attending his fundraiser. Please join me.

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Citizens Police Academy begins March 2. Application Deadline 2/28/19

The Nashville Police Department is pleased to announce that the spring session of our popular Citizen Police Academy will begin Tuesday, March 5.  Nashvillians interested in learning about the inner workings and law enforcement strategies of their police department are cordially invited to apply for this FREE 12-week course.  This will be the 42nd session of the CPA since the program began in 1995.
 
          Classes will be held on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. through May 23rd (graduation will be on a Thursday night) at the MNPD Training Academy, 2715 Tucker Road.  Because class size is limited, interested persons are urged to apply nowThe deadline for applications is 5 p.m. February 28.
 
          Participants will learn about police work through the perspective of a variety of guest speakers, including members of the police department’s specialized components.  Topics will include gangs, narcotics enforcement, domestic violence, traffic/DUI enforcement, internet crimes, emergency preparedness, crime prevention and the judicial process.  There will also be a tour of the Emergency Communications Center and a demonstration by the Aviation, Canine and Mounted Units.
 
          “The Citizen Police Academy provides a unique view of this department and Nashville’s law enforcement professionals,” Chief Steve Anderson said.  “We work to make classes interesting and fun for all participants.  Class members will come away each week with knowledge about police work that they didn’t have before.”
 
          Each applicant should commit to attending at least 9 of the 12 sessions, be a Davidson County resident/business owner at least 21years old, and have no arrest record (excluding minor traffic violations).  While completion of the course gives citizens an understanding of the workings of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, it does not make a participant a certified law enforcement officer, nor is it designed to train citizens to perform law enforcement duties.  Applications can be submitted on the Internet by logging onto http://www.nashville.gov/Police-Department/Get-Involved/Citizen-Police-Academy.aspx

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Bellevue Republican Breakfast Club special guest Sen. Jack Johnson, March 2.

From Betty Hood:

Sen. Jack Johnson
Dear BRBC Friends,

You are invited to join us at 8:15 am on March 2 at the Corner Pub in the Woods on Hwy  100 for our monthly breakfast club.  We welcome Senator Jack Johnson, our new Senate Majority Leader, as the speaker.  After his presentation, there will be time for Q and A.

Hope you can be there.

Betty

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Gov. Bill Lee guest speaker at 1st Tuesday, March 5th

From Tim Skow:
1ST TUESDAY Members and  Friends 
Many of you will remember the TV ad line ....  ''Membership has its Privileges'' 

Our next invite needs little context, background or hype. 

On Monday March 4th, Gov. Bill Lee will deliver his 1st [of 8]  STATE of the STATE addresses to
Bill Lee
the TN Legislature

Tuesday March 5th, Governor Lee will join us at 1ST TUESDAY 

As usual, doors at WALLER Law [ 511 Union Street -27th floor] will open at 11AM.  Lunch at 11:30.
Program launches at NOON with the VERY frank and insightful Q&A concluding at 1:00pm 

At NOON on Saturday, our website will start taking prepaid lunch payments for 2019 MEMBERS ... 
[ yes! For those who have paid 2019 dues.] 
So ''Join Us'' if you haven't already! AND encourage ''FRIENDS'' to join us at http://www.firsttuesdaynashville.com ] 

As of Noon on Tuesday,  we will begin taking prepaid reservations via the website for those wishing to come who are GUESTS of 1ST TUESDAY Members.

This event WILL SELL OUT !  So please, if you wish to join us on TUESDAY, March 5th [ YES1ST TUESDAY] 
Please don't wait to secure your seating for you .. [ and then on Tuesday secure seats if any remain for those you know] 

Look forward to seeing you at 1ST TUESDAY on 1ST TUESDAY, March 5th !!

Till then, stay dry!!

Tim Skow
Host of 1ST TUESDAY

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A one-minute video explanation of fractional reserve banking.


Occasionally I encounter people who are highly opinionated but not well-informed about the topic they are highly opinionated about. Such it is with the issue of the Federal Reserve. If one is going to discuss the topic, at a minimum they should understand the concept of Fractional Reserve. Above is the one-minute video that explains it. Here is the text that explains the video:

A one-minute video explanation of fractional reserve banking. As you'll be able to find out, commercial banks and not central banks create most of the money in existence through a mechanism called fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking may seem complicated but understanding the basics isn't all that difficult, as you'll be able to find out.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Briley moves to spend half of the city's affordable housing budget for an historical preservation property.

