Friday, August 30, 2019

Steve Gill is out of jail.

Steve Gill
Conservative radio pundit and part owner of  Tennessee Star Steve Gill was released from Williamson County jail on a reduced bond of $50,000.  He was arrested on August 20th for past due child support of $170,000. His bond was set for $170,000.  He was divorced from the wife to whom he owes child support in 2011.

That was a bad week for Steve Gill.  Gill's current wife filed for divorce and a temporary restraining order also last week.

I am posting this without judgement as to the guilt or innocence of Steve Gill.  I know nothing about his situation. I am posting it simply because Gill is a celebrity in conservative circles and readers of this blog may have missed this news elsewhere. 

I do think parents should support their children, divorced from the other parent or not.  If one is unable to pay, there are legal remedies to have child support reduced.  The purpose of bond is to assure someone shows up for a court date.  To set the bond the same amount as the amount of child support due seems like bond is being used for a collection devise rather than assurance that one shows up in court. Jails should not serve as debtors prisons.

I am not assuming that because a divorcing wife gets a restraining order against her spouse that the husband is a dangerous person and a restraining order is justified.  Often the lawyer of a divorcing wife will tell the wife to get a restraining order.  It is almost routine.  I went through a divorce in the mid 80's and my crazy wife at the time got a restraining order against me totally without any justification.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Nashville Government Gone Wild

BY MARK CUNNINGHAM, The Beacon Center - When Beacon did exit polling in the Nashville mayoral race last month, taxes/fiscal responsibility was the number one issue for voters in the city, and for good reason. Our city is run with less restraint than drunken college girls in front of a Girls Gone Wild cameraman. A news report from News Channel 5 this week showed that the booming “It City” is somehow $4.5 billion in debt, which is more than double the debt of the entire state of Tennessee.

Instead of carefully and effectively cutting the incredible amounts of waste or the hundreds of millions of tax dollars given out to corporations each year, Mayor Briley has simply asked department heads to “find savings” in their budgets with no real direction. The city’s debt problem is so bad that the Tennessee comptroller—the state’s money cop—sent the mayor and city council a letter posing major concerns for the debt situation and lack of a plan to solve it.

This is why local politics and local government matters so much. While the state of Tennessee is very fiscally responsible compared to other states, the city of Nashville continues to spend money like a drunken sailor. Despite bringing in more tax revenue than ever before, the city somehow keeps overspending by absurd amounts.

As a Nashville resident and homeowner, the way the city has been mismanaged infuriates me. It’s not just one person or department either. The city continues to spend money it doesn’t have for programs it doesn’t need and the chickens are finally coming home to roost. Nashville will not always have this kind of growth, and if we cannot balance a budget now, how do we expect to do it when the growth slows down? We are in serious danger of becoming the next Chicago or San Francisco if our city leaders fail to show some type of fiscal restraint.

This type of is one of the reasons Beacon has made it a priority to focus on policies advanced by local governments across the state. We will continue to work effectively at the state level, but we have decided to also engage more on local matters in cities and counties in the years that come. Whether it’s a property tax hike in Murfreesboro, a proposed stadium deal in Chattanooga, or an unnecessary expansion of government-owned internet in Johnson City, we will have our ears to the ground and will fight beside you when these issues arise.

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Briley and Cooper debate the city's finances.

by Rod Williams - On Tuesday night, Mayor David Briley and Councilman at-large John Cooper faced off in a debate at Belmont University.  As it very well should, the debate centered on city finances.  To watch the debate follow this link.

In one exchange during the debate, David Briley said of Cooper, "If he is a Democrat, he ought to act like it."  I guess what Briley meant by that statement, is that Cooper should not be concerned that the budget doesn't balance and we are deeply in debt. Highlights of the debate are that John Cooper said he would not raise taxes and Briley said raising taxes were not off the table.  In fairness, Cooper also said one should not take any option off the table, but Cooper took a stronger stand against raising taxes than Briley.

Moderator Jessica Bliss asked a question about the debt of the city (see timestamp -53.49). She said the State had expressed concern about Metro's debt load.  Metro has debt of more than $4 and half  billion dollars and the State of Tennessee has, by comparison, only $2 billion. What, she asked, would you do to  address the State's concern.

Cooper points out that the letter also questions our low fund balances and the fact that Metro's budget does not balance.  Cooper says he would "rebalance" our priorities.  He also said lack of transparency has allowed much of the public to be confused about where our finances really are. He says the Comptroller's letter is "a big wake-up call."

Briley says the comptroller's letter is essentially "a political document."  He said we have a good bond rating and the letter was issued as a result of actions initiated by Cooper and his "conservative friends" on the Metro Council.  This is astonishing. The Comptroller has a serious responsibility and does not issue letters of this nature lightly.  That Briley does not take this issue serious should disqualify him. If the city does not address the issues raised by the city, there are serious consequences. Unless we address the serious issues raised by the Comptroller, Metro will not be permitted to sell Tax Anticipation Notes.  Since tax collection occurs in spurts and expenses are relatively constant, the city has to engage in short term borrowing in anticipation of the tax revenue that will be received. If prohibited from doing so, there would be serious disruption in metro paying its bills.  Metro employees may not get paid on time. For Bailey to so cavalierly dismiss the serious of the findings of the Comptroller's office should make one question his fitness for office.

Part of the debate boils down to who is the most "progressive."  I am wholeheartedly supporting Cooper in this race but I wish he did not take such delight in denouncing "privatization" and "trickle-down economics."  He is right on substance in the instances of which he speak, but I support, in general, both privatization and supply-side economics.  Another term for "privatizations" is "contracting out." I don't think many people think it was a mistake when we "privatized" our garbage collection. 

