Thursday, January 30, 2020

How Council Members voted in calling for a new generous employee benefit.

Steve Glover
by Rod Williams - At the January 21st Council meeting the Council passed a memorializing resolution commending Governor Lee for an executive order that authorized most State employees to be eligible for 12 weeks paid leave due to the birth of child or some other family emergencies. The resolution also called upon Metro Government, including Metro Schools, to offer the same benefit.

Governor Lee claims this new benefit will be paid for by taking a little from this fund and that fund to pay for it and that it will have minimal fiscal impact. I am not buying it. It is not possible to provide such a generous benefit without a price tag.


There may be a way such benefit could be paid for without increasing government cost. Such a benefit could possibly be paid for by a reduction from the employees retirement account. I would not oppose studying the issue but I oppose this resolution just called for Metro to provide it. If no one has noticed, Metro is broke. The city had to scramble to cut cost and had to raise water rates to make the budget balance. In the next budget session I expect a call for a major property tax increase. 


While a memorializing resolution when expressing a point of view or a desired policy is pretty much meaningless when directed toward State or Federal government, when the Council goes on record expressing a desired Metro government policy it does mean something since the Council is the legislative body of Metro government.

Russ Pulley
I think this resolution was fiscally irresponsible. Below are the sponsors of the resolution:

Sponsor(s): Colby Sledge, Nancy VanReece, Sean Parker, Zachary Young, Joy Styles, Kyonzté Toombs, Gloria Hausser, Ginny Welsch, Thomas Cash, Russ Bradford, Bob Mendes, Tonya Hancock, Emily Benedict, John Rutherford, Sharon Hurt, Delishia Porterfield, Antoniette Lee, Freddie O'Connell, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara.

Here are how members voted:
Voting Yes (34): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Robert Swope, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Robert Nash, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Lee, Angie Henderson, and Rosenberg.

Above I have underlined the names of those who disappoint me by there vote.I did not expect better from the other "yes" votes.

Voting No (1): Steve Glover;
Courtney Johnson


Voting Abstain (2): Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston.

Not voting: Two members were absent from this meeting Jonathan Hall and Tanaka Vercher. That means this person may have been distracted, out of the room or could have just set on their hands or possibly could have arrived for the meeting late.  The missing not voting member is Joy Styles. I am not giving Styles any credit for not voting since she was one of the sponsors of the resolution. 

I commend Steve Glover, Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston for their fiscally responsible vote. 

Below is the text of the resolution:
Resolution RS2020-172

A Resolution commending Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for Executive Order 11 regarding paid family leave, and calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government to implement paid family leave policies equal to or greater than the paid family leave outlined in the aforementioned executive order.

WHEREAS, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 11 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order 11 allows for more than 38,000 Tennessee state employees associated with departments with the state’s executive branch to begin taking up to 12 weeks’ paid time off for qualifying family and medical situations under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, starting March 1, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Tennessee state lawmakers have indicated they will pass legislation in 2020 that will apply the provisions of Executive Order 11 to an additional 3,100 Tennessee state employees; and

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Civil Service Commission adopted a paid family leave plan in 2017 that allows up to 6 weeks’ paid time off if they are full-time Metro government employees who have worked for Metro for at least six months, are new parents, or are caring for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child; and

WHEREAS, several areas of Metro government, most notably Metro Nashville Public Schools, do not have a paid family leave policy; and

WHEREAS, Nashville is home to several large employers who offer similar or more generous paid maternity and paternity leave; and

WHEREAS, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has indicated she will call for a paid family leave policy for Knoxville government employees similar to that of Executive Order 11; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of Metro government to ensure its employees are provided adequate paid family leave for the health and well-being of Metro employees and their family members, to reduce taxpayer costs of employee turnover and attrition, to create an attractive work environment for prospective employees, and to uplift Metro government employees as valued members of Nashville and Davidson County.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as calling for the expansion of Metro Nashville’s current paid family leave policy from six weeks to at least 12 weeks, as outlined in Executive Order 11; and further goes on record as calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, to implement a paid family leave policy equal to or greater than the policy outlined in Executive Order 11.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Boot Camp for Conservatives with Steve Deace, Sat. Feb. 15th




Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

As Mayor Cooper says MLS stadium infrastructure costs are 'doubling,' the path forward remains unclear

The Tennessean, ...   Speaking at the Nashville Business Breakfast last month, Cooper said fairgrounds projects cost around $43 million, not the slated $25 million. In October, Cooper told WSMV that the city has already spent the $50 million approved for both fairground upgrades and stadium infrastructure.

“We have spent close to our $50 million already on the buildings, and that is before our infrastructure obligations to prepare for the stadium,” the mayor said.

Under the approved project plan, the city would pay $225 million in revenue bonds for the 30,500-seat stadium while the team would chip in an initial $25 million capital contribution. The team has committed to cover all stadium overrun costs, and separately is tasked with covering a $150 million expansion fee with MLS.