Morris Memorial Building
Mayor David Briley moves to buy historic building with affordable housing funds

Rod's Comment: I question if this is the best use of limited affordable housing funds. $12.8 million dollars would go a lot further somewhere else.  This makes me question if the concern about affordable housing is real or if it is an excuse to have a slush fund.  This is prime downtown property at the corner of 4th Ave North and James Robertson Parkway. It does not make a lot of sense to develop affordable housing in some of the most expensive property one could possibly find. This will have to go before the Council.  This deal should be rejected. If affordable housing advocate really care about affordable housing they will oppose this.

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Nashville schools board will delay Shawn Joseph contract talks with one member absent

Nashville schools board will delay Shawn Joseph contract talks with one member absent

The Tennessean - The delay comes at a tumultuous time for the Metro Nashville Public Schools superintendent, after a scathing human resources audit commissioned by the board found numerous issues. And a Metro Auditor review of district spending has left some board members with more questions
As well, an evaluation of Joseph's work by board members is pending.

Three board members — Fran Bush, Jill Speering and Amy Frogge — have called for the ouster of Joseph.

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Dems introduce bills to counter ban on Sanctuary cities

Democrats, immigrant rights group push bills to protect Tennessee cities against sanctuary city ban

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Bill to close Tennessee primaries and require party registration advances.

by Rod Williams, 2/22/2019 -In December the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee voted to support "closed primaries" and party registration in Tennessee. Legislation to accomplish that has not been introduced.

In Tennessee there has never been such a thing as a "registered Republican" or "registered Democrat" but that is common in much of the country. In Tennessee as it stand now, when you go to vote, you check a box on your request for a ballot form, indicating in which primary you would like to vote. The next time you go to vote you could vote in the primary of the other party if you wanted.

A bill has been introduced in the State House called the "Political Party Registration Act," that would require one to register as a Republican, a Democrat or unaffiliated or a specific other party identity. At election time only a registered Republican could vote in a Republican primary and only a registered Democrat could vote in a Democrat primary. People who registered as a member of the Libertarian Party or the Green Party or unaffiliated with a party would not be able to vote in a primary.

One could change their party affiliation but to do so and then vote in that party's primary one would have to change their registration before the end of the registration period of the primary election in which they wished to vote. I am not sure how far in advance of the election that is but it is several weeks, if not months. It would also require submitting a new voter registration form, so it is not something one would do often.

The argument in favor of doing this is that only true Republican ought to vote in Republican primaries and the same for Democrats. It is hard to argue with that logic. Some Republicans I have talked to believe that Democrats often vote in Republican primaries to vote for the worst Republican in order for the Democrat to run against a weak candidate. I don't see any evidence of this. I doubt it happens.

The other argument is that since there may not be a serious contest in the Democrat Party, that Democrats will vote in the Republican Primary and vote for the Republican they like the best or the Republican they dislike the least. This is probably so. I sometimes vote in the Democrat primary in Davidson County elections and vote for whom I perceive to be the best Democrat or at least the least objectionable candidate.  In Davidson County, the Democrat primary is the election, since Republicans do not run candidates.

Some people who think of themselves as independent voters or who say they vote for the person, not the party, argue they should have to right to vote in any primary based on who they want to vote for at the time of the primary election. They see party registration as an infringement on their right to vote. I see no logic to that argument. A primary election is to nominate the party's candidates. Why should people who are not Republican chose the Republican candidate?

The argument made by many Republicans pushing the closed primary is that the party would nominate more ideologically conservative candidates if only registered Republicans could vote to nominate Republican candidates. Many of these feel that people like Bill Haslam, Lamar Alexander, and Bob Corker are "RINO" or are too liberal. It may be true that a more conservative candidate would have an edge if only people who are registered to vote as Republican chose Republican candidates. In my view however, Tennessee has chosen good Republicans. In temperament they may not be bomb-throwers but we have elected thoughtful, problem-solving, pragmatic, conservative people to office. If you think about our candidates since Republican resurgence in Tennessee, I think Winfield Dunn, Bill Brock, Fred Thomson, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, and Marsha Blackburn have been good candidates and the people we needed at the time. I don't think a closed primary would have produced better candidates.