"Trickle-down" economics has become a liberal term for "supply-side" economics but it is also used to describe corporate welfare. What Cooper is denouncing is corporate welfare, not supply side economics.  I wish the same term was not used to define two different things but it is. When Cooper talks about "trickle-down" economics, he is speaking about corporate welfare or incentives we give to businesses to entice them to relocate to Nashville, expand in Nashville or to not leave Nashville.  Denouncing "trickle-down" economics appeals to progressives more than denouncing "welfare." Despite using the loaded term "trickle-down" economics, I agree with Cooper in that we too often offer companies incentives. Cooper would be much more judicious about offering incentives to businesses than has been Briley.

This is a serious debate where the candidates really disagree. In addition to the important issue of Metro's finances, the candidates discuss transportation, affordable housing, education and juvenile crime. At about timestamp -10:15, Briley makes the strong argument that he is the real progressive in the race on issues such as LBGT advocacy and advocacy of illegal immigration. He is hoping that people will vote for him because he is the most progressive while we sink in debt and his administration cannot balance a budget. Cooper makes the argument that he too is progressive. Maybe they are both equally progressive but Cooper sees our finances as a major issues facing the city, and Briley downplays the importance of our financial mess. Briley says vote for me because I am the true progressive. Cooper says vote for me because I will bring about sound fiscal responsibility to the management of Metro.  If you are not sure how the candidates differ, I encourage you to watch this debate. If you do, I think you will agree with me, that Cooper is by far the better candidate.

To view The Tennessean's report on the debate, follow this link

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

New teachers at some of Nashville's lowest-performing schools receive $5,000 bonus

New teachers at some of Nashville's lowest-performing schools received a $5,000 bonus in their paycheck on Friday. As reported in The Tennessean, "The one-time stipend is for newly recruited teachers in the city's 23 lowest-performing schools, or Priority Schools, to teach English, math or science classes and those who specialize in exceptional education and English-learning instruction.
In total, 49 teachers on Friday got the extra pay, according to Sharon Griffin, Nashville schools' newly hired chief of innovation."

This is wise policy. Nashville has a serious problem recruiting and retaining teachers. Nashville schools started this year with 100 teacher vacancies, concentrated in  the worst schools.

This policy makes sense. I would go a step further and give those who teach in the worst schools on-going "combat pay."  It would probably not be cool to call it "combat pay," but teachers teaching inner city children need to make more money than those teaching nice white kids in the suburbs. What happens is that teachers who get hired and teach in an inner city school try to get transferred to better schools as soon as they can.  

I think the pay for those teaching in the worst schools should increase till we reach the point at which the extra pay is  sufficient to make teachers want those jobs.  Until we reach that point, across the board pay increases should be off the table. 

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Monday, August 26, 2019


Thom Druffel
by  Thom Druffel -

We have all heard about the booming business coming to Nashville. Cranes and construction fill our downtown streets. How is it then that our city debt has grown from approximately $400 million to $4.5 billion dollars in just over 15 years? Our city debt is more than twice the debt of the State of Tennessee. 
According to the proposed 2020 budget we are projected to bring in more than 4.7% in revenue growth from last year which accounts for over $100M. Despite that, we struggle to balance the budget or to provide fair wages to our teachers, police and firefighters. While our debt has grown, those who provide essential services are overlooked. This is especially unfair when we look at the rising cost of living in Nashville. 
Mayor Briley and the current council have tried to plug the holes by selling off county owned assets: Real estate, power supply, parking. This is bad policy and is not a sustainable way to pay the bills. A new law will prohibit some of that in the future but much has already been lost. 
Metro budget practices have now caught the attention of the Comptroller of the State of Tennessee. The state is about to scrutinize the way metro is managing its finances, with particular attention to the plans to sell city assets to balance the budget. The budget hole was supposed to be filled by the higher than expected city fund, yet the budget still included $2.33 billion in the budget for the sale of parking and energy. The state, rightly, wants answers, and they are due by September 20.
The state has also taken the unusual action of demanding that the Metro Council pass a cash management policy by November 20. 
We have been reactive in our current government, rather than proactive with strategic planning. There has been no long term vision where we, as a city, prioritize our needs and balance those against our income. Selling off an asset, that cannot be replaced, is like selling Grand- ma’s silver to pay the electric bill. You can do it once, maybe, but what happens next month when the bills come due again? 
The solutions around financial responsibility and transparency must start with you and regaining your trust. We must have robust and direct conversations on our vision for our neighborhoods and city. We then need to determine the strategies and costs to accomplishing our joint vision.
My pledge to you as your council member is to hold regular coffees/meetings where we discuss issues that are important to you. Too many times in recent years we hear about important issues only a day or so before the council votes. Other times we read about decisions after the fact, in the newspaper. We are all stakeholders in our city, and we all deserve a voice and an opportunity to learn what the issues are and what will be discussed by the council. I can only represent you effectively when I know how you feel about the issues. 
We also need council members who understand finance and budgeting. I have managed hotel and investment portfolios for over 40 years with budgets over $150M in regions all over the country. I have had to manage budgets in diverse economic climates, in good times and in re- cessions. In the private sector, if you fail to make your budget, you lose your job. More borrowing is simply not an option. We need to run our city government in the same way. Rather than borrowing and going further into debt as an easy option to pay the bills, we need to look at where our money is going, where cuts can be made and where we want to prioritize our spending. 
Our current leadership has been inconsistent on budget issues, at one time voting for a proper- ty tax increase, later against and then claimed more time was needed to understand the issues.
Here is where I believe we can begin to find answers:
  • Ensure that our money is being spent efficiently and wisely, with input from the community about priorities.
  • We need to understand the expenses and determine if the increased revenue from our growth can fill the gap against the needs of our operating budget.  To date, we have seen very little of the revenue from our growth come back to neighborhoods or to wages for police and teachers.
  • We should look at changing the process for capital budgeting from yearly to 3 to 4 year timelines.  This would allow the city to make purchases in bulk at substantial savings.
  • Growth is only good when it adds value to our quality of life. We have seen almost no in- vestment in our district in infrastructure or capital improvements. While adjoining districts see new libraries, ice rinks, fire stations, playgrounds, sidewalks and schools, District 23 has been largely overlooked. A good council person will fight for funds to come back to our District.
I have the financial experience to work on the council and help steer our city back in the right direction. This is a pivotal time in the history of Nashville, and we need members on our coun- cil who understand finance and can collaborate to make sure that our growth benefits all of our citizens.
Margie and I have three children who are starting their careers and who want to live in Nash- ville. We want Nashville to provide them with a future of potential rather than debt. Let’s get to work!

