Sunday, March 31, 2019

Who has picked up qualifying petitions to run for the office of Mayor, Vice Mayor, At-large Council person, and District Council person.

by Rod Williams - Below is the list of those who have picked up qualifying petitions to run for the office of mayor, vice mayor, at-large and district council seats as of Friday, March 29th.  Circled are the names of those I would vote for if these were the only choices and the elections were today and I could vote in that contest.  We know that these will not be the only choices so my selections are very preliminary.  I may be changing my mind, depending on who else gets in the race. Some choices I have not made because I do anticipate someone else to get in the race who know I would prefer. Some incumbents who have said they are running have not yet picked up a qualifying petition as of Friday. There are some other challengers I know about who have not yet picked up qualifying petitions.  The list of those who have picked up qualifying petitions is updated every Friday by the election commission. You can access that list at this link.

The first day to pick up a qualifying petition was March 18th. One cannot just submit a qualifying petition unless one has signed to get a qualifying petition.  One may pick up a qualifying petition up until the deadline for turning in qualifying petitions. The last date by which one may submit a qualifying petition is noon May 3rd.  Once a qualifying petition is submitted and the petition is approved, then a candidate may withdraw his name up until noon May 23rd. In that case the name would not appear on the ballot. If a candidate decides not to seek the office after the May 23rd deadline, the candidate's name would still appear on the ballot.

Why would one get qualified and then withdraw?  Sometimes a person my share the views of someone else who qualifies and decides he will withdraw and defer to the other candidate. Other times, a person who qualifies may then see who the opposition is and decide there is no way he can defeat the better known, better funded candidate and withdraw.  Also, of course, there are all kinds of personal reasons that may cause one to reconsider.

Early voting will began July 12, election day is August 1, and if a runoff is necessary it will be September 12th.

Among those who have picked up qualifying petitions for at-large, I would like to see Steve Glover and John Cooper elected.  Also, there is a young man named Matthew DelRossi, who I would like to see serve.  More than likely however, I am  going to vote for Steve Glover, only.  One may vote for up to five candidates but to do so weakens the influence of your vote.  I will explain this in more detail in a later post. I wish John Cooper would have ran for mayor.  If he would have, I would have supported him and I would hate to see him not win reelection to an at-large seat.  Depending on the strength of the candidates and who else is running, I may vote for both Cooper and Glover, but more than likely, I will be voting for only one candidate and that will be Steve Glover.

Please look over this list.  It is not too late to run.  Ideally one should have started campaigning months ago but it depends on who else is running in your district.  Sometimes, on rare occasions, people waltz right in without opposition.  If you are thinking about running, it does not hurt and it doesn't cost anything to pick up a qualifying petition. If you then find someone else who you could support is running, you could not turn in the petitions. If you turn in the petition and then some other good candidate also qualifies or you determine the opposition is just too formidable, you can always withdraw your petition.

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Ben West, Rest in Peace.

From The West Family:
With heavy hearts the West family is sad to announce that today March 30th 2019 Ben West Jr. passed peacefully of natural causes in his Hermitage home. He will be greatly missed by his wife Phyllis West and all of his children grandchildren and great grandchildren, along with many others who loved him dearly. Funeral arrangements will. be posted as soon as they are available. Thank you for respecting the privacy of the family during this time of grieving. God Bless you all!!
If Ben could post he'd definitely say "say good night Ben" to all of us.
Rod's Comment:

I never knew Ben West well, but knew him.  He had a warm personality and really cared about people and was someone you liked immediately. He was a good man who loved his country and community.  He was well-respected by everyone. He was a Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, representing the 60th District from 1985 to 2010. District 60 is the  Donelson, Hermitage and Antioch area. West was the son of Nashville Mayor Ben West who served as mayor of Nashville from 1951 to 1963.

Ben was a conservative Democrat, which, if there are any left, is a dying breed.  In 2010 I was active in the Davidson Country Republican Party organizing breakfast groups across the county.  Ben and his wife often attended these groups and that is when I got to know him. He would often speak out at these breakfast groups and his views were solidly conservative. Since we do not have party registration in Tennessee, Ben did not have to declare himself a Republican but his political views aligned with the Republican Party.  He endorsed Republican candidate Jim Gotto  who succeeded him in his House seat. He also endorsed Josh Sites in a Council election. While Council elections are non-partisan, Sites was an outspoken conservative.

Ben West, Rest in Peace.

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tim Garrett is running for Metro Council in District 10.