....If sales and $1.75 ticket tax revenues fall below $4 million for the first five years of operation, or $3 million in years six through 10, Metro would be on the hook to make up the different from non-tax revenue sources. (link)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Trump Jr. to visit Gallatin to boost Hagerty US Senate bid

Trump Jr. to visit Gallatin to boost Hagerty US Senate bid

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Can a Republican beat Jim Cooper?

by Rod Williams - On the wish list of every local Republican I know, is that Jim Cooper be voted out of office and be replaced by a Republican.  What are the changes of that happening? In thinking about the prospects of beating Jim Cooper, one place to start is looking at how Republicans have done in the past

Previous Challengers of Jim Cooper have not done well.
Note that the 5th Congressional District includes portions of Cheatham and Dickson Counties and Republican candidates do better in those counties than Davidson County.

In the 2018 election, the Republican got 32% of the vote. If you look at Davidson County only, he only got 29% of the vote. 



2018


In 2016, the Republican got 37% of the vote and in Davidson County only 34% of the vote.
2016


In 2014, the Republican got 36% of the vote, but in Davidson County only, only got 33% of the vote.
2014

In 2012 the Republican got 33% of the vote but in Davidson County 32%.

2012
.

In 2010 Republicans were really fired up.  That was the time of the tea party movement and there was a lot of energy among conservative.  There had been a spirited primary with a bunch of good Republican candidates. David Hall worked as hard as I think any candidate could work.  The Republican candidate got 42% of the vote and Jim Cooper got 56% of the vote.

However, one factor in Republicans doing better in 2010 than in years since is that the District 5 boundaries were more hospitable to Republicans. Wilson County made up a significant portion of the district.  Between 2010 and 2012 there was a new census and lines were redrawn to make the 5th even more favorable to Democrats.

2010
If one looks at the returns one would have to conclude that the chances of a Republican beating Jim Cooper are pretty slim.  However, lets look at other factors before reaching that conclusion.

Other Republicans have not done will in Davidson County.
In the 2010 governor's race, Bill Haslam did not carry the County but came close. He got 75,381 votes compared to 76,427 for Mike McWherter.
In the 2012 presidential election Romney got 39.7% of the vote and Obama got 58.2% of the vote.
In the 2016 presidential  race Donald Trump only got 34% of the vote and Hillary Clinton got 60% of the vote.
In the 2018 governor's race, Republican Bill Lee got only 34% of the vote and former mayor Karl Dean got 66%.

However, sometimes Republicans do win in Davidson County but not often. 
In the 2014 Governors Race, Bill Haslam running for reelection got 71,661 votes compared to Democrat challenger Charlie Brown's 47,438. Brown did not present much of a challenge, however. I think that Nashville has changed so much since 2010 that is not helpful to look at races earlier than that year.

There are a lot of "yellow dog Democrats" in Nashville.

One reason it is difficult for Republicans to compete in Davidson County is that there are a lot of people who will vote Democrat no matter what. "Yellow Dog Democrats" was a political term applied to voters in the South in the past who voted only for candidates who represented the Democratic Party.  That was all these voters needed to know about a candidate, that he was a Democrat. These voters would "vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for a Republican."  Well, there are still a lot of "yellow dog Democrats in Nashville. Consider the Senate election of 2012 when the candidates were Republican Bob Corker running for reelection and Democrat challenger M. E. Clayton.



Of the votes cast in this contest 48% voted for Bob Corker and 45% voted for Clayton. A few votes went to other candidates.  Corker won Davidson County but not by much. M. E. Clayton had no qualifications for office, raised no money and did not campaign. He was associated with a group that some called a hate group, Public Advocate of the United States. The Democratic Party disavowed his candidacy and urged candidates to write in a candidate of their choice. State wide Corker got more than twice as many votes as Clayton but not in Nashville.  If Nashville Democrats will vote for M. E. Clayton, they will vote for any Democrat. That is a build in advantage.

There are a lot of new progressive Democrats in Nashville.
I don't have stats to back this up but observing local politics convinces me this is so. These are the mostly younger voters, many who may identify as socialist.  In the last election for Council several local affiliates of national organizations such as Code Blue, Democracy Now, National Justice League, LGBTQ Victory Fund, Women for Tennessee's Future, and Laborers’ International Union of North America were active in our election. These young progressives bring energy and manpower to an election and that does not bode well for a Republican candidate.

In conclusion, it will be very difficult to beat Jim Cooper.
As the district line are currently drawn, a Republican simply cannot beat Jim Cooper today. Republicans can get about 34% of the vote and that is it.  However, if certain thinks happen, Jim Cooper could be beatable.

What could make Jim Cooper beatable?