Thom Druffel is a candidate for Metro Council in District 23. For more information follow this link. 

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SouthEast Nashville United 2019 Mayoral Forum Tuesday, August 27

Please join SouthEast Nashville United on Tuesday, August 27th for our 2019 Mayoral Forum.

Candidates David Briley and John Cooper will be in attendance to answer questions proposed by the Community.

News Channel 5's Political Analyst Pat Nolan will be our Moderator.

We have also invited Council-At-Large Candidates to be in attendance.

The Doors will be open at 6:00 P.M., and the Forum will begin at 7:00 P.M, and the Forum will run till approximately 9:00 P.M. We have also invited Council-At-Large Candidates to be in attendance, so arrive early if you want to mingle.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

My endorsements for the September 12, 2019 Metro general runoff election

For Mayor
John Cooper
For at-large
Steve Glover
Mayor:  John Cooper

Council member at-large: Steve Glover (I am voting for only one candidate. Here is why.)

Council District 2: Decosta Hastings

Council District 7:  No recommendation at this time.

Council District 13: No recommendation at this time.

For District 16
Tony Tenpenny

Council District 16: Tony Tenpenny

Council District 21:  No recommendation at this time.
For District 23
Thom Druffel
For District 26
Courtney Johnson

Council District 23: Thom Druffel

Council District 26: Courtney Johnson

Council District 30: Sandra Sepulveda

 I may be making other recommendations. Check back.

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Vote. Vote Smart. Single-shot vote. Steve Glover wins!

When voters go to the polls to vote in the September 12th runoff election, they will be electing four Council members at-large out of a field of eight candidates.  One may, but does not have to vote for four people to fill the four seats.

I will be voting for Steve Glover for at-large and only Glover.  Why? I want to see Glover elected. While I have some preferences for who I would like to win the other three seats, I will not be voting for them.  To vote for four candidates would weaken the strength of the vote I am casting for Glover.
Glover is by far the most conservative of the eight candidates running. I want at least one of the at-large seats to be held by a conservative. Glover is knowledgeable, smart, works hard, sensible, pragmatic, fiscally responsible and a conservative.

If people who are going to vote for Glover, would vote only for Glover, he will be assured of winning an at-large seat.  Voting for only one when you may vote for more than one is sometime referred to as "single-shot" voting.

Let me illustrate how this works.  For sake of simplicity, let us assume there are only 25 voters. If all twenty-five voters cast four votes that would be a total of 100 voters cast. [25x4= 100]. The four candidates winning the most votes, are elected. Assume this is the result of all 25 voters casting four votes:

Candidate one -   17
Candidate two -   16
Candidate three - 15
Candidate four -   14
Candidate five  (Steve Glover) - 13
Candidate six  -    10
Candidate seven -  8
Candidate eight  -  7  
Total votes Cast    100

Under this scenario, Glover loses. He comes in fifth.  Now let us assume that the thirteen people who voted for Steve Glover, only vote for Steve Glover. If that is the case then 13 people will cast only one vote and twelve will cast four votes, so a total of 61 votes would be cast. [(13x1= 13) + (12x4= 48) = 61 votes cast.] That is 39 fewer total votes cast. We could take them from whom ever we like. Let us assume the votes are cast like this:

Candidate one-   11
Candidate two-  10
Candidate three-  9
Candidate four-   8
Candidate five (Steve Glover)- 13
Candidate six-     5
Candidate seven- 3
Candidate eight-  2
Total Votes Cast  61

Steve Glover wins big! He is the top vote getter.

There are several ways we can play with this.  Let us assume that of the 13 votes Steve Glover gets, that only about five of his voters are informed conservative voters and the others are casual, low-information voters. They are voting based on names they recognize or who they think is a nice guy or they just do not understand the power of single-shot voting.  So let us assume that only five of Steve's 13 voters are going to single-shot vote and that twenty people will vote for four candidates. That would give a vote total of 85 votes cast, [(5x1= 5 + (20x4= 80) = 85]. The vote totals may look like this:

Candidate one-  15
Candidate two-  14
Candidate three-13
Candidate four-  12
Candidate five (Steve Glover)- 13
Candidate six-     8
Candidate seven- 6
Candidate eight-  4
Total Votes Cast- 85

Steve Gover wins Council at-large seat! Just barely, but he wins.

Be aware that when you go to vote, if you only vote for one candidate for at-large, the voting machine will tell you, you failed to make a selection in all races. You do not have to vote for any. You do not have to vote for four. You may vote for only one. Don't be intimidated by a voting machine.

If enough people who are going to vote for Steve Glover, would vote only for Steve Glover, he can be assured a victory.

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How to Impact Nashville’s Future: It starts with a Vote

From Carol Swain:

Dear Friends and Supporters:

There’s a change in the air. School has started, fall is near, and early voting in the mayoral runoff starts on August 23rd and ends on September 6th with the runoff on September 12th. The runoff will decide the next mayor and the makeup of city council.  

Your fellow citizens need you to vote in the runoff election. A lot is at stake for our city and nation.   

