Thursday, December 3, 2020

Senator Alexander's Farewell Address.



MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK MY FRIEND MITCH AND MY FRIEND CHUCK FOR THEIR REMARKS. I WILL HAVE MORE TO SAY TO THEM LATER. 

ON MARCH 9, 1967, SENATOR HOWARD H. BAKER JR., THE NEWLY ELECTED SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE, MADE HIS MAIDEN ADDRESS, HIS FIRST SPEECH ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE. HE SPOKE FOR TOO LONG. THE REPUBLICAN LEADER OF THE SENATE, ALSO BAKER'S FATHER IN LAW, SENATOR DIRKSEN, WALKED OVER TO CONGRATULATE HIM AND THEN SAID, HOWARD, OCCASIONALLY YOU MIGHT ENJOY THE LUXURY OF AN UNEXPRESSED THOUGHT, WHICH IS GOOD ADVICE FOR A FAREWELL ADDRESS AS WELL. 

AS SENATOR BAKER'S LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, I WAS ALSO HIS SPEECHWRITER FOR THAT MAIDEN ADDRESS, OR AT LEAST I THOUGHT I WAS. HE DEVELOPED A BAD HABIT OF NOT SAYING WHAT I WROTE FOR HIS SPEECH, SO I ASKED TO SEE HIM AND I SAID DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH OUR RELATIONSHIP? HE SAID, NO, WE HAVE A PERFECT RELATIONSHIP. YOU WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO WRITE AND I WILL SAY WHAT I WANT TO SAY. 

I LEARNED A COUPLE OF OF OTHER THINGS ABOUT SAYING WHAT I WANT TO SAY. ONE CAME FROM ALEX HALEY, THE AUTHOR OF "ROOTS" WHO HEARD ME SPEAK ONCE AND CALLED ME ASIDE AFTERWARDS AND SAID MAY I MAKE A SUGGESTION? HE SAID IF WHEN YOU BEGIN A SPEECH, YOU WOULD START BY SAYING INSTEAD OF MAKING A SPEECH, LET ME TELL YOU A STORY, SOMEONE MIGHT ACTUALLY LISTEN TO WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. 

AND THEN FROM DAVID BRODER, WHO GAVE THIS ADVICE TO RUTH MARCUS WHEN SHE GOT HER COLUMN FOR "THE WASHINGTON POST," ONE IDEA PER COLUMN, SO HERE'S MY -- HERE'S A STORY ABOUT MY ONE IDEA FOR THIS SPEECH. 

IN AUGUST OF 1968, SENATOR BAKER WAS IN THE REPUBLICAN LEADER'S OFFICE WHERE SENATOR McCONNELL IS TODAY. HE OVERHEARD THIS CONVERSATION. SENATOR DIRKSEN WAS SAYING NO, MR. PRESIDENT, I CANNOT COME DOWN AND HAVE A DRINK WITH YOU TONIGHT.  I DID THAT LAST NIGHT. AND LOUELLA IS VERY UNHAPPY WITH ME.  ABOUT 30 MINUTES LATER THERE WAS A COMMOTION OUT IN THE HALL, AND IN THE DOOR OF THE REPUBLICAN LEADER'S OFFICE CAME TWO BEAGLES, THREE SECRET SERVICE MEN AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND LYNDON JOHNSON SAID TO EVERETT DIRKSEN, IF YOU WON'T COME DOWN AND HAVE A DRINK WITH ME, I'M HERE TO HAVE ONE WITH YOU AND THEY DISAPPEARED INTO THE BACK ROOM. 

LATER THAT SAME YEAR, AROUND A LONG TABLE IN THAT SAME OFFICE THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT AND THE REPUBLICAN LEADER WORKED OUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1968. IT TOOK 67 VOTES TO BREAK A FILIBUSTER, BUT WHEN THE BILL PASSED AND JOHNSON SIGNED IT, THE SENATORS WHO VOTED NO WENT HOME AND SAID IT'S THE LAW. WE HAVE TO ACCEPT IT.  AND IT STILL IS TODAY ALONG WITH MANY OTHER CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS. SO THAT'S THE ONE IDEA I HAVE FOR THIS SPEECH.

OUR COUNTRY NEEDS A UNITED STATES SENATE TO WORK ACROSS PARTY LINES TO FORCE BROAD AGREEMENTS ON HARD ISSUES, CREATING LAWS THAT MOST OF US HAVE VOTED FOR AND THAT A DIVERSE COUNTRY WILL ACCEPT. 

IN THE 1930'S WE NEEDED A SENATE TO CREATE SOCIAL SECURITY. AFTER WORLD WAR II THE UNITED NATIONS, IN THE 60's, MEDICARE, 1978 TO RATIFY THE PANAMA CANAL TREATY.  IN 2013, MORE RECENTLY, TO TIE INTEREST RATES FOR STUDENT LOANS, SAVING STUDENT BORROWERS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. IN 2015, TO FIX NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. THAT BILL HAD 100 ALLIGATORS IN THE SWAMP.  "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" SAID WHEN WE FINISHED THAT IT WAS THE LARGEST EVOLUTION OF POWER FROM WASHINGTON TO THE STATES IN 25 YEARS. WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNED IT, HE SAID IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE BECAUSE IN THE END 85 SENATORS VOTED FOR IT. 

IN 2016, AS SENATOR McCONNELL MENTIONED THE 21st CENTURY CURES ACT MOVING MEDICAL MIRACLES FASTER INTO PATIENTS AND DOCTORS OFFICES. THAT BILL WENT OFF ThE TRACK EVERY TWO OR THREE DAYS. OBJECT ONE OF THOSE DAYS I -- ON ONE OF THOSE DAYS I CALLED THE VICE PRESIDENT, JOE BIDEN, AND I SAID JOE, I'M STUCK IN THE WHITE HOUSE. I'VE GOT THE PRESIDENT'S PERSONALIZED MEDICINE IN THIS. I'VE GOT YOUR CANCER MOONSHOT, SENATOR McCONNELL'S REGENERATIVE MEDICINE PROPOSAL, SPEAKER RYAN WORKED OUT A WAY TO PAY FOR IT. BUT I CAN'T GET THE WHITE HOUSE TO MOVE. I FEEL LIKE THE BUTLER STANDING OUTSIDE THE OVAL OFFICE WITH A SILVER PLATTER AND NOBODY WILL OPEN THE DOOR AND TAKE THE ORDER. AND JOE BIDEN SAID, IF YOU WANT TO FEEL LIKE THE BUTLER, TRY BEING VICE PRESIDENT. WELL, IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS THE SENATE RULES LITERALLY FORCED US TO COME TO AN AGREEMENT, AND IN THE END WE ALMOST ALL VOTED FOR IT. SENATOR McCONNELL SAID THEN AS HE SAID TODAY, IT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT LEGISLATION OF THAT CONGRESS. AND TODAY IT IS HELPING TO CREATE VACCINES AND TREATMENTS IN RECORD TIMES. 

IN 2018 THE ONCE IN A GENERATION CHANGE IN THE COPYRIGHT LAWS TO HELP SONGWRITERS BE FAIRLY PAID. THIS YEAR THE GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT. EVERYONE AGREES THAT IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL BILL IN 50 YEARS. ALL THAT TOOK A LONG TIME, A LOT OF COLLABORATING, MANY AMENDMENTS, MANY YEARS, TOO MANY YEARS CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES, STUDENTS, PATIENTS, SONGWRITERS, CONSERVATIONISTS WOULD SAY.  BUT THE POINT WAS THOSE BILLS DIDN'T JUST PASS. THEY PASSED BY BIG MARGINS. THE COUNTRY ACCEPTED THEM AND THEY'RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR A LONG TIME. AND MOST OF THEM WERE ENACTED DURING DIVIDED GOVERNMENT. WHEN THE PRESIDENCY AND AT LEAST ONE BODY OF CONGRESS WAS OF DIFFERENT POLITICAL PARTIES. 

THAT OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OR THE BLAME FOR DOING HARD THINGS, LIKE CONTROLLING THE FEDERAL DEBT. THAT'S WHY OUR COUNTRY NEEDS A UNITED STATES SENATE, TO THOUGHTFULLY AND CAREFULLY AND INTENTIONALLY PUT COUNTRY BEFORE PARTISANSHIP AND PERSONAL POLITICS. TO FORCE BROAD AGREEMENTS ON CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES THAT BECOME LAWS THAT MOST OF US WILL VOTE FOR AND THAT A DIVERSE COUNTRY WILL ACCEPT. 