I favor keeping the system of open primaries we have now, simply because it has served us well. Republicans hold the governor's office, seven of nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 73 of 99 seats in the State House and 28 of the 33 seats in the State Senate. We have also increased the number of county mayors and courthouse offices held by Republicans across the state. Except for the islands of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee is Republican. I think one reason this has happened is because of open primaries. In the 1970's Tennessee was a predominantly Democrat state. Tennessee gradually became Republican. I don't think people who are Democrat have an epiphany and wake up one day and realize they are really Republican. Instead, overtime, they gradually start voting for candidates they like who happen to be Republican and gradually come to realize they are Republican. Open primaries allow that process to take place. Maybe that is why Republicans, who in the 1970's opposed close primaries, now favor them; they don't want Republicans to migrate toward becoming Democrats.

If I had my preference, I would stay with open primaries and leave things the way they are for the reasons I have stated. However, this is one of those issues, about which I don't feel that passionate. Some Republicans get mad at other Republicans over this issue. I don't.  I have my preference but I just can't get that adamant about it. It is not that I don't understand the arguments. If the change occurs, I think in reality, it will have minimal impact one way or the other.  

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Push for more regulation of scooters dies

Push to impose fines for illegally parking electric scooters in Nashville dies in Metro Council — for now

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Council defers action on $3.6M corporate welfare for AllianceBernstein

Nashville council defers approval for $3.6M incentive to AllianceBernstein

by Yihyun Jeong, The Tennessean, 2/21/2019 - The Metro Council deferred approval Tuesday of a nearly $3.68 million incentive package to lure the investment firm AllianceBernstein from New York to Nashville.

...to move its headquarters and bring 1,050 financial jobs to Nashville. ....a $500-per-job incentive — up to $525,000 every year  — for seven years. ....deferred Tuesday with no discussion at the Metro Council meeting.....  ....Metro's general fund will receive reduced property taxes at the Fifth + Broadway project for a number of years as the result of a $25 million tax increment financing payment that has been awarded to the developer. 

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Fran Bush under attack for her criticism of Dr Shawn Joseph

Fran Bush
by Rod Williams, 2/20/2019 - The herd mentality of the African-American community is on display here in Nashville in an effort to oust School Board member Fran Bush. Ms Bush who is African-American is one of three vocal critics of Dr. Shawn Joseph on the nine-member elected school board. The other leading vocal critics are Jill Speering and Amy Frogge who are Caucasian.

We know how any politically conservative Black person is treated by the larger African-American community.  A Black person finds it difficult to deviate from Black group-think without being ostracized and denounced. Black conservatives are often denounced as "Uncle Tom."  Even in non-political matters the denunciation of "acting white" is used to criticize Blacks who speak proper English or strive to join the middle-class.  This effort to enforce a sameness and solidarity on the part of Blacks extends to cultural things such as music, fashion, or food.  A Black may jokingly tell another Black person that they will have their "Black card" revoked if they deviate from accepted Black norms. Blacks often rally behind other Blacks even when the person they are rallying behind is a crook or incompetent or an attention seeking loud mouth.  This factor has been on display in the case of Dr. Shawn Joseph.

Dr. Joseph is incompetent and rules the Metro Public Schools like an autocratic old-style boss.  It is reported that he bullies teachers and intimidates critics. He also displays his privileged position by having a chauffeur to drive him where he needs to go in his School Board provided $55,000 Tahoe.  He is the first School Board superintendent to have a luxury car and a chauffeur.  Under his leadership, complaints against employees for misconduct are often not handled in the prescribed manner.  Contracts have been let without bids. He has often misled School Board members about what is going on in the administration of the schools.  For a small sample of some of what the media has reported about Dr. Joseph's questionable conduct and practices follow these links: link, link, link, link, link.

In addition to cronyism, creating a toxic work environment, carelessness or misuse of school funds, and failure to follow State procedures when confronted with misconduct of school personnel, Metro School are failing.  Last year there was a substantial spike in the number of Metro Schools on the Tennessee Department of Education's list of the lowest performing schools.  Also, despite Metro Nashville's population rising, the number of children enrolled in Metro Schools is declining. Many people with children moving to the Nashville area move to a surrounding county where the schools are much better or they send their children to private schools.

In response to criticism of his failure to improve schools and his questionable management practices, Dr. Joseph has played the race card and claimed that the criticism of his administration of Metro Schools was the same product of the factors that led to the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the treatment of other African-American men. Many Black leaders have circled the wagons around Joseph and defended him.  I can see no other reason for protecting him other than the fact he is Black.  Also, many white leaders have been hesitant to criticize Joseph.  There is a tendency on the part of White liberals to bend over backwards to excuse and ignore incompetence  or corruption on the part of Black leaders.  I don't know if it a merely a knee-jerk political calculation or genuine response conditioned by White guilt, but behavior or practices that would be denounced if a White person did it are often overlooked on the part of Blacks.