Steve Glover, the only experienced conservative running for a seat on city council, needs your vote. Steve is running for one of the five open at-large seats. His best shot at winning depends on you going to the polls and voting for only one at-large candidate. Courtney Johnston (District 26) is also a runoff against Jeremy Elrod. Both candidates could use your votes and any financial assistance you can provide. 
We can change Nashville. Currently, I am meeting with concerned citizens to explore the formation of an advocacy group to monitor the inner workings of Metro government.  The organization we envision would hold the mayor and the city council accountable to work on behalf of the public welfare. As conceived, it would be a 501 c (3) nonprofit that would use research, investigations, forensic audits, public outreach, interviews and litigation to ensure the following:
A) financial transparency
B) accountability 
C) integrity 
D) protection and advocacy for first responders (police, firefighters, and dispatchers)
E) Improvements in public education and protection of parental choice
The organization can also serve as a voice and protection for business owners who live outside of Davidson County. We will need experienced council members like Glover to help keep us informed.
I deeply appreciate your support of me, and the work God has called me to do. We must stand up, and Be the People who will work to change Nashville into the kind of city we can all be proud of.
Yours Truly,

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Teachers union (MNEA) endorces John Copper in the runoff.

Press release - The Metropolitan Nashville Education Association's Political Action Committee for Education (MNEA-PACE) has voted to endorse John Cooper for the office of Mayor in the 2019 Run-Off Election. The endorsement is based on Council Member Cooper's willingness to fight private school vouchers and provide more oversight to charter schools, which target two of the biggest threats to funding for public education.

Cooper has promised to join a lawsuit challenging the state voucher program, which unfairly targets Nashville and Memphis schools. In a statement provided to MNEA, he stated, "As your mayor, I won’t stand on the sidelines while the General Assembly tries to privatize public education in Nashville. Instead, I will instruct my legal department to fight the voucher program and make sure it never takes effect. Then, we will actually engage the General Assembly to work in the interests of what will work best for Nashville students."

Cooper made an additional statement about charter schools, saying "Nashville has some high-performing charter schools, but accountability and oversight is needed. We will monitor charters as to make sure we only have the best public charters. If a school is doing well and educating our young people, we will support it. If it’s not, then we will move to close it. It’s about how we effectively educate our young people from every neighborhood."

Currently, charter schools account for more than $150 million of the MNPS budget. This is nearly twice the amount that the MNPS Board of Education asked for in the spring in order to fund 10% raises for all employees, step increases, social and emotional supports, and new textbooks for students. MNEA will continue to make the fight for fully funding MNPS a priority in the 2019-20 year.

Rod's Comment:  I am supporting John Cooper for mayor because I believe he will get the city's finances on track and I think that is the most important issue facing the city. I am a supporter of school choice, however, and am disappointing but not surprised by  Cooper's position on school choice issues. I am not alarmed by Cooper's  statement of charter school, however.  I also support good charter schools and think bad charter schools should have their charter revoked.  I disagree with Cooper on vouchers and I support them. If Cooper's opponent was a champion of school choice, then Cooper's lack of support for school choice would cause me to questions my support for Cooper, but there is not much difference between the two candidates on the question of school choice.

The way I see it, both Cooper and Briley are liberals.  There is much they both agree on and I disagree with both of them.  I do think however, that Briley would be much more of a social justice warrior than Cooper.  While both may be liberal, I perceive that Briley will spend more time on advocating for issues that he really can't have much influence over, such as gay rights, Black anti-police grievances, abortion rights, and open borders and anti-ICE rhetoric than would Cooper. Cooper will focus on real issues that he can impact.

Where the two candidates differ is on the fiscal matters and that is the area where Metro has serious problems and is facing a crisis.  Metro Nashville just passed a budget that the Comptroller says does not balance and the Comptroller has said Metro's budget does not adequately fund reserve funds.  That should disqualify Briley; that would not happen with Cooper as mayor. Nashville also has the highest Metro government debt per person of any city its size.  I believe Cooper will work to improve government efficiency, reduce waste and corruption, reduce corporate welfare, focus on adequately funding the basics, and reduce the taxpayer debt burden. With Briley, we will have more of the same.  While I perceive both candidates to be liberals, Cooper is fiscally conservative and Briley is not.

In the above press release, MNEA repeats the claim that money that goes to public charter schools somehow robs Metro schools of money they could use for other purposes.  This is obviously false.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Early voting starts today!

Early Voting Schedule for All Dates and Locations

Howard Office Building

Friday, August 23, 2019–Saturday, September 7, 2019
Date Time
Friday, August 23 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 24 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Monday, August 26 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 27 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Wednesday, August 28 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 29 8 a.m.–7 p.m.

All Early Voting Locations Open

Friday, August 30, 2019–Saturday, September 7, 2019
Date Time
Friday, August 30 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 31 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Monday, September 2 Closed for Labor Day Holiday
Tuesday, September 3 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Wednesday, September 4 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 5 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Friday, September 6 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 7 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Early Voting Locations

Belle Meade City Hall, 4705 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205

Bellevue Library, 720 Baugh Road, Nashville, TN 37221

Bordeaux Library, 4000 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN 37218

Casa Azafrán Community Center, 2195 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211

Edmondson Pike Library, 5501 Edmondson Pike, Nashville, TN 37211

Goodlettsville Community Center, 200 Memorial Drive, Goodlettsville, TN 37072

Green Hills Library, 3701 Benham Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215

Hermitage Library, 3700 James Kay Lane, Hermitage, TN 37076

Howard Office Building, 700 2nd Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37210

Madison Library, 610 Gallatin Pike South, Madison, TN 37115

Southeast Library, 5260 Hickory Hollow Pkwy, Antioch, TN 37013

Visit the Election Commission Department web site for more information

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Steve Gill goes to jail for unpaid back child support

He was arrested for not paying $170,000 in back child support.

link, link, link

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Metro council voted down a bill that would ban scooters

by Rod Williams - Metro council voted down a bill that would ban scooters in Nashville at last

night's Council meeting. The bill, sponsored by Steve Glover, failed, with only seven council members voting in favor of the ban. While I am a supporter of Steve Glover's election campaign, I disagree with him on this issue and am pleased this bill was defeated.

