Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Councilmember At-Large Steve Glover hosting a series of Community Meetings.

If this looks a little blurry it is not your eyes going bad. This is as clear as I could copy it and get it large enough to read. Rod

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Briley kept secret Metro's water financial mess. Now, not even enough reserves for emergency repairs.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Smoking Gun internal documents obtained by News4 investigates show the Briley administration withheld important information from council about how bad metro's water system financial crisis was. ... the  Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said Wednesday that the water department's financial crisis is so urgent and real  that it  wouldn't have  enough money to make emergency repairs..
Wednesday, Metro council members were dumbfounded to learn the water department’s finances are in such dire straights that the comptroller’s office threatened to take it over more than a year and a half ago....What’s worse, council members were never told,  though the state had been warning metro for  three years. (Read the rest of the story)

Rod's Comment:  This is an outrage. It was not simply an oversight. It was intentionally withholding vital information. There is no excuse for this.  If Briley did not violate a law and cannot be punished, the Council should at least pass a strongly worded resolution condemning his actions.  Reforms need to be instituted so this can never happen again.

For more on this see, Glover Reviews How Three Mayoral Generations of Neglect Could Affect Water Rates. This article post the transcript of a interview with Council member at-large Steve Glover on talk radio.  One interesting think in this report is that Glover informs people that some of the money paid by water customers for water does not go to support the water system but is diverted to pay for the Titans stadium. $4.5 million is paid from water rates to support the stadium.  I have told people this and they either act like they don't believe me or are shocked to discover it.  I remember when the stadium deal went to the people in a referendum and passed overwhelmingly. I opposed it for this one reason, that I did not think we should use water rates to fund it. To a certain extent, the mess in which Nashville finds itself is the fault of Nashvillians. They voted for the Nissan stadium deal and they elected the mayors who deceived us.

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Only 4% of millennial renters in Nashville metro expect to rent forever.

From Apartment List - Millennials have been blamed for destroying a wide array of industries, from tuna to doorbells, but what can we expect from millennials in the coming years of the Nashville real estate market?

Apartment List’s 2019 Millennials & Homeownership Report  analyzes the attitudes, expectations, and actions of over 10,000 millennial renters in the U.S. 

We find:
  • 4% of millennial renters in Nashville metro expect to rent forever. But of those who expect to purchase a home, 53% have not yet started saving towards a down payment.
  • At current savings rates, just 25% of America's millennial renters will be ready to put down 10% on a median-priced starter home in the next five years.
  • Forgiving student loan debt would be a major boon to millennial homeownership. If debt payments were instead put towards savings, we estimate the percentage of the nation's millennial renters ready to buy a home would rise from 25% to 39%.
  • To cope with high costs, some millennial renters look for down payment support from family. But millennials are expecting less support this year ($9,000) than last year ($10,000).

70% percent of renters say affordability is the reason they have not yet (or will never) purchase a home. Furthermore, student debt continues to be a barrier and millennials are expecting lower levels of financial assistance from parents than in prior years. 

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Amid budget shortfall, how much is Nashville spending on economic development incentives? Does it pay?

by Mike Reicher and Sandy Mazza, The Tennessean -  For the past 20 years Nashville's mayors have wooed companies here with promises of low taxes, a diverse economy, a creative culture — and more than $541 million of financial incentives.

Now Mayor John Cooper, who inherited a worsening budget deficit, has to decide how he will keep recruiting new jobs with tight finances. As he focuses on cost-cutting, one growing category is the annual impact of economic development incentives.

Metro has paid or lost out on an average of $31 million a year over three recent fiscal years, according to a Tennessean analysis of city records. That includes cash grants for jobs, property tax breaks, redevelopment loans, and entertainment subsidies for television shows such as "Nashville."

The annual impact climbed from $25.6 million in fiscal 2016 to $37.3 million in fiscal 2018, the most recent year of complete data available. (read more)

Rod's Comment: The measure of the economic impact of a policy or subsidy or development is hard to measure.  Having served in public office and having been a close observer of government for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the estimate of the benefit of a policy or expenditure is so much pie in the sky public relations.  It is about as reliable as picking a number out of a hat. 

Almost certainly, as an example, our funding of the TV soap opera Nashville, helped tourism. When people were thinking about where to go on a weekend vacation, some people might have thought about visiting Nashville, who would not have done so if not for Nashville being in their consciousness because of the TV show.  How much was it worth? I don't think anyone can say. The city provided $3 million in incentives and the State $5.5 million. The owners of the show estimated its first season impact at $75 million.  I think that is a SWAG- Scientific Wild Ass Guess.

What about the $17.5 million cash grant offer to Amazon?  They promise to create 5,000 jobs.  Is the grant worth it? I don't know but I doubt it. The number of jobs added is easier to measure than the economic value of favorable publicity, but the economic impact of those jobs is hard to measure.

How much do we benefit when we bring a company to town? We know they provide jobs but some of those jobs are people they transfer here. They are not hiring Nashvillians.  Of course, those jobs, even if they import the workers, causes economic activity. The new people buy homes and cars and groceries and everything else. Of course, that growth also comes with a cost; new congestion, and new demand for more police and firemen and all types of government services. They also increase the cost of housing and create a housing crisis and cause greater income inequality.   Growth does not always pay for itself. Growth does not come cheap. Nevertheless, it is better to grow than shrink.

When measuring the economic impact of a development or policy it reminds me of this story.  A growing company needed to hire someone in management to help with the companies finances. The CEO interviews three candidates, a mathematician, an accountant, and an economist. He interviewed them separately and asked each the same simple question. "What is two plus two?" he asked the mathematician. "That's easy," the mathematician replied. "It is four."

Next he interviewed the accountant and asked, "What is two plus two?"  The accountant said, "There is a 99 percent probability that it is four with a plus or minus factor of .2."

Then he interviewed the economist. "What is two plus two," the CEO asked.  The economist, glanced both directions, leaned forward, lowered his voice and said, "What do you want it to be?"