Fran Bush who is Black has shown courage in standing up to Dr. Joseph and being critical of his administration.  Now, there is an  effort to make her pay for it.  There is an online petition at Change.org calling for her ouster. As of 1:30pm today the petition had 232 signature. That is not a huge number but this movement to punish Bush needs to be watched.  It is not easy to recall an elected official. A recall petition for the offices of School Board member or district councilmember must contain the signatures and addresses of 15 percent of the registered qualified voters in the district from which the officer was elected. That takes a lot of effort. Also, a notice of the intention to obtain signatures for a recall petition, together with the form of the recall petition, must be filed with the metropolitan clerk.  The Change.org petition does not appear to constitute a recall petition.  However, such organized criticism may cause a person to fear they may be subject to a recall petition or it may cause them to modify their behavior and weaken their resolve to stand by their convictions.  If a person so criticized is concerned about serving more than one term, they may try to make nice with their critics. Also, such an effort may be a warning shot to others they they better not step out of line.  

I have posted a word of encouragement on Fran Bush's Facebook page. You may want to take a moment to encourage her and let her know that she is doing the right thing and you support her. You can find her Facebook page at the highlighted link or email her at franbush5@gmail.com.

Update 2/21/2019: The above has been updated to reflect corrected information about the process of executing a recall petition for school board members and district council members.  For anyone seeking a more in depth information follow this link and see

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Is recycling just so much garbage?

by Rod Williams, 2-18-2019 - There have been a couple stories in the press recently about recycling. "Nashville answers call for more recycling with expansion of curbside collection," in the Tennessean says that with the help of a $2 million state grant and a match from the city, Metro will increase the frequency of its curbside recycling collection from once a month to every other week starting next year. This is welcome news, assuming separated recyclables actually get recycled and saves the city money and helps the environment.  I still have boxes of cardboard stored in my basement.  There is just Louella and myself in our household yet we create a lot of waste paper.  I still get the print edition of the newspaper and that generates a lot of waste and I order wine online and it is carefully packed and generates a lot of waste and in December my daughter sent me some gifts via Amazon which produced a lot of cardboard.

 
The other news item was a Tennessean article by Ms Cheap, "Plastic bags, pizza boxes and other ways you may be messing up your recycling." This provided good information about how contaminating recyclables by things like greasy pizza boxes and plastic bags sabotages the recycling effort and how the city is going to step up its education program to let people know what can and cannot be recycled. I would think this is a wise move, if I believed it mattered. What the article did not address and what I don't know is this: Does it all end up in the landfill anyway?

In the last year, I have seen several news reports and read several articles that said that China had drastically reduced the amount of waste paper they were accepting from the U.S.  Some of the stories said the U.S. was finding other markets in India and a few other third world countries.  Then I started seeing stories that China and India had also stopped accepting plastic. One article said that Thailand was still accepting plastic but had such a large inventory, they were contemplating ending the practice. Reports also said that several cities have ended up unable to sell their recylables and ended up simply land-filling them.

Markets are broad-based. If any single city is having a problem disposing of their recyclables then, the problem must be effecting all cities.  Maybe, a city can benefit from having long-term contracts but eventually if Sacramento County, California is having problems disposing of their recyclables, Nashville will have the same problem. 

To find out the status of Metro's recycling program, in November of 2018, I wrote the following letter to the chairman of the Council's Public Works Committee and a similar letter to my own councilman:
Dear Councilman _____,  

I am seeking some information that I hope you have or can get for me.  As chairman of the Council's Public Works Committee I thought you may be the person best informed on this topic.  I am wanting to know the current status of Metro's waste recycling program. There was a USA Today article in today's Tennessean that addressed the problems facing recycling. If you didn't see it you can find it at this link:Will those holiday gift boxes actually get recycled? Um, maybe.  In our newspaper it was headlined, "Changing times create big trouble for recycling," but it is the same article.

According to this article, in Sacramento County, California a year ago the city was getting paid up to $95 a ton for mixed paper and now it is getting as low at $6.50. Whereas the county was getting paid $45 a ton for plastics, now they have to pay $35 a ton to get a recycler to take it away. Other things I have read say that some firms are getting much more picky about the recycling material they will accept.  Also the future looks gloomy for recycling, since China takes most of America's recyclables and the trade conflict with China may impact China's willingness to keep purchasing it. 