NEARLY 60 YEARS AGO I TRAVELED FROM MY HOME IN THE MOUNTAINS OF TENNESSEE TO NEW YORK UNIVERSITY'S LAW SCHOOL IN MANHATTAN ON WASHINGTON SQUARE. IT WAS MY FIRST TRIP EVER TO NEW YORK CITY, AND I HAD ASKED FOR A ROOMMATE WHOSE BACKGROUND WAS AS DIFFERENT FROM MINE AS POSSIBLE. ONE OF THOSE ROOMMATES TURNED OUT TO BE A TALL SKINNY GUY FROM NEW JERSEY WHO, WHEN I WOULD GO TO HIS HOME IN NEW JERSEY AND SPEND THE NIGHT, HIS MOTHER -- SHE WAS A SEAMSTRESS, HIS DAD WAS A CONTRACTOR, THEY WERE ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS. HIS MOTHER WOULD BECOME SO CONCERNED ABOUT MY FRAYED COLLAR ON MY ONE DRESS WHITE SHIRT THAT SHE WOULD TURN IT WHILE I SLEPT. YEARS LATER THAT ROOMMATE PAUL TAGLIABUE INVITED ME TO GO TO THE THE ITALIAN AMERICAN DINNER HERE IN WASHINGTON. THEY WERE BURSTING WITH PRIDE FOR THE ITALIAN AMERICAN HERITAGE AT THAT DINNER. CHEERS FOR SCALIA AND PELOSI AND STALL LONE THE ACTOR AND FOR TAGLIABUE, THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE COMMISSIONER. BUT WHAT STRUCK ME WAS AS PROUD AS THEY ALL WERE OF THEIR ITALIAN HERITAGE, THEY WERE MOST PROUD TO SAY WE ARE ALL AMERICANS. 

KEN BURNS, WHOSE FILMS TELL THE STORY OF WHO WE ARE, REMINDS US THAT THE LATE ARTHUR SCHLESINGER ONCE WROTE THAT OUR COUNTRY NEEDS LESS PLURIBUS AND MORE UNUM. THAT IT, THAT THE FACT THAT WE HAVE ATTRACTED PEOPLE FROM EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD HAS MADE OUR COUNTRY RICHER AND STRONGER. BUT IT IS MORE IMPORTANT AND A GREATER ACHIEVEMENT THAT WE'VE COMBINED ALL OF THAT DIVERSITY INTO ONE COUNTRY. THAT'S WHY THE MOTTO ABOVE THE PRESIDING OFFICER'S DESK IS NOT ONE WORD PLURIBUS. IT IS E PLURIBUS UNUM. OUT OF MANY ONE. MORE THAN EVER OUR COUNTRY NEEDS A UNITED STATES TO TURN PLURIBUS INTO UNUM, TO LEAD THE AMERICAN STRUGGLE TO FORGE UNITY FROM DIVERSITY.  NOW SOME ADVOCATE OPERATING THE SENATE IN A DIFFERENT, WAY. END THE FILIBUSTER, THE SENATE'S BEST KNOWN TRADITION. 

IN THE MOVIE "MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON" HE CALLS IT THE RIGHT TO TALK YOUR HEAD OFF. DON'T WORRY ABOUT PARTY LINES. PASS EVERYTHING WITH A MAJORITY VOTE. PRESIDENTS WOULD LIKE THAT. THEY'VE SAID SO. THEY GET THEIR WAY MORE EASILY IF WE ALLOWED THE PASSIONS TO ROAR THROUGH THE SENATE LIKE THEY ROAR THROUGH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SO IF THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN CHARGE, WE COULD ABOLISH EVERY RIGHT TO WORK LAW, REPEAL ALL LIMITS ON ABORTION, AND PASS RESTRICTIONS ON GUNS. VERY APPEALING FOR THE MOMENT. BUT WHAT ABOUT IF THE TRAIN ROARS IN THE OTHER DIRECTION? AND REPUBLICANS SAY LET'S IMPOSE A RIGHT TO WORK LAW ON EVERY STATE AND PRO-LIFE LAWS AND GUN RIGHTS LAWS. IS SUCH BACK AND FORTH AND BACK AND FORTH WHAT WE REALLY WANT AS A COUNTRY? 

THE FRAMERS DIDN'T THINK SO. THEY CREATED THIS COOLING SAUCER FOR THOSE PASSIONS THAT WASHINGTON TALKED ABOUT AND THE FILIBUSTER, THE RIGHT TO TALK YOUR HEAD OFF, IS THE PREEMINENT TOOL WE USE TO FORCE BROAD AGREEMENTS ON TOUGH ISSUES THAT MOST OF US WILL VOTE FOR AND THAT THE COUNTRY CAN LIVE WITH. 

ALEXIS De TOCQUEVILLE, THE REMARKABLE FRENCHMAN WHO WANDERED THROUGH OUR COUNTRY AND WHO WROTE THE BEST BOOK YET ON DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA SAW -- ON DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, SAW TWO GREAT DANGERS FOR OUR FUTURE. ONE, RUSSIA. AND TWO, THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY. 

ENDING THE FILIBUSTER WOULD DESTROY THE IMPETUS FOR FORCING THE BROAD AGREEMENTS I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT AND IT WOULD UNLEASH THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY TO STEAMROLL THE RIGHTS OF THE MINORITY. WELL, YOU MAY SAY THE SENATE ISN'T SOLVING SOME BIG PROBLEMS, AND YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. WE'RE NOT EVEN VOTING ON SOME BIG PROBLEMS. SOMETIMES BECAUSE THE MAJORITY DOESN'T BRING IT UP AND SOMETIMES THE MINORITY OBSTRUCTS.  IF A CARBON TAX IS A GOOD IDEA, WHY AREN'T WE VOTING ON IT? IF WE WANT TO HELP THE DACA KIDS, WERE AREN'T WE VOTING ON IT? IF FEDERAL DEBTS ARE OUT OF CONTROL, WHY AREN'T WE VOTING ON IT? IT DOESN'T TAKE A GENIUS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BUM UP THE WORKS -- GUM UP THE WORKS IN A BODY OF 100 THAT OPERATES MOSTLY BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT, BUT HERE'S MY DIFFERENT VIEW OF WHY WE'RE HERE. IT'S HARD TO GET HERE, IT'S HARD TO STAY HERE, AND WHILE WE'RE HERE WE MIGHT AS WELL TRY TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY. BUT IT'S HARD TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING IF YOU DON'T VOTE ON AMENDMENTS. 

LATELY THE SENATE HAS BEEN LIKE JOINING THE GRAND OLE OPRY AND NOT BEING ALLOWED TO SING. IT'S A REAL WASTE OF TALENT. THINK ABOUT THIS BODY. OVER THE YEARS WE'VE HAD ASTRONAUTS AND FORMER GOVERNORS AND SUPREME COURT LAW CLERKS, MILITARY HEROES, TURN TURN-KR0E6789S. -- TURN-AROUND C.E.O.S. A GROUP OF THAT MUCH TALENT SHOULD ACCOMPLISH MORE. RESTORE THE SENATE TO THE TIME WHEN IT WAS WORKING ACROSS PARTY LINES MORE OFTEN TO SOLVE BIG PROBLEMS. NOT SO LONG AGO THE SENATE WORKED MONDAY TO FRIDAY, CONSIDERED HUNDREDS OF AMENDMENTS, MOST VOTES WERE BY MAJORITY, CONFERENCES WORKED OUT BROAD AGREEMENTS. THAT WAS UNDER THE EXISTING RULES. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. THAT WAS UNDER THE EXISTING RULES. SO THE SENATE DOESN'T NEED A CHANGE OF RULES. IT NEEDS A CHANGE OF BEHAVIOR. AND THE BEHAVIOR TO CHANGE FIRST IS TO STOP BLOCKING EACH OTHER'S AMENDMENTS. 

IF YOU'RE AGAINST IT, VOTE NO. WHY STOP THE ENTIRE BODY FROM EVEN CONSIDERING IT? WHY JOIN THE GRAND OLE OPRY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SING? I GUARANTEE YOU THAT IF 15 TO 20 DEMOCRATS AND 15 TO 20 REPUBLICANS DECIDED THEY WANTED TO CHANGE THAT PRACTICE, THEY COULD DO IT. NOW SOME GOVERNORS DON'T LIKE BEING A UNITED STATES SENATOR, BUT NOT ME. THE JOBS ARE DIFFERENT. BOTH JOBS CAUSE YOU TO WANT TO SEE AN URGENT NEED, DEVELOP A STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH IT AND TRY TO PERSUADE AT LEAST HALF THE PEOPLE YOU'RE RIGHT. THE GOVERNOR'S JOB IS MORE LIKE MOSES. YOU SAY LET'S GO THIS WAY. THE SENATOR'S JOB, IF YOU WANT TO GET SOMETHING DONE, IS MORE LIKE A PARADE ORGANIZER. YOU PICK THE ROUTE, YOU RECRUIT THE MARCHERS, YOU SELECT THE MUSIC. YOU EVEN PICK THE DRUM MAJORS SOMETIMES. AND THEN YOU MARCH IN THE MIDDLE ED OF PARADE AND HOPE IT DOESN'T RUN OFF THE ROAD MORE THAN A HALF DOZEN TIMES. 