Take a companies estimate of their economic impact with a grain of salt. I would prefer that we had a free market and gave no incentives to businesses or sports teams. However, we can't unilaterally disarm.  As long as cities we compete with do it, we have to do it.  That is the way the game is played. But, we need to be judicious. I do not oppose all incentives and it is not easy to determine which ones are worth it and which ones are not. Without incentives we would not have a professional sports teams and I don't think there is little doubt that they have benefited the city.  We need to be careful though. With Tax Increment Financing and cash grants, and other incentives, we could be giving away the farm.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Powers of comptroller broad by definition

This is an informative article from The Tennessean.

by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - ...... "The comptroller of the treasury or the comptroller's designee shall have the power and authority to direct the governing body of the local government to adjust its estimates or to make additional tax levies sufficient to comply with this chapter."

While the provision in state law gives the comptroller broad authority to take over a municipality's finances, it can largely occur if a municipality fails to pass a budget on time, approves an unbalanced budget or if the local government were to default on its debt.
The decision on whether to take over a city's finances comes down to one person — the comptroller.
Wilson said he thinks Mayor John Cooper, Metro Finance Director Kevin Crumbo and At-large council member Bob Mendes, Metro's budget chair, understand the issue. But Wilson said he was not sure how the council would react to his assessment. 

"After (Wednesday), my perception is they understand that this needs to be done," he said. 
Overall, Wilson said he is hopeful Nashville can address the financial issues before a takeover becomes necessary. 

"We recognize that a good, healthy Nashville financially is really important for the health of Tennessee, and we want to do all we can to be sure that that happens," he said. 

In terms of timing, the comptroller said he would like to see city officials shore up their finances no later than the early months of 2020.

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

What's on the Council agenda for Nov. 19th? Raising water rates, banning aerial advertising, more financial transparency.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 19th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff analysis.

For those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along. If you are going to watch it, it is more interesting if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  It is still not very interesting but more interesting if you know what the heck is going on. You don't have to watch it and yet you can still be informed however, because  I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and I will post a video of the meeting and highlight the interesting parts. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

Elections and Confirmations usually amount to the Council confirming whoever the mayor appoints.  There are five appointees up for confirmation. They will probably all be confirmed without controversy.

Public Comment period is time dedicated to allow members of the public who have registered in advance to speak upon matters related to the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County community. This was started about a year ago, I believe, and has gone much better than I expected. I thought social justice warriors would use it to advocate but people have not abused the privilege. Watch to see if the newly empowered progressives take advantage of this opportunity.

Resolutions.  Most are routine things like approving contracts, accepting grants and approving signs overhanging sidewalks. I see nothing that would generate controversy. Here are the only resolutions of interest.

Resolution RS2019-99  and Resolution RS2019-100  reallocates $1million in money that was to be spend on the Gulch pedestrian bridge and spends it on other things. The other $17million approved for the bridge does not require Council action in order to be reallocated but the mayor intends to ask the Council to pass a resolution approving the reallocation anyway. That will be presented in a future resolution.  This should not be contentious.

Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote. I don't read bills until they get to Second Reading.

Bills on Second Reading. These are the ones that I find of interest.

Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising.  I see no logic for this bill and if I served in the council I would vote against it.  This was deferred from last meeting.
Bill BL2019-30 bans barbed wire and razor wire fencing in the Urban Zoning Overlay District along arterial and collector roadways. This is one of those bills about which I am conflicted.  I sympathize with those property owners who are trying to protect their property, but this type fencing creates a feeling of living in a war zone. It makes a street ugly and devalues enjoyment of public spaces. On balance, I think I would support this bill. I do not know if one may appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeal for an exemption from the provision. There should be a process to allow an exception in high crime areas or where one has been repeatedly had their property burglarized.
Bill BL2019-31 would require a permit for all new fencing. This was deferred from the last meeting. Unless their is a compelling reason why we need to start doing this, I would oppose it.
Bill BL2019-43 requires certain financial information received from the State be submitted to the Council. As the Staff analysis explains, "During the prior Council term, the previous administrations received correspondence from the state comptroller on several occasions concerning the finances of the Metropolitan Government and Metro water services. This ordinance would require that similar financial communications in the future be submitted to the Council within seven days of receipt. For purposes of this ordinance, “financial communications” means all written and electronic communications pertaining to the financial status, revenues, expenses, fees or service charges of the metropolitan government and any of its departments, boards, commissions, offices, and agencies. The department head for the applicable department, board, commission, office, or agency would be responsible for ensuring such communication is submitted to the Council as required by this ordinance."  This is a good bill. The Council deserves to be kept informed. It is shameful that the Council was not kept fully informed of Metro's financial crisis by the prior administration.
Bill BL2019-45  raises water and sewer rates. It raises several different fees, raising water fees about 63% and sewer by a lesser amount.  Unfortunately, this has to be done. We have a consent degree agreement with the Federal government to improve the system and don't have the money to do it and the State Comptroller says we have to do it. Also, improvement need to be made. More than 65% of Metro’s water pipes and 58% of the sewer pipes are over 40 years old.  I hope the Council will pursue changes at water and sewer so this situation does not happen again. Water and Sewer operate off of their own revenues and as a result do not get close scrutiny.  Since efficiency and cost cutting at metro water cannot benefit the general fund, they do not get the same oversight as would a regular Metro department.  In my view, changes should be made such that Water and Sewer has a board they have to report to and a member of the Council should be a member of the board.
Bill BL2019-46   would require more oversight of the Water and Sewer Department. It would have to submit annual reports to the Council which would include: 1. The Audited Financial Statements, including net position, capital assets, outstanding bonds payable, and other financial information. 2. The Annual Budget Review, including the adequacy of budgeted revenues to cover projected expenses and debt requirements. 3. Any other information deemed relevant by the director or upon request of the Council public works or budget and finance committees. In my view this does not go far enough. 
Bills on Third Reading. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2019-3   authorizes Metro  to opt into the historic properties tax abatement program under state law and would establish a historic properties review board.  I support this. I don't want to require property owners to preserve historic properties but I support incentives that encourage historic preservation.
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. It is also available live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Video of State Comptroller Justin Wilson's presentation to the Council. Also, Water Services issue presentation.