What I would like to know is what change has there been in what we are paid for a ton of materials  (paper, tin, aluminum, plastic) in the past as compared to now.  I know recycling saves landfill disposal cost and that is a benefit. Have we gone from recycling being a net financial benefit to the city to it being a net liability?


Any light you could shed on this topic, would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
Rod Williams
 My letter was referred to Public Works and got the following correspondence:
Mr. Williams,
 
Recent changes in how China accepts the importing of recyclable material has impacted cities and counties across America.  While Nashville’s recyclables do not tend to go overseas, the local US markets have been flooded with material no longer accepted in China which has made those local US markets more competitive.  The biggest impact we have seen in Nashville is issues regarding contamination.  Metro has to be much more vigilant in educating residents about contamination in our recycling.  A recent audit of our curbside recycling showed that a lot of residents are putting plastic bags and plastic bags full of recyclables in curbside recycling carts.  This has become concern as the bags (and their contents) can get stuck in sorting equipment, damage the equipment and ultimately end up in the trash.  Highly contaminated loads of recyclables may have to be run through the sorting equipment more than once and this does increase processing costs.  Public Works has started auditing routes, placing tags on carts with plastic bags and bagged recyclables, posting information on social media and providing information to our elected officials and neighborhoods on the problems with contamination.  At this point, Metro has had no change in processing costs but we are having conversations with our contractor and our costs may increase in the future.    
 
Please feel free to call or email with any other questions.
 
Sharon Smith, Assistant Director
While this was helpful it did not exactly address what I asked, so I followed up with a more specific request for information.
I recently spoke to someone who appears knowledgeable who told me that in actuality Nashville curbside recyclables end up in the landfill.  I understand that due to contamination, some recyclable may be unmarketable and that some may have to be disposed of by landfilling.  However, this person seemed to say that land filling of recyclables was routine and not isolated or not just a minor component. Could you please answer for me the following questions:

1. What approximate percentage of material collected by the curbside recycling program ends up in the landfill?

2. Are we paying to have someone take recyclables off our hand or are we getting paid for recyclable material?

3. If we are getting paid, what is the unit price being paid for various types of material, such as paper, aluminum, tin, plastic?

4. When is the last time a cost-benefit analysis has been done of our curbside recycling program?

5. Compared to household solid waste disposal, is the curbside recycling program a net cost or a net gain for the city.

Thank you, I look forward to your response.
Sincerely,
Rod Williams
After another vague response, I again asked for specifics:
Dear Ms Smith,

Thank you for that information.  If you could answer for me the following I would appreciate it. How has the more stringent standards on contamination affected the bottom line on the economic effectiveness of metro's recycling program. Are the processors of Metro's recyclable products rejecting just a little more than before or a lot? Are the rejecting 10% of our recyclables or more like 90%?  How big is the problem?

Also, is Metro's recycling programs a net financial benefit or a net financial loss? Do we have to pay to have recyclables taken away or to we get paid for them?

If we are paid, what is the price for various types of recyclable material?

If there is a study or documents that summarizes the status of metro's recycling program, I would welcome receiving a copy of it. 

Sincerely,
I never did get specific answers to my questions. If I was a paid journalist with an assignment, I would be more pushy or if I was a Metro Council member asking these questions I would demand answers.  I let it drop. I suspect if the news was good, Public Works would have been forthcoming with an answer.  Based on what I read about the status of recycling nationwide, the non-answers to my questions, and what I have been told by someone who may know, I suspect that when you carefully separate your garbage from your recyclables that it then all ends up in the landfill anyway. I don't know that for an absolute fact, but suspect it is so. If you faithfully recycle, I am not suggesting you stop doing it but don't feel so vitreous. It is probably a wasted effort. It probably ends up in the same place.

If there is a council member or a member of the press who is curious about answers to the questions I have asked, I would encourage you to seek those answers.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Nashville is 14th most dangerous city in America

by Rod Williams, Feb. 17, 2019 - If you have an impression that crime is getting really bad in Nashville, it is not an illusion.  Often in can be. Media focuses on crime and a few bad episodes, such as the horrific murder of a 24-year old musician by five teens last week, can cause one to think crime is worse than it really is.  However, it really is bad. 