1. If Cooper is beat or weakened by a progressive candidate in the Democratic primary, a Republican would have a chance. Jim Cooper has picked up three challengers in the Democratic primary, all to his left, the most formidable of these is 24-year-old Vanderbilt divinity student and activist Justin Jones.  He is the person who threw coffee on Glen Casada at the State capitol building and was arrested. He is the person who at a Marsha Blackburn event, during a moment of silence to honor fallen victims of a mass shooting, yelled out "racist" and had to be physically removed from the building.  He was also arrested for that event. He has gained a following.  Many progressives in Nashville think it is time to beat Jim Cooper.  In addition to progressives who want to beat Cooper, many more mainstream Democrats are not really fond of him.  He is not a warm person.  Many consider him aloof and arrogant. By all accounts he does not have much of a grassroots organization.
 In normal times one would think a person like Jones would not stand a chance but if a bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be elected to Congress, anything is possible.  If Jones got the nomination, I believe a Republican  could beat Jones.  If Jones does not win the nomination but comes close in a bitter campaign, then progressives may choose to not vote for Cooper in November.  They, of course, will not vote for a Republican but may sit out the election. 
2. If Jim Cooper's leftward move is exploited he could be beatable. I have never thought of Jim Cooper as a conservative but he at one time at least talked about the dangers of the national debt.  Recently he endorsed the Green New Deal. I suspect many voters have heard of the Green New Deal but are not really aware of what it calls for. I suspect many who are concerned about global warming, think the Green New Deal is a positive thing.  Once they learn what radical changes it calls for and the price tag, they will turn against politicians who endorse it. 
3. If the above two things happen, the right Republican could stand a chance of winning. Despite the case I build above that it will be difficult for a Republican to win a seat in Davidson County without redrawing the district, I do not think it hopeless. Here are some reasons why.  1.)Nashville is not as liberal as it first may appear.  John Cooper ran for mayor on a platform of fiscal responsibility and defeated an incumbent mayor who wore a pussy hat to protest Trump's election and advocated that Nashville be a Sanctuary city.  2.) The voters voted against a new tax to fund mass transit.  3.) The voters elected  Steve Glover, an avowed conservative and Republican to one of the five at-large Council seats.  These were all non-partisan votes but it does indicated that Nashville is not hopelessly liberal.
If Jim Cooper had been weakened or beaten in a primary the right Republican could stand a chance. It would still be an uphill battle but the district could be competitive.  The candidates who have challenged Jim Cooper are all good people and I would be pleased if any of them were serving in Congress but they were not well know prior to running and they were not adequately funded. A Republican can not unseat Jim Cooper without a lot of money. I don't know how much but just a guess is about $1.5 million. In Megan Barry's successful race for mayor, she raised $1.1 million. The right Republican candidate needs to be someone who has previous success in their career and is known in the community already and someone who is moderate in rhetoric and demeanor. 
4. By far the most important thing that would help a Republican win Jim Cooper's seat if the district was redrawn to make it competitive for a Republican. Every ten years the State has to redraw district lines so that each district represents about the same number of people. The State legislature will redistrict this year. There is no reason Davidson County could not be split. The 5th Congressional District is surrounded by solidly Republican districts that Republicans win by big margins. District could be redrawn so that a Republican could have a chance in Davidson County. In 2020 there will be a new census and district lines will have to be redrawn with new district boundaries in effect in 2022. Republicans in the house could split the Davidson County vote among two or three districts. This could be done in such a way that Republicans now in office would not in danger of losing an existing seat but that a Republican would have a chance in Davidson County. 
I know there are some smart people with political insight reading this blog.  If you have insight on this topic, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Amy Frogge receives national hero treatment for her Nashville anti-school choice role.

Amy Frogge
by Rod Williams - Nashville's leading opponent of school choice, school board member Amy Frogge, is receiving national recognition for her anti-reform efforts and is being treated as a hero.

Diane Ravitch, education historian, education policy analyst, former Assistant Secretary of Education, and author has profiled Amy Frogge in a new book, “Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools.”  The book profiles several people who have, in Ravitch's words, "successfully fought off the people she calls 'Disrupters,'  those who were trying to privatize America’s public education system."

Ravitch's profile of Frogge has been excerpted in Ravitch's blog, and the Washington Post and several other sites. One excerpt reads, "She courageously stood up to the right-wing governor, the legislature, the state commissioner, and Mayor Dean, who were all pushing for more charters in Nashville." That "right-wing governor" Ravitch is referring to is Bill Haslam.

Another except says, "The local newspapers criticized her as “divisive” and “shrill” for taking a stand (these are the words applied to women who speak out but not to men, who are seen as “forceful” and “strong”). The newspapers grew tired of her complaints about the large amounts of outside money that poured into school board races." Those newspapers accused of anti-women bias have to be The Tennessean, The Scene, and maybe some others.  They are not named but to refer to our liberal newspapers as having a anti-women bias and implying a conservative bias is a joke.

I wish Amy Frogge success on the national stage.  Maybe if she is successful she will resign from the School Board and leave Nashville.  To read more of the fawning, distorted, one-sided writing,  follow one of the referenced links above.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

37208: Zip code has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Update.