 As anyone living in Nashville who is paying the least bit of  attention now knows, Nashville has a very serious financial problem. You could call it a "crisis."  There are two parts to this.  The first is that our budget does not balance and we have been selling off assets to fill the gaps.  The State has threatened to take over Metro government if Metro does not correct this. They have the power to do so. The State could cut all but non-essential services and could force a property tax hike.

The other issue is that our water system is crumbling, needs more investment and our rates are too low to meet the needs of the system. My view is that this did not happen overnight.  Years of mismanagement led to this. 

To learn more about these issues and to see what the State really told Nashville and to hear what the Council heard, watch the above video of the joint Budget and Finance Committee and Public Works Committee of the Council. See timestamp 0:00:00 to 1:01:23  for the Metro Water Services presentation.  See timestamp 1:01:43 to 2:10:25  for the Tennessee Comptroller presentation.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

State Comptroller Justin Wilson told Metro Council, "you shouldn't be selling your furniture to make your house payments." Threatens State take over of Nashville.

On Wednesday, State Comptroller Justin Wilson told Metro Council, "you shouldn't be selling your furniture to make your house payments."  He threatened a State takeover of Metro Nashville if the city did not present a balanced budget. Below are news reports from various sources on the topic.

WTVF News Channel 5- .... Comptroller Justin P. Wilson made a presentation to the Metro Council's Budget and Finance Committee Wednesday evening. Wilson told members that the state will not approve the city's budget as it stands now.

"Despite all this wonderful growth and this booming economy that we have, metro government is cash poor," said Wilson.

Wilson says in the current budget there are non recurring expenses, meaning the city is hoping that selling one time assets can help plug in a more than $40 million budget hole year after year. He said in order to fix this, it comes down to to raising revenue, cutting expenses or a combination of the two.

The Tennessean - ...  "If action is not taken to come up with a budget that is approved within reasonable time, then you will have decided, members of the council, that the Comptroller takes the actions that the state requires," Wilson said.
Without an approved budget, the state can take control of the city's finances and decide what gets paid, cutting first what state law determines as "optional services." 

"Let me be clear. The comptroller's office does have the authority to step in and determine how you spend your money," Wilson said.
The ‘Mess’ Of Metro Finances Has Tennessee Comptroller Demanding Budget Fixes

WPLN, Nashville Public Radio -The city of Nashville is on a path to go broke next year. That’s the unmistakably dire message sent to the Metro Council and other city officials on Tuesday night by Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson.

And the comptroller demanded that Metro adjust its budget as soon as possible, warning that the state already could have snatched financial control if not for a grace period being given to the new mayor, new finance director and new Metro Council.

“It’s up to you, the Metro Council, to make the tough but necessary decisions to keep this city on track,” Wilson said, describing the city budget as “just about as tight as you can possibly get it.”

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How members of the Council voted on the Transgender Day of Remembrance

by Rod Williams - On November 5th the Metro Council passed a resolution recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nashville. It honors those gender confused people who lost their lives to violence. While any unnecessary loss of life is unfortunate, only about 28 transgender people met an untimely death due to violence last year. It is unclear how many of those experiencing gender dysphoria who met a violent death were killed because someone hated them for their condition and how many may have died due to living a dangerous lifestyle that put them at risk or were killed by a jealous lover or were simply victims of crime unrelated to their perverse lifestyle. In any event the loss of life is unfortunate. However, if I had a vote I would  have voted against the resolution, or at a minimum I would abstained from voting on the resolution.

My objection is that we should not be pandering to the advocates of identity politics and that while any unnecessary loss of life is regrettable, there are many other groups of people at least, if not more, deserving of a day of remembrance. I express this view in this essay:How about a day of remembrance for American military killed in action? For policemen killed in action? For firemen? For babies killed by abortionist? For Americans killed by illegal aliens? For ....

It is a victory that this resolution was not passed "on consent."  Resolutions on consent are lumped together and pass by a single vote.  Everyone present is assumed to have voted for the resolutions.  That is how so many ridiculous pandering progressive resolutions have passed the Council. Steve Glover is to be commended for moving to have this taken off of consent.

It should be pointed out that the resolution really does nothing. It changes no policy nor spends any money and amounts to nothing more that those who voted in favor of it recognizing that date for that purpose. It does not make the day an official Metro holiday. Below is how members of the Council voted and following that is the text of the resolution.  I have underlined the names of those who voted "yes" in whom I am disappointing. These are people who I supported in the recent election. The other "yes" votes did not disappoint me, because I did not expect any better.

Voting  Yes (34): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Johnathan Hall, Toombs, Gamble, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Robert Nash, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Lee, Angie Henderson, and Rosenberg;  

Voting No (0);

Voting "Abstain" (2): Steve Glover, and Larry Hagar.

Gone Fishing:  The number of votes cast comes to 36. Voting "abstain" is actually pushing the "abstain" button.  No one was absent for the full meeting, so four members either came in late, left early, took a bathroom break, set on their hands, or went fishing. The four Gone Fishing members are (3): Robert Swope, Russ Pulley, Courtney Johnson and Joy Stles. 