According the travel site EscapeHere, Nashville is the fourteenth most dangerous city in America.  According to the report: "In the year 2017 there were 110 homicides in the Nashville metropolitan area. Also, the crime rate was 1,138 per 100,000 residents and the poverty rate sat at about 18-percent. The murder rate in this city is so bad that the Oasis Center of Nashville which works to help at risk youth in the area called it an epidemic, according to 24/7 Wall St."

Cities with a worse crime rate than Nashville include Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois;  Baltimore, Maryland and the most dangerous city in America, St Louis, Missouri.  Also, surprising to me, two other cities with worse crime than Nashville and among the most dangerous cities in America are Memphis as the second most dangerous city in America and Chattanooga at number 7.  For three Tennessee cities to be among the nations top 14 most dangerous does not speak good for our state. Crime however is a local problem and the state government can not do much to combat it.

Among cities that one may think of as dangerous cities but actually rank as less dangerous than Nashville, is Newark, New Jersey at number 22.  I have a daughter who lives in New Orleans and I have visited the city several times. I love New Orleans.  In many ways it resembles a third world country and it has long had a reputation of a dangerous crime-ridden city. New Orleans is not near as dangerous as Nashville however. It ranks as the 24th most dangerous and it has a violent crime rate of 1,121 per 100,000 residents and 157 homicides. The poverty rate of the city was 26.2-percent. 

None of the cities with which we are often compared such as Austin, Texas or Charlotte, North Carolina  or Raleigh-Durham are on the list.  Neither is Atlanta on the list. Note that the study is called 25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2019, but the data being analyzed is 2017 statistics.  My impression is that crime is considerable worse in Nashville now than two years ago.  It may be an impression that is false but it sure seems to me that things are getting worse.  I also have the impression that whereas in the past, a lot of the crime was Black on Black crime, now it is more general throughout the community. Also, I have had an impression that in the past most crime was either related to interaction between people who knew each other, such as domestic violence crime, or due to things like drug deals gone bad.  Now, there seems to be many more random acts of violence and targeted crime. A front page article in today's Tennessean report that gun thefts from cars was up 85 percent in two years.

We know that cities can be safe and big at the same time. We should not just accept that Nashville has a high crime rate.  Something shoud be done. We know that our police department is undermanned.  I hear complaints when talking to members of the community who are in a position to know, such as councilmen and lawyers, that for non-emergency interactions with the police such as reporting minor crimes, that there are long waits.  Also, the growth in the police department has not kept pace with the growth in tourism and population. 

To address our rising crime, we need new leadership in Nashville, including a new mayor and new council members who will prioritize essential services. Also, while I think Chief Anderson is a good man, it may be time for him to retire. We may need new leadership at the police department.  Since the Chief of Police serves at the pleasure of the mayor, a police chief can only be so vocal in calling attention to the needs of his department, but Chief Anderson could do more to highlight the growing problem of crime in Nashville. Crime is becoming a major problem in Nashville and we need to treat it as such.


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Saturday, February 16, 2019

The "Green New Deal" is a Green Disaster

Rep. Phil Roe
by Phil Roe - Elections have consequences. Under the House Republican majority in the previous Congress, we focused on creating jobs, growing the economy, improving our security, taking care of our veterans, and making America energy independent.  Now that House Democrats have the majority, they have replaced our agenda with an agenda much more closely aligned with socialist principles and government control over all aspects of life. As President Trump pointed out in his State of the Union speech, history is littered with examples of the destruction caused by socialism, with Venezuela being the most recent. No document better lays out Democrats’ embrace of socialism than their recently-introduced “Green New Deal.”

The resolution, H.Res. 109, has the support of 68 House Democrats and 12 Democrats in the Senate on their version. Senate Democrats supporting this resolution include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), among others. The resolution puts forth a goal for the United States to meet 100 percent of the U.S. power demand using zero-emission energy sources. This would require stopping the production of oil, natural gas, and coal – three of our most abundant energy sources and the energy sources that power 80% of our economy. The resolution also calls for updating or replacing ALL U.S. buildings, and calls for “guaranteeing a job . .  for all people of the United States.”

Some of their proposals are far too extreme and unrealistic to achieve in their 10-year goal. For instance, the resolution calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” and “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), put out a FAQ along with the resolution to illustrate some of the policies the resolution calls for. The FAQ states they “aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” - you can’t make this stuff up! Why on earth would anyone want to eliminate air travel or livestock from our agricultural system?

Here’s the most troubling part of the Green New Deal: it’s not about climate change, it’s about centralizing control of our economy with the government. Within the FAQ, the bill’s sponsors indicate the goals of the new deal include: providing “economic security for all who are…unwilling to work;” to “create millions of family supporting-wage, union jobs;” “guaranteeing…higher education;” and to “ensure a just transition for all communities and workers…that have historically relied on fossil fuel industries.”

