Sunday, June 30, 2019

Congratulations Dr. Arthur Laffer on being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.



Dr. Arthur B. Laffer was awarded the Presidential Metal of Freedom last week in ceremonies at the White House.  It is an honor well deserved.  

I have had the privilege of seeing Dr. Laffer speak on several occasions, once was a full lecture with slide shows and historical data to support his economic doctrine.  I have also had the opportunity to attend a reception in his honor.  He is charismatic, persuasive and charming.  His theory is so commonsensical and supported by experience that is hard for me to see how it still has detractors. 

Art Laffer was a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his two terms. He also advised Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on fiscal policy in the U.K. during the 1980s. He has been a faculty member at the University of Chicago, University of Southern California and Pepperdine University. Dr. Laffer received a B.A. in economics from Yale University in 1963. He received a MBA and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1965 and 1972 respectively.

Dr. Laffer was the creator of “The Laffer Curve.” The Laffer Curve is one of the main theoretical constructs of supply-side economics, and is often used as a shorthand to sum up the entire pro-growth world view of supply-side economics.  However, the Laffer Curve itself simply illustrates the trade-off between tax rates and the total tax revenues actually collected by the government. Dr. Laffer is widely regarded as the father of Supply Side Economics. 

Laffer CurveSupply-side economics emphasizes economic growth achieved by tax and fiscal policy that creates incentives to produce goods and services.  In particular, supply-side economics has focused primarily on lowering marginal tax rates with the purpose of increasing the after-tax rate of return from work and investment, which result in increases in supply. The broader supply-side policy mix points to the importance of sound money; free trade; less regulation; low, flat-rate taxes; and spending restraint, as the keys to real economic growth. 

These ideas are grounded in a classical economic analysis that understands that people adjust their behavior when the incentives change.  Accordingly, the lower the regulatory and trade barriers, and the lower and flatter the tax rate, the greater the incentive to produce.

Dr. Laffer currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee where he is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an institutional economic research and consulting firm, as well as Laffer Investments, an institutional investment management firm utilizing diverse investment strategies.  The firms provide research and investment management services to a diverse group of clients, which includes institutions, pension funds, corporations, endowments, foundations, individuals and others.

A few years ago when I heard him speak, he said that he left California because of he mismanagement and high taxes.  He says he selected to move to Tennessee in large part because of our state was so low-tax and financially well-managed. We are fortunate to have him as a citizen of our state and our city.

Congratulations Dr. Laffer! 

(Much of the above is copied from this website and was not composed by Rod Williams. )

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Tonight (6/30/2019) is the deadline to contribute to a candidate for 2nd quarter reporting.

From an Email:

Dear Rod,

The fundraising deadline ends tonight - Sunday, June 30 - at midnight and we are doing all that we can to finish the quarter as strong as possible. 

If you have already made a donation to my campaign this month - THANK YOU!

If not, I hope you will consider making a contribution before this very important fundraising period comes to a close tonight. It is our first deadline since getting in the race in April and I'd like to show my ciritics the depth of support we have from every area of Nashville
Your contribution of $5, $25, or $50 will help show that, community by community, friends are asking friends to support my campaign. Together, we can keep this strong momentum as we head towards Election Day. 


Thanks again, 
John Cooper

Rod's Comment: Tonight (6/30/2019) is the deadline to contribute for inclusion of the contribution in a candidate's 2nd quarter reporting. A report of substantial contributions and money on hand shows who can make a strong finish in the last days of the campaign.  A lot of modest contributions can show a candidate has deep and broad-based community support. I just made another contributions to John Cooper.  I encourage you to make a contribution to Cooper, today, and any other candidates you are supporting. This is an important campaign date.

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Who is winning the race for mayor. What the polls show.

A recent Tennessee Star/ Triton poll shows the following in the mayor's race (link):

  • David Briley 27.8 percent
  • Carol Swain 22 percent
  • John Cooper 19.8 percent
  • John Ray Clemmons  10.8 percent
  • Undecided 19.5 percent
For any candidate to win, he must receive more than 50% of the vote or there will be a runoff between the two top contenders. Carol Swain is performing well  but I do not see a path to victory for her.  There is no way she will reach the 50%+ threshold.  If she makes a runoff, she will be crushed.  I think she is probably near her peak. I would be surprised if any significant number of the "undecided" break her way.

We must face the fact that Davidson County is a Democratic enclave. Davidson County has been solidly Democrat ever since the Civil War.  While most of the state has flipped to Republican, if anything, Davidson County has become more solidly Democrat.  Also, the old conservative Democrat is a thing of the past.  Nashville is a city dominated by very progressive Democrats. 

While the mayoral race is non-partisan, the citizens of Nashville are just not going to elect a Republican.  The best a Republican can do is garner about 35% of the vote. If one looks at the last presidential race, or governor's race, or Senate race, Republicans did not do well in Davidson County.  If a moderate talented pro-business person like David Fox who was only loosely affiliated with the Republican Party could not win, Carol Swain cannot win.  I wish it was different, but it is not. 

Unfortunately, Carol Swain has a record.  She is a scholar, an author and a pundit who has expressed her views in books and network TV news and webcast. I agree with most of her opinions on the cause of the dysfunction in the Black Community, on the sanctity of life, on the danger from radical Islam, immigration, and other issues, but in progressive Nashville she will be smeared as homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, xenophobic, and racist if she becomes a threat to the liberal establishment.  At this point they can play nice, but let her become a threat and the gloves will come off.  There is no reason to go after her now.  In fact, I bet Briley is hoping she is his runoff opponent, if he cannot win outright.

I like Carol Swain.  I supported her last time she ran and this election before Cooper got in the race, I supported her.  I sent her a contribution. She is smart, has a compelling life story, and I share her values. However, once John Cooper was in, I switched my support to him.  Even when supporting Swain, I did not think she could win.  When the choice was only between Briley and Clemmons, I was glad to have Carol in the race.  Briley would not solve our city's problems and Clemmons would make them worst are a faster rate, I reasoned, so even if Swain couldn't win, I wanted an alternative to two progressives who would continue down the wrong path.