According to a study by the Brookings Institute, zip code 37208 has the highest incarceration rate in
the country.  This study was made public a few months ago. Since then a committee of the Council has been studying the issue. Community meetings have been held and community leaders have identified a need more economic development, jobs, affordable housing and better schools as a means of addressing the issue. Follow this link for the News Channel 5 report on the story.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Vanderbilt University is the 7th hardest university to get into.

From Travel Trivia:

#7

link: https://www.traveltrivia.com/hardest-us-universities-to-get-into/?utm_source=FL&utm_medium=FL14&utm_campaign=1069959874&utm_content=7189582&utm_term=1011069039

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Friday, January 24, 2020

Activate and reclaim 2020 Conference, Jan. 25th

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bill proposes statewide cap limiting Nashville's ability to raise funds from property taxes

If the bill becomes law, cities and counties would be limited to a 5% annual tax rate increase, without the need for voter approval. (read more)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

What happened at the Jan. 21 Council meeting: Gay interest trumps religious freedom, Idling ban gutted and deferred, Parental leave benefit advocated, Scooter changes deferred.



If you are going to watch the meeting, follow this link to access the agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda. You will get a lot more out of the meeting if you know what's going on.
Following Pat Nolan's introductory comments, the prayer and pledge of allegiance, the Council votes on confirmation of appointees to boards and commissions. Next is the public comment period and only one person speaks.  There are no surprises or drama.  The Council takes up consideration of resolutions at timestamp 23:53. Below is a summary of the legislation I found most interesting.

Resolutions:

Resolution RS2020-149 is withdrawn.  It would have appropriated $587,900 to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office so the sheriff's office could have the capacity to house federal prisoners. This would have earned the city about a half million dollars. Some members of the Council initially opposed this, thinking this would lead to the detaining of prisoners for violating national immigration laws but it has been clarified that that will not be the case.  I thought this solved the problem but apparently not.  No explanation is offered as to why this was withdrawn. This proposal was part of the deal with the Comptroller to approve Nashville's financial plan.
Resolution RS2020-172 passes on a recorded vote.  It commends "Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for Executive Order 11 regarding paid family leave, and calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government to implement paid family leave policies equal to or greater than the paid family leave outlined in the aforementioned executive order." If I  had a vote, I would oppose this. I would not support this without a provision that such paid family leave not cost the city any money. Governor Lee has not satisfactorily explained how the State will pay for this expanded employee benefit at the State level. Steve Glover was the only "no" vote and their were a couple of abstentions.
A Late Resolution that urges Governor Lee to not sign a bill which could allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn down adoptions by LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs passes without discussion and no one voting against it. I am disappointed that none of the conservatives on the Council voted against this.

Second Reading:
Bill BL2019-109 makes changes in the city policy toward scooters or what is termed "shared urban mobility devices (SUMDs)." It is deferred two meetings. 
Bill BL2020-114 would limit the amount of time a vehicle could sit still with the engine idling. Currently the only restriction is a prohibition of a running motor vehicle from being left unattended unless the vehicle is on private residential property and is equipped with a remote start device that prohibits operation of the vehicle while unattended. This bill in its original form would prohibit a stopped or parked motor vehicle from idling for more than three minutes, or for longer than one minute if the vehicle is within a school zone. There are a few exceptions in the bill.  The bill is substituted.  The substitute pretty much guts the bill.  It becomes an education effort of the health department rather than a law enforced by the police.  The fine is removed also. The substitute is deferred two meetings.
Bill BL2020-115 requires a security plan prior to obtaining a building permit for a parking structure constructed near a stadium, arena, or racetrack. This is relevant to the proposed soccer stadium. As I understand it, this would be another obstacle that may help stop or delay the soccer stadium construction. It is deferred one meeting. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What's on the Council Agenda for 1/21/2020: Banning idleing cars, paid family leave, changes to scooter rules.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, January 21st 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, the meeting are more interesting if you know what is going on. They are still not very interesting, but more interesting. You don't have to watch the Council meetings and yet you can still be informed, 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 most interesting parts. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

Following the opening prayer and the pledge the Council votes to confirm or elect members to boards and commissions. Election to the Community Oversight Board is to be delayed to Feb. 4th, is my understanding.  However, the agenda shows two nominees for confirmation to this board.  These two may be the nominees of the mayor.  Two members of this board are appointed by the mayor (I think) but most are nominees from the community.  For anyone interested in the process of how vacancies will be filled to this board, see timestamp 10:35 of the last Council meeting at this link.

The next item of business is the public comment period. So far, I am pleasantly surprised that this opportunity has not been abused by grandstanding activist. I keep expecting that to happen.