Resolution RS2019-87 

A Resolution recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of transgender people around the world whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence; and

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance was established in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith in remembrance of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts; and

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries; and

WHEREAS, the annual event provides a forum for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community; and

WHEREAS, many communities organize events and activities to create and promote visibility of anti-transgender violence to stakeholders such as police, the media, and elected officials; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council recognizes that transgender members of our society are disproportionately affected by hate crimes and violence, and experience myriad challenges in their daily lives, including discrimination, disproportionately high levels of unemployment, and limited access to health care; and

WHEREAS, according to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the United States due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were black transgender women; and

WHEREAS, fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, who comprise 80% of all anti-transgender homicides; and

WHEREAS, at least 21 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2019; and

WHEREAS, only four out of ten Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender, and at least 74% of the known victims of anti-transgender violence in 2017-2018 were misgendered in initial police or media reports surrounding their deaths; and

WHEREAS, despite the challenges faced by the transgender community, by observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we recognize, admire, and celebrate the growing awareness and acceptance of transgender people in Nashville and across the nation. Local organizations committed to these efforts include the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, the Tennessee Vals, and the Metro Human Relations Commission; and

WHEREAS, on Transgender Day of Remembrance we honor and commemorate the strength, commitment, and remarkably immense efforts of those working to secure full and equal civil rights for all people, regardless of gender identity or expression.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Council is directed to prepare a copy of this Resolution to be presented to the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, the Tennessee Vals, and the Metro Human Resources Commission.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s): Zachary Young, Nancy VanReece, Russ Bradford, Emily Benedict, Kevin Rhoten, Colby Sledge, Dave Rosenberg, Jeff Syracuse, Bob Mendes, Sean Parker, Kyonzté Toombs, Delishia Porterfield, Freddie O'Connell

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

How the Council voted on a resolution calling for amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

by Rod Williams - On November 5th, the Metro Council passed a resolution calling on the President of the United State and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform and "give Nashville’s qualified undocumented neighbors a path to citizenship and an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our community without fear." It should be pointed out that that is all it does. It changes no policy or spends any money. It is a statement of opinion of those members of the Council who voted for it.

It is a victory that this was not passed "on consent."  Resolutions on consent are lumped together and pass by a single vote.  Everyone present is assumed to have voted for the resolutions.  That is how so many ridiculous pandering progressive resolutions have passed the Council. Steve Glover is to be commended for moving to have this taken off of consent.

If I were serving in the Council, I would not have voted in favor.  I wold  have voted "no" or at a minimum I would have abstained. The resolutions calls for amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens without calling for deterrence to further illegal immigration. I could support a balanced comprehensive immigration bill but not a one-sided solution.

I could support "comprehensive immigration reform" if it  called for tightening the asylum rules to deter purely economic immigrants, if it called for additional or improved physical barriers as needed along our southern border, and it if required a mandatory verification of legal status of new hires. This resolutions did not rule out those things but called for rewarding illegal aliens without doing anything to address future illegal immigration.

Bob Nash was the primary sponsor of this resolution and I am disappointed that he did so.  Below is how members of the Council voted. I have underlined the "yes" voting members who disappointed me. These are people who I thought may not vote in favor of this and whose candidacy I supported when they ran for office.  The other "yes" votes do not disappoint because I did not expect much better.

Voting Yes (34): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Bob Nash, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Styles, Lee, and Angie Henderson;  

Voting No (0);  

Voting Abstain (3); Steve Glover, Johnathan Hall, and Dave Rosenberg.

Gone fishing:  The number of votes cast comes to 37. Voting "abstain" is actually pushing the "abstain" button.  No one was absent for the full meeting, so three members either came in late, left early, took a bathroom break, set on their hands, or went fishing. The three Gone Fishing members are (3): Robert Swope, Russ Pulley, and Courtney Johnson.

I am pleased that Steve Glover kept the resolution from passing on "consent,' and pleased that he and two other members abstained. While I wish they would have voted "no" or at least pushed the "abstain" button, I am nevertheless pleased that three other members sat on their hands or had to go to the bathroom during the vote.

Below is the text of the resolution.

Resolution RS2019-86

A resolution requesting that the President of the United States and Congress of the United States enact comprehensive immigration reform and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council recognizes that an estimated 31,000 undocumented immigrants live and work in Davidson County, of which 5,000 have been in the United States from five to twenty plus years; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council further recognizes that the overwhelming majority of these immigrants are hard-working, family-oriented people who contribute to the fabric of our community. Given the opportunity to become documented, these neighbors would no longer have to fear such actions as family separation and could contribute even more to our city’s culture and future; and

WHEREAS, our undocumented neighbors contribute to Nashville’s tax revenues through sales taxes and property taxes by virtue of rent payments and direct home ownership (approximately thirty percent of undocumented immigrants own a home); and

WHEREAS, 7,000 of our undocumented neighbors are under the age of twenty-five. Many of these young people attend Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Due to lack of documentation, their parents often fear attending school events and providing the parental support that is so important in a student’s success; and

WHEREAS, many undocumented children were brought to the United States by their parents before they were of any age to make such a decision on their own. They have been raised here and know no other home; and

WHEREAS, 151,743 people in Tennessee, including 63,621 born in the United States, lived with at least one (1) undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014; and

WHEREAS, during that same period, one in 25 children in the state was a U.S. citizen child living with a least one undocumented family member (70,982 children in total); and

WHEREAS, our undocumented neighbors are often afraid to call the police to report crimes and are therefore at greater risk of being victims of crime. Our whole community is made less safe for our inability to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice; and

WHEREAS, Nashville’s undocumented workers are afraid to come forward and report violations of labor laws and are often the victims of crimes such as wage theft; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Government’s failure to provide a path to citizenship for our undocumented neighbors has caused conflicts of interest and strained relations between federal and local law enforcement agencies; and

WHEREAS, our Federal Government’s failure to address this issue has resulted in our nation’s immigration enforcement officers diverting resources that could be better used securing our borders and apprehending those undocumented persons who truly pose a danger to our community.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council requests that the President and Congress of the United States enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would:

1. Establish just and reasonable eligibility requirements that would enable those undocumented immigrants who meet said requirements, to apply for citizenship; and

2. Establish a just and fair path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who have qualified to apply.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerk’s Office is directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the Tennessee delegation to the United States Congress, and the Tennessee General Assembly.