I support John Cooper because I believe he will fix what is wrong with Nashville. He will change course.  He  has the knowledge and the commitment to fixing Nashville's finances. Nashville is booming, yet we cannot give employees a decent raise, our police and fire are understaffed, our schools are failing and getting worse, we can't build sidewalks, traffic is snarled, and our infrastructure is crumbling and we Nashvillians have the highest debt per person of any city in America. But, we are not undertaxed, in my view; we are mismanaged. The way I see it those are our major issues and the social issues are irrelevant. John Cooper is the person we need for mayor at this time.  I am sure there are issues with which I will not agree with him, but on the important issues he is much better than Briley and much, much better than Clemmons and he is electable.

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Maximum Pressure for a Denuclearized Iran

Rep. Phil Roe
by Congressman Phil Roe - One of the first policy questions I was ever asked was, “Do you think Iran should have a nuclear weapon?” I remember my answer clear as day: “During the Vietnam War, I served nearly 13 months near the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. Does anyone believe the world is safer and more stable now that North Korea has the capability to develop nuclear weapons?” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ support for militant groups abroad has helped destabilize the Middle East and represents a clear threat to U.S. regional security interests. Historically, the U.S. placed strong sanctions on Iran in response to their nuclear and terroristic activity, until the 2015 nuclear deal. These sanctions were a proven success in curbing Iran’s aggressive activity. 

On May 12, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia reported that four oil tankers and Saudi oil pipeline infrastructure had been attacked. Last week, Iran shot down a U.S. military drone in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, attacked two more oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and attempted to shoot down another U.S. drone that was surveilling the attack. 

President Trump showed leadership and restraint when he decided against a military response to this latest aggression, instead deciding to impose new sanctions that would deny Iran’s leadership the financial resources for oppressive activity. War is never a desirable outcome, and I’m proud the President found a way to hold Iran accountable while leaving room for military escalation should their actions continue. The U.S. warned world leaders of the Iranians’ capacity to destabilize the region, and based on recent actions, that’s exactly what is happening. Our allies need to come together and accelerate sanctions to force the Iranians to the negotiating table. I am proud to support President Trump’s approach.

In 2015, the Obama administration negotiated the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear agreement, which overwhelmingly relieved sanctions against Iran in hopes they would limit their nuclear program. However, that agreement fell short. The U.S. was denied access to certain Iranian military areas, Iran’s missile program was left unchecked, and its regional influence enabling human rights abuses was not addressed. That’s why I voted against the Iran Nuclear deal when it was brought before Congress, and why I strongly supported President Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement to push the Iranian regime for additional concessions.

Since the moment the agreement was announced, strong bipartisan majorities in Congress – including myself – have voted against putting this agreement into place. Despite Congress’ opposition, the Obama administration pushed forward with their agreement. Now, many of the officials who negotiated this agreement are trying to push a false narrative that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement is the cause of Iranian aggression. You have to ask yourself: why on earth would a country committed to denuclearization attack another country who also wants them to be denuclearized? This logic doesn’t add up.

On July 25, 2017, I was proud to vote for the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which passed the House by a vote of 419 to 3. This legislation, which President Trump signed into law, establishes new sanctions and enhances existing sanctions, against Iran, Russia and North Korea. If we are going to achieve a diplomatic solution, which the president has made it clear that he prefers, it needs to be one that guarantees a nuclear-free Iran. 

This May, the administration ended a U.S. sanctions exception for the purchase of Iranian oil, ended waivers allowing countries to help Iran remain within stockpile limits of low-enriched uranium and of heavy water reactor fuel and accelerated plans to send a strike group to the Persian Gulf region. Additionally, the President issued an executive order freezing U.S. based assets of personal and entities determined to have conducted significant transactions with Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum or copper sectors. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani responded by announcing Iran would no longer abide by the JCPOA on stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water, threatening to enrich it to a higher level. 

There are still Iranians that march through the streets chanting “Death to America.” We should take them at their word. While we do not want a war with Iran, any potential diplomatic solution also has to ensure American security. I will continue supporting President Trump’s actions to put American safety and security first, and I hope we can make real and lasting progress that ensures a future peace.

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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Friday, June 28, 2019

It matters who governs and it matters who appoints Supreme Court justices.

by Rod Williams - It really matters who governs and it matters who appoints Supreme Court justices.  Yesterday the Court ruled five to four that it was not up to the Court to draw political boundaries for congressional districts but up to state legislators.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberst said, "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions."

It is refreshing to have a court that recognizes some questions are "political questions" not to be decided from the bench and that even judges are limited by "authority in the Constitution."  This would have been decided the other way if not for the appointment of Neil Gorsuch.

Unfortunately, the other decision handed down yesterday did not favor Republicans. The Court blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The Court did not permanently block the inclusion of the citizenship question but delayed it.  If the administration can delay the census, it still may be able to meet the Court's requirements for including it.

While I have not delved deeply into the courts opinion on the census issue, my initial thoughts are that  the court wrongly decided the case. Given the intrusive nosy nature of the census, asking one's citizenship status seems not that offensive and seems rational. It seems like the government should know how many citizens are in America.  If the census can ask you your race and ethnicity it seems like it should be allowed to ask you your citizenship status. The question was part of the census as recent as 1950. The argument against asking it is that asking the questions would result in illegal immigrants not answering the census and thus being undercounted in the census. The census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and to allocate federal funds to the States and if illegal immigrants did not answer the census then states with large number of illegals, such as Texas and California, would be allocated fewer representatives and receive fewer federal dollars.

While I am disappointing the census questions did not go our way, I am pleased that the ruling did not just outright ban asking the question which would have happened with a more liberal court and I am very pleased with the gerrymandering decision. If we can get one more conservative justice on the Court, our Democracy will be assured for decades to come.

Surprising no one, Tennessee Democrats criticized and  Republicans praised the Supreme Court ruling regarding gerrymandering. Congressman Jim Cooper called it "shortsighted and dangerous for our country."  Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said the Supreme Court decision "was the constitutionally correct" one. "District lines should be drawn by elected officials who are held accountable by the people they represent, not appointed federal judges or un-elected bureaucrats," he said.

For more on this topic see link,  link link, link.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Nashville police union backs John Cooper for mayor

Nashville police union backs John Cooper for mayor, other Metro Council candidates

by Yihyun Jeong, The Tennessean - The Fraternal Order of Police  — which represents thousands of local, state and federal law enforcement personnel stationed in the Nashville area. — released their endorsements Monday for candidates running for Metro office. 

"I am honored to be endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police," Cooper said in a statement. "Keeping people safe is the first job of government. Policing is a difficult and noble profession and the rank and file should be treated fairly by their superiors, just as the citizenry at large deserve to be treated fairly. It is the job of the mayor to set clear goals, provide the resources necessary, and hold people accountable for results." (read more)

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The televised Channel 5 mayoral debate, part 2.

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The televised Channel 5 mayoral debate, part 1.




If you were not one of the few who attended in person or did not watch it live last night, here is part 1 of the mayoral debate between the four serious candidates for mayor, sponsored by News Channel 5 and The Tennessean.

Quick takeaways and my impressions from this debate is that Ray Clemmons would drastically hike taxes and give the school board any amount of money they requested and is the only candidate who thinks the Council should have raised taxes.  Only Mayor Briley thinks Nashville is going in the right direction. All are concerned about traffic, and affordable housing and education. All talk about communities that are left behind.

Carol Swain does not sound much more conservative than any of the others in the debate except for Clemmons. She does say, "we do not have a revenue problem, but a spending problem."  I like that   She condemns the "good ole boy" network and corporations that get handouts. She has a focus, and rightly so I think, on building sidewalks and says only 19% of the city has sidewalks and we should focus on building sidewalks instead of bike lanes. I am disappointing that Carol Swain says when negotiating with companies she would get them to "invest" in the city in things like affordable housing, etc.  I do not want the city trying to extract payoffs businesses any more than I want the city to bribe them to come here.

Without getting lost in the weeds of too much details, Councilman Cooper, comes across as someone with a deep understanding of what is wrong with Metro's finances and a commitment to fixing it. He says the recently proposed tax increase would have raised property taxes on police and firemen and they would not have gotten a raise. He does a good job of explaining why the tax increase proposal was a bad idea. Briley does a credible jobs of explaining and defending his policies. He looks better in the debate than I though he would.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

TOMORROW: 1st Televised Mayoral Debate

Tuesday, June 25th at 6pm
Belmont University 

Tickets are sold out, but you can still watch the debate live!  NewsChannel 5 will be airing the debate live, as well as streaming it on NewsChannel5.com

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Doesn't this make you proud?


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TORI GODDARD STATEMENT ON NASHVILLE’S FALSE ALARM TORNADO SIRENS AFTER EXPIRATION OF TORNADO WARNING

Press release - Advocate for children with disabilities and candidate for District 20 on the Nashville Metro Council, Tori Goddard, released the following statement after the repeated sounding of Nashville’s tornado sirens on June 21, 2019 after the expiration of the National Weather Service’s warning in Davidson County:

“It is entirely unacceptable that the Metro Council and Mayor have not moved more swiftly to improve Nashville’s tornado warning system. As we move further into both tornado and tourist season it is irresponsible, terrifying, and detrimental to our city to continue having an outdated tornado warning system. As the mother of a child with special needs, I am particularly frustrated with our city’s inaction. Beyond the panic that is created among tourists and many residents, the additional stress and harm brought upon my daughter by alerting for a non-existent tornado threat is unacceptable.”

Campaign spokesman, Christian Potucek, added the following: “West Nashville’s current representative on the Metro Council, Mary Carolyn Roberts, has repeatedly ignored the most important issues of her District and our city on the whole. It is irresponsible and downright dangerous that the Metro Council didn’t take steps to correct this absurdity when it first occurred earlier this year. Government red tape is not a valid excuse for putting the lives of citizens and tourists in danger.”

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The Tennessean's candidate's questionaire for candidates seeking the office of mayor, vice mayor, council member at-large or district council member.

The Tennessean sent a 25-question survey to all candidates seeking the office of mayor, vice mayor, council member at-large or district council member. Questions asked include a question about if the candidate supported a tax increase, if the candidate supported incentives for corporations to locate to Nashville, if and how the Council should exert influence over the School Board and a question about the candidates priorities for Nashville. In addition to the questions about policy, candidates were asked their age, education, job history, and family status. 

Of the 110 candidates seeking office, 95 responded.  In my view any candidate who did not complete the survey should not be considered a serious candidate. Below are links to the questionnaire.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Immigrants group (TIRRC) endorses five pro-llegal immigrantion candidates for at-large.

Zulfat Suara
Fabian Bedne
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has endorsed five candidates for the council at-large seats. They are Burkley Allen, Fabian Bedne, Bob Mendes, Gicola Lane and Zulfat Suara.

Allen, Bedne and Mendes are incumbent council members. Bedne and Zulfat Suara are first generation immigrants. Cicola Lane was the primary leader of the effort that led to the adoption of Nashville's police Community Oversight Board.  Should Zulfat Suara be elected she would be the first Muslim to serve in the Council.

Council Mendes was the sponsor of two bills in the Council that that would have came close to making Nashville a sanctuary city.  Technically, Nashville may still not  have fit the definition but
we would have been close.  No doubt if the bills would have passed there would have been push back from the State.

One of the bills would have required Metro to terminate its contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold  illegal aliens charged with federal crimes. The other ordinance would have required that, unless required by federal or state law or a court order, Metro may not use its money, resources, or facilities to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws, or to share information about a person’s custody status or court dates. It also would also prohibited Metro requesting


Gicola Lane
Bob Mendes
Burkley Allen
information about a person’s immigration or citizenship status and it would have prohibited Metro from honoring an immigration-related voluntary detention request unless it is accompanied by a federal criminal warrant. Both bills failed. (To learn more about these bills, see  here and here.)

In making their endorsements, TIRRC highlighted Mendes' push in the council, with the support of Allen, Bedne, to end Metro cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agencies. "We’re proud to endorse this slate of progressive candidates who will ensure the Metro Council better reflects our community and our values," said a spokesman.

That these five candidates got the endorsement of an organization which opposes enforcement of immigration laws, is reason enough to oppose them. (The source of the quotes came from this Tennessean article.)

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ray Clemmons gets the teacher's union endorsement

Ray Clemmons gets the teacher's union endorsement: ..."I am prepared to lead and make the tough decisions necessary to fully fund our schools, support our educators, and provide every child across Nashville with a high-quality education," he (Clemmons) said. "I am truly thankful for the support of MNEA and look forward to working together for the benefit of all students in the years to come."

Rod's Comment: "Fully Fund" has a specific meaning. It means to give the Board of Education what ever amount they say they need. That is a blank check. The school board asked for a budget of $962 million this year which is $76.7 million budget more, or an 8.6 percent increase, over its current $886.3 million budget. This is at the same time that enrollment is dropping. That budget request called for a salary step increase and a 10 percent cost of living for employees. It asked $852,000 for what they called "Care Centers" to help with student behavioral needs and $850,000 to add professional development days for para-professionals and it called for several added administration positions. 

The School Board asked for much more than the Director of School told the Board he needed. Dr. Joseph's budget called for $31.7 million in new funding. Mayor Briley's budget, which was just approved, gives the schools a $28.2 million increase.

To vow to "fully fund" the schools is irresponsible.  I guess that is the price of getting the teacher's union enforcement.  This pledge is reason enough to vote against Ray Clemmons for mayor.  If he is elected I feel certain we will have a massive tax increase next year.  If Briley should be reelected I suspect he will give us a big tax increase also, but it would probably me less than we would get under Clemmons.  I don't know that we will not have a tax increase even if Cooper is elected, but he is talking about cutting waste and improving management. I believe Cooper may avoid a tax increase if elected or if he does propose a tax increase it would be considerably less than what we would get with Briley and much, much less than what we would get under Clemmons.

For more on the issue of the school budget see these links: link, link,

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The Metro government policy to destroy more affordable housing

by Rod Williams, 6/20/2019- Almost ever politician running for office or holding office list "affordable housing" as a major issue facing our city.  The media and non-profit organization and opinion leaders do also.  As Nashville has grown, property values have increased. When more people making the big bucks move to the city, they are going to drive up housing cost. It is inevitable. Some at the lower end of the economic scale are hurt as the city becomes more prosperous and they can not find housing they can afford.  Renters find their home sold off to developers who build larger more expensive housing. Government wants to spend million and millions to build and subsidize affordable housing and if not prohibited from doing so by the state, would have forced private developers to build affordable housing with a policy called "inclusionary zoning."

So while government and civic leaders bemoan the loss of affordable housing, there is a certain hypocrisy going on.  While, no doubt, most of the property value increases are driven simply by demand, much of the fault for loss of affordable housing, is directly due to government policy.

To add to the loss of affordable housing that has already occurred, Metro is getting ready to destroy some of the last remaining affordable housing in Nashville.  There is an article in today's Tennessean, East Nashville's longtime red-light district readies for transformation, that explains this.

The Dickerson Road area has long been one of the cheapest parts of the city to live.  In addition to affordable apartment buildings along Dickerson, the neighborhoods adjacent to the thoroughfare have lots of modest affordable homes.  On Dickerson Road there are several old-fashion junky trailer parks.  On Dickerson Road itself there are businesses that serve the people who live in the vicinity. There are businesses such as laundromats, payday lenders, convenience stores, and discount tobacco stores, and used car lots.  Dickerson Road has always had a problem with hookers walking the street and the area has a lot of drug dealers.

Metro has a plan to improve this bad part of town. The plan envisions a dense collection of modern offices, shops and multifamily housing, widened streets and added transit hubs, greenways, crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes.  The city is going to beautify and upgrade one of the worst parts of the city.  The Tennessean says, "But the increased investment is expected to send property values soaring in one of the few areas where relatively affordable housing can still be found near downtown."  I am pleased to see this recognition of the effect of improving parts of the city.

We are talking about hundreds of units of housing are going to be lost.  Thousands of people will no longer be able to afford to live there.  Some of the people living in trailer parks rent by the week. Where are they going to go?   No one likes to have a seedy part of town, but when you beautify and upgrade a seedy part of town you are destroying the only place poor people can afford to live.  Every community can't look like Brentwood and still have affordable housing.

Less ambitious than a master plan such as is planned for Dickerson Road are city policies that little by little destroy affordable communities and thereby affordable housing.  These are policies that make busy corridors look nice. These are rules which say used car lots must have an attractive decorative fence in front of them, that say one can not have in close proximity businesses of the same or similar type such as used tire stores and auto repair businesses, and rules that say all dumpsters must be placed on a reinforced concrete pad behind the building, and rules that require a certain distance between pay day lenders.  These rules drive out the kind of business that serve low-income people.  They make unattractive parts of town more attractive and change the character of the community and make it attractive for people who make more money.  They turn low-income parts of town into middle-income parts of town.

Another way in which Nashville destroys affordable housing is by the policy of making large parts of the county single-family only.  Almost every Council meeting, there is a bill to down-zone a neighborhood from a zoning which allows duplexes to a zoning which does not.  Such legislation may change a zoning from R20 to RS20. I understand people wanting to preserve the character of their neighborhood.  I understand people wanting things to stay the same. However, this has an impact on future home prices.  This makes future affordable housing less likely and it encourages urban sprawl.  With higher density, there are fewer places to build houses and this causes the available places to be more expensive.  Also, with less available building spaces close in, it causes people to move further out.

Another way the city causes a loss of affordable housing is by driving up the cost of development and stifling the development of more affordable housing. Take the policy that requires a sidewalk in front of every house.  Sidewalks can add thousands of dollars to a the price of a house. This means developers will build more expensive homes rather than less expensive homes to absorb in the home price the cost of the sidewalks.  Also, I have talked to developers who say they have tried to build communities of affordable housing and instead of getting assistance from planning, they got obstacle after obstacle thrown in their way.  It is simply easier to build pricey homes rather than affordable homes.

Another way government destroys affordable housing, is my stringent codes enforcement.  I own a little rental house in Woodbine.  I only own one rental property.  It is the house I lived in  myself until I moved to my current home.  It is a two-bedroom one-bath house.  Recently I got a codes complaint and I had to deal with it. It is not the first time.  It was a headache and an annoyance.  I have a tenant who has different taste than I do and likes "yard art."  He also keeps a lot of stuff that he might can sell to make a little money.  The stuff was stored neatly in covered storage.  He also was parking a car on an unpaved or graveled area. 

I only charge the tenant a modest price for rent.  I could put central heat and air in the house and dress it up just a little and rent it for about half again what I am getting, or I could sell the house.  I get about two postcards a week from someone wanting to buy that house. If I sold it they would tear it down, and build an expensive house on the lot. 

Quite frankly, I don't need the money I could get from selling the house or from upgrading and raising the rent.  My tenant is a Cuban refugee who really did come to America by a raft made of intertubes.  He has been here about twenty years or so but has a heavy accent and little education. He makes a living by selling scrap metal.  He would have a difficult time paying more rent.  I rent to him at a modest rent more out of a sense of doing a good deed than anything else.  When I get a codes letter, however, I am tempted by the postcard offers to buy my house.  I have talked to other landlords who get harassed by codes.  I know we have to have codes enforcement, but there is an effect.  When codes officials harass property owners they destroy affordable housing.

The other way Metro government contributes to the loss of affordable housing is by refusing to zone property for greater density if what is planned to be build on the property is affordable housing.  Worse yet, is the taking away of ones property rights in order to stop them from building affordable housing. This was attempted in Antioch. Ultimately, the person's property rights were not taken but the threat hung over the owners head for two years and the affordable property was never build.

The loss and increasing lack of affordable housing is of concern, but much of the blame can be laid at the doorstep of the same people who bemoan the fact that we are losing affordable housing.  You can't have affordable housing if you don't want affordable neighborhoods.  You can't have affordable housing and have every neighborhood look like Brentwood. You can't have affordable housing, if you are going to ban greater density or fight having affordable housing in your neighborhood.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

This is who is running in the 13th District: Dan Meridith, Russ Bradford, and Andrew Dixon

The Tennessean analyzed the Council race for the 13th District and you can read their story at this link.

Dan Meridth
The 13th District is the Antioch-Percy Priest area currently represented by Holly Huezo. Three candidates are seeking that seat. They are Dan Meridith, Russ Bradford, and Andrew Dixon.  Here is a little about the three and links for more information.

Dan Meridith:  He is a registered nurse and has worked for 32 years in that profession.  He is an evangelical Christian who readily shares his faith.  He is a conservative and one of his top issues is reining in out of control spending. "I don't think we need to be spending money on nonessentials," he says. Nashville's enormous debt and crime are other issue of concern to Dan.
Dan is plain spoken freely expresses himself and is not politically correct and this has gotten him in trouble at times. His critics have called him racist, homophobic and misogynist. Some of these charges are explored in the Tennessean article. While I would not express things in exactly the same way Merideth does, I do not believe him to be guilty as characterized.  Often these label are attached to people to simply keep others from expressing a view contrary to liberal orthodoxy and to stifle debate.  I believe him to be a good man. He is the candidate I am supporting in this district. For more information visit his campaign website.


Russ Bradford
Russ Bradford: He a quality assurance specialist for a healthcare IT and consulting firm. Russ Bradford is openly gay. He has the endorsement of the Victory Fund.  "LGBTQ Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government." He also has the endorsement of the Nashville SEIU.
Andrew Dixon

 When asked why he is running, he says, "Our district has not had a voice and we're fed up with not being heard.."   That seems to be a slap at Councilmember Huezo. He talks about "investing" in teachers, police, our fire fighters, and not in downtown businesses. For more information, visit his campaign website.


Andrew Dixon: He currently works in finance, but his website does not say who is his employer. He has worked Department of Treasury as a Bank Examiner. The Tennessean says he declined a telephone interview for their article on the 13th District.  That is not normally the actions of a serious candidate. This is the link to  his campaign website.

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No TAX Hike! Metro Council fails to pass substitute budget with a property tax hike


I am surprised. I was almost certain one of the three proposed tax increase budgets would pass. I was favoring the Glover substitute, because it raised taxes the least. My support was simply a pragmatic calculating. I prefer a no tax increase budget but did not think one could pass. Looking at the make up of the Council, knowing of Metro's dire financial situation, perceiving the mayor to be weak, and looking at the number of Council members in either safe seats or not seeking reelection, I thought  the Council was almost certain to pass a tax increase of some amount. That shows you how much I know. I miscalculated. I was wrong, but I am not disappointed. I am pleased the no tax increase budget passed.

Going into tonight meeting there was three proposed substitute budget proposals, so the council had four options to consider, the three substitute options each of which raised taxes and then the mayors budget which did not. The process involved considering the budget presented by Council member Vercher. Her budget proposal was the recommendation of the Budget and Finance Committee and would have raised taxes the most. After her budget was introduced, then there were attempts to amend her proposal with first one and then the other alternatives. Both attempts failed, so then the Council was faced choosing Vercher's bill, which would raise taxes more than the two rejected alternatives, or the mayor's no-tax-increase budget. Vercher's proposal failed by only one vote.

Metro's new budget is $2.33 billion with revenue increases of $101 million but about $44 million will go to rising debt obligations. Debt obligations have to be paid. Not paying our debts in not an option. It provides a $28.2 million increase for Metro Schools and a 3% pay increase for school employees.

I am posting this with some still unanswered questions.  Budget's are required to balance; revenues have to equal expenditure.  Briley calculated  income from the proposed parking privatization deal as the source of  $17 million for this year's budget. With the parking deal put on hold, I do not know how they filled that hole. Most likely reserves were permitted to dip, but I don't know that.

For more on Metro's budget here are some resources.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

At-large candidate Matthew DelRossi arrested for violating an order of protection and vandalized his sister's home. Embarrassing video.

Below is a video of at-large candidate Matthew DelRossi ranting about a camera mounted on the house next door pointing into his yard. Be aware that this video is laced with profanity.


He was arrested on June 10th for violating an order of protection and vandalized his sister's home. He threw shovels, a fishing pole, a stick and a pickax at the security camera mounted on his sister's house.  This is not DelRossi's first brush with the law.

Last year, he ran for the office of Vice mayor and got 12.5 percent of the vote, which was enough to keep either of the two other candidates from winning a majority and forced a runoff. To see the Tennessean's report on this incident follow this link


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Two Candidate forums Tuesday, June 18th. District 7 and District 18.



There are a bunch of Candidates running in District 7. Below are their names and links to their webpage, Facebook page or any other information I could find and something about them, if I know anything.

Clint Camp: He supports the Robert Mendez's proposed 16% tax hike. link. link.
Stephen Downs:He has the screwy idea the companies have to get city permission before they are allowed to move here.  link,
Daniel Fitzpatrick: No info found.
Jacob Green: No info found.
Stephanie Johnson: No info found.

Randy Reed: He is a retired police officer. He unsuccessfully ran for this office in 2015. See Is a dirty cop the kind of person who should serve in the Metro Council.  
District 7 is the District in East Nashville currently represented by Anthony Davis.  For District information, follow this link.

Attachment with no description
Two candidates running in the 18th District.
Tom Cash: Endorsed by the local chapter of SEIU.Endorsed by the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee   Facebook pageWeb page.
John Green: Facebook, web page.
District 18 is the district currently represented by Burkley Allen. It is in the Hillsboro Village, West End part of town.

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The 'it city' struggles to fund the basics

The Tennessean: The 'it city' struggles to fund the basics.

This article does a fairly good job of laying out the process by which this thriving, growing city finds itself broke.  The article does not, however, expose the effects of  our financial woes, such as teacher and police retention problems, understaffed fire services, traffic lights not synchronized, and sidewalks that are not build and roads not paved. The article does not expose the wasteful spending, the mismanagement, and corruption, and cronyism that contributes to Nashville's financial woes.

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Robert Swope's tribute to his father

My father believed that there are only three things a man needs to do in life to succeed: Don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t steal. He instilled in me if I did my homework, worked harder than those around me, and believed in myself, anything in the world was possible. He also taught me how to build a car.

When my dad turned 60, my family decided that he deserved a present he would never forget. My mother’s eyes teared up talking about his first car, the 1950 Chevy Fleetline that he cherished. He bought it worn out, rebuilt it, painted it his high school colors, courted and married my mother in it.
I found an unrestored, low-mileage, rust-free ‘50 Chevy in New Mexico and drove it back to Nashville. After hundreds of long hours on my part, the car was now completely restored, identical to my father’s original love. When I pulled into my parents’ driveway that August afternoon, surrounded by 200 people there to celebrate my father, he stopped in his tracks and almost fell over.
When I handed him the keys, he cried, I cried, my mother cried, everybody cried! It was one of those moments in life when I could say a real, tangible thanks to the man who raised me to believe that anything in the world was possible.

Twenty years later, my mother and father still regularly drive the Chevy. I love them both. Happy Father’s Day, Pop!
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This is part of a long article appearing in today's Tennessean in which sports figures, country music artist, business leaders and other celebrities pay tribute to their father on this Father's Day. Read the full article at this link.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Dem forum for the non-partisan mayoral race excludes the Black female candidate


Image may contain: 1 person, indoorby Rod Williams, 6/14/2019 - Three of the four leading candidates for the non-partisan office of mayor of  Nashville, took the stage at the Belcourt theater last night to participate in the Davidson County Democratic Party mayoral forum. The three participants allowed to participate were all white men; the other major candidate who is a Black Women was excluded.  I spoke to the person in charge of the event who clarified that Carol Swain did not simply not participate, but was excluded.

About 500 people attended the event. The Belcourt has a seating capacity of 700 and not all seats were taken.  The free event was listed as "sold out."  Apparently a lot of people signed up for the event but did not attend.  Often at events like this, those who attend are turned out and not people who just spontaneously attend.  Clemmons had the most visible and loudest supporters at the event.

As events like these go, it was good.  It was well-organized and there were no glitches. The format was that each candidate got three minutes to make opening statements and at the end, each candidate got three minutes to make a closing statement. A series of six questions were asked of the candidates and candidates were given three minutes to answer each questions.  Three minutes allowed the candidate to give more detailed answers.

The questions were selected by a process of the question being submitted by the participating public to the Davidson County Democratic Party Facebook page, then a poll was created and the participating public voted on the questions to ask.  The six questions getting the most votes was the questions included.  There was no off-the-wall questions about the Green New Deal, how are you going to resist Trump, or how will you turn Nashville into a sanctuary city. The first five questions were questions that would have likely been asked even if Republican would have participated in drafting the questions. Only, the last question, about how will you make Nashville a greener city was one that I would categorize as not a mainstream concern. The other questions were about affordable housing, traffic, Nashville's debt, and funding for public education.

The full video of the forum is available at this link, so I am not going to attempt to summarize who said what. I encourage readers to watch the video. Of the three participants, I was least impressed with Ray Clemmons.  He did not have detailed answers and seemed to display what I thought of as phony passion.  Maybe it is just me, but he seemed to be posturing and pontificating.  I also think he was trying to position himself to the left of David Briley, which is hard to do.

On the question of affordable housing, Clemmons was critical of the efforts being made and said it was not near enough and we need to put $50 million a year into the Barmes Fund and he said no neighborhood should be off limits to anyone. That may appeal to liberal sensibilities but it is illogical. If you build affordable housing in the most expensive parts of town, the cost of land is going to mean you don't build very many units.

David Briley scored a point with me when answering the affordable housing question.  Part of the question asked what you would do to keep the elderly from being forced out of their homes by rising housing cost.  Briley said that increased property tax was a factor in housing affordability and that was a reason to hold the line on taxes.  Often it seems politician ignore this fact. Briley scored another point responding to the traffic question when he pointed out that some of the bus riders are being subsidized up to $40 per trip.  He said having buses cover more territory with more bus routes was not a solution.  Of course, I wish candidates would embrace markets, technology and innovation but an admission that subsidizing bus rides up to $40 per trip is not wise policy is a start toward rethinking transportation.  For those who attended First Tuesday last week and saw Mayor Briley speak, he gave no different answers to a room full of Democrats than he did to a room full of Republicans.

On the environmental question about a greener Nashville, candidates covered a lot a ground. Candidates said due to global warming, we can expect more frequent flooding.  I found it interesting that not a one of the candidates mentioned building the flood wall that was once a city priority.  I guess that idea is finally dead. I am pleased it is but kind of surprised that it is not being advocated by a candidate trying to tap into environmental angst and passions.

John Cooper came across as informed and gave good answers. On the question of the city's debt, Cooper said that the city has a debt of $6,000 per man, women, and child in Davidson County. On this question, I think he showed the greater mastery of the issue.  If I knew nothing about the candidates other than what I observed at this forum, I would have to give Briley a slight edge and Cooper a close second and Clemmons a distant third.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Steve Glover proposes a 11.5 cent property tax hike.

Rod Williams, 6-12-19  - I have seldom seen a tax hike that I liked. I am predisposed to oppose a tax increase and I don't think Nashvillians are under-taxed. I don't think Nashville has a revenue problem but a spending and management problem.  However, I am ready to bite the bullet and support a modest tax increase. If we do not have a modest tax increase, then we might end up with a much larger increase. Also, I think that we have to face the facts that Nashville is in financial trouble. I talk to people who are informed and involved and they all say that things are really bad in Nashville. I know we have a problem with retention of teachers and policemen and we are understaffed in the fire department. Our public schools system keeps getting worse with an increasing number of failing schools.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a former police officer who still has a lot of friends on the force.  She said a lot of policemen are applying for and some getting hired by surrounding cities such as Clarksville where they make more money in a less stressful environment. This former officer said many policemen are simply getting out of law enforcement and others, when they near retirement eligibility, are taking their accumulated vacation and sick days and retiring at the earliest possible date. Normally policeman might work several years after the date at which they could retire.  We know morale is low among Metro employees who have not had a raise in several years.

Mayor Briley has not proposed a tax increase. He is a progressive and I assume he has no great desire to reform metro and cut nonessential services and institute fiscal reforms. He wants a more activist government, not a more restrained government. He wants to do more, to help the homeless, the housing cost-stressed, the LGBT community and immigrants. He is not called for cutting services.  I think he simply thinks it would be political suicide to raise taxes a month before the election.

Mayor Briley, however, is a weak mayor.  He became mayor by accident and he has not done much to inspire confidence.  He supported the proposed transit boondoggle which failed to pass public referendum and he opposed the referendum on the police oversight board, which did pass. He looks weak. He seems to flounder from one mishap to the next without a plan. The Cherry trees episode is an example  He does not appear in control and he does not appear to lead.

Much of the situation Briley faces is not his fault. Megan Barry left Nashville in this mess.  She did not raise taxes when she had a prime opportunity. The most opportune time to raise taxes is early in a term, so voters have time to get over it, and during a massive  reappraisal since most people will blame their tax increase on the reappraisal and not the mayor and council. I am pleased she did not raise taxes.  However, if you are not going to raise taxes, you need to cut non-essentials and increase efficiency.  Barry was not on a campaign to do that, but maybe she would have done some of that had she not gotten distracted. To her credit, she did propose closing Metro General Hospital which is not required, is wasteful, and is unnecessary. She proposed it but did not make the effort to make it happen. She didn't sell it. She did not expend political capital to make it happen.  So, Barry was not successful at cutting government and she did not raise taxes. At the time, Barry was pushing the transit referendum and maybe she thought raising property taxes would hurt the referendum. As it turns out, she was forced out of office before the transit campaign got underway and it failed.

While, I do not believe, the council has ever passed a tax increase not propose by a mayor, it could happen this year.  In fact I think it is likely to happen.  For the second year in a row, Councilman Robert Mendes has proposed to raise property taxes. This year he's submitted a substitute budget that would increase the  property tax rate 52.5 cents or 16.6%.  Under this proposal the Urban services tax rate would go from $3.155 per $100 of assessment to $3.68.

Councilman Steve Glover has proposed a budget that would raise the property tax rate by only 3.6%. It would increase the property tax rate by 11.5 cents.  The Urban Services District property tax rate would increase from $3.155 to $3.27 per $100 of assessed value and in the General Services District the rate would go from $2.755 to $2.87.  This would give would give all Metro employees, including teachers, a 6% raise. 

In putting forth his budget proposal, Glover is quoted as telling the Tennessean, "I'm not ready to gamble on a property tax increase for 16%."  While I would prefer cutting government to raising taxes, I think Glover is right. The choice before the Council is to follow Briley and not raise taxes, vote for Mendes's 16% increase or Glover's 3.6%.  I favor voting for Glover's 3.6%.

If I was convinced that the council would get serious about cutting unnecessary government and fiscal reform, then I would favor no tax increase, but I do not see that happening. It is ironic that Steve Glover who is one of the most conservative voices in the Council was one of the leading voices that helped kill Mayor Barry's plan to cut General Hospital. Glover's proposal will raise $35.65 million in revenue.  The Council subsidizes General Hospital $46 million.

I am only in favor of Glover's plan because I prefer a 3.6% increase rather than a 16% increase. It is a pragmatic consideration.  If the choice is only between the mayor's plan and the Medes plan, I fear the Mendes plan will pass.  Unfortunately, those calling for cutting waste and fiscal reform are a voice crying in the wilderness.

Rather than raise taxes, what I think should happen is we should take a top to bottom, line item by line item examination of the budget and cut out waste, corruption, mismanagement and unnecessary spending. I would close General Hospital which serves no purpose other than to boost the ego of the Black community.  I would ban police overtime except in a declared emergency and make sponsors of events pay for their own security, I would stop the outlandish over payment of fees to the managers of Metro's pension fund, I would tell the school board to slash overhead and to rapidly consolidate schools to reflect the reduced enrollment, and I would find out why it takes $6 million dollars to build 3 miles of sidewalk.  I would fire a bunch of department heads such as those who allow it to take $6 million to build three miles of sidewalks. I would discontinue corporate welfare. I would change Metro's pension system from a guaranteed benefit to a guaranteed contribution system.

Unfortunately, when even the conservatives on Council won't vote for smaller government and work to make it happen but instead work to stop cuts when they are proposed, then we are left with the choice of raising tax a little or raising taxes a lot.

References: here and here and here.

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John Cooper's TV ad, "For all of us."


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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Nashville mayoral candiates on immigrantion policy, sanctuary city status, and more.

Last night a candidates' forum sponsored by The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Muslim Advisory Council, Conexion Americas and sixteen other organizations was held at Plaza Mariachi. I did not get to attend the event but it was covered by local media. The program was interpreted live in Arabic, Kurdish, Somali, and Spanish.  Mayor David Briley, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Councilman John Cooper, and Julia Clark-Johnson took part in the forum but Carol Swain did not. 

According to the media, all took a position opposing the government's immigration policy.  Briley went total partisan and said."the number one priority is to beat Donald Trump." 

Below is media coverage:



The Tennessean, by Yihyan Jeong - From deportation to police body cameras, four mayoral candidates discussed how they would lead Nashville on immigration issues Monday, at a time when the country remains divided.
It was standing room only at Plaza Mariachi where more than 700 people attended the evening forum

Metro Nashville Candidates Say ‘Yes’ to Sanctuary Cities and ‘No’ to ICE
The Tennessee Star, NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Metro Nashville Council At-Large candidate Gicola Lane told a crowd of more than 1,000 people Monday she wants city officials to stop working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Later in the evening, Nashville mayoral candidate Julia Clark-Johnson said she wants to turn Nashville into a sanctuary city. ...

Mayor’s Race 2019: Candidates, Some More Than Others, Talk Immigration 
Nashville Public Radio, By Meribah Knight- .... Mayor David Briley addressed the topic directly, advocating for a combination of change at the federal level and policies at the local level.

“We’re supposed to be non-partisan, but I am going to say, the No. 1 priority is to beat Donald Trump,” Briley said.

Priority No. 2 was directed at a specific Metro department.
“Our police are directed not to ask about immigration status,”

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Tennessee immigrant rights group to host mayoral, at-large council forum

The forum will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at Plaza Mariachi. I assume this is next Monday, June 17. The announcement is not clear. I will post an update when I have more information. See this link.

This occurred Monday 6-10-2019.

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Alveda King to visit Nashville to support Carol Swain for mayor.

Alveda King is a niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She is an author, and former state representative for the 28th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. If you would like to attend you may donate online at www.SwainForMayor.com, or RSVP to Karen@SwainForMayor.com.

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Senator Marsha Blackburn: MY VISIT TO THE BORDER

The following is from Senator Marsha Blackburn:  

ImageOn Friday, I visited the El Paso Sector Customs and Border Patrol/Department of Homeland Security migrant processing center in West Texas, where overcrowded facilities can barely contain the illegal immigrants apprehended each day. My visit came just one week after 1,036 people - the largest group to cross the border from Mexico - arrived there on May 29th.

Within thirty minutes, I watched twelve people in three groups try to enter our country illegally. One man who was trying to enter illegally told me he had been following media reports and believed that he could stay once he had crossed. Based on media reports, migrants are aware that pregnant women and families are able to enter the United States more easily and they are using these loopholes to their advantage.  
 
On Friday alone, five kilograms of fentanyl was seized - that is enough to kill nearly 2 million Americans. Opioid addiction is ravaging the United States. We cannot address this public health crisis if we do not cut off the major influx of these deadly drugs at the southern border. 
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The border patrol agents are crystal clear about the need for more resources, including and especially additional agents. While technology is helpful, it cannot replace the physical human ability to monitor, respond, and catch immigrants. Drug cartels use Facebook ads to smuggle migrants and bring drugs across ports of entry. CBP does not currently have enough agents to staff the various checkpoints and catch the criminal activity.
 
CBP also needs more equipment and transportation capabilities, as well as additional space to house illegal immigrants once they are in custody. This time last year, the El Paso Sector had 4,733 family units in custody. Now, they have a shocking 104,131 - up 2,100% in just one year. On top of that growth, the facility is only capable of housing 125 people but is forced to hold nearly 1,000 migrants in detention facilities. 
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The system has cracked. We have a full-blown humanitarian crisis on our hands. Congress has to act, and we need to address all aspects of the crisis.
In the past couple of months, I have sponsored two pieces of legislation that I hope will target important aspects of the border problem. The Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act will ensure that sentencing penalties for trafficking fentanyl reflect the deadliness of the drug. It's time the punishment fit the crime for drug traffickers. 

The Accountability of Care of Unaccompanied Alien Children Act will protect children from trafficking and further exploitation of the horrific situation at the southern border.
 
I will continue supporting legislation that addresses all aspects of this complex immigration crisis. We cannot have national security without border security. Until our border is secure, every state is a border state and every town is a border town. 
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STAY IN TOUCH
As a reminder, you can reach any of my six offices in Tennessee to share a concern or request assistance with a federal agency.  The phone number for my Washington D.C. office is 202-224-3344 , the same number previously used by Senators Bob Corker and Bill Frist. 

Be sure to follow my work on behalf of Tennesseans on social media: 

Facebook: facebook.com/marshablackburn
Twitter: @MarshaBlackburn
Instagram: @MarshaBlackburn

My Best, 
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Marsha

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