Resolutions:

Resolution RS2020-149 appropriates $587,900 to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office so the sheriff's office can have the capacity to house federal prisoners.  This will earn the city about a half million dollars. Some members of the Council initially opposed this, thinking this would lead to the detaining of prisoners for violating national immigration laws but it has been clarified that that will not be the case, so there should not be opposition to this because of that concern. This proposal was part of the deal with the Comptroller to approve Nashville's financial plan.
Resolution RS2020-172 commends "Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for Executive Order 11 regarding paid family leave, and calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government to implement paid family leave policies equal to or greater than the paid family leave outlined in the aforementioned executive order." I would not support this without a provision that such paid family leave not cost the city any money.  Governor Lee has not satisfactorily explained how the State will pay for this expanded employee benefit.
Bills on Second Reading
Bill BL2019-109 makes changes in the city policy toward scooters or what is termed 

"shared urban mobility devices (SUMDs)." Back in July 2019 the Council passed a bill cancelling all scooter permits and allowing existing scooter companies to operate with half the number of scooters they currently had on the streets while the Traffic and Parking came up with a RFP (request for proposal) system to replace the current system. This bill extends the time the Traffic and Parking Commission has to develop its RFP system and changes the guidelines for what would be in the RFP.  Some of the guidelines are more specific and this also authorizes the Traffic and Parking Commission to set fees to charge to the scooter companies to carry out the enforcement of the agreements. The Commission would not have to come back before the Council to have their fee amount approved. This is better than the previous bill in my view in that it does not limit the number of providers of scooters to only three, however it restrict each provider to only 500 scooters.  I don't support that restriction because there may be some economy of scale. This requires the RFP to have a commitment to safety including helmets.  I don't like requiring helmets.  There is a lot in this I don't like, but I fear if this does not pass a complete ban may pass and I do not want to see scooters banned.  So if I had a vote, I would reluctantly voted for this bill. 
Bill BL2020-114 would limit the amount of time a vehicle could sit still with the engine idling. Currently the only restriction is a prohibition of a running motor vehicle from being left unattended unless the vehicle is on private residential property and is equipped with a remote start device that prohibits operation of the vehicle while unattended. This resolution would prohibit a stopped or parked motor vehicle from idling for more than three minutes, or for longer than one minute if the vehicle is within a school zone. There are a few exceptions in the bill.  I oppose this. 
None of the bills on thrid reading are of interest. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Eliminating Terrorist Soleimani was Acting in America's Best Interest

Rep. Phil Roe
by Congressman Phil Roe - The relationship between the United States and Iran was not always fraught with tension; but since the 1979 Revolution, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini made it clear Iran would no longer be a friend to the U.S. From the hostage crisis in November 1979 to present day with Iran shooting down an American drone in June 2019, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been escalating for 40 years. These tensions reached a breaking point on December 31, 2019 when Iranian-backed militia groups chanted “death to America” and “death to Israel” while storming the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, setting fire to buildings.

This incident was the latest in a string of destabilizing attacks by Iranian-backed forces that escalated as they faced little consequence for their attacks. Thankfully, the president took decisive action and eliminated one of the world’s top terrorist - designated as a terrorist under the Obama administration- who is most directly responsible for those attacks, Qasem Soleimani.

As leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) – a group President Trump rightly designated as a terrorist organization, General Soleimani planned and carried out numerous terror attacks resulting in the deaths of over 600 Americans. Under Soleimani’s direction, the IRGC-QF engaged in numerous terrorist activities: in May 2019, they reportedly attacked and seized commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman; attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in September 2019 attempting to destabilize the world oil market; and fired rockets into the K1 military base in Iraq, resulting in the death of a U.S. civilian contractor and four U.S. servicemembers.

The recent escalation by Iran led President Trump to act against Soleimani on January 3, 2020. President Trump ordered the elimination of General Soleimani by airstrike, thereby holding Iran accountable for their actions and no longer allowing Iran and the IRGC-QF to operate with impunity in the region and around the world. I support the president’s action and think the world is a safer place because of it.

Unlike the Obama administration that did nothing but appease the leaders of Iran, President Trump continues to promote accountability and “maximum pressure” on Iran through monetary sanctions and military action when necessary. President Trump rightfully pulled the U.S. out of the Obama administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – more commonly referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal. That disastrous “deal” lifted many of the economic sanctions that were in place, provided access to over $1.5 billion in cash and allowed Iran to maintain portions of its nuclear program. The U.S. should never have entered this deal that provided sanction relief to Tehran, and we should have continued economic pressure until Iran not only ceased its nuclear program but also its support for, and funding of, global terrorism.

President Trump showed great restraint throughout all the escalation by Iran, even stating the U.S. was willing to “embrace peace” after Iran fired missiles at the Ayn al-Asad airbase in Iraq on January 8, 2020, a strategic location where the U.S. maintains a military presence. Thankfully, no U.S. or Iraqi servicemembers were harmed in that missile attack. He said to the people and leaders of Iran, “We want you to have a future and a great future – one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.” I could not agree more. No one wants war, and we are ready to encourage peace throughout the region.