Their plan to pay for this legislation is through credit extended by the Federal Reserve or by new public banks, or a carbon tax. California’s failed plan to build a high-speed rail is a prime example of how this “deal” would bring devastation to our country. The rail was estimated to exceed $77 billion in costs by the time of completion, and since abandoning the project, California has to return $3.5 billion to the federal government. The Democratic resolution isn’t a “green dream”, as Nancy Pelosi called it – it’s a green nightmare and a socialist fantasy.

If we are interested in reducing emissions, local communities are already leading the way with commonsense changes that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are good for the economy and taxpayers at the same time. While I served on the Johnson City Commission, including my time as Mayor, we worked to cap the gas coming out of our landfill – which is made up of methane – and used it to heat and cool the Mountain Home VA Medical Center instead of burning the methane off into the atmosphere. For that, we received a national award from the EPA. We also audited all our public buildings for energy efficiency and established a ‘Green Team’ that could work with entities to find ways to help them be more environmentally friendly. Johnson City was the first municipality in Tennessee to offer curbside recycling, and we replaced stoplight and streetlight bulbs with energy efficient bulbs that save energy and taxpayer dollars.

I’m all for solutions that will leave our children and grandchildren a healthier planet, but the extreme Green New Deal is not the answer.

Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.  

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Democratic lawmakers propose reforming Tennessee Democratic Party structure

Democrats in the State legislature have filed a bill to change the structure of the State Democratic Party.  Currently, the Party's State Executive Committee is composed of committee members from each State senatorial district with each district having the same number of people on the Executive Committee. The bill's lead sponsor in the Senate is Jason Powell.

The bill does not mandate how the Committee should be restructured but calls for the Party to have a state-wide convention to do so.  The argument for doing this is that the current structure gives Democrats in overwhelmingly Republicans Senatorial Districts the same number of votes in determining Democrat policies as do Democrats in heavily Democratic Senatorial districts. That is not considered fair.

I am totally in favor of the proposed change. It is fair.  And, it will tilt the party even further to the left with intercity Blacks, progressives, socialist, and younger people having a stronger voice in the party. This will quicken the pace at which sensible old style "conservative" Democrats realize they are no longer at home in the Democratic Party.  They will realize that the new socialist Democratic Party is not their daddy's Democratic Party and it is time to migrate to the Republican Party.

For more on this, follow this link.

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Senator Lamar Alexander: Trump's declaratiion of National Emergency is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution

Lamar Alexander
Senator Lamar Alexander - The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. It is unnecessary because significant additional money already has been approved by Congress that he could spend on border security without declaring a national emergency. In fact, the president announced today that he would spend $3 billion of this additional funding to fund construction of the border wall. This $3 billion is in addition to the $22 billion Congress appropriated on Thursday for detention beds, technology, border patrol agents, ports of entry, replacing existing wall and 55 miles of new wall.

It is unwise because if this president can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next president can declare a national emergency to tear it down; or declare a climate change emergency to close coal plants and build wind turbines; or a health care emergency and force into Medicare the 180 million Americans with health insurance on the job.

It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

A $23 million hole in the Metro budget as land sales fail

by Mike Reicher, The Tennessean - Nashville Mayor David Briley’s attempt to plug a $23 million budget shortfall by selling publicly-owned real estate isn’t going so well. 

One sale was scrapped by community opposition. Another parcel attracted just a single bidder and sold well under the appraised value. A third received no bids at all. .... Briley hasn’t said how he will cover the year’s operating expenses without the proceeds,... At-large councilman John Cooper criticized how the city sold the parcels through its online auction platform. That system is typically used to dispose of unused office furniture, school buses and other surplus city property. 

Rod's Comment: To summarized the rest of the article, one reason we could not sale the property in addition to trying to sell it on a webpage normally used to sell surplus office furniture, is that the city required the sale to close within 30 days. Usually a lot of due-diligence goes into such a sale on the part of the buyer and such a sale would take six months to close. Also, Metro requires ten percent down which is about double what would be required in a normal sale.