Tim Garrett
by Rod Williams- Tim Garrett is running for Metro Council in District 10.  The incumbent is term-limited and illegible for reelection. Tim is a former at-large member of the Nashville Metro Council from 2007 to 2015. He previously served as the District 10 representative on the metro council from 1983 to 1999 and as the District 50 representative in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1984 to 2004.

Garrett's professional experience includes working as a partner of the Anderson & Garrett Funeral Home and president of Cole & Garrett Funeral Homes, Inc. He owned the Frost Insurance Agency and served on the advisory board at Regions Bank of Goodlettsville.

When I served in the Council in the 80's I served with Tim. I agreed with him more often than not on controversial issues facing the city.  Tim is a problem solver and consensus builder. He is thoughtful and detailed in is approach to issues and he does his homework.  He will bring institutional knowledge, a strong work ethic, and a believe in fiscal responsibility to the Metro Council. I wish Tim well in his campaign.

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Save the Cherry Trees! Sign the Petition.

NFL to pay Metro $10K to cut down 21 cherry blossom trees for NFL Draft, says tree group

Metro is going to cut down 21 Cherry trees to accommodate the NFL for a one-half day event.
Sign the petition at this link

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Senate voted on the Green New Deal : 0 Yeas, 57 Nays, and 43 Present.

by Rod Williams - When the Green New Deal was announced, I thought this is the craziest thing I have ever heard of.  It proposes a ban on air travel and automobiles and all fossil fuels to be achieved within ten years and a ban on nuclear power also, and a boat load of social welfare programs. It would add about $96 trillion dollars to the already $20 trillion national debt.  Proponents talked with a straight face about all of the good paying jobs it would create in Green energy and construction.  The construction jobs would be created by weatherproofing every building that could be adequately weather-proofed and and tearing down and rebuilding all the others. The proponents live in la-la land, I thought. It is a preposterous proposal. Yet, The Green New Deal polled well, especially among the younger generation. Some people were taking this seriously.

I did not think it possible that people really believed this was a real possibility.  I thought this is so far out there, that if Democrats take both houses and the presidency, they would still not do this.  Any fool could see this would lead to a total crippling of our economy, massive inflation and massive starvation.  We would roll back the clock to the dark ages. This is a proposal in the same vein as Mao's Great Leap Forward or when the Khmer Rouge took Cambodia and emptied all the cities.  This is just nuts! Yet, Democrats were saying they supported it, saying so with a straight face. Some, cleverly minced their words and said they favored "a" green new deal.

This week the Senate took a vote on The Green New Deal and the vote was 0 to 57.  All Republicans except for Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) voted in opposition, joined by Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The remaining Democrats and Susan Collins voted "present." Not a single Senator voted in favor.  The Democrats are not ready to vote for lunacy, but they won't vote against it either.

Read more at the Washington Examiner and The Hill.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Briley proposes massive additional debt for Nashville in order to build affordable housing.

Nashville's Mayor David Briley has proposed a plan that commits $500 million in public funds toward an affordable housing push over the next 10 years. As proposed, the money would come through general obligation bonds and would be spread out over the next decade. That is a lot of money.  Already Nashville is one of the most debt-ridden cities in America.  Forbes magazine says that when one includes unfunded metro retiree's health benefits, Nashville is the second most debt-ridden city in America. 

The  organization Truth in Accounting, says that of the largest 75 cities in America, ranked from least debt to most debt, Nashville ranks 62nd.  Among the 75 largest cities, there are only 13 cities where the citizens are burdened with more debt.

Briley's proposal would  provide $350 million to MDHA to help pay for 5,000 low and middle income homes, primarily through the redevelopment of Nashville's public housing. It is unclear if this is net new homes or replacing existing public housing.  Metro would also allocate $150 million to the Barnes Fund during the 10 years, which is a 50 percent increase over the current funding levels.

Currently MDHA is in the midst of redeveloping the Casey Homes project in East Nashville, but development is going slow.  Since 2014, when MDHA began the project, only 70 units have been constructed and MDHA has had to dip into reserve funding to finance the project. To read The Tennesseans article, follow this link.

No one can deny that housing is getting more expensive in Nashville and that many people could not afford the home they now own if they were trying to purchase it. New construction in Nashville tends to be high-end homes.  This is driven by market forces. When the city attracts lots of high paying jobs, that creates a demand for high priced homes.  This means that, that is what builders build and all homes appreciate in value and a lot of less expensive homes are purchased by developers and torn down and replaced by more expensive homes. Anyone who drives around Nashville can see it.  With more expensive housing and growing demand for housing, this means many of the people who work in Nashville can not afford to live here. The loss of affordable housing however, is not all the result of market forces.  Metro government deserves much of the blame. 

Three years ago now a developer tried to build an affordable housing development in Antioch, called
The Ridge at Antioch. The property was already zoned to allow this development, but the Council person from the district and an adjoining district tried to down zone the property. Down zoning is a taking of property. Property rights are more than holding title. If the government takes away the right to develop the property that you already possess, that is a taking of your property.  Eventually, the attempt was unsuccessful. The builder could not develop the property with this hanging over his head however, so for two years the project was delayed.  I don't think the property was ever developed.  The Council members fighting to stop this development argued they did not oppose housing development on the property but argued their part of town already had too much affordable housing.  Also, neighbors filed a law suit to stop the development but were unsuccessful. This was not "the projects."  It was an apartment complex that no one would have known was subsidized housing.  This "not in my back yard" attitude and willingness to trample property rights is one of the reasons for a shortage of affordable housing.
The Ridge at Antioch

That is the kind of thing one faces when the property is already zoned to permit development.  It is much worse when one needs a zone change to develop.  Often, developers need a rezoning to develop and not just a base zoning change but need a Planned Unit Development.  Most of the time when seeking to build an affordable development and seeking a zone change or PUD approval to do so, developers know not to even try to build affordable housing. The developer will approach a council man and be told up front, that there is no use pursuing the proposal. There is a lot of lip service paid to the need for affordable housing but no one wants it in their neighborhood.

I had a casual conversation with a large developer I met at a function recently. I asked him his take on the problem of affordable housing in Nashville. He told me that he had tried to build affordable housing but the city would not cooperate. He was going to build a condo development very near downtown where the units would be priced between $150,000 and $230,000.  He said the development would have open space, tennis courts and playgrounds and other amenities. He said rather than the city helping make it happen, the city threw up ever possible obstacle to making it possible.  He said with what one must go through to develop a property, it just makes more sense to build high priced home rather than affordable homes.

Another actions the city takes that drives up housing prices is the down zoning of whole neighborhoods from a zoning that permits two units per lot, such as R-20, to a zoning that permits only one unit per lot, such as RS-20. This happens almost every council meeting. If you lower the potential for greater density, you drive up housing prices. Less available building sights equals higher priced land.

The city also drives up housing prices by policies that beautify low income neighborhoods. I wish everyone could live on a beautiful street with a park-like setting, but neighborhoods with low income housing are going to look different than neighborhoods with expensive housing.  Rules that restrict the type of commercial services that can be on a thoroughfare such as restricting the number of  used car lots and used tire stores and requiring nice screening and disallowing payday lenders, changes the character of a neighborhood.  It makes the thoroughfare more attractive to higher income people and the affordable housing gets replaced by more expensive housing. 

The sidewalk policy also drives up housing prices. If someone builds a house on a street without sidewalks, they must build a sidewalk in front of their property even if it is a sidewalk that goes nowhere and is the only house on the block with a sidewalk. This drives up prices.

I am not opposed to the city promoting affordable housing, but the first thing the city needs to do is get out of the way and let people build it.  There needs to be a realization that developers are more likely to build affordable housing where the land is more affordable. Also, we need to recognize that neighborhood with affordable housing are going to look like affordable neighborhoods.

While affordable housing may be a lofty goal, Nashville is debt-ridden. We do not need to take on more debt. Now is the time to focus on paying down the debt, not taking on more.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

State education officials recommend 1-year license suspension against Nashville schools chief Shawn Joseph

The Tennessean - .... The recommendation to suspend Joseph's Tennessee teacher license comes in the wake of a review that found the superintendent failed to report 12 teacher misconduct cases to the state within 30 days, as required by state rules. (link)

Rod's Comment: I guess this is just another example racism.

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How Nashville will pick the replacement for Will Pinkston

The Tennessean - ... Pinkston said in his letter to board chairwoman Sharon Gentry that his resignation is effective April 12. That sets in motion a process where Vice Mayor Jim Shulman would announce the vacancy and ask the council for nominations at the next council meeting on April 16.

Under that timeline, the council rules committee would vet nominees before a full council vote on May 21.

Because filling school board seats happens infrequently, the predicted timeline is fluid.

A special election would take place in August. The next regular election for the District 7 board seat is in August 2020.(link)

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Shawn Joseph on his way out! Will Pinkston resigns from School Board.

Shawn Joseph
by Rod Williams - With support fading at the school board and one of his stanchest defenders resigning from the board, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools director Shawn Joseph announced he would not seek contract renewal which expires June 20, 2020.  If he waits until June 2020  to depart that means more than a year of mismanagement and additional damage to Metro Schools to go. We may not have to wait. On Monday, School Board member Anna Shephard who had been a supporter of Joseph filed a resolution to fire him "with cause." That resolutions will be taken up by the Board at the April 9th School Board meeting.

Yesterday, Pinkston announced his resignation from the Board effective April 12. In his resignation letter, Pinkson blamed the dysfunctional board for his resignation, especially the division over the performance of Director Shawn Joseph and over pay raises for teachers. He said that the treatment of Joseph was racially motivated and the treatment of Joseph was "dishonest and unfair." The Metro Council will fill the vacancy created by Pinkston's resignation.

For months, School Board members Amy Frogge, Jill Speering and Fran Bush have been calling for Joseph's firing.  With Anna Shephard now on board, that makes four of the nine-member-board, favoring firing of Joseph.  With Pinkston out,  that makes the board equally divided. Pinkston's replacement will be appointed by the Council. If Pinkston's replacement joins those favoring Joseph's ouster, he could be fired.

If the board were to fire Shawn Joseph without cause, they would have to pay him for 12 months salary which is $285,000. If they fire him "with cause" he would not be due any extra compensations. Also, if they just let him leave at the end of his term, he would not be due any extra compensation.

Joseph has said he will not resign early, but that he realizes he can not be successful as Schools director and will not seek contract renewal.  “I do not know if we can be successful with the current governance structure and the current minority of board members that makes it impossible to make any decisions with kids as a focus,” he said.

Shawn Joseph has been a failed Schools leader from the start. He has been arrogant, wasteful, disrespectful toward teachers, mismanaged administrative functions, and failed audits. His administration has been characterized by 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.  Under his leadership, Metro Schools have gotten worse. Joseph has pulled programs from schools which made Metro School attractive to middle-class parents who want their child to have a good education.  Under his leadership the number of failing schools, classified by the State as "priority schools," has increased.

Also, the total number of students enrolled in Metro Schools has declined. Metro School enrollment has declined at the same time that the population of the Nashville MSA and the population of Davidson County has been increasing.  I have seen no study on the demographics of those moving to the Nashville area and where they are moving, but they can't all be childless young people.  School systems around Davidson County are increasing in student enrollment.  I suspect that two things are going on. People with children moving to the Nashville area are choosing to move to surrounding counties where schools are better.  The other thing, is that those who can afford to do so are sending their children to private schools. I have no data on this, but would bet that, that is the case. Something is going on when you have increased population and reduced school enrollment.

From the very beginning  Shawn Joseph has had a troubled time at Metro Schools.  He brought several people with him from his old job as Director of Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools.  These people where brought in at high salaries. This ruffled feathers. 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 director to have a luxury car and a chauffeur.  Other School Board leaders drove themselves in a motor pool vehicle are drove their private car. Joseph's driver is a senior mechanic from the school bus garage who makes $46,000 a year. Also some of Joseph's lieutenants got School Board provided expensive cars that they can drive home every night. That is a nice perk.

Under his leadership, complaints against employees for misconduct are often not handled in the prescribed manner.  Some employees investigating other employees had no training as investigators.  Contracts have been let without bids. He has often misled School Board members about what is going on in the administration of the 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 Blacks have rallied around Joseph.

It time for Shawn Joseph to go and the sooner the  better. 

For source material and to dig deeper into the issues around Shawn Joseph, see the following sources:

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Nashville Republican Women Ladies' Day on the Hill

Monday, April 1st 

The theme for this year's event is "Celebrating Tennessee Victories." The registration and lunch fee is $40.00. Please make your check payable to NRW and send to NRW Treasurer, P.O. Box 58882, Nashville, TN 37205. 

The deadline for reservations is March 13th!  Please note: If you will need to ride the shuttle between the Capitol and the DoubleTree Hotel (314 4th Avenue N) OR if you have special dietary needs, be sure to include this information with your check.
                       9:00 - 10:00 AM - Registration, coffee and breakfast snacks,
Second Floor Lobby of the Capitol Building
10:00 AM - Program in the House Chamber
11:00 AM - Photos on Historic Staircase
11:45 AM - Lunch at the DoubleTree Hotel

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Monday, March 25, 2019

The Mueller Completed his Report and Trump was Exonerated Comic Book

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Mark Green in WSJ: Democrats, Join Trump Against Russian Aggression

Mark Green
By Congressman Mark Green - Democrats talk tough about getting to the bottom of election meddling and standing up to Russia, but their actions reveal they’re interested only in “getting” Donald Trump. Republicans have long seen Russia as a threat, and we—including the president—have acted to counter its aggression.

We learned Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concluded that neither Mr. Trump nor any member of his campaign conspired or colluded with Russia to influence the results of the 2016 election. That’s great news for Mr. Trump and his team—and for all Americans. Our leader was not installed by Vladimir Putin.

Democrats and some media figures aren’t satisfied. They want to continue probing and keep this conspiracy theory alive. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has floated the idea of subpoenaing Mr. Mueller and investigating his investigation. ABC News’s Matthew Dowd likened Mr. Mueller to “Johnny Appleseed,” planting trees that will one day bear “fruit.” I’m new to Congress, but to me this seems partisan.

Mr. Mueller did indict 13 Russian nationals for offenses related to election meddling. We know Moscow spent money on Facebook ads designed to exploit America’s divisions, targeting voters on both sides of the aisle. And Mr. Trump and the Republicans have responded. Under legislation enacted by a Republican Congress, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and intelligence agencies.
Beyond the meddling, Mr. Trump has slammed Russia with bold moves designed to weaken Mr. Putin on the world’s stage. This administration imposed sanctions on Russia for violating nonproliferation laws by supporting weapons programs in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Trump administration also issued more sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its continuing occupation of Crimea. In 2017, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and ordered multiple Russian consulates to close after Russia used a military-grade chemical weapon in the U.K. Mr. Trump even blocked Mr. Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Russia if it goes ahead.

These tough actions have had an effect. Between January and July 2018, the Russian ruble declined 9% against the U.S. dollar. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry expects its economy to grow only 1.3% in 2019. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and is headed for another strong year.
In 2017, Mr. Trump supplied Ukraine with weapons so it could defend itself against Russian attacks. Remember, it was President Obama who stood idly as Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has also engaged in hard-fought battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria.

In a sense, Russia succeeded in its mission to stoke division and fear within America. Some top Democrats have played right into Moscow’s hands by pursuing endless partisan investigations. If Democrats care about thwarting Russian meddling and aggression, they will disavow their conspiracy theory that our president is Mr. Putin’s puppet, and stop wasting taxpayer money peddling disproved collusion narratives. Instead, they can support this administration’s efforts to stand tall against the consistent threat Russia poses to America’s national security.

The above op-ed appeared in the March 25th edition of the Wall Street Journal. I am re-posting it from Congressman Mark Green's website.  I agree with Mark Green's opinion. It appears to me, Democrats are much more concerned about getting Trump than American security and standing firm against Russian aggression.  Rod Williams

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Bellevue Breakfast Club guest speaker is Dr. Manny Sethi, April 6th

From Betty Hood

Dear BRBC Friends,

Dr. Manny Sethi will be our guest speaker at our monthly BRBC meeting.  It will be next
Dr. Manny Serthi
Saturday at 8:15 am at the Corner Pub in the Woods--8058 Hwy 100.

Hope  you will be able to join us then.


Dr. Manish “Manny” Sethi, a Republican, is considering running for Lamar Alexander’s U.S. Senate seat. An orthopedic surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Sethi also serves as director of the Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute Center for Health Policy. For more on Dr. Sethi, see this Nashville Post story.

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"This is a racist state," says Mary Mancini leader of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Mary Mancini
by Rod Williams - Mary Mancini, Chair of The Tennessee Democratic Party, has said Tennessee is a racist state. She not only said it once but several times. As reported by the Tennessean, while speaking to the Coffee County Democratic Party, Mancini said, "We have a little bit of a problem in this state, and I'm just going to say it out right. This is a racist state."

She  later apologized and said, "My statement is not representative of how I or the Tennessee Democratic Party view the people of our state."  She said one of the times she said it, she was angry.  It is really hard to believe her words do not reflect her views.

Mary Mancini advocates that the party continue to put forward candidates who are less conventional in Tennessee, including Blacks,  Hispanics, millennials and those from the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transsexual and queer segments of society, commonly referred to a the "LBGTQ community." 

In the last several years the Democrat Party of Tennessee has shrunk from the majority party to small minority status. 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. Republicans 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.

In recent statewide races, Democrats ran the party's best possible candidates and they still lost. In the last race for governor the Democrat candidate was former Nashville mayor Karl Dean. He lost to Bill Lee by a vote share of  59 percent for Lee to Dean's 39 percent.

In the race for U.S. senator the Democrats ran popular former Governor Phil Bredesen and Republican ran U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn.  At the start of the race Phil Bredesen had superior name recognition.  Blackburn beat Bredesen by a vote of 55 percent to 44 percent.

Tennessee at this time is a Republican state. The best candidates the Democrat Party have cannot beat a Republican.  While Mancini advocates that the Party not shy away from running minority and unconventional candidates for office, and while Democrats have been successful in getting Black voters to continue to elect Black Democrats, the only Hispanics elected to legislative seats  were elected by "racist" Tennesseans. Tennessee's Senator Dolores Gresham and Representative Tommy J. Vallejos are Republican. This must really gall Mancini.

Mary Mancini was re-elected by the state Democrat party's executive committee in January to her third two-year term as its leader. She was my choice for TDP chair.  I wish her continued good health and hope she continues to be reelected as chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bill would ban panhandling in parts of downtown Nashville

A bill has been introduced in the Metro Council by Councilman Freddie O'Connell that would ban panhandling in parts of Nashville. Here is most of the text of the bill:

Section 1. That Section 11.12.090, Subsection B, of the Metropolitan Code of Laws is hereby deleted and that the following be substituted in lieu thereof:
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in an act of panhandling when either the panhandler or the person being solicited is located in, on, or at any of the following locations:
  1. Any bus stop;
  2. Any sidewalk cafe;
  3. Any area within twenty-five feet (in any direction) of an automatic teller machine (ATM) or entrance to a bank;
  4. Any daycare or community education facility, as defined by Section 17.04.060 of the Metropolitan Code;
  5. Within ten feet of a point of entry to or exit from any building open to the public, including commercial establishments;
  6. Within the DTC and CF districts on (i) Second Avenue North between Broadway and Church Street, (ii) Commerce Street between Second Avenue North and Third Avenue North, or (iii) Symphony Place between Third Avenue South and Fourth Avenue South, or (iv) the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Street Bridge.
The first five places listed above are already in the code that says where panhandling is banned. All this does is add those parts of town listed in item six.  This would effectively ban panhandling in most places downtown. Item six puts large part of downtown off-limits and in many sections almost all of the businesses places are within ten feet of an entrance way.  Places that are privately owned, such as malls, can ban panhandling on their private property already. The tall office buildings that have plazas in front of their buildings can ban panhandling in those open plazas.

Other areas of town such as Hillsboro Village, Five Points and The Gulch and 12th South will likely see an increase in panhandling if this passes. When panhandlers realize they can no longer panhandle in the places they do now, they will move to other nearby places with high pedestrian activity. If I were a councilman of an area with lots of pedestrian activity, such as those mentioned, I would move to amend the bill to include that area. 

Selling of newspapers such as The Contributor would apparently not be banned under this act.  The section of the code that addresses panhandling says, "the sale of an item for an amount far exceeding its value, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would understand that the purchase is, in substance, a donation, shall be considered panhandling for the purpose of this section."  One could argue that The Contributor is not something priced to far exceed its value.

What is called "aggressive panhandling" is prohibited everywhere already. Aggressive panhandling is defined in the code section and includes blocking a person, touching a person or intimidating a person.

I support this bill. Apparently, panhandling has become a bigger problem in Nashville in recent months. There may, however, be a First Amendment freedom of speech issue with the bill. Open Table Nashville Executive Director Ingrid McIntyre has questioned the constitutionality of the proposal. I do not know how courts have ruled on these matters in the past. Since the code already bans panhandling in five of the six areas listed in the bill, I do not see how adding the areas listed in number 6 above would raise constitutional issues if they were not already raised by 1-5.  However, I am not an attorney.   As more information is available, I will follow up.

The bill passed First Reading on March 19th. It should be on  Second Reading, on April 2nd.  It is on Second Reading that most discussion takes place and committees will evaluate the bill prior to that April 2nd meeting. If the bill passes Second Reading on April 2, it would be on third Reading on April 16th.

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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.

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