In July, council approved a bill that kept scooters on Nashville streets, but it added new regulations. The bill implemented "slow zones" in areas of downtown Nashville and prohibited scooters from operating past 10:00 p.m during the week and 11:00 p.m. during the weekends. It also limited the number of scooters.

In my view scooters should not be banned. That is not to say that I do not think we have scooter problem as it exist now. Recently, while walking from my home near Wedgewood and Eighth Ave toward downtown, I had two scooters zoom by me on the sidewalk passing on my left. I say "zoomed," but they probably were going no faster than a jogger who passes a person walking, but it seemed fast. If I would have inadvertently stepped to my left, I could have been run over by the scooter or the scooter to avoid hitting me could have careened off the sidewalk into the path of a car. After that harrowing incident, later other scooters passed me coming up to me from behind and at the same time others scooters were coming down the sidewalk heading toward me. These two groups of scooters had to pass on the sidewalk and I had to get out of the way. That is dangerous.

I have also observed scooters switching from sidewalks to street and cut corners at intersection and driving between cars and doing other dangerous things. I am not for an outright ban on scooters however, because I thing we need to welcome innovation and market forces to solve our transportation problems. We need a multimodal approach to transportation. We need options. They are not here yet, but on the way are electric bicycles which will add another transportation option that will probably be as popular, maybe more popular, than the scooters. If we have banned scooters, the electric bicycle will probably be reluctant to come to Nashville.

While a lot of young, often probably impaired, tourist zip around town on scooters enhancing their Nashville tourist experience and making life more stressful for pedestrians and drivers, scooters are also used by a lot of locals. Recently, I talked to two locals who ride scooters. One was a waiter at Southern Oyster and Steak on 3rd Ave. South. Parking is outrageously expensive downtown, especially for a guy on a waiters salary. This guy parks his car at the Nissan stadium across the river and scoots to work and back to his car every day. The other person was an attorney who works at the Beacon Center and uses a scooter to get to and from a parking garage several blocks away.

I do think we need more regulations. We should tolerate them being parked on the sidewalk but require they be parked unobtrusively. Certain busy blocks should not allow scooters to park on the sidewalks at all, but require the scooter companies to lease parking spaces for conversion to scooter corrals. I tend to think scooters should be banned from being ridden on the sidewalks. If allowed at all on the sidewalk however, they should be allowed to be driven at only a rate of speed equal to that of someone walking at a fast pace and be required to sound a warning when approaching a pedestrian from the rear. I approve of the new scooter "slow zones." Rules should be posted around town and on the app when one rents the scooter. Enforcement could be paid for with a tax or fee charged to the scooter owners.

Unfortunately, in my view, back in July when the Council passed the bill that imposed new scooter regulations, the bill also mandated a fifty percent reduction in the number of scooters allowed on the streets. I oppose that. Artificially capping the number makes those who have them on our streets, have a more valuable product and the ability to charge more. We should not enrich those lucky enough to win the scooter lottery. There will be a number at which it will not be profitable to add more scooters. We should let the market determine that number. When electric bicycles come to Nashville, they will cut into the scooter market. Most things work themselves out, if government will stay out of the way. Regulation for safety is a different kind of regulation than the kind of economic regulations that sets limits or prices. We should not be in the business of protecting people from competition.

I also do not want to require riders to wear helmets. So far we have not done so, but some advocate that.  I know helmets may save lives but people should be free to evaluate the risk for themselves after being made aware of the risk. While scooter owners could make helmets available at certain locations such as hotels, requiring every scooter user to wear a helmet is simply impractical. Also, I don't like wearing a helmet myself. I don't want to stop other people from having fun.

Don't ban the scooters, impose reasonable regulations, learn to share the road, don't resent other people having fun, and let innovation and the market solve our transportation problems.

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Study finds Tennessee ranks No. 2 friendliest state in the country

NASHVILLE (WSMV) - When it comes to friendly states, Tennessee ranks near the top of the list at number 2 according to a new study by Big 7 Travel.

Tennessee residents were noted as having "classic southern charm" with "an eagerness to show off their city to out-of-towners." The state was also noted for its "lively music scene."

Kentucky was ... number 19.  The most friendliest state? Minnesota. The least friendliest state? New York. ...California ranking 40th and Florida ranking 42nd. (link)

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Governor Lee Signs Pro-Life Legislation

Human Life Protection Act will ban abortion
 when Roe v. Wade is overtuned in whole or in part

From Tennessee Right to Life: Tennessee Right to Life thanks Governor Bill Lee for signing into law the Human Life Protection Act (SB 1257/HB 1029). The law will take effect upon the reversal of Roe v Wade, in whole or in part, by the U.S. Supreme Court. It will enact the full restoration of Tennessee's protective pre-Roe laws. The act also restores the right of Tennesseans to decide these public policies on abortion for ourselves.

"It has always been the priority of Tennessee's pro-life movement to restore the fullest possible protection to the largest number of unborn children and women in our state," said Stacy Dunn, vice-president of Tennessee Right to Life. "While states like New York are moving to strip any limits to abortion--even at the moments before birth---Tennessee wants to protect unborn children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion."

Prime sponsors of the measure were Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) and Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet.) It was passed overwhelmingly by both the Senate, 26-5, and the House, 69-24.
"This pro-life bill was passed in large part due to the vigilant care with which sponsors Gresham and Lynn shepherded the measure. Tennessee Right to Life expresses our appreciation for their work and wisdom," said Trecia Dillingham, board member for the organization. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature to restore full protection to the vulnerable unborn in our state," said Dillingham.

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Metro Coucil candidates at-large forum, Thursday, Aug. 22.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Firefighters union backs John Cooper for mayor

The Tennessean - The Nashville firefighters union on Wednesday announced its support for Metro Councilman John Cooper for mayor.

It's the second major union endorsement for Cooper since he finished first in the general election and qualified for the runoff against incumbent Mayor David Briley.