I LOVE THE TRADITIONS OF THE SENATE, THE HARD MARBLE FLOORS, ELABORATE COURTESIES, BARRY BLACK'S PRAYERS, SCRATCHING MY NAME BESIDES HOWARD BAKER AND FRED THOMPSON'S NAME IN THIS DESK DRAWER. 

I MADE A LOT OF FRIENDSHIPS IN THE SENATE. MY BEST FRIEND BEGAN AT A SOFTBALL GAME BETWEEN SENATOR JOHN TOWER'S STAFF OF TEXAS AND SENATOR BAKER'S STAFF IN 1967 WHEN A 21-YEAR-OLD SMITH COLLEGE GRADUATE NAMED HONEY SLID INTO FIRST BASE WEARING RED SHORTS. I WAS NOT ONLY SURPRISED, BUT CAPTIVATED. AND 18 MONTHS LATER WE WERE MARRIED. AND FOR 52 YEARS SHE HAS BEEN AN UNSELFISH AND CARING WIFE, MOTHER, CAMPAIGNER, ADVOCATE FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY HER OWN. 

IN 1969, AS THE LEADER MENTION, SENATOR BAKER SAID TO ME, YOU OUGHT TO GET TO KNOW THAT SMART, YOUNG LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT FOR THE NEW KENTUCKY SENATOR MARLOW COOK. THAT SMART, YOUNG LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT WAS MITCH McCONNELL AND IT BEGAN A HALF-CENTURY OF FRIENDSHIP. 

MARIO DEE ANGELO FIRST CUT ME HAIR IN 197 WHEN I CAME UP FOR THREE MONTHS TO WORK FOR SENATOR BAKER WHEN HE WAS SUDDENLY ELECTED REPUBLICAN LEADER. SOME OF MY EXPERIENCES IN THE SENATE HAVEN'T BEEN SO FRIENDLY, SUCH AS MY CONFIRMATION HEARING IN 1991 WHEN SENATOR METZENBAUM OF OHIO SAID, GOVERNOR ALEXANDER, I'VE HEARD SOME VERY DISTURBING THINGS ABOUT YOU, BUT I DON'T THINK I'LL BRING THEM UP HERE. AND HE THEN PUT A HOLD ON MY NOMINATION FOR TWO MONTHS UNTIL I WAS MYSTERIOUSLY CONFIRMED 

LATE ONE NIGHT, AND I STILL DON'T KNOW HOW. BACK THEN I FOUND A NEW WAY TO MAKE SENATORS -- FRIENDS AMONG SENATORS WHEN I WENT TO THE REPUBLICAN RETREAT AND THEY SAID, STOP TALKING AND PLAY THE PIANO. WE'LL SUPPORT BUSH'S EDUCATION PROGRAM. SO I DID AND THEY DID. I'VE STRENGTHENED FRIENDSHIPS IN THE SO-CALLED INTERSANCTUM THAT CHUCK SCHUMER AND I RESURRECT DOWNSTAIRS. IT PROVIDES A PRIVATE SPACE FOR SENATORS TO HAVE A SNACK AND A CONFERS. 

ONE-THIRD OF THIS BODY OF THE SENATORS AND THEIR SPOUSES HAVE COME TO THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS TO BE OUR GUESTS OF HONEY AND ME AT OUR HOME FOR THE WEEKEND. WE DON'T TALK ABOUT POLITICS MUCH THERE. WE TALKED ABOUT LOST HIKERS AND TOLD BEAR STORIES. AND I'VE EVEN LEARNED HERE HOW TO COUNT. HOW TO COUNT MY FRIENDS. 

IN 2006, I WROTE 27 THANK YOU NOTES FOR 24 VOTES WHEN I LOST THE RACE BY ONE VOTE TO BE THE REPUBLICAN WHIP. HAVING LEARNED TO COUNT, I GOT TO BE THE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN. I ENJOYED THAT, BUT NINE YEARS AGO I LEFT TO FOCUS ON ISSUES THAT I CARED THE MOST ABOUT. SINCE THEN I'VE DONE MY BEsT TO LEAVE FOOTPRINTS THAT I HOPE ARE GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY, FIXING NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND AND 21st CENTURY CURES AND WORKING WITH PATTY MURRAY AND MICHAEL BENNET WAS THERE AT THE START FOR THE FAFSA. WORKING WITH DIANNE FEINSTEIN BUILDING UP OUR NATIONAL LABORATORIES AND SUPERCOMPUTING. JOINING THE BIPARTISAN PARADE OF PORTMAN AND WARNER AND GUARDER IN AND KING AND HEINRICH AND BURR AND CANTWELL IN A -- THAT CREATED THE AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT. WORKING WITH MURRAY AND JONES AND TIM SCOTT ON THE ONE HAND PERMANENTLY FUNDING BLACK COLLEGES. WITH BLUNT AND SHELBY ON THE SHARK TANK AND THE N.I.H. CREATING NEW DIAGNOSTICS TESTS. WITH BUR AND MANSION AND KING ON THE STUDENT LOAN LAW I MENTION THE WITH CASEY AND ENZI ON THE PERKINS ACT. WITH HARRY REID AND BILL FRIST WHEN THEY WERE LEADERS ON THE AMERICAN COMPETES ACT. 

NONE OF THIS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE WITHOUT AN EXCEPTIONAL STAFF, BUT INSTEAD OF THANKING THEM IN A RUSHED WAY NOW, I'M GOING TO MAKE A SEPARATE SALUTE TO THE STAFF SPEECH TOMORROW. MAYBE I'LL START A TRADITION. MY FAVORITE TIME IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE HAS BEEN WITH THE AMERICAN HISTORY TEACHERS WHO I INVITE TO COME TO THE SENATE FLOOR BEFORE IT OPENS WHILE THEY ARE ATTENDING THE ACADEMIES THAT WERE CREATED BY THE LEGISLATION I INTRODUCED IN MY MAIDEN ADDRESS 18 YEARS AGO. AFTER THAT ADDRESS, TED KENNEDY, WITHOUT MY KNOWING IT, WENT AROUND AND GOT 20 DEMOCRATIC COSPONSORS. IN THE HOUSE, ROGER WICKER AND MARSHA BLACKBURN HELPED PASS THE BILL THERE WHERE THEY WERE THEN. THE TEACHERS WHO COME TO THE FLOOR BEFORE WE OPEN INVARIABLY GO TO OUR DESKS AND TRY TO FIND DANIEL WEBSTER'S DESK. THEY LOOK FOR THE KENNEDY BROTHERS'-ESQUE DID -- BROTHERS' DESK. THEY ASK WHERE IS JEFFERSON DAVIS' DESK BECAUSE THEY'VE HEARD THE STORY THERE IS A CHOP MARK ON THE DESK THAT WAS IMPOSED BY A UNION SOLDIER WHEN THEY CAPTURED WASHINGTON AND THE SOLDIERS WAS CHOPPING THE DESK UNTIL HIS COMMANDER SAID, STOP THAT. WE'RE HERE TO SAVE THE UNION, NOT TO DESTROY IT. INVARIABLY A TEACHER WILL ASK A SENATOR, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE FOR US TO TAKE BACK TO OUR STUDENTS ABOUT BEING A UNITED STATES SENATE. MY REPLY IS ALWAYS THE SAME -- PLEASE SUGGEST TO YOUR STUDENTS THAT THEY LOOK AT WASHINGTON, D.C., AS IF IT WERE A SPLIT-SCREEN TELEVISION. ON ONE SIDE ARE THE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS AND THE TWEETS. AND ON THE OTHER SIDE YOU HAVE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN SENATORS WORKING TOGETHER TO STRENGTHEN NATIONAL DEFENSE, NATIONAL LABORATORIES, NATIONAL PARKS AND THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. PLEASE REMIND THEM OF WHAT A REMARKABLE COUNTRY THIS IS, THE STRONGEST MILITARY, THE BEST UNIVERSITIES, PRODUCING 20% OF ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD FOR JUST 4% OF THE PEOPLE. TELL THEM WE'RE NOT PERFECT, BUT AS OUR CONSTITUTION SAYS, WE'RE ALWAYS WORKING TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION. 