Despite Iran’s continued escalation and the decisive military action taken by President Trump, many of my Democrat colleagues claimed the attack on Soleimani was unjustified and escalated tensions. I disagree. Instead of supporting the president’s act of strength, House Democrats passed a misguided resolution that undermines President Trump’s anti-terror efforts, rebuking his actions to eliminate this threat. Soleimani repeatedly advocated for, and implemented, attacks that cost Americans their lives. By removing him, Iran is truly deterred from continuing to fund attacks that destabilize the Middle East. In the future, hopefully Iran will come to the table for real negotiations. President Trump’s actions and attitude toward Iran and its constant aggression and escalation has been tough but fair. He took decisive military action after Iran repeatedly acted against the U.S., our allies and assets across the Middle East. The president’s decision to remove a top international terrorist is the response I hope to see our president make and the kind that is in America’s best interest.

Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Watch out Nashville.The Left steps up their game in Nashville.

by Rod Williams - Nashville is not the "San Francisco of the South," thanks to already existing State law which limits Nashville's flexibility and the State response to Metro initiatives. The State has stopped Metro from creating anti-discrimination laws that are stricter than protections laid out by the state, it prohibited Nashville from becoming a sanctuary city, it prohibited Nashville from banning Short term rentals and prohibited Nashville from mandating that builders build affordable housing. Nashville would be a much more "progressive" city if not for the State.

My perception is that in about the last five or so years there has been a sharp move to the left. The more radical or "progressive" sector of the electorate has grown in influence. While Nashville has always been a Democrat town, my perception is that the electorate is much further to the left than in the past. There has never been much of an organized conservative presence in the city and the organized liberal forces were old-line mainstream liberals, consisting of civil-rights-type organizations and labor unions. Most pressure groups were neighborhood groups resisting change or advocates of increased spending for education or some other government service. They could be called "liberal," but were not terribly ideological.

In the last Council election we saw in Nashville something not seen before. We saw nationally affiliated organizations such as Act Blue and Democracy Now and various other outside groups supporting candidates in our non-partisan Council election. They donated money to these candidates and went door-to-door on their behalf. Many of those candidates won.

Now the left has stepped up their game. One of the new progressive organizations making their presence felt in the city is Stand Up Nashville. It was formed as coalition of groups of the left in 2016. Now the organization has hired an Executive Director. With a year-round presence and staff an organization can have much more influence than an organization ran by volunteers active only at election time.

Stand Up Nashville is a partnership of nine organizations, including the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee; the AFL-CIO; Nashville Organized for Action and Hope; the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition; Democracy Nashville; Ironworkers International Union; LiUNA Southeast Laborers District Council; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; The Equity Alliance; and the Service Employees International Union Local 205, which represents Metro government employees. There first executive director is Odessa Kelly, a founding member of the organization.

Thanks to the State, there are limits to how much influence the left can exert but this is not a good sign. In her initial email to SUN supporters, Odesa Kelly wrote, "SUN’s work is a testament to will and power of the people and our collective movement to shape Nashville in our image. Every move we make is a step toward racial and social equality." Watch out Nashville.

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

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A clear and detailed explanation of how Mayor Cooper balanced the budget from Councilman Jeff Syracuse

Below is a clear and detailed explanation of how Mayor Cooper balanced the budget.  This is from the newsletter of Councilman Jeff Syracuse.

Mayor Cooper has made some difficult decisions as we knew he would have to in order to correct our fiscal issues and balance the budget and fill the $41.5 revenue gap. Some of the below is rather complicated. Here is how the revenue gap has been filled and was approved by the State Comptroller:

  •  An agreement with the Convention Center Authority will bring about $12.6 million annually back into the general fund from the Music City Center via a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Taxes) agreement.
  • $10 million via a PILOT with Metro Water Services. 
  • $7.2 million MDHA TIF (Tax Increment Financing) payment reduction ($10.8 million was the total, with $7.2 million to Metro and $3.6 million to Metro Schools). 
  • $3.6 million from the Convention and Visitors Corporation. Debt Service reimbursements for facilities that attract tourists are an allowable use of Tourist Promotion funds under TN Code and the CVC will adjust their spending from that fund to accommodate the $3.6 million reimbursement.
  •  $500k from program reimbursements from Sheriff’s Office / US Marshall Service. The Sheriff will be housing federal prisoners under an existing contract. It’s important to note this contract does not include ICE detainees. This is a net gain of revenue to Metro, and funds will need to be allocated to the Sheriff’s Office to budget for this new programming. 
  • $2.6 million in targeted savings, fund balances and deferrals: 
    • $600,000 of excess fund balance that has built up in the impound lot fund that will be transferred to the General Fund. 
    • $450,000 budgeted for the staffing study and public property performance audit that have not been started and cannot be completed this fiscal year. 
    • $200,000 of the amount budgeted in post audits where current projections indicate this funding will not be needed to close out the fiscal year. 
    • $100,000 of contingency that has not been used and that Finance doesn’t believe will be needed this year. 
The remaining $1.2 million is anticipated excess savings from various departments and agencies throughout Metro. Last year nearly all Metro departments and agencies exceeded their targeted savings amounts by a collective total of $8.8 million. Departments and agencies continue to be mindful of the need for savings and based on mid-year budget meetings, we believe they will again collectively exceed savings targets. 
  • Of the budgeted $10 million for the Barnes Fund that goes towards assisting affordable housing projects, only $5 million will be awarded. The Mayor has said this is a partial impoundment of this fund and will strive to ensure it is put back in future budgets. This does delay some critical affordable housing projects from moving forward. 
Another decision that was made that I fully support is $18 million that was debt already approved for the Gulch pedestrian bridge has been reallocated for other critical infrastructure projects, traffic calming, street lights and needed new trash cans around the county. In addition, the promised extra 3% pay increase last summer that teachers would get starting January 1, 2020 was kept under the new administration. So, where do we go from here? As this upcoming budget planning cycle is absolutely critical, there is agreement to start it early. Our fiscal year is July 1, but the budgeting process has already been started in the administration and the cycle will be moved up one month to June 1, so that the Comptroller has ample time to oversee and approve that we have improved cash management, redevelop adequate reserves. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Saturday, January 11, 2020