Selling property to fund operating budgets is a bad idea. Using one-time money for reoccurring expenses is just not wise. We have been terribly mismanaged and continue to be. We are having massive cost overruns on projects, we are paying consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars on days they spend socializing with Metro officials, we let contracts without taking bids, we spend $60 million dollars to build three and half miles of sidewalk, and we give million of dollars in "incentives" to one of the richest companies in the world. At the same time all of this is happening, we are understaffed in police protection, our roads are falling apart, we have not added new fire halls to reflect the city's growth, Metro employees could not get a promised cost of living raise, and our schools are failing.

It is time for a change in leadership and new mechanisms need to be put in place so it is less easy to hide mismanagement and corruption.

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A President Trump Happy Valentine's Day














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When Cities Go To War: Why Tax Incentives Are 'Terrible' | Think | NBC News




This short video from NBC news, obviously not a hotbed of libertarian dogma, explains that you cannot create wealth by purchasing jobs and that the hype of the benefits of attracting the new company rarely lives up to the expectation.  The basic unfairness of taxing existing local business to subsidized new arriving wealthy companies is stated.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

MNPS faces morale crisis, confidential report warns

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Metro School Board Members Call For Outside Investigation, As Questions Surround Director

WPLN - During Tuesday night's school board meeting, several members said there ought to be an extensive independent investigation into whether the Metro Nashville Public Schools Director, Shawn Joseph, violated purchasing rules in his business contracts with vendors.

This discussion comes after the Metro Audit Committee voted to rejected an audit that had been favorable toward the director. ... Mark Swann, Metro's chief audit executive, agrees his team's review was limited in scope. .... (link)

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Robert Nash Will be a Candidate for the Metropolitan Council District 27

Robert Nash
From Robert Nash - Nashville has been a wonderful place to live and work. My family has loved our McMurray Hills neighborhood. Barbara and I were very blessed to raise our three children here since our move in 1978. We have seen much growth and many changes in that time, but the warmth, friendship and support of our neighbors have been constant.

I had a great career at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department where I served for 33 years and retired as Commander of the East Precinct. I am eternally grateful to the citizens of Nashville for that opportunity.

Public safety will certainly always be a priority interest for me. However, our city faces many issues that need the urgent attention of the Metropolitan Council – responsibly managing our growth, creating first class schools, easing traffic congestion, building affordable housing, being fiscally responsible, and maintaining and expanding our aging infrastructure.

My promise to the residents of District 27, if elected, is to do all that I can to keep our neighborhoods welcoming places in which to live, work and play. It would be an honor for me to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.

A more formal announcement will be issued when the campaign is officially launched.

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Dr. Joseph plays the race card in response to criticism over no bid handouts to cronies

by Rod Williams - At Tuesday night's School Board meeting, Dr. Shawn Joseph played the race card and said criticism of his administration of Metro Schools was the same product of the factors that led to the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the treatment of other African-American men.  "What we know is fear is a mind killer," said Dr. Joseph as pictures of Martin and others were shown on monitors around the board room.

At the heart of the recent controversy was recently uncovered evidence by NewsChannel 5 Investigates about companies that got no-bid contracts under Joseph's administration and how his administration misled the board about key details. His primary critic was School Board member Amy Frogge. School Board Chair Sharon Gentry defended Joseph.

For an understanding of the mood at the School Board, here is a description of what happened as reported on the blog Dad Gone Wild:

After the board opened the floor for comments on the recently completed audit/investigation by the Metro Government audit department, board member Amy Frogge read in a dispassionate voice a long list on transgressions that included several instances of laws being broken and board policy not adhered to. All of the charges included extensive supporting documentation.

At the end of her speech, comments from fellow board members focused not on fixing the problems of financial fidelity, but rather how the board could avoid continuing to be viewed as dysfunctional. There was little concern expressed about addressing an apparent inability to follow procedure and protecting taxpayer investment. Instead, the impetus was clearly on cleaning up the board’s image so that they could procure more of that taxpayer money.
I have been  impressed by School Board member Amy Frogge  in  her effort to expose corruption and mismanagement at Metro Schools.  Ms Frogge has not been one of my favorite school board members.  I am in favor of charter schools and Ms Frogge has been a consistent critic. However, Ms Frogge has risen in my esteem due to her persistence in opposing cronyism and mismanagement on the part of the current school administration. 

For more on this story see the followng from News Channel 5: Contract questions continue to haunt Metro School Board, Analysis: MNPS audit leaves unanswered questions,
 and MNPS official failed to disclose consulting fees from vendor group. For anyone who wishes to stay informed about Metro School issues, I would recommend following the blog Dad Gone Wild. It is a consistent good source of information and analysis.

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