AS SAMUEL HUNTINGTON WROTE, MOST OF OUR ARGUMENTS ARE ABOUT CONFLICTS AMONG PRINCIPLES WITH WHICH MOST OF US AGREE. AND MOST OF OUR POLITICS IS ABOUT DISAPPOINTMENTS IN NOT BEING ABLE TO REACH THE NOBLE GOALS WE SET FOR OURSELVES, SUCH AS ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. THE LATE NAACP PRESIDENT BEN HOOKS USED TO TEACH HIS UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS STUDENTS, AMERICA IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. 

WE'VE COME A LONG WAY. WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO. PLEASE REMIND YOUR STUDENTS THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD WISHES THEY HAD OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT AND THAT THE UNITED STATES SENATE HAS BEEN AND I HOPE CONTINUES TO BE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT INSTITUTION THAT HELPS TO UNIFY OUR COUNTRY BY CREATING BROAD AGREEMENTS THAT MOST OF US CAN VOTE FOR AND THAT THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES WILL ACCEPT. AND FINALLY, PLEASE TELL THEM THAT I WAKE UP EVERY DAY THINKING I MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING GOOD TO HELP OUR COUNTRY AND THAT I GO TO BED MOST NIGHTS THINKING THAT I HAVE. PLEASE TELL THEM THAT IT'S A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO BE A UNITED STATES SENATOR. 

I YIELD THE FLOOR. [APPLAUSE]

Rod's Comment:  Thank you Senator Alexander for your many years of service to our nation and the State of Tennessee.  You are a good man and have served our country well.  I hope people take to heart your final words as a U. S.  Senator.  Enjoy your retirement, and my God bless you. 

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Attempt to derail the closing of Boudreaux Nursing home fails.

by Rod Williams - Thankfully, the Metro  Council failed to pass a resolution seeking to immediately stop the process of winding down the Metro-owned long-term care nursing home in the Bordeaux community of Nashville. The facility now has less than 15 people remaining at the site. Metro has been in the process of finding other homes for the residence since September and has placed approximately one hundred residents elsewhere. It is not anticipated there will be difficulty in finding beds for the remaining patients at Bordeaux as there is adequate capacity at nearby facilities. This move to get out of the nursing home business, which we should never have gotten into in the first place, is about fifty-three years late in coming.  

Some in the Council think we should stay in the nursing home business. The sponsors of the resolution were Jonathan Hall, Tanaka Vercher, Brandon Taylor, and Ginny Welsch. I am somewhat disappointed in Jonathan Hall's sponsorship.  I thought of him as a common sense type person and fiscally responsible.  I would have been surprised had Ginny Welsch not been a sponsor.  She is the most reckless and most radical member of the Council and never votes the right way on anything controversial and is a sponsor of every radical resolution coming out of the Council.  Once the minutes of the meeting are published, I will list who voted which way. 

 Medicaid was passed into law in 1965. By that act, the poor were no longer dependent on charity. The poor were given choices. At that time, Metro operated a charity hospital . We still do. Boudreaux did not open until 1967.  We should never have gotten in the nursing home business. With the passage of Medicare we did not need to provide this service.  Metro subsidizes Boudreaux nursing home to the tune of $6 million a year.  Hey, it's only money.  

With the failure to pass this resolution Tuesday night it finally looks like we are getting out of the nursing home business.  There is no talk however of closing Metro's charity hospital. With Nashville broke and Metro General a big money pit, unable to fill its beds, and an unnecessary expense, now would be a good time to do so.  Instead of finding ways to cut expenses, the Council would rather just keep raising taxes. Former Mayor Megan Barry half-heartily tried closing General but apparently was too distracted by her affair with her police body guard to do the heavy lifting necessary to make  it happen. At this time there is not even any talk of closing General. In fact, Metro General is laying the ground work to ask to build a new facility to replace the current hospital.  

Signature HealthCARE has been the operator of the Bordeaux nursing home for the last six years and their contract is expiring in January. Prior to 2014, Metro actually operated the facility and the staff were metro employees. In 2014 we privatized the operation of the facility and it is now operated by Signature. Metro sent out an RFP for an operator and neither Signature nor anyone else submitted a proposal. No private company wants to manage Bordeaux.

Bordeaux has been unable to fill its beds and before the start of the winddown was operating at only one-third of its licensed capacity. Bordeaux is rated 1-out-of-5-stars by CMS. So, finally Metro is closing the Boudreaux nursing home and the site will be redeveloped. 

For The Tennessean's coverage of this story follow this link





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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence to visit Tennessee on Thursday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13/WZTV) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit Tennessee this week.


According to FOX 13, Vice President Pence will be in Memphis on Thursday. According to a statement from the White House to FOX 13, the Vice President will participate in a roundtable on public-private partnerships to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Warp Speed, the CDC's vaccine distribution program and Tennessee's vaccine plan. 

This is a developing story. Updates will be posted here.

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How Big Government Stacked the Deck Against Small Business

Hannah Cox

by Hannah Cox - Most of us wouldn’t list 2020 as our best year. But you know who would? Amazon, Wal-Mart, Google, Apple, and a whole host of other big corporations who’ve seen their sales and stock prices soar amidst the pandemic. 

Small businesses have been pummeled by excessive and insane governmental lockdowns of the economy. Experts warn that one third of small businesses could ultimately shut down for good, and hundreds of thousands have already done just that. 

Meanwhile, Amazon’s sales increased 40 percent in the second quarter alone, while their stock price increased 97 percent. Apple hit a $2 trillion market cap, the first publicly traded company to do so, and reported nearly $60 billion in revenue. Since the pandemic began, Facebook’s stock rocketed up 85 percent, Google’s by 50 percent, Netflix by 63 percent, and Microsoft by 57 percent. All saw their revenues greatly increase compared to last year’s numbers as well. 

The typical headlines have followed: The Rich Are Getting Richer During the Pandemic, How Billionaires Saw Their Net Worth Increase by Half A Trillion Dollars, and How Rich People Are Getting Richer During the Coronavirus. “Eat the rich,” a rallying cry against perceived inequality, appears all over Twitter, clothing items, and graffitied walls. And for many, the billionaires at the helms of successful corporations provide ready-made villains for society to dump its economic woes, righteous anger, and feelings of powerlessness onto. The fault for this catastrophe does not rest on the corporations, and the anger many feel should be redirected towards the entity actually responsible for this situation. 

To be sure, there is cause for indignation. Small businesses are the lifeblood of America. They comprise the majority of U.S. companies and employ nearly 50 percent of all our citizens. Not only are they an essential part of our economy though, they represent the American Dream – the idea that no matter who you are you can come here, work hard, do the right thing, and build something for yourself and your family. 

There is no value more prized than that dream in our society, and small businesses are the tangible iteration of that ideal. To see these businesses and their owners so casually trampled on by our politicians strikes at the very soul of our nation. Millions of Americans are out of work, many others have lost everything they’ve worked to build with little to no recourse. The dream has become a nightmare. But the fault for this catastrophe does not rest on the corporations, and the anger many feel should be redirected towards the entity actually responsible for this situation: the government. 

From the very beginning of the pandemic, government stacked the deck in favor of some companies to the detriment of others. First, they arbitrarily decided which businesses were essential and which could be forced to close. In order to keep people in their homes, which the science shows was never effective at preventing the contagion in the first place, the government had to allow tech businesses to operate at full capacity. Without Netflix, Amazon, and UberEats, few would have agreed to stay in their homes for weeks on end. To a large extent, these big businesses deserve the boom they’ve experienced because they did provide essential needs for people during a crisis. That’s a market response that should be praised. 

But, there were many other businesses who could have provided similar services and were not allowed to because the government deemed them non-essential. Part of this is due to the fact the larger companies had the capacity to rev up their delivery abilities, but part of this is because they spend millions of dollars lobbying politicians to ensure they always receive carve outs from the worst government policies. 

Not only did government persecute certain businesses to the benefit of others, it also provided incentives, handouts, and other pork in the CARES Act that continued to favor big business. Twenty-five percent of the initial $2 trillion (remember, those are your tax dollars) went to big business, with $58 billion going to the airlines alone and another $17 billion to the military-industrial complex giant, Boeing. 

Only $350 billion was earmarked for small businesses, and of that, $243 million “accidentally” went to large companies instead – leading some companies to return the money over the ensuing outrage. All in all, only 5 percent of the first round of PPP loans reached small businesses. If we want to address inequality and create a fair playing field, we must stand against these types of government handouts the next time temptation strikes. 

F.A. Hayek once said, “Laws must be general, equal, and certain.” When government intervenes in the economy, it rarely ends up impacting all business owners equally. Most often they end up benefiting those who already have connections and means in the first place. The free market isn’t perfect. Even without government interference in the economy, many businesses would have been hurt by the pandemic as consumers chose to stay home or purchase alternative services. But at least the system would not have been rigged against the little guy. All businesses should have had the chance to innovate, respond to the emergency, and try their best to stay afloat. It should have been up to consumers, not the government, which ones succeeded or failed. 

Cronyism isn’t capitalism, it’s a perversion of the free market and only possible at the hands of government. If we want to address inequality and create a fair playing field, we must stand against these types of government handouts the next time temptation strikes.

Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer, commentator, and activist. She's a Newsmax Insider and a Contributor to The Washington Examiner. Hannah was formerly a Nashvillian where she worked as a policy analyst at The Beacon Center. This essay is reposted from The Foundation for Economic Education.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gov. Lee Appoints Former Rep. John DeBerry to Cabinet

Press release, Monday, November 30, 2020, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that former member of the General Assembly Representative John DeBerry of Memphis will join his cabinet as a senior advisor. 

“John DeBerry is a respected leader and man of faith who has served our state with integrity for decades as both a legislator and civil rights champion,” said Gov. Lee. “John has fought to protect life, provide better education options for Tennessee students, and to reform our criminal justice system and I’m honored to have his counsel within the Cabinet.” 

DeBerry has represented the 90th House District of Tennessee since 1995. He is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and the University of Memphis and currently preaches at the Coleman Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis in addition to churches and organizations across the country.

“It’s been an honor to serve my constituents for the last 26 years,” said DeBerry. “I am proud of the work accomplished throughout my time with the Tennessee General Assembly and I look forward to serving Tennesseans in this statewide role.”

DeBerry will begin on Tuesday, December 1. In his role, DeBerry will serve on the governor’s Executive Leadership Team and his office will be in the Tennessee State Capitol.
###

by Rod Williams -Representative John Deberry was kicked out of the Democrat Party in May of this year because he was pro-life and favored school choice or as he put it, he would not be a "brainless idiot" for the Democrat Party. He ran for reelection as an independent but lost to Democrat candidate Torrey Harris who garnered 52% of the vote in the heavily Democrat district. (link)

As the Democrat Party has moved further to the left, there has been less tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints.  At one time there were a number of pro-life Democrats but now it is hard to find any.  On this and other issues the Democrat Party has imposed a strict orthodoxy.  Still, it took many by surprise when the Party prohibited a Democrat legislator of 26 years of the right to run as a Democrat.  The vote to strip Deberry of his Democrat credentials was not even close.  The Party's executive committee voted 41-18 to do so.

I am pleased that Governor Lee found a place in his administration of such a man of integrity and talents. 


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Monday, November 30, 2020

Laurie Cardoza-Moore is a bad pick for the Textbook Commission.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore
by Rod Williams - Recently Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton appointed long-time activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook Commission. In my view this was a bad pick. Her appointment should be rejected.

Ms. Cardoza-Moore leads a non-profit organization called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), which is committed to fighting anti-Semitism.  The organization exposes incidents of anti-Semitism, supports the State of Israel, and fights efforts to force companies and universities to divest their portfolio of investments is Israel. If all I knew about Ms Cordoza-Moore was her leadership with this organization, I would say she is performing a needed service. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called PJTN a hate group, but I don't see it.  The SPLC often classifies groups that are pro-life and support traditional morality or are simply conservative  as "hate groups."  They carry very little weight with me.

My objection to Ms Cordoza-Moore's appointment to the text book commission is based on two things.  The first is her opposition to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro. In Murfreesboro a few years ago a group of Americans of the  Muslim faith wanted to build a mosque. The mosque met the zoning and land use requirements of the property, yet there was a public demand that the building of the mosque be stopped. There is a fear that all Muslims are actual or potential terrorist and that this mosque would  be a terrorist training school.   Now, I know that there have been incidents of young immigrants radicalized at mosque in America.  I hope the FBI has undercover agents infiltrating  every mosque in America and monitoring the sermons of the imams.  

Believing law enforcements should be aware of the danger however and proactive in protecting America from terrorist attacks does not lead me to support policies that say the first amendment does not apply to Muslims in America.  I know some on the right have taken the position that Islam is not a religion. I can not fathom that one adheres to that position. Behind Christianity, Islam is the second most popular religion in the world with 1.5 billion followers.  Islam is not monolithic. There are divisions within Islam and it is ridiculous to think of all Muslims as potential terrorist.  It is other Muslims who have most often been the target of Islamic radicals.  You may not like the Muslim faith but to say it is not a religion is non-sense. I don’t want to deny basic rights to other American citizens because they practice a certain religious faith or because of their appearance or ancestry. 

A democracy means more than simply majority rule. If we don’t hold the right to freedom of religion sacred, if we do not respect our constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, if we can change the rules and deny someone the right to develop their property just because we don’t like what they are going to build, are we any better than the socialist of the left? Our rights are not to apply just to the majority. The majority do not need a Bill of Rights. If today we can deny a Muslim congregation the right to build a mosque, tomorrow we can deny the Mormons or Church of Scientology the right to build a house of worship. Is freedom of religion only for members of the Church of Christ and Baptist? I viewed her fight against the Murfreesboro mosque a fight against the  First Amendment. 

The second reason I question Ms Cordoza-Moore's fitness to serve on a text book commission is she lead a fight opposing a text book used in an Advanced Placement human geography book in the Williamson County Schools. She rallied citizens to turn out to protest anti-Semitism in Williamson County Schools and got them to turn out at a school board meeting to protest.  Specifically what was being protested was a textbook that, according to Ms Cardoza-Moore, "confuses 'terrorist attacks' with 'political violence.'" The specific example she sites is this: 
If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions? 
I am myself not convinced that that was an example of antisemitism and I really doubt the Williamson County School Board was guilty of promoting antisemitism. If the book is age-appropriate for the students, the quoted excerpt very well may be an appropriate means of getting students to think about current events and take an interest in the subject matter. I would bet that most students would answer the question by saying that killing teenagers in a restaurant is terrorism. 

This was a college level text book used in an advanced placement class. This is a book used to teach smart college-bound kids. Soon they would all be in college and be challenged to question and think about many complex issues.

I am pleased that we have a text book commission that includes citizen representation. Education is to important to be left up to just educators and anything that can reverse the left-wing indoctrination centers that our schools have become is welcome.  However, Ms Cordoza-Moore is the wrong person to place on that commission.  The Tennessee General Assembly must still confirm her appointment.  She should be rejected. 

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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Mayor Cooper Celebrates Passage of Green Legislation. Hyping a routine overdue required update.

Ordinance is simply a mandated update, no big deal.

by Rod Williams - Before any one pops a champagne cork or, on the other hand, criticizes the mayor for giving in to environmentalist at a time when we are broke and can ill afford it, the truth is this is no big deal.  First look at the press release.  One would think we had done something revolutionary and important.  Here is the press release: 
Metro Press release, 11-6/2020 - Mayor John Cooper today signed an ordinance that moves Nashville a decade ahead in sustainability. 

 Legislation advanced by Mayor Cooper’s administration (BL2020-458) substantially updates Metro’s building codes and energy standards, which previously relied on 2012 model codes with guidelines dating as far back as 2009. The new upgrades significantly improve energy efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of building design and construction and strengthen home construction requirements for tornado resistance. 

 “Our homes – just like Nashville itself – require investments and modernized standards to operate more efficiently and more cost-effectively,” Mayor Cooper said. “When those improvements not only lower home energy costs, but also reduce the city’s carbon footprint and further protect homeowners, it makes even more sense to adopt them.” \

Mayor Cooper thanked local construction, home efficiency, architecture and design professionals, as well as members of the Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, who worked to support the ordinance. 

 He also recognized Metro Council co-sponsors Colby Sledge, Tom Cash, Brett Withers, Freddie O’Connell, Kathleen Murphy, Ginny Welsch, Burkley Allen, Sean Parker, and Emily Benedict. Tonya Hancock, Brandon Taylor, Angie Henderson, Delishia Porterfield, Erin Evans, and Zulfat Suara. 

 Mayor Cooper’s building codes upgrades include three key benefits: 

Reduce Energy Consumption and Save Homeowners 
Money Tennessee’s energy production costs are among the nation’s lowest, yet average residential electric bills in Tennessee are higher than most - the result of poor energy use and insulation standards. Furthermore, lower-income residents are more vulnerable to higher utility costs that result from inefficient building standards. Mayor Cooper’s measure is designed to reduce energy use by up to 30 percent, providing net lifetime savings of $8,034 for every single-family dwelling unit, according to analysis by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. 
Attract Investment 
As cities compete for businesses that set their own carbon reduction goals, the adoption of energy-efficient building codes has emerged as a key technique for attracting industry, according to Michael P. Vandenbergh, Professor and Co-Director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt University Law School and a recent appointee to Nashville’s Electric Power Board. 
Make Homes and Buildings Safer 
Mayor Cooper’s measure also raises the threshold for tornado and high-wind resistance from 90 miles per hour to 115. Today was another step in Mayor Cooper’s efforts to create a healthier, more sustainable Nashville. His sustainability advisory committee, formed in 2019, continues to work on broad recommendations.
I don't want to make too much out of nothing but calling this "Mayor Cooper's measure," and  acting as if this is some big Green breakthrough is disingenuous. Look at what the staff analysis says about the bill. The highlighting is mine. 
An ordinance amending Title 16 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws to adopt updated building codes.
 
This ordinance adopts a more recent edition of several standard building and fire codes. Copies of the new editions of the standard codes are on file with the Codes Department. Metro is required by state law to keep our codes current within seven years of the latest published edition of the model codes.

Metro is currently operating under the 2012 edition of the fire, life safety, building, residential, gas/mechanical, and plumbing codes, and the 2008 version of the energy code. The various building and fire codes are typically adopted at the same time to avoid conflicts between the codes. The Codes Department has notified the various construction trade associations of Metro's intention to adopt the 2018 codes. The adoption of the 2018 codes has been discussed at multiple stakeholder meetings over the last two years. Nashville’s building code standards are based upon the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), each of which are updated on a periodic basis. 

Although these model codes have been upgraded several times in the past decade, the Council Office has been advised that Nashville’s residential building code still adheres to certain 2009 standards, specifically as it relates to insulation requirements. The current ordinance proposes adoption of the 2018 editions of the IBC, IRC, and IECC, which are estimated to require 30% less energy use compared to 2009 standards. An analysis prepared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that upgrading Nashville’s current residential energy code to the 2018 IECC standards will provide a net life-cycle cost benefit of $8,034 per single-family dwelling unit. 

Metro typically also adopts some amendments to the standard codes that are local in nature, which are included as part of this ordinance. The local amendments are basically in keeping with prior code adoptions to make the code consistent with state law and Metro's appeal processes.
There you have it. If I served in the Council I would have voted in favor of this routine action, but if one wanted to advocate for housing affordability one could issue a press release titled, "City passes new code putting affordable housing out of reach of many."  That would be as honest as the way this is hyped. 

Any measure that increases the cost of housing puts housing that much further out of reach of low income people.  The benefit of the new code may certainly be worth the cost of reducing housing affordability but the fact is worth recognizing.  Many actions governments take have pros and cons, and while this routine update of the code may be of environmental benefit, it is undeniable that it will somewhat increase housing cost and that will push the cost of housing further out of reach of some.  

My point in this is not to say that passing this code was the wrong thing to do but to point out the opportunistic taking credit by the mayor of what was a routine government action, required by state law. 

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School is again the best public high school in Tennessee.

(The Center Square) – Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, where the average SAT score is 1330,
was ranked the best public high school in Tennessee, according to a review of school data by the website 24/7 Wall St. 


The school has an enrollment of 903 students and its average graduation rate stood at 99%, the analysis said. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information from the data clearinghouse Niche, including teacher absenteeism, test scores and parent surveys, to carry out the study.(link)

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Our Republic is hanging by a thread. We must win Georgia! Please join me in saving the Senate from a radical take-over.

by Rod Williams - One has heard so often that a particular election is the most important election of our lifetime that after a while it just becomes empty noise. They can't all be the most important. But this time, I really believe that the Georgia runoff elections for Georgia's U. S. Senate races may very well in fact be the most important election of our life time.  If we lose Georgia there is nothing stopping the Democrats from adopting their radical agenda. While I don't think Biden is the most dangerous candidate the Democrat Party could have nominated, he will not buck the radicals in the Party if the Democrats control both houses of Congress. I perceive Biden as someone who is weak and old and he will not stand up to the more radical elements in the Party. He has already essentially adopted their agenda. 


 The whole party has moved to the left and they will adopt policies that will destroy America if they have the votes. If David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose their races for the Senate in Georgia, Democrats will take complete and total control of Congress. Chuck Shumer becomes the Senate Majority leader.

 I don't tend to be an alarmist. There is often a kind of ebb and flow to politics. But I see our Republic as hanging by a thread. If we lose Georgia, we may be on the road to becoming Venezuela. Georgia stands between us and America becoming a socialist nation. We may never have another competitive fair election. Stacking the deck by giving statehood to D.C and Puerto Rico combined with the institutionalization of massive use of mail-in ballots and things like same-day voter registration and practices that prohibit making voters prove who they are, may mean Republicans never again win national elections. 

What can we look forward to if Democrats gain control of the Senate? Packing the Supreme Court, Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, loss of our Second Amendment rights, statehood for Washington D. C. and Puerto Rico, open borders and the most massive wave of illegal immigrants we have ever experienced, student loan forgiveness and free college tuition, higher taxes, cuts to military funding, a revival of the long dormant Equal Rights Amendment, abolishing the electoral college, defunding the police, a universal $15 an hour minimum wage, ending the filibuster and more. It also means no investigation of the Biden family influence peddling in Ukraine, China and Russia. 

The Green New Deal alone would impoverish the nation and destroy our economy. With the Green New Deal passed, government will grow to alleviate the misery caused by the policy.  Government will respond to the economic crisis caused by the Green New Deal with more redistribution, wage and price controls and more tax and spend. What is left of a free market economy will disappear and a growth in police state authority will follow. 

 "Wait a minute," some will say.  "Some of what you say will happen, they can't do. It would take a constitutional amendment to curtail the Second Amendment and abolish the Electoral College and the States would have to ratify statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico."  Normally, that would be true, but if Democrats control the Senate and they pack the Court, they can do whatever they want to do.  A Supreme Court dominated by liberal jurist will find ways to accommodate the desires of a Democrat Congress. 

Curtailing the Second Amendment will be accomplished by a mandatory "buy-back" program and liberal jurist will find it compatible with the Constitution.  Liberal jurist are not so immoral that they will just let Democrats do what ever they please, but the judicial philosophy of liberal jurist is that the Constitution is a living document. This judicial philosophy holds that the Constitution was intentionally written using broad language and concepts which should evolve as society evolves.  Liberal jurist look not to what the meaning was of the original text but what was the underlying purpose of the constitutional provision. This view can essentially remove any restraints on Congress. A Court packed with activist judges will find a way to allow curtailment of the Second Amendment, abolishing the Electoral College and Statehood of D. C. and Puerto Rico. With the Court packed there are no constitutional constraints. 

Liberals are going all out to win Georgia.  Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said herself that she is putting every effort into winning Georgia so she, “doesn’t have to negotiate with Republicans.” Democrats are pouring millions of dollars into Georgia to win votes.  An army of Democrats are pouring into the state to door knock for the Democrat nominees. They are even encouraging people to move to Georgia and register to vote.  While few Republicans could do that, there are a lot of young people without roots or jobs that tie them down that may very well temporarily become Georgians just so they can vote in this election.  

Republicans also have a disadvantage in this election, in that Georgia has permitted voter fraud to occur. Georgia is not the worst offender among the states that made it easy to cheat but this run off election may be so close that  little cheating goes a long way.  Georgia has not adopted mail-in voting, but has liberally allowed absentee voting. Over 150,000 people in Georgia voted absentee in the November election. There were proven incidents in Georgia of over 1000 people voting twice; voting absentee and then also voting in person. There is no way to know how many actually did this; 1000 were detected.  Along with some real fraud that occurred in Georgia, the Trump campaign has created a sense of mistrust among voters and these Republican voters may feel fraud is so widespread that they may not turn out at all for the run off.  

Georgia also allowed "ballot curing."  This is the practice of allowing one whose absentee ballot has been rejected due to a missing signature of for some other reason, up to three days to correct the mistake.  This is not fraud per se but Democrats had trained activists to help people “cure” ballots that had been rejected on Election Day."  I think this practice should be banned, but if it is not, then I hope Republicans also have an army of people available to help Republicans "cure" ballots. If Republicans do not get up to speed and commit to matching the Democrats in "curing" ballots, Democrats may win in a close election. 

Republicans must pull out all of the stops to win Georgia.  I am going to do my part.  I give money to candidates in races I care about from time to time, but my contributions are usually like a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there.  In this race I am doing more.  I have already given $1000.  I am not revealing this to get a pat on the back but to encourage you to do the same. If I can do it, you can too.   I am not a wealthy person.  I am of modest means. I am retired and have a modest income.  But, I really believe this may be the most important election of my lifetime.  There are some probably reading this, who could give $10,000 and not miss it.

If you can't give much money, there are other ways to help.  One can go to Georgia and knock on doors.  Contact your local or State Republican Party and ask how you can volunteer.  If you can't pay your own expenses for this, the State Party or the campaign of the candidate may be willing to pay your expenses. Ask. In addition to the Party sending volunteers to Georgia, organizations like Heritage Action are also doing so. 

Another way you can help besides giving money is to sign up to make phone calls.  Sometimes this would be from a party headquarters, but often one can do it from the comfort of one's home.  I have done this.  Computer programs give you the name and address of who you are calling, the list has been developed so one is calling Republicans or persuadable voters, and the computer program dials the next number for you. You then enter the results of the effort in the data base. This may be even more important than a cash contribution.  

Ever year about this time I give money to various causes other than just political causes.  Within the next couple days or so, I will be doing that.  One thing I usually give money to are agencies that help the homeless.  What better way to fight future homelessness than to join the fight to keep America from becoming the next Venezuela. I may shift most of my year-end giving to the Georgia race this year. I have already given $1000 to the Georgia race, I expect to give more.  I may double or triple by contribution or maybe more.  This year, I think giving money so Republicans hold Georgia is more important than a contribution to the Alzheimer's Association. I may dip into my child's inheritance.  I would rather leave her a free America than an extra thousand dollars. 

Some of you reading this, I know do more than I do, but some of you who could do something, don't.  If  you are an armchair opinionated Facebook patriot or a scholar of conservative thought but do not give money to things you profess to believe, now is the time.  Your country needs you. 

There are a lot ways to give money. The candidate's have their campaigns, which is how I have given most of my money, but there are also independent PAC's.  Here are some of the ways you can give. There are other PAC's also. 
Georgians for Kelly Loeffler, the candidates campaign. 
MCCONNELL SENATE COMMITTEE, Mitch McConnell's PAC
Protect Freedom PAC, which is Rand Paul's PAC

Please do it. Freedom is in the balance. 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 


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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Proclamation Issued by President George Washington



Thanksgiving Proclamation Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789 

By the President of the United States of America,

 a Proclamation. 

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—

Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” 

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; 

that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; 

for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; 

for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; 

for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; 

for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; 

and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. 

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; 

to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; 

to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; 

to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; 

to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; 

and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. 

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. 

Go. Washington

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Senator Lamar Alexander says Joe Biden will soon be the president-elect, Trump needs to put the country first and have an orderly transition.

Sen. Alexander 
Press Release, MARYVILLE, Tenn., November 23, 2020 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement: “The presidential election is rapidly coming to a formal end. Recounts are being completed. Courts are resolving disputes. Most states will certify their votes by December 8. Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed. When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do."

Rod's Comment:  I agree.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Lawsuit alleges Gov. Lee didn't have authority to issue COVID-19 emergency orders

Lawsuit alleges Gov. Lee didn't have authority to issue COVID-19 emergency orders

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Metro Schools to return to remote learning after Thanksgiving break

Metro Schools to return to remote learning after Thanksgiving break

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Video of the Nov. 21st Stop the Steal rally.

 


If you missed the Stop the Steal rally yesterday and want to watch it, here is a video of the event

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Pennsylvania lawsuit loss opens the door for a Supreme Court ruling, but this election will never be overturned.

Rebecca Ann Burke
by Rebecca Ann Burke- In a stinging rebuke, Pennsylvania Judge Matthew Braun dismissed the Trump campaign's largest lawsuit to date. Two results were gained, the rebuke and also the open door to proceed to the US Supreme Court. Judge Braun called it "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations haphazardly stitched together." Further, without concluding that the claims together were not troublesome, he indicated that the case they brought did not rise to the disenfranchisement of 7,000,000 voters. 

As I have said repeatedly on my page, and so many loyal Trump supporters, as I am, have refused to allow me to even state the obvious without attack, this is an uphill battle that we cannot prove in the defined timetable remaining. I don't believe FOR A SECOND, that the United States Supreme Court will say anything other than, IF THEY ARE GENEROUS, you have claims that are troublesome, it appears there are startling irregularities and opportunity for misdeeds, HOWEVER, this election is about 50 separate elections, with 50 sets of practices that could and should be improved, BUT the disenfranchisement of over 150,000,000 voters cannot be entertained. 

That said, the election will never be overturned. The voting right is sacred but the patchwork of laws, state to state, do not guarantee that this sacred practice is a pure one devoid of corruption. It is a disaster and will continue to be so, allowing foreign influence and yes, even manipulation of voting software to happen as long as states act as 50 separate fiefdoms, which invite and coddle that corruption. 

I am seriously worried that this fight, which has even divided one Trump supporter from another Trump supporter, is tearing apart all the marvelous accomplishments of Trump's presidency. This ugly fight that hurts everyone, and DOES NOT overturn a thing, will be President Trump's page in the history books. I, for one, who fought with time and dollar to get Trump elected in 2016, will not stand for it. I will write about it until someone listens. 

A Democrat led, and foreign influence mechanized effort, the players of which are yet to be identified, have used every tactic in the book in a single election, to pull out a win. Only state legislation fifty times over can fix this. Coast to coast, the practice of mail-in voting, even in the face of an epidemic, must be prohibited! The practice of same day voter registration and voting must be outlawed, it is also an open door to fraud so massive that it is undetectable. The practice of VERIFYING signatures must also include voter photo ID, and that identity MUST be compared with registration records by EYE and by electronic scanner, BOTH. This must be done at the time of voting so that the voter has an opportunity to challenge or provide a proper signature. NO ballot is considered legitimate if received AFTER the close of business on voting day. There are weeks in advance to get these in and that is sufficient. Taxing poll capabilities on the day of and days later with late arriving ballots creates a highway-sized door for fraud. 

No polling machine should be connected to the internet as voting takes place. As they should be and mostly are now, multiple test runs of the software take place before one legitimate vote is cast. Votes should then be relayed by independent measure, to a central voting tally office, avoiding the internet. In the most digitized country in the world, there is no excuse for any opportunity for voting software to be hacked, or votes switched, or changed in relaying totals. This should never happen. While Silicon Valley is loaded with liberal-minded individuals, there are plenty of software engineers with conservative beliefs that can and should be involved in protection of voting software. 

If the money to facilitate is there, I believe the best gift of the US Supreme Court would be to order that every ballot in this country be preserved in its original form, and housed in a secure location outside of each state. I would also love to have the gift of an order to states and local jurisdictions, to today download their polling software for preservation at that secure site. It may take an army of engineers, the next five years, but we will truly get to the quantification and sources of fraud in this election. That is the only way we will ever truly know. It will not be in time to save the President's second term. It may provide the opportunity for another term in 2024, but barring that, preliminary results could create a massive groundswell defeat in the midterm 2022 election, of all those who even remotely enabled, or even knew about, the largest election fraud in U.S. history. That INCLUDES Republicans and Democrats. 

The moment the US Supreme Court rules, and I frankly am not looking forward to that day, the President must set aside all the antipathy that has surrounded this election and focus on preserving his legacy. Spiritually, I believe God's hand is in this. His plan wasn't about the winning as much as it was in saving the country from this patchwork of fraud ever poisoning again, our future.

Rebecca Ann Burke is an astute political observer and one whose opinion I respect. She served as a member to the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee for District 23 from 2014-2018. She is the past president of America First Federation. The above essay is reposted from Facebook.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Stop the Steal Parade and Rally, Saturday, November 21, 2020.


What does "release the Kraken" mean?  The short answer is it means to reveal a trove of secret information that exposes the massive voter fraud and deep-state corruption and media complicity in stealing this election.  It sounds like a desperate conspiracy theory to me.  In mythology the Kraken is a legendary sea monster, sort of like a giant squid.  For more see these links: link, link, link

It the Trump administration has the Kraken caged, they better release him now, time is running out. 

Disclaimer: As the author of A Disgruntled Republican I often post items which I think may be of interest to the conservative, Republican, libertarian or the greater community. Posting of a press release or an announcement of an event does not necessarily indicate an endorsement. Rod

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Seven MS-13 Gang Members Indicted by Federal Grand Jury in Violent Crime & Drug Distribution Conspiracy Involving Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Metro Nashville Press Release, 11/19/2020 - A federal grand jury in Nashville on Wednesday returned a 16-count superseding indictment charging seven MS-13 Gang members with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, along with serious firearm-related offenses. 


Those charged are: Carlos Ochoa-Martinez, 31, Jason Sandoval, 35, Jorge Flores, 28, all of Nashville; Jose Pineda-Caceres, 22, and Franklin Hernandez, 21, both of Honduras; Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, 33, of El Salvador; and Juan Melendez, 25, of Lebanon, Tennessee. 

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2014 and continuing until yesterday, the defendants conspired with each other to obtain bulk quantities of marijuana and cocaine for redistribution in and around Middle Tennessee. Once the drugs were received, the defendants would reduce them into smaller quantities and sell them in and around nightclubs in Nashville, and from the parking lots and restrooms of these establishments. In order to maximize drug distribution in these nightclubs, the defendants would threaten rival and competing drug dealers who sold and attempted to sell cocaine and marijuana in the nightclubs. The indictment further alleges that, in order to protect their drugs, territory and proceeds, the defendants would acquire, carry and discharge firearms, and to maintain and extend control over their drug distribution they would commit acts involving murder, intimidation and assault against individuals who jeopardized their operations, including rival drug dealers. 
All defendants are in custody and will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at a later date. 

Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, 33
If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison up to 40 years. This investigation is being conducted by the MNPD’s Gang & Crime Gun Units, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Ahmed Safeeullah and Trial Attorney Matthew Hoff of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime & Gang Section are prosecuting this case.

Rod's Note: The identity of the people pictured is uncertain. The Metro press release showed two different pictures with the same name  and one picture twice with different names. You can view the press release at this link





Juan Melendez, 25
Franklin Hernandez, 21













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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Everyone needs to see this. The Trump team presents the evidence. Don't let anyone convince you this was a fair election.

 


by Rod Williams - I am reposting the Trump legal team news conference of today in case readers missed it elsewhere. This needs to be seen by everyone. It is powerful. If you missed it, please watch it.

Liberals and the mainstream press, which has lost any credibility they once had by selective reporting news and hiding news from the American people rather than reporting news, continues to falsely claim that there is no evidence of significant fraud in this election. The evidence of fraud is presented. It is overwhelming. There was massive fraud.  This is not the first time we have had election fraud in this country. This is the first time we have had massive mail-in voting so this is the first time in our history we have had such opportunity for fraud on this scale.  I do not know that a significant amount of fraud can be proven within the time frame allotted to change the outcome of the election.  Maybe it can't,  but one should not accept that this was a fair election.  

I still think O. J. Simpson was guilty of murder. That it could not be proven in a court of law will not cause me to believe he was innocent.  Joseph Stalin was never convicted of a crime but that does not stop me from believing he was responsible for the death of approximately three million Russians.  I still believe Al Capone was guilty of more than just tax evasion.  

With time, I believe the Trump team could prevail in their challenges to this election but time is running out.  In addition to time running out, some fraud can not be proven. Once the mail-in ballot was removed from the envelope in which it was mailed, that fraud became unprovable.  When observers were prevented from viewing and examining the process of opening and counting mail-in ballots, the opportunity to prove the fraud was lost forever.  A recount is simply a recount of fraudulent ballots.  Probably the only way to change the outcome of this election at this point is if the Trump team prevails on the allegation of election fraud tied to Dominion software.  

Assuming the Dominion software challenge is not successful, Joe Biden has probably won this election. Despite believing this election was likely won due to fraud, I think once we have exhausted all legal challenges and the election results are certified, assuming they are, we have to accept the outcome.  Accepting the outcome does not mean we have to agree that the outcome was correct.  Accepting the outcome does not mean we agree Joe Biden won honestly or we had a fair election. I will accept the outcome simply because the alternative to accepting the outcome is revolution.  I will accept the outcome because it is preferable to civil war. I will acquiesce. Hopefully we can move forward to insure the next election is fair and put safeguards in place to prevent future massive election fraud. 

If we lose, accept the outcome and welcome a peaceful transfer of power but don't let anyone tell you this was a fair election. Accepting the outcome does not mean we have to participate in the ceremonial transfer of power and pretend Joe Biden deserves his victory. Accept it because it is better than the alternative. Accepting the outcome does not mean we honor the outcome.

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Case against Dominion is our only hope of overturning the election.

Rebecca Ann Burke
by Rebecca Ann Burke- As a Constitutional scholar, Alan Dershowitz, today stated the direction of legal actions in the very same vein that I have been advocating here, and many disagree with. 

Today, we got a global view of the legal actions being pursued. Dershowitz characterizes these as of TWO types: "retail" challenges based on individual accusations/affidavits about election fraud. Retail, because these are now "hearsay" and have to be ruled on one at a time and together may not be enough to overturn the election in a state or certainly, overall. This is consistent with what I have been saying, and suggesting that many of these legal cases be dropped or consolidated because they all cost money and distract and not yield enough votes to change the outcome. 

Dershowitz, speaks with great interest, about the second TYPE: "wholesale" challenge that was presented today. Again, this is the position I am taking. The issue of Dominion Election software is HUGE. If this can be disallowed or discredited, that turns the election in several states. However, note this, challenges to Dominion software use must be litigated STATE TO STATE. Each will decide, and if individual states agree that the results are suspect, the decision will end up in the US House of Representatives. This is a LONG path and we may not have time. Georgia, due to have their results CERTIFIED TOMORROW, must be stopped. Governor Brian Kemp seems determined to allow the certification. This is one step closer to making an election impossible to overturn, or at least very highly unlikely. 

As Dershowitz says, and I hasten to add that it has been my position in saying I am not optimistic, TIME is NOT on our side. Deadlines are proscribed by the Constitution. However, it is this single WHOLESALE case against Dominion that I believe gives us our only hope of overturning the election.

Rebecca Ann Burke is an astute political observer and one whose opinion I respect. She served as a member to the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee for District 23 from 2014-2018. She is the past president of America First Federation. The above essay is reposted from Facebook.

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City bans family gatherings of more than 8, even in your own home.

The Tennessean: Nashville restricts gatherings to eight as COVID-19 spreads heading into holidays


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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nashville council members call for ethics review of actions by colleague Robert Swope

The Tennessean: Nashville council members call for ethics review of actions by colleague Robert Swope


...."At no time have I ever benefited financially, or otherwise, from any proposed solution, idea, design or concept that I have discussed with Metro over the past 5 years," he wrote. "In addition, there has never been a contract, agreement, or MOU between the City and myself or my company." 

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Nashville group prepares second petition to repeal property tax hike

By Vivian Jones , The Center Square, Nov 12, 2020 -  Another effort to repeal Nashville’s 34%
property tax increase is under way. 

Nashville Attorney Jim Roberts, who wrote the petition to repeal the tax increase ruled unconstitutional by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle earlier this month, is finalizing a new petition to accomplish that goal. 

“The best use of our time and energy at this point is to redo the ballot initiative in a way that complies with with the judge’s criticisms … and put it back in front of the people and get it on the ballot,” Roberts told The Center Square. (link)

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Legislation filed to limit power of Tennessee’s metro health departments

By Vivian Jones, The Center Square, Nov 13, 2020-  A bill that would limit the power of Tennessee’s six metropolitan health departments has been filed for consideration by Knoxville Republican Rep. Jason Zachary, and it has gained the support of House leadership. 


The state’s six metropolitan health departments have issued public health orders since March to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including requiring the use of masks in their jurisdictions. The officials behind those orders are unelected, however, and not directly responsible to their constituents for their decisions.

Zachary’s legislation, House Bill 7, would give county mayors – not metro health departments – “exclusive authority to establish and implement” policies in response to public health crises. County health directors and boards of public health would be able to advise the mayor on the orders. (link)

Rod's Comment:  I support this and would support similar reforms at all levels of government in numerous fields.  Elected officials should be accountable for policy decisions.  Department heads or cabinet secretaries, or generals should have an advisory roll and a smart executive will often listen to expert advise but the elected chief executive,  answerable to the electorate,  not unelected technocrats, answerable to no one, should  make policy. 

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Residents of Williamson County pay highest average property taxes in Tennessee

The Center Square – Williamson County residents on average paid $2,301 annually in property taxes, the highest such tax levies among all regions of Tennessee, according to a new Tax Foundation analysis. ... the lowest such taxes were found in locations such as the Aleutians East Borough and the Kusilvak Census Area in Alaska, as well as some parishes in Louisiana and Alabama’s Choctaw County, where property owners pay about $200 annually. ... Counties in New York and New Jersey, meanwhile, were home to people who paid the highest median property taxes, with some areas averaging tax bills of more than $10,000, the study found. (link)

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