What happened at the 1/7/20 Council meeting: requiring a fence permit killed, raising taxes by hiding in the water bill passed, most other major stuff deferred.


This meeting is little over two hours long. If you are going to watch the meeting, follow this link to access the agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda. You will get a lot more out of the meeting if you know what's going on.

Pat Nolan gives a good overview of the important items on the agenda and the Vice Mayor gavels the meeting to order at timestamp 5:00. The opening prayer is offered by an Islamic cleric, guest of Councilman Johnathan Hall. I am pointing this out simply because I know some will find it interesting, not as a criticism.  I think it is appropriate. Muslims are part of our community and it serves no one's interest to marginalize them.

There are eleven nominees for the two open position on the Community Oversight Board. That is the new agency acting as watch dog of the police department.  Also, since those vacancies were announced an additional vacancy has occurred. If anyone wants to know more about how the vacancies will be filled see timestamp 10:35.

Public Hearing: At timestamp 21:05 the Council begins consideration of items on Public Hearing. All of those that were rezoning bills were approved by the planning commission. I am not very interested in rezoning bills but did watch it to see if any had generated much public interest. Most rezoning bills are of interest only to nearby neighbors. These are the bills on interest on Public Hearing.

Bill BL2019-8 would amend a portion of the code concerning the program that, under certain circumstances, allows developers to pay money into a sidewalk fund rather than build sidewalks in front of his development. Currently, that money is to stay in the "pedestrian benefit zone" from where the payment was made. This ordinance would instead require funds to stay within the Council district of the new development. The Planning Commission recommended indefinite deferral.  The sponsor defers to the first meeting in March.
Bill BL2019-48 is substituted and the bill and the public hearing is deferred to the first meeting in March.  This a relaxation of the ban on home-based businesses.Home businesses now are allowed only if no customers are served by the business on the premises and the business employs no more than one employee who is not a resident. That neighbor who gives local kids piano lessons is operating illegally. That lady with one a one-chair beauty shop who does hair by appointment-only is illegal. This would allow home-based businesses if no more than three vehicle trips are generated each day related to the business, customer visits are by appointment-only and operating hours are between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  I support this.

Resolutions

Resolution RS2020-149 would appropriate more money to the Sheriff's Department so the Sheriff's department would have the capacity to contract with the Federal government to hold federal prisoners. This would make money for the city.  Some of those prisoners however would be illegal aliens and there are some who do not want the city engaged in this. This resolution was deferred one meeting. 
Resolution RS2020-154 passes. It directs the Metropolitan Department of Water and Sewerage Services to make payments in lieu of ad valorem taxes. The amount is $10 million. I don't oppose this because we are broke and need the money, but this is a con shell game and I don't like it.  The water department operates off of its own revenues but it is still a part of metro government.  This is like charging the schools a tax since they don't pay property taxes or charging the police a fee since they don't pay property tax, except the schools and police don't generate money. The money the Water Department generates is from the water bills we pay.  This is like paying taxes with money that is in your left pocket rather than paying with money in your right pocket.   If the water department did not pay an "in lieu" payment our water bills would be lower. As Council member Vercher says in her comments on the bill, "it is a way to raise taxes, without raising taxes." Councilman O'Connell proposed to increase the amount to $15 million to include $5 million for affordable housing but that does not pass. There was an attempt to defer the resolution one meeting and it failed.  There were reasons why a deferral would have been ill advised and it would not have changed anything. The resolution passed 34 in favor, 2 no's, 1 abstaining and 3 not voting. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:07:41 - 21:28:00.