Section 3. This resolution shall take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s): Bob Nash, Jeff Syracuse, Sharon Hurt, Nancy VanReece, John Rutherford, Tonya Hancock, Zulfat Suara, Burkley Allen, Delishia Porterfield

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

“Finding qualified labor” top business problem in booming small business sector

NASHVILLE (Nov. 12, 2019) — The small business half of the economy continued its remarkable economic streak, posting a 0.6 point gain in October’s Optimism Index. The 102.4 reading was buoyed by eight of the 10 Index components advancing, as talk of a recession waned in October. The Uncertainty Index declined 4 points but remains historically high heading into an election year.

“A continued focus on a recession by policymakers, talking heads, and the media clearly caused some consternation among small businesses in previous months, but after shifting their focus to other topics, it’s become clear that owners are not experiencing the predicted turmoil,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan. “Small business owners are continuing to create jobs, raise wages, and grow their businesses, thanks to tax cuts and deregulation, and nothing is stopping them except for finding qualified workers.”

State-specific data isn’t available, but NFIB State Director Jim Brown said small business owners across Tennessee remain upbeat about the direction of the economy. “Their biggest concern is finding good applicants,” Brown said. “Our members may be ready to extend their hours or expand their businesses, but they can’t do that without qualified workers.”

Key findings from October’s index included:
  • The October increase was led by GDP-producing plans for job creation, inventory investment, and capital spending.
  • Reports of actual capital spending increased and inventory investment improved from a modest negative level in September.
  • Reports of rising labor compensation increased and remained strong historically, and the frequency of plans to raise compensation also rose in October.
  • Reports of higher selling prices remained subdued, so rising labor costs are still not pushing up inflation on Main Street.
  • Actual job creation in October exceeded that in September, as small businesses continued to hire and create new jobs.
The reported increase in sales put pressure on inventory stocks, reducing them. Owners reporting inventory increases remained unchanged at a net 0 percent. The net percent of owners planning to expand inventory holdings increased 3 points to a net 5 percent, a solid number and one of the best in a year. Overall, owners feel that the prospects for growth justify adding to inventory stocks.

Fifty-nine percent reported capital outlays, up 2 points from September’s reading. Of those making expenditures, 40 percent reported spending on new equipment (up 2 points), 24 percent acquired vehicles (up 1 point), and 18 percent improved or expanded facilities (up 4 points). Seven percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion (unchanged) and 14 percent spent money for new fixtures and furniture (unchanged).

Twenty-nine percent plan capital outlays in the next few months, up 2 points. Plans to invest were strong in agriculture and the wholesale trades (34 percent each), and manufacturing and transportation (33 percent each). Thirty percent of small firms reported negative effects from trade policy. Making major commitments about production and distribution will be more difficult until import and export prices are stabilized with trade agreements.

“Labor shortages are impacting investment adversely – a new truck, or tractor, or crane is of no value if operators cannot be hired to operate them,” said NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg. “The economy will likely remain steady at its current level of activity for the next 12 months as Congress will be focused on other matters, and an election cycle will limit action. Any significant change in trade issues will impact financial markets more than the real economy during this period. Adjustments to a new set of ‘prices,’ such as tariffs, will take time.”

Twenty-five percent of the owners selected “finding qualified labor” as their top business problem, more than cited taxes or regulations. Reports of higher worker compensation rose 1 point to a net 30 percent of all firms – a historically high reading. Plans to raise compensation rose 4 points to a net 22 percent. Firms are likely to continue to offer improved compensation to attract and retain qualified workers because the only solution in the short term to an employee shortage is to raise compensation to attract new workers and to train less qualified employees. Owners are still not passing on higher compensation costs, with only 10 percent reporting higher selling prices.

“The economy is doing well given the labor constraints it faces. Unemployment is very low, incomes are rising, and inflation is low. That’s a good economy,” Dunkelberg concluded.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Nikki Haley in Nashville to launch her new book.


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Veterans Day, Honoring all who served. Thank you.

See the source image

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Reading list for Nov. 13 Comptroller presentation by Council member at-large Bob Mendes

by Rod Williams- Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Metro Nashville has a serious budget problem. One might even call it a "crisis."  I think that word is overused but when the Comptroller puts you on notice that you must balance your budget and you must raise water rates, then I think you are at least close to having a crisis.  The Comptroller has a lot of leverage over a local government and could take unpleasant actions if Metro does not get its financial house in order. The fact that the Comptroller had to exert pressure on Nashville to cause the city to address our financial problems is in itself embarrassing.

For anyone who wants a better understanding of Metro's finances, I suggest you read the following article.  While I often disagree with Bob Mendes' political stances and am certainly more conservative than he, he is one of the people I pay attention to when speaking about Metro finances.  I opposed his proposed tax increases the last two years and may not agree with his solutions, but he clearly explains the problems and understands them. Bob Mendes' blog is one of the things I routinely read to stay informed.

The underling in his post his mine. I wanted to call extra attention to these issues.  

Reading list for Nov. 13 Comptroller presentation

Bob Mendes
by Councilman at Large Bob Mendes reposted from this link- The Comptroller for the State of Tennessee will make a presentation to the Metro Council on November 13, 2019, about Metro’s finances. In advance of that, I went back and read some of my blog posts about the city’s finances:

Pre-Budget Process Thoughts (May 1, 2016): This was my first budget-related post. I questioned why the portion of the budget being spent on debt was increasing during boom times. I said, “You would like to think that if you absolutely kill it on the revenue side, the percentage of your budget that goes toward debt might go down?  If one were a cynic, one would observe that record-breaking revenue increases can’t go on forever, and ask whether we will be able to anticipate when our revenue increases inevitably recede well enough to also pull back on large increases in new long-term debt.”

Math is Hard (April 27, 2017): I noted that from year to year, Metro kept using different numbers to describe what portion of the budget was going to pay debt. I am still not sure why this was happening. But by 2017, there was no consistent way to measure how much of the budget was going toward paying long-term debt.

Unfunded OPEB liability to cross $3B mark this year (October 9, 2017): This is one of several posts over the year making the point that Metro’s completely unfunded obligation for retiree health benefits has consistently grown more rapidly than the city’s budget. That’s a problem.

Storm has been brewing for a while… (May 5, 2018): After the transition to Mayor Briley, the Council was presented with a bad budget. This was the budget that reneged on employee raises and was called “belt-tightening” by the Mayor. This post talks about how it took multiple years to build up to this bad budget.

um…about the budget… (May 11, 2018): I started this post by saying, “The proposed FY19 Metro budget has been out for ten days now…and it’s not good…and this is just the first year of a multi-year problem.” In response, the administration doubled down on its “there’s no problem” campaign. I and the other Council members who tried to address the problems were painted as alarmists.

No Free Lunch (August 19, 2018): After having lost the 2018 budget battle by one vote, this post tried to show the city’s increasing debt problem along side the city’s increasing unfunded retiree benefit obligations.

Metro Debt Dashboard (September 15, 2018): Like the last post, this one tried to collect data to show how out of bounds Metro’s finances had gotten. This post created some back-and-forth between the mayor and me. Briley told the Tennessean, “And I’m even more surprised that Bob Mendes would put out these numbers about our debt and debt service that are just so fundamentally wrong.” This exchange is relevant only to understand how powerful it is when the mayor’s office with its full-time professional finance and communications staff dismiss facts. In large measure, as recently as one year ago, everything that is now considered “fact” about Metro’s finances was dismissed by the Metropolitan Government as “fundamentally wrong.” That aggressive denial is part of why the city’s finances are where they are now.

Metro’s Audited Financials as of 6/30/2018 (December 15, 2018): This one is long…maybe skip it. But if you want to see the latest about the retiree benefit obligations, read it.

Maybe hold back on the high fives for now?? (March 19, 2019): I wrote this post after the administration announced pay raises for employees and was attempting to portray that like the budget was back on track.

The myth that “belt tightening” could fix the budget (May 4, 2019): The title is self-explanatory.

FAQs – FY20 Better Budget (June 6, 2019): This post collects all of my several posts about the budget Nashville is currently operating under.

Met with Comptroller and Mayor today… (October 3, 2019): This one is my last post related to the budget and what the I expect the Comptroller to discuss on November 13.

As a final note, I want to remind everyone that, while it is easy to focus on Metro’s budget problems, these issues are mostly about growing pains. Nashville has an awesome economy. To fix the city government’s budget, it will take discipline, honesty, and effort. We can do this.

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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Beyond the Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 symbolized the end of the Cold War and spurred on the peaceful revolutions that caused Communism to crumble. Twenty years later, this extraordinary documentary examines the communist era and its legacy, illustrating the endurance of the human spirit in the face of political dogma.

Rod's Comment: I highly recommend this documentary, especially for anyone born after the fall of the wall or anyone who may not be aware of the importance of this momentous event in human history or anyone who may have forgotten how events unfolded and how freedom was won for those behind the iron curtain. It was not inevitable that the west won. It was not inevitable that freedom prevailed. Communism could have been the victor in the cold war or we could still be facing a divided world one blink away from destruction.

If you are an Amazon Prime customer, this is available for free on Amazon. For more information follow this link.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Tennessee should Recognize Victims of Communism Memorial Day, Metro Council shoud memorialize the state to do so.

On Monday, October 29, Pennsylvania became the ninth state to condemn communist regimes by establishing November 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day. Alabama, Arkansas, Utah, and Virginia have passed legislation. Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas are in the process.

Yesterday, November 7, the White House commemorated the National Day for the Victims of Communism by releasing a Presidential Memo.

"This year’s National Day for the Victims of Communism coincides with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall," wrote President Trump. "As we commemorate this milestone for human rights, we resolve to continue working with our allies and partners to ensure that the flames of freedom keep burning as a beacon of hope and opportunity around the globe."

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) organized a delegation of victims of communism to meet with President Trump in the Oval Office, including Grace Jo, a North Korean defector and Vice President of North Korean Refugees in the USA; Sirley Ávila León, a Cuban activist who was viciously attacked for her criticism of the Castro regime; Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, also known as Mother Mushroom, a Vietnamese blogger who was imprisoned by the communist regime for her online activism; and Daniel Di Martino, a college student from Venezuela who has firsthand experience living under the Maduro regime.

In a statement, VOC Executive Director Marion Smith said, "At a time when ignorance of socialism is growing and communist countries like China, Cuba, and North Korea remain threats, we need to be reminded of the one hundred million victims of communism who perished in the past century and the threat to liberty that communism still poses."

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

November 9th marked the end of an era. It should be world-wide day of celebration.

by Rod Williams - Saturday will come and go with almost no mention that that day was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It is a shame. November 9th should be a National holiday. Or better yet, it should be a worldwide holiday. It should rival a combination of New Years’ Eve and the 4th of July. There should be concerts, parades, dancing in the street, Champagne toast, ringing of church bells, and fire works.

On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the world changed forever. As the world watched, we did not know if Russia would send in troops to put down the rebellion or not. We did not know if East German guards would fire on their fellow citizens. In 1958 an uprising in Hungary was crushed. In 1968 the Czech rebellion was likewise suppressed. As we watched in 1989 it was hard to believe that the East German rebellion would end differently, but there was reason to hope.

There was reason to believe that there were few true believers in Communism left behind the Iron curtain. Gorbachev, to save Communism, had launched Perestroika and Glasnost, which had not saved Communism but sealed its fate. The Soviets had been forced to realize that they could not outspend the west in the arms race. The Solidarity union movement had sprung up in Poland and not been crushed and Catholicism had a Polish pope who was encouraging the Catholics behind the Iron Curtain to keep the faith, and America had a president who said his goal was not to co-exist with Communism but to defeat it. The West was more confident and the East seemed exhausted.

With modern communications and contact between the captive peoples of the East and the free people of the West, Communist governments could no longer convince their people that Communism was a superior way to organize society. And, for the first time, attempts to spread Communism had failed. From the tiny island of Granada, to Nicaragua, to Afghanistan, attempts at expansion had met with failure. When the demonstrators in East Germany began chipping away at the wall, the guards did not fire, the Soviets did not send in tanks and the walls came tumbling down.

It would still be a couple more years before the other Communist dominoes fell, but one by one they did, except for the two dysfunctional states of North Korea and Cuba. China did not fall, but morphed into a state that Marx or Mao would not recognize. It is only nominally communist. China became a mixed economy with an repressive authoritarian one-party government and it is now flexing its muscle and threatening its neighbors, but it is not spreading an ideology to change the world.

From the time of the establishment of the first Communist state in Russia in 1917, Communism had steadily grown taking root in country after county until by the time of the fall of the Berlin wall 34% of the worlds populations lived under Communist domination. And by peaceful means, Communism was gaining ground in much of the west with “Euro-communism” gaining acceptance and becoming parties in coalition governments.

For more than seventy years, freedom had been on the defensive and Communism had been ascending. During that time, approximately 100 million people were killed with a brutal efficiency. Approximately 65 million were killed in China under Mao Zedong, 25 million in Leninist and Stalinist Russia, 2 million in Cambodia, and millions more in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. This was accomplished by mass murders, planned famines, working people to death in labor camps, and other ruthless methods. From the thousands of Cossacks slaughtered on the orders of Lenin to the victims of Mao’s “land reform” the totals mounted. In addition to the millions of deaths, many more millions spend part of their lives in prison in the Gulag of Russia and the reeducation camps of Vietnam and China. Those who never spend part of their life in real prisons, lived in societies with secret police, enforced conformity, thought control, fear, scarcity, and everyone spying on everyone else.

While the world looked with horror on the approximate 11 million victims of Hitler’s Europe, for some reason less attentions has been paid to the 100 million victims of Communist tyranny. While the Nazi era lasted for only 11 years, the Communist terror began in 1917 and continues to this day. The story would be complete if the last Communist regime fell, but the fall of the Berlin Wall is a landmark event. By the fall of the wall, it was clear that Communism was not the wave of the future and that freedom would survive in the world.

Not only would freedom survive in the world, but the world itself would survive. It is easy to forget what a dangerous place the world was on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The world's nuclear stockpiles had grown to 70,000 warheads, with an average destructive power about 20 times that of the weapons that were dropped on Japan. One deranged colonel, one failure of a radar system, or one misreading of intentions could have led to events that destroyed the world. We were one blink away from destruction of life on earth. If there is any event in the history of world worthy of celebrating, it should be the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What happened at the Nov. 5, 2015 Council meeting? Council passes a request for immigration reform, a trans day of remembrance and raises parking fees. Defers aerial ad prohibition and new fee for fencing.

This meeting is 2 hours and 49 minutes long.  If you are going to watch the meeting, you will get a lot more out of the meeting if you know what is under discussion. If you are going to watch it, you can probably watch in double time and not miss much context. To access the agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

I am providing my summary of the meeting below. However, be advised that I only hit the high points and report on what is important to me, so you may want to watch it for yourself. I do not even attempt to form an opinion on each zoning bill and normally only report on those that are controversial or are bills disapproved by the Planning Commission. Also, if you view the minutes of the meeting you can find out from the official record what happened without watching. Unfortunately, the minutes are often not posted until a week later. You can access the minutes at this link.

Followings Pat Nolan's introduction and summary of what is important that is on the agenda, the meeting is graveled to order at timestamp 8.55. Following the prayer, pledge and ceremonial presentation of a recognition of a member of the armed forces, the Council gets down to business with consideration of elections and confirmations at timestamp 23:08.

Elections and confirmations

Election of School Board members: There are four nominees. A nomination speech if offered by the nominating council member for each of the candidates and then each candidate addresses the Council.  Player-Peters was elected with the votes of 26 council member. The runner-up who got 14 votes was Kevin Stacy, a licensed teacher who has worked as a schools administrator for Metro, Clarksville and Williamson County. His area of specialty is administering English as a Second Language programs. There really does not seem to be an ideological consideration in this vote. Some of the conservatives voted for one but some conservatives voted for the other and the same among the more progressive council members.
There were several other position in other agencies filled but none are of very much interest to the general public. Seats were filled on the Industrial Development Board, which is of interest to a lot of people in segments of the business community, but I do not know enough about the candidates to have much interest who won the seats. Also seats were filled on the Community Education Commission.
Resolutions and Bills on Public Hearing.  The Council begins Public Hearing at timestamp 1:14:00.
The resolutions are exempting businesses from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. The bills are zoning bills. On bills, public hearing is occurring on Second Reading of the bill. None of the bills have been disapproved by the Planning Commission. Very few people speak on any of the items on Public Hearing. This is the only item on public hearing I find of interest: 
Bill BL2019-3   authorizes Metro to opt into the historic properties tax abatement program under state law and would establish a historic properties review board. This would give a property tax break to historic properties that are restored. I support this. I am a strong advocate of property rights and do not want to prohibit someone from tearing down a historic property but also want to see old significant buildings saved.  If we can incentivize people in preserving historic properties I favor it. This passes and is referred back to the Planning Committee for more work.
Resolutions. The consideration of resolutions begins at timestamp  1:43:19. Most resolutions are lumped together and passed on the "consent agenda."  If there is no dissension then the resolution is considered to have passed unanimously by all present.  Any member may have an item taken off of the consent agenda or have an abstention or "no" vote recorded. They may avoid voting in favor of a item on consent by being out of the room when the vote is taken. At the start of consideration of resolutions, Councilman Glover has Resolution RS2019-86 and Resolution RS2019-87 pulled off of consent.  I am so proud of him for this action. For way too long council members who don't agree with super liberal politically correct memorializing resolution have, nevertheless,  let them just slid on through without opposition.  It is time for that practice to end! These two resolutions are explained below.
Resolution RS2019-86  "request that the President of the United States and Congress of the United States enact comprehensive immigration reform and give Nashville’s qualified undocumented neighbors a path to citizenship and an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our community without fear." The resolution's sponsor, Councilman Robert Nash, speaks in favor of the resolution. At Large Council Member Zulfat Suara, Council Member Sandra Sepulveda, and Council Member Delishia Danielle Porterfield speak in favor and no one speaks in opposition. The vote is by machine and is 34 in favor, 3 abstentions, and 3 not voting.

While someone could have voted "no" or at least have explained why they were voting "abstain,"  I am not unhappy with this outcome.  The bill is so vaguely worded that one could reason that their understanding of what they want in comprehensive immigration reform is different than what someone else wants. I am sure President Trump's favors comprehensive immigration reform if it gave him adequate funding to build a wall and funded more immigration agents and courts and made some other changes to immigration policy.  Also, this really does nothing. It changes no policy and spends no money. It simply expresses the view of those who voted for it. If I had a vote, I would have voted "abstain."  See timestamp 2:03:07- 2:10:14 to see the deliberation. When the minutes are posted, I will report how each member of the Council voted.

Resolution RS2019-87 recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.The sponsor, Councilman Withers speaks in favor. No one speaks against it. I do not blame anyone for not speaking in opposition, but my objection is that we should not be pandering to the advocates of identity politics and that any loss of life is important and that there are many other groups of people at least, if not more, deserving of a day of remembrance. I express this view in this essay:How about a day of remembrance for American military killed in action? For policemen killed in action? For firemen? For babies killed by abortionist? For Americans killed by illegal aliens? For ....
This resolution changes no policy nor spends any money and amounts to nothing more that those who voted in favor of it recognizing that date for that purpose. The vote is taken by machine and is 34 in favor, 2 abstentions and 4 not voting. Once the minutes are available, I will post the record of how members voted.
On the above two resolutions, I was unsure why there was a machine rather than voice vote. On the second one, the vote was taken by voice vote, and the Vice Mayor had moved to the next item of business and then came back to the resolution and had a machine vote.  He then explained this was because a Council rule requires a recorded vote on any resolution with a "no" vote or an abstention.
 Bills on Second Reading. These are the ones that I find of interest.

Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising.  I see no logic for this bill and if I served in the council I would vote against it.  It is deferred one meeting..
Bill BL2019-31 would require a permit for all new fencing. This was deferred one meeting.  
Bills on Third Reading. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2019-1 raises the parking violation fee for most parking violations from $11 to $25. It passes. With the scarcity of parking places and the increase in the value of a parking space it seems reasonable to increase this fee. This will help fund parking meter modernization. 

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Jim Cooper joins Congressional Dems in push to revive Equal Rights Amendment

From Congressman Jim Cooper - Following the Democratic sweep in Virginia’s state house, Congressional Democrats are reviving their push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, known as the E.R.A. The E.R.A. was one state short of the 38 needed for ratification when the deadline passed in 1982. But House Democrats plan to mark up a bill that would eliminate the deadline for states to adopt the amendment, clearing the way for Virginia to become that final state.

The E.R.A. would amend the U.S. Constitution to bar discrimination on the basis of sex.  It would bolster pay equity, domestic violence protections and pregnancy discrimination protections for women. It could also affect men by guaranteeing paid paternity leave equal to maternity leave. But there is a question of whether Congress, with the Republican-led Senate, will actually void the ratification deadline or whether the date was ever enforceable to begin with. Another potential problem is that legislators in five states, including Tennessee, have voted to rescind their ratifications in the past.

+Jim is a cosponsor of H.J. Res. 38, which would strike the arbitrary deadline in the original constitutional amendment.

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Here is another reason to dislike Amy Frogge

 Here is another reason to dislike School Board member Amy Frogge. This is a Facebook post from her posted today.

Amy Frogge

This is big news. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin lost last night.
Bevin spent his time in office attacking teachers. He called them “ignorant,” “selfish,” and “thugs.” The media called this race teachers’ “biggest electoral test.” Teachers defeated him.
What if teachers in Tennessee banded together to elect education-friendly candidates?
I really didn't need another reason. She is one of the most vocal opponents of school choice on the school board, almost as bad as former school board member Will Pinkston.  She did somewhat redeem herself by breaking with Pinkston and being a critic of former MNPS superintendent Shawn Joseph, however.

I was disappointed to see Governor Bevin lose last night.  I thought he was one of the rising stars in national politics.  I saw him speak at a First Tuesday event some time ago and was very impressed. He had a passion and a serenity and bold ideas.  I was especially pleased by his passion for prison and sentencing reform.

Blevin attempted to put Kentucky's house in order.  When he took office the State faced a $500 million shortfall (link) and Standard and Poor had downgraded Kentucky's credit rating due to underfunded pension liabilities. Part of Bevin's plan to resolve the Kentucky budget crisis was to reduce the annual cost-of-living increase in benefits of retired teachers from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent. 

Teachers rebelled and protested. "It's about just straight up wanting more than your fair share," Bevin said of the teacher opposition. "This is a group of people just throwing a temper tantrum." The governor said on a radio program that Kentucky teachers are paid much higher than neighboring states. He also criticized teachers for getting pay raises during retirement saying that state Troopers "who get shot at" don't get raises.  (link) Thousands of teachers protested Bevin and a war of words escalated. He did not call teachers "thugs" but denounced their "thug mentality."

The teacher's union beat Bleven and Kentuckians will face raising taxes and continued debt and cuts to other budget needs to fund teacher pensions. Amy Frogge wants teachers to band together to do the same thing in Tennessee that the teacher's union did in Kentucky.

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Metro Council elects Freda Player-Peters to fill School Board vacancy

At the Tuesday Nov.5th Metro Council meeting the Council elected Freda Player-Peters, a former local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leader and a former Briley staffer who worked as the liaison between the mayor's office and the Metro Council, to the School Board representing District 7.  She replaces Will Pinkton who reesinged his position. In her nomination letter she said she wanted to address inequities in education.  She had the support of the most progressive members of the Council.

Player-Peters was elected with the votes of 26 council member. The runner-up who got 14 votes was Kevin Stacy, a licensed teacher who has worked as a schools administrator for Metro, Clarksville and Williamson County.

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