The Nashville laborers union, which represents construction workers and Vanderbilt University workers, also endorsed Cooper. (link)

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Business backers bail on Briley

Nashville Post- “Lot of rats leaving the ship,” one David Briley loyalist quipped, a dual indictment of both the rats and the ship, proverbially sinking.

In the days since Metro Councilmember John Cooper finished atop the mayoral field on Aug. 1, sending him to a runoff against Briley, the incumbent and second-place finisher, some of Briley’s most prominent financial supporters have been switching sides.

Next week, developer Bill Hostettler, sign magnate and airport authority member Bobby Joslin, Ryman Hospitality Properties CEO Colin Reed and historian David Ewing are throwing a fundraiser for Cooper, according to an invitation obtained by the Post. Each had previously given more than $1,000 to Briley. (link)

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sheriff Daron Hall asked to find $636,300 in "targeted savings." Hall says, "absolutely not."

Sheriff Daron Hall
by Rod Williams - When the Mayor asked Sheriff Daron Hall to find $636,300 in "targeted savings," and Hall was asked by the media if he could meet that request and he said, "absolutely not."

Earlier this month the Tennessee Comptroller sent the Mayor and Metro Council Members a letter expressing concern about Metro's finances. The two areas of concern were we had insufficient reserves and the budget did not balance.

The mayor had counted as revenue, the anticipated up front payment from a plan to privatize Metro's parking meter operations.  When that plan ran into wide-spread opposition, Briley pulled the plug on the plan. That left a $30 million hole in the budget. Briley did not raise the $30 million elsewhere, nor did he cut expenses by $30 million. The letter from the Comptroller not only raised concern, it said that Metro had until Sept. 20th  to fix the problems or Metro would not be permitted to sale Tax Anticipation Notes.  Cities routinely engage in tax anticipation borrowing, because some bills come due before the revenue come in.

To fix this problem, Briely has told departments to find "savings" in their budget and has given each department a target of savings to find. Not all departments of local government work for the mayor.  The County Clerk is an elected official; the Metro Clerk is a Department head.  The Sheriff is an elected official; the Chief of Police is a department head. All of their budgets however are part of the Metro Budget.

When the mayor tells a subordinate department head to find savings, they are likely to do so.  With time, some Department heads do become somewhat independent and powerful, nevertheless, they work for the mayor.  Elected officials do not work for the mayor.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall is obviously frustrated with Metro's financial state of affairs. "I've been here all my life, living in Nashville," he told a local reporter. "It's the biggest boom we've ever had, but we don't have any money."

"If the Mayor's Office wants to cut people's budgets they should do that in a public way so the Council could ask 'What does that mean to you?' Don't do it a week after the budget is approved, telling me what the planned savings are," said Hall.

If Metro does not balance its budget and the Comptroller does not allow Metro to sell Tax Anticipation notes, then Metro could run out of money to pay its bills and would be facing decisions such as defaulting on its bonds or not meeting payroll.  We are no where near that yet, but this has to be resolved are we could be.  Eventually, the Comptroller could step in and talk over Metro's finances and order cuts or even raise taxes. This is serious. 

Serious through it is, I do not fault Hall for not playing ball. There is a process for passing a budget. Briley blew it. Let him negotiate with the Comptroller and go back and pass a budget that respects process and transparency.  Unless Briley resolves this, Bill Boner will lose his title as Nashville's worst mayor.

For source material see this link.

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6 Nashville council members, 2 school board members endorse David Briley for mayor

The Tennessean - Metro Council members Freddie O'Connell, Colby Sledge, Nancy VanReece, Anthony Davis, Brett Withers and Bill Pridemore announced they are backing Briley along with school board members Christiane Buggs and Gini Pupo-Walker.

Rod's comment: Not impressed.

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The John Ingram - Amazon Metro Courthouse

Metro is required to have a balanced budget and we do not.  We must find $30 million more in
revenue or cut $30 million in expenses.  I have an idea for how to fill that hole in the budget: Sell naming right to the Metro Courthouse.  We have the Bridgestone Arena and the Nissan Stadium, why not sell naming rights to the Metro Courthouse?

Since Amazon has teamed up with John Ingram and created A Better Nashville PAC, which has made major contributions to candidates for Metro Council (link), and since both Ingram and Amazon and their associates have given donations to many candidates for Council independent of the PAC, they may be interested in putting their name on the Courthouse of the city they are buying.  I don't know if it should be "The Amazon-Ingram Courthouse" or "The Ingram-Amazon Courthouse."

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Mayor David Briley tells Metro departments to find "savings" in their already tight budgets to fill the $30M budget gap.

by Rod Williams - Mayor David Briley  has directed Metro Departments to find "savings" in their already tight budgets. Normally, I would be one to think that bloated government could be cut without harming public safety and that cuts could be made without much harm, but not this time. While the local media has not chosen to treat it as a crisis, we have one.

Our police department is understaffed by 180 officers.  If one has a non-emergency need to report a crime, it may be days before one can get a response. Firetrucks are running with less than the  optimum number of fire fighters and as the population of Nashville has grown, we have only built one new fire hall in twenty years. We have a terrible problem recruiting and retaining teachers and our schools are failing. Codes inspections take days. Our infrastructure is crumbling.

I do not have the stats, but if I headed a media outlet with staff, I would investigate and  find out what is the fire department response time compared to a best practices and previous periods. If I were a Metro Councilman, I would ask the question. I also would want to know what happens when a fireman calls in sick. Is the public at risk? I would want to know average police response time to non-emergency crime reports. I would want statistics on teacher recruitment and retention. I know things are bad, but I wish had had a measure of just how bad.

What prompted this most recent call for departments to "find savings," is the letter from the Comptroller of the Treasury putting Nashville on notice that our budget did not meet acceptable standards. Basically it did not balance and our reserve funds are too low. Cities are required to pass a balanced budget; Nashville did not. Mayor Briley counted as revenue $30 million to be received from the sale of Metro's parking meter operation. When the plan to privatize parking met wide spread opposition, Briley pulled the plug on the plan but did not change his budget revenue projections.

It is my view that Metro is not underfunded. We have a spending problem; not a revenue problem. The current budget is $2,331,618,000, which is a 4.55% increase over the last years budget. We are spending $101,517,400 more than the previous year.  Metro is just inefficient.  I suspect we are bloated with unnecessary layers of consulting engineers in public works and that many department have too many administrative levels. Also, we spend a lot on non-essentials. 

This is the second year in a row, that Mayor Briley has called upon department to "find savings." The difference is that last year, he called on them to find savings before the budget was adopted, not afterwords. There are saving to be found. We could close General Hospital and save almost $50 million a year. It is not required by State law or Metro Charter, poor people have other options, and the hospital cannot fill its beds. Former Mayor Megan Barry proposed closing it but did not put much effort into the proposal.  She seems to have been distracted by the sordid affair she was having with her body guard and did not do her homework  or put  political capital on the line, the Council balked and the closing did not happen.

We could abolish the Human Relations Commission and save half-a-million dollars. This agency does almost nothing of value. The few things they do of value could easily be done by other agencies. This agency's primary function seems to be to promote political correctness. 

Rather than cuts to police and fire, we could close the libraries one day a week. I don't know how much that would save but it would be substantial.  The problem with this is that then the people would notice. You can hide cuts to the fire department and no one notices but if you close libraries one day a week people will notice. We could make judicious cuts without harming public safety but it is easier to make across the board cuts.

I do not know if what Briley is proposing to do is legal. It certainly does not seem proper.  Budgets are adopted after a process that involves administrative budget "discussions," (formerly called budget hearing), Council budget hearings, a public hearing, and legislative debate and then adoption.  It certainly does not seem proper to change the budget without the public transparency and input and the legislative process.  

If the city passes a budget and then we have a disaster that increases cost or if we have an economic downturn that results in less revenue, then a mayor does have the authority to shift funding.  This is not that situation however.  The mayor proposed a budget that he knew was $30 short of revenue.
The Council should have balked at passing it, but our system of government provides for a very weak council. There was not much the Council could do. They cannot change the revenue projections they are given. Under our charter, if the Council does not pass the mayor's budget and does not pass a  substitute budget, the budget of the mayor becomes the city's budget automatically.  While the Council could have made noise they did not have the power to make the mayor pass a balanced budget. This unbalance budget adopted by the city is clearly the fault of the mayor.  

Stay tuned to see what happens next.  If the Mayor cuts $30 million from the budget he may satisfy the Comptroller, but there may be law suits to challenge his authority to arbitrarily change a budget once it is passed.  While department heads work for the mayor and are likely to comply with his request for cuts, the Police and Fireman's unions will likely balk. Those constitutional officers such as County Court Clerk and Trustee and Sheriff are elected by they people and do not work for the mayor. They may not accept the directive to "find savings."  Also, we are in the midst of a mayoral elections. If Cooper will exploit it, and I think he should, he can show what an incompetent is David Bailey.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Have coffee with Thom Druffel, Saturday,


Meet Thom Druffel 

This campaign has been a great way to meet new people in District 23. Our campaign has knocked on thousands of doors, called thousands of people, and sent out thousands of mailers to local voters to inform them about the reasons District 23 needs new leadership.

Now we have a great opportunity for you to meet Thom Druffel in a more personal setting. 

This Saturday 8-9 AM, and every Saturday 8-9 AM until the election, Mr. Druffel will be at Bruegger's Bagels. 5311 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205.

He will be there to sit down, have coffee, and hear how you want the future of District 23 to unfold.

Get to know him one-on-one.

Thom Druffel is an experienced leader who has held the reigns for many years in the hospitality industry. He will take the leadership expertise that he has acquired from his many years of experience balancing budgets, efficiently studying business plans, and making productive deals, and apply it to the council.

Click here to watch to watch NewsChannel 5’s recent story on TSU's push for college students to take advantage of Nashville's huge tourism boom. You might see someone you know!

We hope to meet you there!

Early voting starts on August 23 at the Howard Office Building and here in District 23 on August 30 - ending September 7. Election Day is on September 12.

 Kind regards,
Thom Druffel for Metro Council Team

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Is President Trump responsible for the eco terrorist shooting in El Paso and the socialist terrorist shooting in Dayton?

by Rod Williams - Following the tragedy of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, there has been a mainstream media narrative focusing  on the white nationalist connections of mass shooters and an attempt to blame the shootings on a political climate created by President Trump. Most of the media, except for a handful of conservative outlets, have been beating this drum day after day.  MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show has gone as far as to suggest that when following the shootings, Trump ordered the flag over the Capitol to be flown at half staff until August 8th, he was sending a  secret message to white supremacist  letting them know he was one of them. You see, "H" is the eights letter of the alphabet and so 8-8 is a code for H-H, which stands for Heil Hitler. These people are nuts!

Most media did not get off into la-la land like MSNBC, but yet they made the claim or implied that the mass shootings are a result of white nationalism and Trump is responsible.

First of all, no one is responsible for the actions of another unless they were a co-conspirator or ordered the hit. No person not directly involved in the shooting is responsible for the actions of a shooter. If some nut kills a public figure I criticized in this blog, I am not going to feel any guilt.  When a mentally unstable person commits a crime, one could always look to influences and find a message or ideology or public figure that influenced the killer and is thereby responsible for the actions of the killer.

In 1969 when Charles Manson ordered the brutal grizzly murders at the Sharon Tate  home which resulted in the death of Tate  and four others, Charles Manson thought he was following directives contained in the lyrics of the Beatles' White Album. He thought “Helter Skelter,” foretold a bloody, apocalyptic race war. The murders were designed, in Manson's mind, to ignite that race war. I do not think the Beatles deserve any of the responsibility for the murders committed by the Manson family.

Another thing wrong with this view is that the facts are packaged to fit the narrative and facts that don't fit the narrative or ignored. No doubt about it,  anti-illegal immigrant views motivated the killer in El Paso. Before he went on this shooting rampage he issue a manifesto that called the massive influx of illegals an "invasion" and he said, "Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs. They will turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country."

That is not all he railed against however. He also expressed anger about "the takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations." He sounds like a liberal.

Much of his manifesto is that of an angry environmentalist:

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”. Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations.
Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle.
This part of his manifesto is hardly mentioned by the mainstream media. It doesn't fit the narrative. Was the shooter influenced by Al Gore?  You could just as easily call the shooter a eco terrorist as a white nationalist terrorist. The Dayton shooter was a supporter of socialism and favored Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and was against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (link) That has not been widely reported.

I don't know the political leanings of all of the domestic terrorist of the last dozen years or so.  Some were Islamist, some didn't seem to have an identifiable ideology, some where anti Jewish, one was anti Sikh or maybe was anti Muslim and was confused and thought Sikhs were Muslims, one was a Muslim who was anti gay, and several seem to be just mixed up sick kids. 

The media is painting the picture that most domestic terrorist are white supremacist triggered and inspired by Donald Trump. I think it is an intentional strategy to cause critics of open borders to shut up. Their narrative does not hold water. One could just as easily call the El Paso shooter an "eco terrorist" and the Dayton shooter a "socialist terrorist."

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Follow the PAC: Ingram money in the mayor's race

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Following the money in the mayor’s race? It’s complicated. A company owned by one of incumbent Mayor David Briley’s staunchest supporters, John Ingram, gave $20,000 to a political action committee he created; that PAC then gave $20,000 to another political action committee, which made the maximum contribution allowed by law to David Briley. 

Ingram has a lot at stake in the mayoral election. He owns a majority stake in the company bringing major league soccer to Nashville. MLS passed metro council but is facing a lawsuit by a group that doesn’t want the stadium at the fairgrounds.(link)

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Monday, August 12, 2019

State of Tennessee’s Comptroller has questions about Metro’s budget. This is serious stuff!!

by Rod Williams - The Comptroller of the Treasury has written Metro a letter expressing, "fiscal concerns that need to be clarified or addressed." This is serious stuff.  When a city as large as Metro cannot pass a budget that conforms with the law, it is embarrassing. It tells me we need a new leadership team that can propose a balanced, fiscally sound, lawful budget. 

As metro was passing a budget this year, I saw issues that I thought were a problem. Apparently, The Comptroller thinks they are a problem also. In a July 1 post, I wrote, "Metro's reserve fund balances are being permitted to drop below recommended levels." I wrote that, Metro’s established policy is to maintain a fund balance equal to or greater than 5% for each of the six primary budgetary funds and pointed out that several of the funds would not meet that threshold under the mayor's proposed budget. I thought that was a problem.

The Comptroller tells Metro, "We request that Metro Council provide our office with a cash management policy. When adopting such policy, we encourage the Council to consider establishing minimum cash balances needed for Metro’s operating and debt service funds that are sufficient to meet unplanned fluctuations in revenue and expenditures."

More important than letting reserve funds fall below policy levels was my concern that the budget did not balance. The comptroller sees that as a problem. By law the projected expenditures cannot be greater than the projected revenues. When Mayor Briley proposed his budget he included on the revenue side, $34 million to be realized in upfront income from the privatization of Metro's parking meters. Facing widespread opposition to the proposal, Briley pulled the plug on the plan. In my June 4th post, "Parking meter privatization plan not dead! Not withdrawn- just "deferred,"' I wrote, "Since the upfront $34 million from the parking privatization deal was used to make up the revenue side of the current proposed budget, and since the mayor has stated he will not seek a tax increase, $34 million must be found somewhere or that much expenditure must be cut." Well, the revenue was not made up elsewhere nor were expenses cut.

In the letter from The Comptroller, he writes that he wants, "A summary that explains the impact of the sale of assets including property and parking rights on the fiscal year 2020 budget in addition to the actual status of these sales."

He tells the Metro Mayor and Council Members, "A balanced budget shall be maintained with no cash deficits and sufficient to pay operating and debt service costs"

The comptroller's letter has teeth. Each year Metro government must borrow money for operating expenses in anticipation of  revenue. This is normal. It is the way all local governments operate. This year Metro has requested to issue Tax Anticipation Notes in the amount of $220 million. The Comptroller must approve such request. It does approve the request, upon the comptroller's office receiving the information it request, which I have explained above.  The Comptroller gives Metro until September 20th to comply.

This most likely means the Council must amend the budget to address the two issues of the inadequate fund balances and the use of phantom revenue from the privatization of parking.  To do this, the city could raise taxes or make budget cuts. Although passed, the budget can be amended. It takes three readings to pass anything and September 20th is not far away. This is a crisis. If the Council does not act, It cannot sell TAN and will run out of money to operate.

For more on this issue, see link, link, link, and link.

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Thom Druffel: The Runoff Begins

As of today, there is only a month until Election Day! After a long campaign, District 23 will finally get to decide who its next Council person is.

September 12 is coming up fast and we still have lots of doors to knock, and people to meet!

This weekend, we had a huge turnout of friends and supporters on Saturday at our rally. We had over forty people come out to officially kickoff our runoff campaign!

With energy and active supporters like this, we are speeding toward changing our district for the better. I'm thankful for the show of support and the involvement of our community in such an important race. If you'd like to help out, please signup here!

 Hearing your questions and concerns are important to me. That's one reason I'm running - to be a more accessible and engaging Councilperson that is transparent with you. Please always feel free to contact me and let me know about issues that are on your mind. I will always be responsive.

Early voting starts on August 23 at the Howard Office Building and begins here in District 23 on August 30 - ending September 7. Election Day is on September 12. I hope that I can earn your vote!

Kind regards,
Thom Druffel

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