Resolution RS2020-160 passed on a voice vote. It puts the Council on record asking the mayor to restore the $4.5 million he cut the Barnes Fund for affordable housing. The mayor cut that fund to balance the budget which he was required to do.  If he had not taken it from the Barnes Fund he would have had to take if from somewhere else.  He has done a remarkable job of fixing the financial mess he inherited.  I am not going to second guess him on this.  If I were serving in the Council, I would have opposed this resolution. 
All bills on First Reading passed, lumped together, by a single vote, as is the norm.  Include in these is the bill that prohibit idling a car for more than 3 minutes. I oppose that bill but if I were serving in the Council, I would have voted for it on first reading.  First reading is a formality that gets in on the agenda. It is rare that a bill is considered on its merits on first reading. I think it is unfair to criticize a council member for a vote taken on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading:
Bill BL2019-109 is deferred one meeting. It makes changes in the city policy toward scooters or what is termed
"shared urban mobility devices (SUMDs)." Back in July 2019 the Council passed a bill cancelling all scooter permits and allowing existing scooter companies to operate with half the number of scooters they currently had on the streets while the Traffic and Parking came up with a RFP (request for proposal) system to replace the current system. This bill extends the time the Traffic and Parking Commission has to develop its RFP system and changes the guidelines for what would be in the RFP.  Some of the guidelines are more specific and this also authorizes the Traffic and Parking Commission to set fees to charge to the scooter companies to carry out the enforcement of the agreements. The Commission would not have to come back before the Council to have their fee amount approved. This is better than the previous bill in my view in that it does not limit the number of providers of scooters to only three, however it restrict each provider to only 500 scooters.  I don't support that restriction because there may be some economy of scale. This requires the RFP to have a commitment to safety including helmets.  I don't like requiring helmets.  There is a lot in this I don't like, but I fear if this does not pass a complete ban may pass and I do not want to see scooters banned.  
Bills on Third Reading:
Bill BL2019-30 (as amended) passed on a voice vote without discussion. It bans barbed wire and razor wire fencing in the Urban Zoning Overlay District along arterial and collector roadways. They are already banned along sidewalks in the Urban Services District. While I sympathize with those property owners who are trying to protect their property, this type fencing creates a feeling of living in a war zone. It makes a street ugly and devalues enjoyment of public spaces. An Urban Design Overlay (UDO) is a zoning tool that requires specific design standards for development in a designated area.  This is a minor expansion of where this type fencing is banned.

Bill BL2019-31 (as amended) is deferred indefinitely which as the effect of killing the bill. To bring it back up would require starting all over. This bill would have required a permit for all new fencing except for property zoned AR, AG, R80, or RS80. I am pleased this was killed. To see the sponsor's explanation see time stamp 1:08:40 at this link where it was discussed on second reading. It passes on a roll call vote of 27 to 9 and one abstention at that meeting. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Friday, January 10, 2020

Mayor John Cooper Releases Commitment Tracker

Press release, 1/7/2020- Following the release of his First 100 Day Report, Mayor John Cooper today announced the publication of his administration’s Commitment Tracker, which can be accessed at the Mayor's Office home page. The Commitment Tracker lists 50 promises made by Mayor Cooper during the 2019 mayoral campaign. Following through on the 50 commitments will be Mayor Cooper’s focus over the next four years, and they are listed in the policy areas below:

  • Fiscal Stewardship 
  • Education 
  • Affordable Housing 
  • Neighborhoods 
  • Transportation 
  • Public Safety 
  • Ethics and Transparency 
“I intend for this commitment tracker to be a transparent resource for residents as well as an accountability mechanism for my team,” said Mayor Cooper. “Tracking my administration’s progress on these 50 commitments will help keep us focused on core priorities over the next four years. I campaigned with a 47-page policy platform, and I want to be clear that I intend to follow through on the commitments I made. I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in the first 100 days, and I recognize the important work ahead to make Nashville a city that works for everyone.”

The database will be updated monthly by the Mayor’s Office staff.

Direct link to Commitment Tracker.
#

Below is an excerpt from the Commitment Tracker, follow this link to see more.



Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Williamson GOP mix and mingle Thursday Jan. 16th

See You Next Thursday!
Republican Mix & Mingle at the Rutledge!
First Republican Mix & Mingle of 2020!


Thursday, January 16, 2019
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Rutledge

105 International Drive
(facing Carothers just south of Bakers Bridge Road)
Franklin, TN 37067


It's a new year, and a big election year at that! Start the year off right by making plans to attend our first Republican Mix & Mingle at the Rutledge in Cool Springs.

UPDATE!
Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson also plans to attend and will share his perspective on the current refugee resettlement issue.

Join us in the Sunroom for drinks, good food and great conversation with like-minded Republican friends! Let's talk about new year's resolutions, upcoming elections, the impeachment drama, our annual Reagan Day Gala, and how you can help us mobilize our voters to secure landslide victories for Republicans this year!!

Hope to see you there!

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories